Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Yellow Stoneflies
3. Slate Drakes
4. Needle Stoneflies
5. Little Yellow Quills
11. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
Fishing Fall Blue-Winged Olive Hatches:
As mentioned yesterday, the Blue-winged Olives that hatch in the Fall can be
a difficult thing to imitate for several reasons.
1.They are difficult to see in the low sunlight angle of Fall or dark sky
2. They change their emergence time from late in the day at this time of the
year to near noon in late November, meaning it's difficult to know exactly
when they should come off.
3. They hatch randomly over a period of four to six hours when the skies are
not overcast as compared to about two hours when it is overcast. Meaning
it's tough to determine when the hatch is occurring during bright light
4. They drift in the current for only a few seconds early in their hatch
period when the water temperatures are in the mid to upper fifties as
compared to a long time when it's about fifty degrees. This makes them
difficult to spot on the water.
5. They don't hatch in the riffles and runs where most anglers cast their
flies, rather in the slow to moderate water where it's far more difficult to fool
6.There are at least fourteen different species of mayflies called
Blue-winged Olives and Little, or Small Blue-winged Olives. One or more of
the species of mayflies called BWOs hatch to some extent most days of the
year. Some species are bi and even tri-brooded, meaning they hatch two
or three times a year.
7. They hatch in water that ranges from 46 degrees to 60 degrees
depending on the species. They hatch more days than all the other
mayflies combined in the Smokies with the exception of the Slate Drakes
which hatch out of the water.
8. They have a tough time penetrating the surface skim (especially the small
species) and the trout eat the nymphs and emerging nymphs far more than
the duns on the surface of the water. This means you don't see the trout
crash the surface feeding on them most of the time. A tiny rise ring is
about the only indication of a trout eating one in or below the skim.
9. The nymphs act more like minnows than nymphs of the crawlers and
clingers and this changes the normal way the imitations should be presented.
10. The spinners are almost impossible to see on the water. It takes
skimming the surface with a small net to know for certain they exist unless
you have watched the entire process in one location.
11. Some species dive and paste their eggs on the bottom instead of
the surface. The Fall baetis species deposit them on the surface, by the way.
This means the normal spent wing imitations won't work for some species.
Now it sounds like this is so complicated that the BWOs are not worth
imitating. Most anglers don't have much success with BWO hatches. The
problem with that is this means most anglers don't have much success with
most mayfly hatches. That's because the BWOs are by far the most plentiful
mayflies in most trout streams. They are not only bi and tri-brooded, some
species hatch over a long period of time.
As mentioned yesterday, the nymph is the all around most effective stage of
life to imitate. The problem most anglers have with this is the nymphs don't
behave right when presented using a strike indicator. The little swimming
nymphs act more like tiny minnows than mayfly nymphs. The don't drift
through the water at a constant level or on the bottom or at a constant speed.
Dead drift imitations don't work all that well. Its best to cast the nymph in
the types of places they hatch and use a slight twitch, adding some action
including allowing it to completely stop or drift at the same speed of the
current. The best method to use is to add a small split-shot about eight
inches above the nymph and fish it without an indicator or as a dropper
nymph from a fly on the surface. In many streams where you can spot trout
you can sight cast to them. In the Smokies, this would be rare. You have to
blind cast to the same types of water these nymphs hatch in. This is the slow
to moderately flowing pockets around the banks and behind rocks and
boulders; the end of the runs and riffles where the water slows down; and the
tail ends of pools.
The trout are much easier to spook in these types of places than they are
in the fast water of the runs and riffles. Your fly line and leader will spook them
if you are not careful. You cannot get as close to the trout as you can fishing
the fast water. This means you have to make longer cast and that is often
difficult in the small streams of the Smokies due to the overhanging tree
limbs and bushes. You also have to watch the end of you fly line and leader
for takes and this isn't always that easy to do. You have to watch for the fast
water catching your fly line and yanking the fly out of the slower moving water
your nymph is in. This means you have to make some good, slack line
cast, something many anglers cannot do well.
It also means that the trout get a good look at your fly. It isn't drifting across
through fast water where they only get a quick glimpse of the fly. They will
reject or just ignore poor imitations. You need to use a more realistic
imitation of the nymphs and emergers, like our Perfect Fly BWO nymphs and
Now all of this seems like imitating the BWOs isn't all that easy and it isn't
compared to making short, upstream cast in the fast water of the runs and
riffles. It takes some skill to fish the slack pocket water. Often, when the trout
are feeding on emerging BWOs, most anglers are catching few trout and
calling the fishing "bad" when it's their lack of knowing what is going on and
how to deal with it that's the problem. The only trout they will catch are those
that feed on the occasional BWO dun that gets caught in the fast water. The
great majority of them don't. They escape the surface before they get caught
in the current seams.