Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Yellow Quills (Heptagenia Group) (slight chance)
3. Needle Stoneflies (slight chance)
4 Great Brown Autumn Sedge (slight chance)
6. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use - 19 - To Be Continued
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.
The stream levels quickly tell the story of what's happening in the Smokies. Little River rose to over
4,000 cfs last night (over 6 feet in height) but is on the way back down. In case that doesn't mean
much to you, I'll put it this way. Little River and all the other major streams in the park are blown out.
The higher elevations in the park received from 2.5 to 4 inches of rain.
The very high water levels will fall rather fast from their extreme high levels but overall, the decline
will be slow because of the large amount of rain we have received during the last few weeks. It will be
a while before the streams can be safely waded. We will have great weather for the next couple of
days for blue-winged olive hatches but the high water situation makes the sky and weather conditions
There are ways to fish the streams right now, even with the high water levels. Trout can still be
caught along the banks fishing from the banks on a fly rod. The technique is more like flipping for
bass than fly fishing. In fact, in situations like this anglers have taken some nice brown trout casting
streamers along the banks. If you live near the Smokies and want to fish, there are ways it can be
done. If you don't live nearby and want to visit the park to fish, you should reconsider. I am going to
delay the Strategy Article a day or two until the water levels recede some.
Fishing Streamers In The Smokies - Part Two
I have noticed that some anglers are not prone to fish streamers because they consider them lures
and not flies. It's true that some fairly new streamers are more like lures than flies but many are not at
all similar to lures in any respect. Some anglers that do fish streamers think all there is to it is to cast
the fly out and bring in back in. If a trout sees it, it may take it and if not, it means they don't want it.
Others think the only way to fish a streamer is down and across using the old wet fly swing
presentation. I have noticed anglers fishing streamers at various times and places using just about
every technique you could possible come up with. It's true there are lots of different ways to fish
them, but each of the different methods that have proven successful are most always used for
specific applications, not just at random.
Like with most other types of flies, there are two different basic types of streamers. There are
attractor patterns and there are those designed to imitate a specific types of food trout eat. Attractors
may look like a lot of different things from an impressionistic standpoint, or nothing in particular.
Specific imitations are tied to imitate a specific food trout eat, such as a sculpin or crayfish.
Not all streamers are taken by trout for food. Trout can become territorial and aggressive, especially
during the spawn. Most all the larger trout become territorial, even when they are not spawning.
When an intruder gets near their territory or feeding lane, they will usually defend it. You will usually
find the larger trout in the preferred feeding zones of a stream. That's because they chase the other
smaller fish away. If a small trout tries to enter the security zone of a large brown trout that's hiding
under a boulder or undercut bank, it will most likely get run off.
It's very common for bass hiding in a submerged bush or tree top to attack a spinnerbait that runs
right by its nose. This has been called an instinctive reaction by some knowledgeable anglers and
others think it's just their way of hiding and attacking their prey with a short burst of speed. There is a
fine line between the strike being instinctive from being surprised and being deliberately planned..
All fish, including trout, also seem to attack lures and flies out of pure curiosity and even at times
when they appear to be playing with other fish. At times bass as well as other species of fish
will strike lures that don't resemble anything found in nature. It's thought that in some cases
it's done out of anger and in other cases out of curiosity. I guess the truth is it's still pretty much pure
speculation as to why fish do some of the things that seems strange to us.
Under the right conditions, trout will strike things that obviously aren't taken for food. Some of the
flashiest, brightest, streamers I have ever seen have taken trout from perfectly clear streams. I
caught back to back 18 inch wild rainbow trout trying to catch migrating brown trout in a Colorado
river one Fall day, only to try for the next two days to repeat the same thing without the first strike
from either species. The fly looked like it would scare a trout rather than attract it.
My friend Frank Johnson, owner of Moldcraft Products, the World's largest big game lure company,
taught me something I would have never accepted if I had not witnessed it first hand. During a big
game fishing tournament years ago, he rigged a small imitation of a baitfish about six inches long
about three feet ahead of a very large chugger type lure that imitated a mackerel several times that
size. He said the marlin, dolphin and tuna would all take the tiny baitfish lure in priority to the larger
lure that imitated mackerel they normally preferred to eat. During the event, two marlin, five big
wahoo and several large yellowfin tuna proved he was right. They all took the small, tiny (in respect
to their size) lure. They all approach the lures from the rear, so they actually had to go under or
around the larger baitfish imitation to eat the small one. In other words, they didn't take the easier to
acquire larger offering even though it would have been easier for them to do. Frank claims they do
that just to take the small baitfish away from other fish that appear to be chasing the small bait. I used
the same method successfully for years after that.
Maybe his theory is right and maybe it happens for a completely different reason. All I know is that if
you fish the small lure by itself, you may as well go back to the dock. They won't give it a second
look. Put some larger lures behind it that appear to be bigger fish chasing it, and it becomes the
prime target. It even works with a lure that imitates a flying fish put in front of a larger fish lure. It even
works when you put the small lure in front of a daisy chain, or several larger lures imitating larger fish
chasing a small one. Amazingly, out of many days of trolling such rigs, I have never caught a fish on
the larger lures trailing the small one. I have even watched very large fish come out of the deep blue
and run the other game fish trailing the lures off, only to take the relatively tiny lure instead of the
larger baits. It seems as if they are only playing games. I'm pointing this out, because even though
the species of fish are completely different, the clear blue offshore water affords one the opportunity
to often see what goes on. As hard as we may try to do so, we simply cannot come up with a good
explanation for everything a fish does, or fails to do, for that matter.
Because of such things as I have just written about, and many other similar examples of strange
things like that others have encountered over the years, some anglers tend to think that the fly or
lure you use isn't all that important. Don't make that mistake. Such anglers always end up in the
same fix. They rely strictly on luck to catch fish. Sometimes they succeed in catching fish, but
more often than not, they fail. The results are never consistent.
When it gets around to spawning time, most fish make big changes in their normal behavior. The
spawning activity seems to regulate their actions. They become less afraid of their predators. They
often expose themselves in situations they wouldn't otherwise be found in. They become very
territorial. They become aggressive even against their own species. Males will compete with other
males to participate in the spawning activity. The aggressive behavior doesn't begin when the female
goes on her redd to deposit her eggs. It begins days, even weeks before that. That's why trout will hit
flashy, bright colored attractor type streamers prior to the actual spawn.
To be continued
Copyright 2011 James Marsh