Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Yellow Quills (Heptagenia Group)
3. Needle Stoneflies
4 Slate Drakes
5 Great Brown Autumn Sedge
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
New Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use Series - Part 16 -
Remember: The key is to imitate the insects and or other food that's most available
and easiest for the trout to acquire. If you haven't read the first parts of this series,
please do so. It will help make this article more meaningful.
I finally got an opportunity to visit some of the streams in the park yesterday. Last
year at this time, we were not that busy with our Perfect Fly company. The orders for
trout flies normally slow down this time of the year but that hasn't been the case this
Fall. The popularity of the site has grown a huge amount and we have also added
steelhead and salmon sections to the site. That has increased our orders but we also
are getting orders for a large variety of different flies from saltwater to bass and even
for South Florida bream. The change in the time and the orders prevented me from
being able to spend as much time on the water as I wanted to spend.
The low pressure system was prevailing yesterday and it was cloudy, nice and warm.
As just mentioned, I was short on time and actually fished for only thirty minutes or so.
I spent most of my time driving from one location to another, taking the water
temperature and looking for insects and on Little River, for spawning brown trout..
From where I live in Pigeon Forge, I can see more water in a short amount of time
from highway #441 than anywhere. I can also cut over the ridge to Little River near
Elkmont fairly quickly. I keep repeating the same streams due to the shortage of time
but during the next few weeks I plan on fishing more on the North Carolina side of the
park and visiting the north and south ends of the park more than I've been doing in
The water temperature, even on upper Walkers Camp Prong, was in the low fifties. In
the lower elevations of the Little Pigeon it was 56 degrees. I stopped a two places
along Walkers Camp, fished for a few minutes and caught two brook trout. I didn't see
any brook trout spawning and assume it may be about over at least at the higher
elevations. I spotted a few Little Yellow Quill duns and a few spinners dipping down to
deposit their eggs. I didn't see any Needle Stoneflies and I'm not sure why I didn't.
They should still be hatching. I did see a very few very tiny Blue-winged Olives.
At Sugarland, I fished maybe ten minutes on the Little Pigeon. I didn't catch anything
or see any insect activity. I'm assuming it was due to the rather warm water
temperature for this time of the year. I was also probably an hour or two late for that.
On Little River, a mile or so below the turn to Elkmont, I spotted brown trout spawning
at two different locations. I stopped to look at the water at several places along the
road between there and Metcalf Bottom. I didn't fish any on Little River. The only
insect activity I spotted was some very small Blue-winged Olives. As was the case on
Walker's Camp Prong, I'm not sure of the species. They were no larger than a hook
size 20 and all were spinners.
The water levels are excellent. It began to rain late in the day and looking at the
precipitation map this morning, it appears most of the park received less than an
quarter of an inch, if that much. It's only 5:00 AM (I'm still on the old time schedule)
and Little River USGS data is just starting to show a slight rise in the stream level.
The passage of the cold front will cool things off a lot but it will again return through
the normal cycle of returning back the warm weather. The high today at Gatlinburg will
only get to around 53 degrees and it will drop down to 24 degrees tonight. It will
remain mostly cloudy. Friday, Veterans Day, will only reach 50 with a low that night of
32. The high Saturday will be back up to around 59 and down to only 36 that night.
Sunday will be even warmer, up to 64 degrees and only down to 44 Sunday night.
This swing in water temperature will change the status of the few insects that will hatch
almost hourly. Today, with some cloud cover, it's possible the baetis Blue-winged
Olives may hatch fairly well in the mid to lower elevations. Irregardless, you should
stick with about the same strategy as I have been giving for the last few weeks. The
baetis nymphs are plentiful in the mid to lower elevations, and are most available for
the trout to eat. Stick with the #18 BWO nymph until you see them hatching. Change
to an emerger or dry fly if you do. Depending on the water temperature, you may
need to stick to an emerger today. If the water temperature remains below 50,
although it's possible to catch them on the dry dun imitation, it is often more
productive to use the emerger or stick with the nymph just slightly weighted. I don't
see this changing Friday at all. In fact, the hatches will probably occur but in much
lesser quantities due to the high pressure system.
Based on the water warming up more later in the day Saturday, I think you will have a
better opportunity to see some more baetis hatches and a more ideal temperature
range for the day. The only downfall to fishing Saturday will be the bright sun. The
water temps should be excellent. Sunday, the situation hatch wise, will begin to
reverse as the water warms.
There could be a few brown trout that have finished spawning but my guess is that's
mostly in the higher elevations where the browns exist - Upper Little River above
Elkmont, for example. I think the warmer temperatures we have experienced the last
few days has slowed the spawning process down in the lower elevations. It will be well
into December before all of them have spawned.
You may have some good opportunities to catch some pre-spawn and possibly some
post-spawn browns depending on the location. Just please leave those on their redds
alone. It's also possible that the cold weather we will experience for the next couple of
days will speed things up. The browns prefer to spawn in water that's in the high
forties; however, when they start the process, they will continue it even though the
water temperatures may go below or above that. It can delay the start of the actual
spawn but has little effect once it starts.
Our New DVD Release "Stalking Appalachian Trout".
Copyright 2011 James Marsh