Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little BWOs)
3. Little Winter Stoneflies
Most available/ Other types of food:
4. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing School - Freestone Streams
There are three basic types of cold water trout streams - freestone streams, spring creeks and tailwaters.
Freestone streams represent the most common form of trout stream. A tailwater is a stream located below a
dam that has been built on a freestone stream. A spring creek is a stream that comes from underground
water. There are a very few, mostly top water discharge tailwaters, that are located below dams built on
All streams get their water from rain or melting ice and snow. The water from springs comes from rain or
melting snow and ice that has seeped underground. Although the water in a tailwater trout stream comes
from discharges from a dam, it also originates from rain or melting snow and ice. The big difference in the
freestone stream and the other two types of trout streams is the flow of water in a freestone stream is
directly controlled by Mother Nature. The rates of flow and volume of water from springs are much more
consistent than freestone streams.. Although the flow of a spring creek is always a result of Mother Nature,
the flow of water in a tailwater is controlled by man. I should note that those controlling the discharges from
dams are certainly affected and in some cases limited by Mother Nature. The freestone stream’s volume of
water and rate of flow is strictly dependant upon Mother Nature.
The amount of water in a freestone stream can vary drastically with the seasons of the year. Heavy rainfall
that usually occurs in the spring months sometimes makes the freestone streams large and turbulent and
they sometimes flood beyond their normal banks. In the late summer and fall months of the year, most
freestone streams reach their lowest levels. Sometimes the flow can become so slow and the dissolved
oxygen levels so low that it become tough for trout to survive. This is especially true in the lower sections of
the streams in the foothills.
A freestone stream is born at the top of a mountain as drops of rainwater and melting snowflakes and/or ice.
As gravity forces these droplets to seep through the crevices of rocks, soil and organic matter, they combine
into small trickles of water. These trickles eventually collide and become larger and larger. They form tiny
streams that you can step across.
The tiny streams eventually join other tiny steams to form larger ones. These tiny streams are made larger
along the way by many other trickles of water and eventually become streams that are large enough to be
named and shown on maps. These streams are usually the headwaters of what will become a large
freestone stream or river.
Generally, water in the headwater streams is fast moving pocket water. Most headwaters fall through steep
gradients and rapidly flow downhill. As the stream reaches the lower elevations of the foothills the gradients
become less and less and the flow of the water decreases accordingly. As more and more water collects the
streams become wider. The water in the larger streams slows as it moves through the valley.
As the stream reaches the lower elevations of the valley and the flows decrease, the temperature increases.
Eventually the water will become too warm to support trout and other warm water species of fish such as
smallmouth bass will become more prevalent. The slower moving water will not hold as much dissolved oxygen
as the faster moving headwaters. This also becomes an important factor in the stream’s ability to support
Here is another section of one of our Fly Fishing DVD promotional videos I just placed on www.youtube.com.
It shows video of all three types of streams, freestone, tailwaters and spring creeks.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
New Schedule of Daily Articles
Mondays: Weather and Stream Conditions
Forecast - Coming Week
Tuesdays: Fly Fishing Strategies - Which
Flies To Use - Coming Week
Wednesday: Fishing Tales
Thursday: Smoky Mountains Fishing Report
Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout Food