Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. Slate Drakes
2. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Summer Stones)
3. Needle Stoneflies
4. Mahogany Duns
5. Little Yellow Quills
Most available - Other types of food:
6. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
7. Inch Worms
Fly Fishing School - Dealing With Warmer Water Temperatures
It looks like it is going to be getting a little warmer than it has been during the past few
weeks. This isn't to say that its going to be any hotter than it normally would be for the
month of August. Looking at the National Weather Service long range forecast, it
appears the temperature will be about normal. Normal temperatures for the month of
August means the water temperature in the streams in the lower elevations will
probably be too warm to fish. I think it is a good time to consider just how you should
go about dealing with the warmer water temperatures.
First of all, I highly suggest having a thermometer along with you anytime you are fly
fishing for trout in hot weather conditions. For example, I don't think anyone can
accurately determine the difference is a water temperature of say, 65 degrees F. and
70 degrees, just by wading in it. Now that I mentioned that, I'm sure some of you are
probably wondering why that would even be necessary. Knowing the water
temperature can be important for several reasons.
The first thing you should know is the approximate temperature that you should
stop fishing for trout. Provided reasonable care is taken, there's nothing wrong with
catching trout on the fly with water temperatures up to the low seventies if you care to
I'm well aware of the stress factor warm water causes that you commonly read about.
Without going into detail, let me just say that can certainly be a problem but not near
to extent many want to make it out to be. Unless you fight a trout a long time under
marginal water temperatures on a very light tippet, that isn't likely to be a problem. A
much bigger problem is catching them will not be easy. Contrary to what many think,
when water temperatures reach the low seventies, the trout almost cease feeding.
This isn't directly due to the temperature, rather indirectly. The trout's metabolism is in
high gear. The problem becomes the low dissolved oxygen levels associated with the
The temperature of the water and the oxygen content are inversely proportional. It
doesn't change on a straight line basis. It changes on a sharp curve. The higher the
water temperature, the lower the oxygen content of the water.
Studies done on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park have shown that when
the water is in the low seventies, the trout will actually lose weight. They simply don't
feed as much.
The solution is to find cooler water, but if you insist fishing in water in the high sixties
or low seventies (which I do not recommend because of the increased difficulty), find
the higher oxygenated areas of the water like cascades, plunges, etc. The problem
with that is often you will find low water levels associated with high water temperatures.
Low water levels equates to slow moving water. Slow moving water isn't turbulent.
Regarding the question of whether or not it hurts the fish to catch them in water as high
as let's say, seventy degrees, the answer is no - not if reasonable care is taken. By
that I mean, if the fish is released quickly after being caught, they should be fine.
However, when water temperatures are in the low seventies, it's best to leave the fish
alone. The point at which high temperatures can hurt the fish varies from species to
species, area to area and exactly how much stress is put on the fish during the catch
and release process. As a general rule, in regard to trout in the streams of the
Smokies, I suggest looking for cooler water anytime the water is close to seventy
Some believe that trout caught in warm water swim off and then die. That's possible of
course, but not probable. When a fish that is overextended, so to speak, revives and
swims off, it's usually fine. Don' try to revive them. Just release them quickly. What
does hurt the fish, especially at high water temperatures (and air temperatures after
being caught) is keeping them out of the water too long. Far worse is mistreating
them. I see photos all the time where people have laid trout on the ground (usually by
their rod) and photographed them. That's not good.
All fish have a slimy coating on them that helps protect them. It helps prevent fungus
for one thing. It's easily removed from their outer body. Handling them with dry hands
and/or worse, a dry landing net can do it. Always wet your hands and net before
landing fish. Laying them on the dry ground or any dry object can remove portions of it.
I should also mention that you should not fight a fish a long time on ultra light tippets
under warm water conditions as this adds to the stress. If a large trout is caught and
fought for a long time, it can be easily over stressed. It is possible to do that.
One of the first things we advise anglers to do is to fish early in the mornings, when the
water temperatures are the coolest. By early, we mean from not long after sunrise to
about 10:00 AM. This is earlier than most fly anglers get up in the mornings but it may
be the only time the trout are active and the only time you can catch them in the lower
and sometimes, even middle elevations without adding undue stress.
In the early mornings, the low water temperatures and low light conditions are usually
favorable. When the water temperature is around sixty-eight degrees F., there's
nothing wrong with fly fishing for trout, but you do need to know the warmer
temperature of the water does affect the trout. In general, when water reaches the
high sixties it becomes much more difficult to catch trout and again, this is especially
true if there is low water conditions which are often associated with warmer than
normal water temperatures. .
Low water conditions can be responsible for the water temperatures rapidly changing.
It takes less time for shallow water to adjust towards the air temperatures than it does
By the way, fishing in the shade makes absolutely no difference with regards to water
temperature. You will be slightly cooler but the water, if moving, won't be. The water in
the streams of the park doesn't have thermoclines and it moves along, usually at a
good pace. The water temperature under the shade of a tree is almost identical as it is
in the unshaded areas of the stream. Where water flows for several hundred yards
exposed to the direct sunlight, it will usually be warmer than water that flows for several
hundred yards under shade but other than that, there's no appreciable difference.
Fishing in the shade may have some other advantages, especially when it comes to
catching the brown trout, but in the streams of the Smokies, not because the water is
cooler under the shade of a tree.
Another handy item of equipment that helps out in most summertime fly fishing
situations involving warm water conditions is a GPS that shows elevation, or at least a
good map that shows the elevations. Higher elevations almost always have cooler
water. You don't necessarily need a GPS with elevation data to navigate to higher
elevations of the streams you are fishing. It's just good to know just how elevation
changes affects the water temperatures. It will confirm the elevation, or what you
otherwise have to guess at.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
New Schedule of Daily
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Conditions Forecast - Coming Week
Tuesdays: Fly Fishing Strategies -
Which Flies To Use - Coming Week
Wednesday: Fishing Tales
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Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout
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