Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little)
2. Cream Cahills
3. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Little Summer Stones)
4. Slate Drakes
5. Little Green Stoneflies
6. Mahogany Duns
Most available/ Other types of food:
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8. Inch Worm (moth larva)
Fly Fishing Strategies - Which Fly To Use - Coming Week
The water levels are still low. The precipitation map shows most of the park got a sprinkle but only
a small part of the North Carolina side got over a quarter of an inch. We have a twenty to thirty
percent chance of thunderstorms until Saturday and then the odds increase slightly. Hopefully, we
will get some rain this week before the weekend.
I like fishing the low water levels. It makes it a little more difficult to stay hidden and good
presentations are a must but that's the way it should be. It's also a big benefit to have imitations
that are more realistic. Most generic flies just don't work well in slower moving water where the trout
can get a good look at your fly. Even in fast water they actually never work as well as good
imitations of the insects. Sometimes the trout get a good view of your fly in the slower areas of the
fast pocket water.
Higher, faster water just allows you to catch a few trout with not so perfect presentations. That's the
only advantage it offers. Unlike what many think, it isn't that the trout feed more when the water is
high. The view the trout get of your fly is the very same reason it's very difficult to catch trout in the
pools of the Smokies. They are slower flowing and the trout not only can see your fly well, they can
detect heavy leaders, tippets and poor presentations. If your one of those guys that are
waiting on the water to come up to catch trout, you need to learn to fly fish.
The conditions have been just fine for the past few weeks. It should cool off some this week but if
not you should fish the higher elevations where the water is in the low sixties or lower. If you fish
the cooler water you should be able to catch lots of trout from the low water levels but you want do
it with poor presentations and unnatural looking flies.
The strategy I have suggested week to week recently has changed very slowly, if any at all. In fact,
about the only changes from last year's strategy for this same week should come about only as a
result of heavy rainfall and high, stained water levels. Here's last year's strategy.
Last year's Strategy This Week:
The only changes "hatch" wise from last week that should occur from what we have previously
described is a different species of the Little Yellow Stoneflies should start hatching
again any day now. Our hatch chart shows them starting by the first of September but
as warm as the weather is, it will probably be a few more days.
Notice we show Little Yellow Stoneflies above but note they are "Little Summer
Stones". These are little yellow stoneflies but shorter and thicker stoneflies of the
Peltoperlidae family, not the Perlodidae family. These have been hatching for the last
couple of months but they are not plentiful. The Peltoperlidae family of stoneflies are
usually called "Roach Stoneflies" because they are shaped the same as a common
The Periodidae family species, which should start hatching any day now, includes
what's called a Yellow Sally, but true Yellow Sallies (Isoperla genus) hatched back in
the Spring and early Summer, not the Fall.
By the way, our Perfect Fly "Little Yellow Stonefly" imitates these stoneflies far better
than any fly you can purchase. We also sell the cheap, generic Yellow Neversink
Caddis pattern some anglers use (even though a stonefly isn't a caddisfly) as well as
the Yellow Stimulator fly some anglers use to imitate them. They will catch some trout
but you will find them far less effective than our much better Perfect Fly "Little Yellow
Stonefly". When it comes to the nymph, which is the most important stage to imitate,
our Perfect Fly "Little Yellow Stonefly nymph" is far superior to any generic stonefly
The only other change I have noticed is that the Mahogany Duns are hatching in
many of the streams. It is difficult to tell these from Little Blue-winged Olives when you
see them flying. They are small and the same size as some species that are called
BWOs, but they are a completely different color in the nymphal, dun and spinner
stages of life. You want to make certain you have imitations of them if you fish during
the next couple of weeks.
Other than the possibility of your encountering the Little Yellow Stoneflies hatching
and the increased chances of encountering a Mahogany Dun hatch, the strategy you
should use now, is exactly the same as what we have given for the last two weeks. I
won't repeat it but if you haven't, please go back and read what I recommend.
Report On Yesterday's Observations and Fishing: (from last year)
As you can see from looking at the USGS stream flow data, all the streams in the park
are very low. Some are at near record lows. Although the daily air temperatures could
be warmer than they have been, cool nights have helped keep the water temperature
from being a huge problem. Low water is much more responsive to air temperature
changes than normal water levels, so changes are taking place fast.
I intended to start fishing near the parking lot just above Elkmont Campground but I
didn't because the water temperature (68 degrees) was too high. The trout would
have been nearing the point of being lethargic and difficult to catch. It would also
increase the chances of killing the fish. I didn't care to hike a few miles upstream to
cooler water, so I traveled back to #441 and crossed over the mountains to the
Oconaluftee River. It is always cooler than Little River simply because it doesn't have
a road that follows it closely for most of its length. It's covered with an almost solid
canopy of tree limbs in most places. The water temperature there was 63 degrees. A
road along a stream always has fewer trees, usually only about half as many as one
that isn't closely followed by a road.
I was fishing right at the warmest part of the day but managed to pick up 3 rainbows,
one of which was a solid 10 inches, and one brown that was about the same length.
All four took the #18 BWO nymph. These all came within about 45 minutes of actual
fishing time. I spotted some Little Blue-winged Olives that probably hatched earlier in
the day and a few Mahogany Duns, but I didn't see anything hatching while I was
fishing so I didn't change anything. If I had been fishing for fun, rather than testing
what I know was more effective, I probably would have tried a Mahogany Dun or BWO
Moving back up to Walkers Camp Prong as I crossed back over the mountain, I
stopped about 2 miles above Alum Cave Trailhead and caught a brook trout on about
my tenth cast. I spotted more tiny Little Blue-winged Olives but that was it. Mahogany
Duns (crawler nymphs) rarely hatch at that elevation. I didn't make another cast,
rather released the little brook and headed back home to help Angie get fly orders
filled. We had several large fly orders that came in Monday night and yesterday. One
that caught my attention was from a Texas customer and was obviously for the
Smokies. Most were for western destinations.
According to the National Weather Service, there's no chance of rain until Saturday. I
hope you get to fish over the holiday weekend. Tomorrow, I will give some tips on what
I think would be the best choices as to locations within the park to fish. There's no
reason you shouldn't be able to catch plenty of trout. If you follow the strategy I
outlined and fish the right locations you should catch about as many as you could any
Back to this year:
Although I mention that the Little Yellow Sallies will start hatching within a few days. We are
currently completely out of our Perfect Fly imitations of them. Our tiers should have more of them
here by the time they begin to hatch again.
There's little other changes from last year in terms of the most available and plentiful insects and
other trout foods; however, the thunderstorms predicted to occur during the next few days may
make a difference in how you should go about fishing.
If the thunderstorms brings strong winds and rainfall, remember that can put a lot of terrestrial
insects in the water. Imitations of ants, beetles, inch worms and hoppers can be productive if fished
in the right type of areas.
If the water gets a little stain or color to it, and within a suitable temperature range, go to
streamers. That will bring the larger brown trout out of their hiding places during the day. If you fish
early in the mornings, it may be a good strategy to use even if the water is clear. Streamers that
imitate dace, sculpin, small crayfish and minnows should work best.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh