Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 01/20/14
I am going to leave the comments I made yesterday at the bottom of the page up for
another day. I have noticed that many guys who fish the cold water in the Smokies
tend to fish nymphs in the fast water runs using both the high sticking method and
regular upstream dead drift methods. Most of them try to keep their fly on the slow
side of the current seam at the edge of the run but even so, there is a problem with
this. Unless your fly happens to fall into a hole or behind a rock where there is slack
water that's out of the current, you are usually just waisting time. Again, the trout
won't hold in the fast water when the water temperature is in the thirties. The other
problem with it is that even if the fly does happen to get into slack water areas on the
bottom, the current is usually dragging the leader and fly too fast. It should drift very
slowly in the slowing moving, slack water. The bottom line is you shouldn't fish the
fast water runs. That is fine when the water is warmer and mostly a big waste
of time when it is very cold. If you didn't do so yesterday, I suggest you read the
article at the bottom of the page.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today will be sunny with a high in Gatlinburg near 53. West wind will gusts as high as
20 mph. Tonight, there is a 40 percent chance of snow after 3am. The low will be
around 31 degrees. Snow showers are likely on Tuesday, mainly after 7am. It will be
cloudy with a high near 34. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph. The chance of
precipitation Tuesday is 70%. We could get as much as an inch of snow.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 440 cfs at 2.43 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 735 cfs at 2.19 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: 159 cfs at 2.83 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 cfs, and with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby but it is back near normal level.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
is they are about normal levels.
Current Recommended Streams
I recommend Abrams Creek. The water will be slightly warmer. You may try the larger
streams in the lower elevations where trout exist.
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 20
nymphs (this would be the main fly)
2. Midges: Cream
Hook Size 20/22
3. Sculpins: Especially good in off color, high water & early/late in the day
Hook Size 6
White Belly Sculpin
4. Winter Stoneflies: 18/16
Recommended Fishing Strategy:
Fish the size 20 BWO nymph. You might change to a Winter Stonefly nymph but I
wouldn't recommend it until late in the day. High stick or otherwise, keep the fly on
the bottom out of the current.
If you fish Abrams, fish just downstream from the Abrams Fall trailhead. The farther
you travel downstream, the lower the water temperature will be.
You can fish the upper spring creek section above the little walk bridge but you
better stay well hidden. It is best to stay back away from the banks and stay in a
keeled down position. You might try hiding behind some of the big trees if they are in
the right position for you to hide. Usually, the trout run off and hide before you can
get into position to see them. It isn't easy fishing, but it is fun and you can catch them
if you work hard at it. Fish it from the Abrams Fall trailhead bridge upstream as far as
a few hundred yards above the bridge at the loop road.
Tips for Beginners:
Use a strike indicator but keep the nymph near the bottom.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
I'm sure you know it should be a good day for stalking larger trout. The water is very
clear and you won't freeze to death, unless you fall in
Whatever Hits Me - If your going to fish cold water, I suggest you either grasp the
following or stay at home. I keep hearing and reading where guys stress adding
weight and keeping your fly on the bottom of the stream. That's to some extent
correct and good advise, but there is much, much more to it than that. You
should keep the fly on or near the bottom BUT only in areas of the stream where
there is very little to no current.
That's only a small percentage of the stream's bottom. It is usually where there is a
smaller size hole in the bottom or substrate that is lower in elevation than the majority
of the stream's bottom area. It is always the slow side of any current seam. It can also
be the bottom is certain areas of the pools and pockets within the stream.
The key is to keep the fly in areas of the water that's out of the current. This
may be areas of the water column that is below current but that makes it difficult to
control the speed of the fly because the speed of the upper level current tending to
drag your fly. You could keep the fly on the bottom of the stream
all day long today and never get a strike.
Trout will not hold in current when the water temperature is in the low to upper
thirties. They get out of the current to keep from expending energy they cannot
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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