09/05/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives (See Below)
2.    Mahogany Duns
3.    Little Yellow Stoneflies - Summer Stones
4.    Slate Drakes
5.    Needle Stoneflies
6.    Little Yellow Quills
7.    Ants
8.    Inchworms
9.    Beetles
10.  Grasshoppers
11.  Hellgrammite
12.  Craneflies
13.  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)


Back To The Basics - Strategies:
We are leaving a quick link to Friday's article since it deals directly with fishing
the Smokies through this holiday weekend or Sept. 6th.


Mahogany Duns:
I guess some of you may be wondering why I covered the Mahogany Dun nymph
and then stopped. It is now getting near the end of their hatch period. The reason is
I discovered a mistake in the Perfect Fly website section on Mahogany Duns. I have
yet to correct it because I will have to shoot more images of the emergers. One of
the two is not the correct fly - close to it, but not it.

This morning. I opened up the index and noticed that the very first article i wrote
when I first started the journals was about Mahogany Duns. It pointed out how Angie
and I discovered these mayflies before we knew they were present in the Smokies. I
will copy the entire article that was written on 05/12/07, but referred to a trip we
made to the Smokies in the late Summer of 2003 to that. Here it is:

Middle Prong of the Little River Journal:
Late Summer Paralep Hatches (5/12/07):
It was late August of 2003. Angie and I had just returned from a month and a half
trip to Montana and upper Michigan. It was our first time in the Smoky Mountain
National Park in almost two months. We had fished unsuccessfully for a couple of
hours near Elkmont. Out of drinking water, we made a run for Townsend just
outside of the park for some water. Coming back into the park, we took a detour to
the Middle Prong. It was getting late and I thought we could get a few cast in on the
upper part of the Middle Prong of the Little River, quicker than I could reach the
upper part of the main prong. We stopped near the end of the gravel road.
I had no idea what the water temperature was. Checking it, I found out it was 67.
This is better than I guessed but still on the high side of that preferred by trout. I
began casting a dry fly into the fast runs.
In a few minutes, I noticed that Angie was trying to catch some small flies in the air.
She exclaimed that she had caught a Trico. I responded by telling her there were no
Tricos on the Little River at that location and explained that it must be a little
Blue-winged Olive. She said the wings and most of the body was clear. I then said
that it was probably a Jenny Spinner or small blue-winged olive spinner. Then I
noticed the air was full of them dancing up and down. She brought it over and I
discovered it was a
Paraleptophlebia species, not a blue-winged olive.
This is the same thing we see in February and March except they are not the
adoptive species. These are mollis or maybe another species of that genus. Some
people call them Blue Quills and other call them Mahogany Duns.  They were tiny, a
hook size 18 or maybe even a 20. These mayflies behave the same way as the
early season blue quills in that they both hatch, deposit their eggs and fall spent in
the slower moving shallow water.
I changed to a blue-winged olive spinner pattern (all I could find in my fly box at the
time) and the results was amazing. Within the next 45 minutes or so, I caught about
a half dozen rainbow trout ranging from four to eight inches long. All I had to do was
cast it in the slow water or eddies.
Getting very close to the water revealed the tiny spinners. They are almost
impossible to see on the water unless you do get very close to it. You don't see the
trout taking them either. In fact, I didn't realize that I had about half of the fish
hooked until I began to pick up the line. One went airborne as I was attempting to
make a cast not aware that I had a fish hooked.  
At the time, I only had to tie on a three foot long 6x tippet. I already had a 9 foot, 5x
leader tied on one of our rigs. This combination worked okay.  This is about the
right rigging for fishing these tiny spinners. Certainly nothing shorter or larger would
work well.
You want to make cast into the calm water areas -the ends of pools, eddies,
pockets behind rocks, etc. The fish will just sip the spinners and you may not notice
the takes at all. It is about impossible to see you fly. You just have to watch for a
small swirl or your line to move. The trout are remaining in one area and looking for
the spinners, so if you don't get a take in one place, try another.
It is also not easy to keep from spooking the trout. Stay hidden, move very slowly
and make rather long cast compared to the normal cast you would make in the
Smokies. That isn't always easy to do on the small streams. A bush or tree limb can
get your fly about as well as the trout can.
Just remember, that even in the dog days of summer, mayfly hatches may occur.
Everyone has probably seen the tiny mahogany duns and just thought they were
knats or midges. Many anglers may not have noticed them at all. Most anglers were
probably home thinking fly-fishing in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was
dead until Fall.

Copyright 2007 James Marsh