Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 03/31/14
I talked to two different guys fishing in the park this weekend who were very
disappointed with their catches, or actually, lack of catches. At the time I talked to
them, one had caught one trout and the other caught none. Both guys were using
dropper fly rigs. How, when and where they came up with the idea that they should
use dropper rigs is beyond my knowledge. I wouldn't dare pry into their reasoning. I
can only guess.
Maybe they though two flies doubled their chances. Maybe they like to use the dry fly
as a float or strike indicator. Maybe they thought trout eat nymphs a few inches
under the surface.
To be completely blunt, a dropper rig used in the Smokies at this time of the season
reduces your odds of success. This isn't to say there is never a time and place for
them. It is to say to be using one during the late morning at this time of the season
(such as both of the two guys were doing) isn't very smart.
I guess it makes it a little easier for those who do not know how to fish a nymph on
and near the bottom where it should be fished. Maybe they have bream fished with
worms most of their life and the dry fly "float" sinking signals something is eating the
bottom fly and it is time to yank.
If something is hatching, the dry fly sometimes catches a few trout, but a dry fly with a
dropper tied to it can never be presented as natural as one without a dropper
attached. Nymphs are not found suspended a foot or so under the surface. They live
on the bottom of the stream.
At the time I talked to these guys, the water temperature was probably in the low
forties, and it was two or three hours before anything that might hatch would hatch.
The trout were not feeding on the surface. Using the dropper rig prevented the small
nymph on the dropper from getting anywhere near the bottom where it should have
To be perfectly blunt, neither guy had a clue what they were doing. The dry fly on the
dropper rig didn't come close to imitating anything that might hatch and the little
prince nymph one guys was using on the dropper (which imitates a stonefly nymph)
wasn't imitating a stonefly because they are NEVER found a foot deep in water that's
two to four feet deep. I wanted to tell them both, they should learn to fish one fly right
before attempting to fish two. I just told the both to go home, get warm and they
would catch just as many trout. Of course I'm kidding.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
There should be some frost on the ground this morning. It will be sunny with a high
near 68. Tonight's low will be around 45.
Tuesday should be mostly sunny with a high near 74. NWS Forecast
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 416 cfs at 2.38 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 642 cfs at 2.12 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 111 cfs at 2.63 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. It is probably high this morning.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My
guess, based on the precipitation map, is they are a little high
Current Recommended Streams
Any of the streams in the lower to middle 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 4/6/8
Black Matuka Sculpin
Olive Matuka Sculpin
3. Little Brown Stoneflies: 14
4. Blue Quills: 18
5. Quill Gordons: 12/14
emerging duns (wet fly)
6. Little Black Caddis: 18
Recommended Fishing Strategy: NO CHANGES
Keep in mind, the strategies I am recommending is for the maximum odds of
catching numbers of fish. Many prefer or favor a dry fly and by all means there
isn't anything wrong with that. It's just a fact that if nothing is hatching at the time, it
reduces your odds. You can still probably hook some trout, just not as many as if you
fish subsurface. Of course, this is also based on using good techniques and the right
flies. Some guys don't know how to fish below the surface.
There's a chance you could see some Little Brown stoneflies laying eggs this
afternoon. It is also possible to see some Blue Quills, BWO and Quill Gordon
hatching. Until I spotted something hatching, With the Quill Gordon exception
mentioned below, I would fish the BWO or Blue Quill nymph. If I still hadn't witnessed
a hatch, about 3:00 PM, I would switch to a Little Brown stonefly nymph. In an area
where you spotted Quill Gordons hatching the previous day, you should fish the
Quill Gordon nymph until they begin to hatch. The odds are good they will continue
to hatch and the clinger nymphs are out from underneath the rocks exposed.
The only time I would change from the nymph is when and if I saw something
hatching, and then I would go to the appropriate emerger or dun/adult imitation of
that insect. In the Quill Gordon case, if the hatch is taking place and the trout are not
feeding on the surface very much, use the Emerging Quill Gordon wet fly.
There is a good chance the Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, Little Black Caddis and baetis
BWO's will hatch today. Any or all of them could hatch in the lower to middle
elevations. Little Brown stoneflies will likely hatch but the hatch occurs near or after
dark. Fishing the Little Brown stonefly nymph near the banks very late in the day
should be very effective. If you see any Little Brown stoneflies laying eggs, switch to
the adult pattern.
The Little Black Caddis Brachycentrus (American Grannoms) (size 18) hatch mid
water like many mayflies. They don't crawl out of the water. They fly off the water.
Use an imitation of the pupa during the hatch, and adults during egg laying.
Tips for Beginners:
I'm leaving this up for another day; Fish nymphs until you see surface activity and
then switch to your dry fly imitation of what you think is hatching. It will be one of
the above insects.
Some quick tips on identifying them.
Mayfly duns have upright wings. The Quill Gordons are big, size 12 to 14, with dark
bodies and wings, the Blue Quills have very dark wings and bodies and are little, a
size 18, and the Blue-winged Olives have olive bodies and light wings and are little,
size 18. The Little Black Caddis are dark and little, a size 18, with tent shaped down
wings. The Little Brown Stoneflies will be small for stoneflies but fairly large compared
to the other insects other than the Quill Gordons. They are a size 14 with flat down
wings. You will sometimes see them dipping down to touch the water late in the day.
And by the way, you may catch a few fish on a Parachute Adams but they are
really a pitiful imitation of anything hatching at this time of the year. They are
not even close. It is about all the mom and pop fly shops have to sell. If you
want to fish them, we sell them along with all the other generic flies, but at a
$1.00 each and that's delivered to your front door.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Read the above tips on identifying the insects because it is obvious that many of you
that think you are an expert can't even identify the few insects currently hatching.
Whatever Hits Me:
Plenty of work to do
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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