07/25/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2.    Little Sister Caddisflies (Abrams Creek)
3.    Little Yellow Stoneflies - Summer Stones
4.    Slate Drakes
5.    Cream Cahills
6.    Little Green Stoneflies
7.    Ants
8.    Inchworms
9.    Beetles
10.  Grasshoppers
11.  Hellgrammite
12.  Cranefly
13.  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)


Advice on Fishing Techniques, Strategies and Methods - Part 7

When we first started fishing the small brook trout streams, we used the generally
accepted methods and tactics of brook trout fishing and paid little attention to what
fly we used. Our first big consideration was the rod size and length. We begin
experimenting with that and using several different lengths. I determined that I liked
the long rods best because I could control my presentations better. Angie
completely disagreed. Of course a big factor is she is small and short and I am fairly
large and tall at six foot two. I think that makes a difference.

One day she found a very short rod which she just had to have. It's only five feet
long and wasn't necessarily made for brook trout fishing. It's a three weight, off
brand rod I assume was made for small stream fishing. Although the rod cast fine
for its length I suppose, it doesn't cast far at all and it doesn't control the fly line
near as well as a longer rod. She doesn't like it at all. She uses an eight foot length
in a four weight. I continue to prefer a nine foot rod and contend the added length
helps me navigate the fly line around the maze of buses and other obstructions.

One day we were shooting video of some insects hatching on Walker's Camp
Prong. We couldn't believe our eyes. We had been told the trout had little to eat in
the high elevation brook trout streams but what we were seeing rivaled any hatch
we had found anywhere in the country fishing hundreds of trout streams. Since then
I have digitally recorded many other large hatches on the same high acid stream.
Although the stream wasn't fifteen feet wide at its widest point at one point in time,
we could pick up dozens of mayflies in the lenses at a time. These mayflies turned
out to be Little Yellow Quills. They are species of the
Leucrocuta genus of the
Heptageniidae family of mayflies, that were never documented as even existing in
the Smokies to the best of our knowledge and based on our intense reseach. We
have found two species present in the Smokies, the
hebe and juno.  These mayflies
aren't rare. They are very plentiful in all the high elevation streams. Within the next
few years we found several other mayfly and stonefly species rarely mentioned as
even existing in the Smokies, that were very plentiful in the small streams.

By taking stream samples, we determined there is little difference in the numbers of
nymphs in the stream compared to those in the larger streams in the lower
elevations. The species of insects are quite different. The only thing we found in
short supply were caddisflies and that is because the pH of the stream directly
affects all net-spinning caddsiflies which represent the large majority of them. The
few caddisflies present are predators. One thing we found in huge quantities for the
small size of the streams were the Needle Stoneflies. In their adult stage, these
stoneflies look more like caddisflies more than they do stoneflies. The only other
thing drastically different from the larger streams is the fact there are fewer crawlers
and swimming mayfly nymphs. Most all of them are clingers that well adapt to the
fast water. I don't want to bore some of you with too many details on insects, but I do
want to point out that
the generally accepted thoughts that the small
headwater streams have few aquatic insects and that there is little for the
trout to eat is completely false.
As I said in previous articles, these small streams
have about as many insects per square foot as any of the streams in the Smokies,
except of course, Abrams Creek.

Once we learned what insects existed in these high elevation streams, we started
paying attention to what flies we fished. Up until a few years ago, we mostly used
Parachute Adam dry flies. As many of you know, I prefer the parachute hackle style
and I have explained why in many other articles. Our Perfect Fly duns are all
parachute style hackle for the legs. Another thing we noticed and were taught by
the locals, is that the fly size didn't much matter. We used large flies, usually a size
14 or 16 because they were easy to see on the water. We caught plenty of brook
trout. It amazed us at how the little brook trout would hit the large flies. Of course we
missed a lot of them simply because the fly was too large but it didn't seem to make
any difference at all at how the trout accepted them. Neither did the kind or the
color of the fly. We still caught some brook trout every trip.

When I started fishing specific imitations of what was most available for the brook
trout to eat, I discovered something that was amazing. I discovered that I had just
accepted what everyone else had accepted about the little brook trout and
assumed I really knew what I was doing. I will point out some things that should
amaze you about this tomorrow.