12/09/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Great Autumn Brown Caddisfly
4.    Midges

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Part Eight - Winter Stoneflies
New Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trout Food Series

First,
a brief summary of the first seven articles:
In article one, we covered the different types of mayfly and stonefly nymphs -
clingers, crawlers, swimmers and burrowers.
Article two covered the
importance of the different types of mayfly and stonefly
larvae, which are called nymphs.
Article three covered
caddisfly and midge larvae.  
Article four covered
caddisfly and midge pupae and why mayflies and midges
don't have the pupa stage of life.
Article five covered
mayfly subimagos (fancy word for duns) and the adults, or
imagos
(fancy word for spinners)
Article six covered
adult stoneflies.
Article seven covered adult caddisflies and midges.

Now, we are ready to go through the different species or groups of species that
exist in the streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and how you recognize
and imitate each one. We will start with the first of the season, starting the first of
January, with Winter Stoneflies.

Winter Stoneflies:
Winter Stoneflies may have already began to hatch in the Smokies but they will
certainly be around next month in January and last until as late as March depending
on the particular species. Knowing the particular species of Winter Stonefly isn't
very important. Neither is their real name, Capaiidae, very important to anglers, but I
am mentioning it to clarify exactly which stoneflies I am writing about. Winter
Stoneflies are all species of the Capaiidae family. It's the only way to identify them
because other families of small, dark stoneflies that hatch a little later and still early
in the year can also be called Winter stoneflies.

Remember, there are only nine families of stoneflies found in trout streams. The
Smokies has species from all nine families. Unlike most aquatic insects,
knowing
them down to the family level is usually enough
. There's two exceptions where
you need to know the genus and in one case, even the particular species, but they
are quite easy to identify, so don't get bent out of shape over a few Latin names.
You don't have to pronounce any of them, just be aware of the differences.

Winter Stoneflies are fairly easy to recognize because they will be about the only
stoneflies around in January and February. They also have unique shaped bodies.
They are very slim.









These are small stoneflies, usually a hook size 18. These are the only family of the
Little Brown stoneflies that have adults with long tails. The tails are chopped off in
the image above on your left but they are about two-thirds length of the antennae.
Some call them little Black Stoneflies but they are really not black. They are a very
dark brown that can look almost black. Other than Winter Stoneflies, they are also
called "Snow Flies". They are easy to spot in the snow because of the contrasting
shades of color.
Trout can be taken on nymph imitations of the Snowflies and imitations of the
adults are sometimes productive. Trout are not very prone to rise to the surface
to eat the egg laying females when the stoneflies hatch in very cold water.

Like all stoneflies, the nymphs of the Little Winter Stoneflies crawl out of the
water to hatch. The stonefly nymph is always a good choice for early season,
cold water fishing. With the exception of midges and an occasional hatch of
Blue-winged Olives, the Winter Stoneflies are about the only insect you will find
hatching in water that is very cold in the Smokies during January and early February.

There is one rule you should always keep in mind when you are fishing an
imitation of any stonefly nymph. Keep it on the bottom. These stoneflies move from
beneath the rocks they live under to the bottom and crawl to the banks to hatch.
They may also crawl up on a rock or boulder that sticks out of the water. You want
to cast your fly in such a manner that it stays on the bottom and comes all the way
back to the bank. Add plenty of split shot a few inches above the fly to help keep it
on the bottom.

We fish this fly two ways, depending on the width and velocity of the stream. In small
streams where we can get around on the bank or where the banks are clear enough
to fish, we stay well back from the bank and cast the fly up and across allowing it to
swing all the way around downstream and back to the bank. You want to take a step
downstream and repeat the process. Yes, we are fishing in a downstream direction.
This way you are covering different water each time and getting the fly all the way to
the bank. There's not many places this works because most streams have
streamside bushes or trees in the way. In those cases we wade.

If the stream is wide enough, we fish both banks wading down the center. If not very
wide, we will stay fairly close to one bank and cast across to the other one. We fish
upstream in this case. Cast the fly up and across and allow it to swing close to the
bank. We it gets to the bank, take a step upstream and repeat the cast.

Sometimes when these stoneflies hatch, the trout will not rise to the surface to eat
the adult egg layers. The water may be too cold for the trout to feed on the surface.
If it's above 40 degrees, water temperature, you want to keep an eye out for them
starting about the middle of the afternoon until dark. Yes, this is more like steelhead
fishing than trout fishing. The water really needs to be 45 or better for much surface
action.

I don't see any reason to fish an imitation of the adult if there aren't any indication of
the egg laying activity occurring. When you see females landing on the water, or
touching the water to knock the eggs off you should fish a dry fly adult imitation of
them. Otherwise, I would continue to fish the nymph. These stoneflies may deposit
their eggs at the tail ends of pools as well as riffles, so check most of the water.
Most of the time, it occurs in the riffles.

On the days you find them crawling around on the banks and rocks, you can be
assured they are going to lay their eggs within a few days at the most. One more tip.
Cold water is extremely clear. Be careful not to spook the trout. Make as long of a
cast as you can make accurately and stay hidden as best you can.



Copyright 2010 James Marsh
"Strategies That Catch Trout” covers the game plans
that anglers use to catch trout under the varying
conditions encountered on different streams at various
times of the season. It explains how to go about
matching the hatch, fishing when there is no hatch and
the when specific or impressionistic imitations works
best to your advantage. It reveals how, when and
where attractor flies are useful.
Learn how to determine whether trout are feeding
opportunistically or selectively and how to handle either
with proficiency and confidence.  It explains the timing
and occurrence of hatches and how to adjust and
utilize hatch chart information.
This one's
antenna  is
broken but you
can see the
length.