Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 03/04/14
No one has complained about the weather this winter any more than I. I guess much
of that comes from living in Florida for many years. When it was cold there, I was
usually traveling somewhere else, fishing such places as the Caribbean, or Central
America. That written, I sometimes have to remind myself that this website is about fly
fishing for trout, cold water species of fish. Fishing for cold water species is what I
have chosen to do on an almost exclusive basis for the last 16 years. If I visited a
psychiatrist (and I may dang well need to do that) and complained about the weather,
he or she would probably tell me something like "look, you idiot, your getting exactly
what you asked for".
A couple of days ago, I received the following email from Mark Karaba, an angler
from Michigan who is one of our Perfect Fly Fishing Journal contributing writers. I'm
leaving it completely unedited. If you, like yours truly, have been complaining about
the weather, I think reading his notes may make you feel a little bad about it. At least
it made me regret my many complaints about the weather.
A Drive Into Spring:
The trip was not planned. It started with a phone call from my brother. That was on
February 18. He was calling to see if I wanted to ride along with him to take our
mother down to see her sister and our aunt, to Knoxville, Tennessee. It would be a
short, four day visit. I said yes, I mean YES! Please! I only had one question....could I
bring my fly fishing "stuff" along? "Fine with me" was his reply. Now, of course I also
looked forward to seeing my aunt,and spending some quality time with my mother.
We left early the next morning around 7:00 a.m. I have made this trip to Tennessee
many times, though not with Knoxville as the exact destination, and not in February.
The drive was pleasant and thankfully, uneventful. My brother, who has made the trip
in February many times, commented that he had never seen snow cover all the way
through Indiana. Even the northern tier of Kentucky had patches of snow here and
As we drove on, the snow disappeared all together by the time we got into
Tennessee. Even the tops of the Smokies didn't appear to have snow and this was
unusual, as I have seen the mountain passes closed the first of April and at the same
time the Forsythia was blooming in Gatlinburg, with the tops of the mountains
covered in snow.
As we arrived in Knoxville, the thermometer read 50 degrees. When we stepped out
of the car at my Aunts house, it was like a dream. The next morning after breakfast
and a shower, we decided we should probably let mom and her sister get caught up
and not interfere with that sacred reunion and.....maybe we should go to the
mountains to give them plenty of time to bond. This seemingly unselfish act could by
sheer coincidence, lead to some random sightseeing, and could possibly lead to
some trout fishing, though mainly as a means of preoccupation,so as not to lead us
back to the house prematurely to possibly foul the atmosphere of two sisters in the
depths of conversation catching up on things. I felt that this was the responsibility of
considerate sons and nephews.
As we drove higher into the Smokies, the thermometer seemed to climb along with
us. By 1:00 p.m. It was 65 degrees. We had the windows down and as was fitting, the
radio dialed into bluegrass music. The sky was a deep blue with nary a cloud to be
seen. The snow shovel born blisters on my hands, seemed to heal as they hung out
the window, as if immersed in some traditional southern backwoods potion.
After a little bit of trout fishing and sightseeing, we decided to head back to Knoxville,
as it was late afternoon and food was the next order of business. I suppose, we
hoped that our considerate and unselfish act would not go unnoticed and possibly we
would be rewarded with a home cooked meal that would be ready to be dished out
upon our arrival. This was not exactly how dinner played out, but it was in the making
and served a short time later.
The next two days seemed to play out exactly the same as the first day - up early,
coffee, a bite to eat and we we're off. . It appeared the two sisters were in the depths
of bonding, and it seemed only fair for us to not interfere with two siblings catching up
on all things family and otherwise. So, for three full days, my brother and i dutifully
stayed away, in the mountains, on the rivers and streams, and with awesome weather
that was all in the name that seemed decent and righteous - good sons and nephews
with a sense of "doing the right thing for others" that we, after having been raised
properly, should do.
Early Sunday morning, we departed for home. Leaving this virtual tropical paradise
and driving back to the sub-arctic regions of southern Michigan. Getting back to the
normal daily routines involving most commonly,,shoveling snow, hauling firewood,
and repeatedly checking the ten-day forecast, which for week after week, has been
equivalent to the results of a scratch off ticket.
Midway into Kentucky, we drove into snow and, well, if you live in Michigan, you know
the rest of the story. After being home for a few days and staring at the largest piles
of snow that have ever adorned my yard, I have to really think hard to remember that
all too brief, short vacation that now literally seems like a dream.
Now, when I check the ten-day forecast, it is for Tennessee, and then, as I watch the
snow fall outside my window, for a moment, I remember that it was real.
Sent from my iPad.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today in Gatlinburg, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 46. The wind will be calm,
becoming northwest around 5 mph. Tonight's low will be 29. Wednesday will be
mostly sunny, with a high near 56. NWS Forecast
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 299 cfs at 2.11 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 525 cfs at 1.98 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 130 cfs at 2.71 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. My guess is it is back near a
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
is they are back near a normal level.
Current Recommended Streams
Any of the streams where trout exist in the lower elevations.
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 18
nymphs (this would be the main fly)
2. Sculpins: Especially good in off color, high water & early/late in the day
Hook Size 6
White Belly Sculpin
3. Winter Stoneflies: 18/16
4. Little Brown Stoneflies: 14
5. Blue Quills: 18
6. Quill Gordons: 12/14
emerging duns (wet fly)
8. Little Black Caddis: 18
Recommended Fishing Strategy:
There's a chance you could see some Little Brown stoneflies laying eggs this
afternoon. It is also possible to see some Blue Quills hatching in the very lowest
elevations trout exist. I would fish the BWO nymph until about 3:00 PM and then
switch to a Little Brown stonefly nymph. The only time I would change that strategy is
when and if I saw something hatching, and then I would go to the appropriate
emerger or dun imitation of that. The water temperature is going to in the low to mid
forties today. Fish the slow side of any current seams, pockets and pools where
there is little
to no current. If you see any Little Brown stoneflies,or Winter stoneflies laying eggs,
switch to the adult pattern. You will likely see some very small black caddis. I
suggest you ignore them. They crawl out of the water to hatch and we have always
been unable to catch trout trying to imitate them. Although it is probably possible, I
think the BWO nymphs, or even the Blue Quill nymphs which are out and about are
far better options.
Tips for Beginners:
Same as yesterday - purchase a stream thermometer and learn to relate water
temperature to other fishing data.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
High sticking would be my choice method of fishing today.
Whatever Hits Me:
I hope the first part of today's report will get everyone in a better mood. It worked for
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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