Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 05/20/14
We had several Perfect Fly customers, local and visiting, who did very well catching
trout this past weekend. Four of them are still here and I'm sure will be enjoying the
excellent current conditions. There is usually someone who doesn't do well,
especially those just getting started, but this past weekend, those we heard from, all
reported having a great time and catching plenty of trout.
It is going to be much warmer and that will result in a few changes in the aquatic
insect hatches within the next few days. It will also increase the intensity of some of
the current hatches. That's sounds good, but beware - multiple hatches can cause
more problems than they solve. I will be addressing this later on in the week.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today will be mostly sunny with a high near 81. South winds will vary from 5 to 15
mph becoming west in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph. Tonight's
low will be around 58.
Wednesday will be mostly sunny with a high near 86. West winds will be from 5 to 10
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 189 cfs at 1.79 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 425 cfs at 1.72 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 98 cfs at 2.55 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby and I haven't seen it this morning
yet, but its probably about normal
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
is they are near a normal level.
Current Recommended Streams
Today, I still think you can fish about anywhere in the park and do just fine. By
tomorrow, I would begin to avoid the lowest elevations. It isn't that you can't catch
trout down low. It certainly won't be too warm yet, but simply because you will have
higher odds of success in the middle elevations. The higher elevations will get in
great condition for catching lots of brookies in another day or two and you may prefer
to do that. You can catch plenty now, but it will be even better later this week.
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 16/20
2. Sculpins: Especially good in off color, high water & early/late in the day
Hook Size 4/6
Black Matuka Sculpin
Olive Matuka Sculpin
3. Light Cahills:
Hook Size 16/14
4. American March Browns: 10/12
5. Giant Black StoneflIies: 4/6
6. Green Sedge (Caddisfly):
Hook Size 14/16
larvae (Green Rock Worms)
7. Little Yellow Stoneflies:
Hook Size 14/16
Miscellaneous Hatches Occurring in the Smokies:
Cinnamon Caddis and Little Sister caddis:
I should mention that you may find some Cinnamon Caddis, sizes 18 and 16, about
the middle of the month of May, along with their Little Sister Caddis, size 18. These
are usually found in the slower sections of the larger streams but only in very small
quantities and only in isolated locations within the stream. Abrams Creek has plenty
of both of these caddisflies and if you fish Abrams I suggest you have imitations of
The Eastern Green Drakes are probably about finished at Abrams. The hatch started
early but was delayed by the cool spell of weather but it came back fairly strong
recently. Fishing it is an almost waste due to the park regulations regarding when
you have to stop fishing and also, when you have to get out of Cades Cove. That's
just the time the big spinners start falling. We did have one customer that did well on
the duns this past weekend.
The Eastern Pale Evening Duns have begin to hatch. These mayflies are called
"Sulphurs" by local southern anglers but are not true Sulphurs. They are a size 14
and slightly larger than the true sulphurs and very common in nearby tailwaters such
as the Clinch and South Holston. The true Sulphurs will start to hatch about the first
of the month in the Smokies and at times you may find both species. The Eastern
Pale Evening Duns have more of a tan colored body and hatch in faster water than
the true Sulphurs. The true Sulphurs have more of a sulphur colored body, are
slightly smaller, and hatch in slower water but often very near fast water runs and
riffles. Neither of these mayflies are plentiful in the Smokies. They are crawler
nymphs and found mostly in pockets and pools with areas of softer bottom. They can
be plentiful but only in very small, isolated sections of the larger streams.
Recommended Fishing Strategy:
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 of success. 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.
Until I spotted something hatching, I would fish the BWO nymph. Right now you have
two completely different size BWOs hatching, one a size 20 and another closer to a
size 16. The only time I would change from the nymphs just mentioned is when and if
I saw something hatching, and then I would go to the appropriate emerger or
dun/adult imitation of that insect.
American March Browns are hatching but they are always sporadic hatches that are
difficult to predict in terms of the time of day. They will hatch off and on over a long
period of time, for the next couple of months. If you see any duns emerging, change
to an American March Brown emerger or dun. That also means there will be a
spinner fall late in the day near dark and that always concentrates them. You can
catch several trout very fast if you catch that right.
Giant Black stoneflies are also likely to hatch but the hatch occurs near or after dark.
Fishing the Giant Black stonefly nymph near the banks very late in the day should be
very effective. If you see any Giant Black stoneflies laying eggs, switch to the adult
Little Yellow Stoneflies are hatching. If you see any adults during the day, it is a good
idea to fish an imitation of the nymph late in the day and near the banks of the
stream. They crawl out and hatch during the darkness of the night. You may also
spot some of the females laying eggs. This usually occurs late afternoons and if so,
be certain to fish an imitation of the adult.
Green Sedges should start to hatch in the lower elevation first, and then progress
upstream as the days go by. The do not hatch in big numbers but where they hatch,
trout will focus on eating them because they hatch at a time of day that is different
from other hatching insects at this time of the year. It usually occurs later in the day
near the same time the previously hatched adults are depositing their eggs. You
should concentrate far more on fishing the Green Rock Worm or larva stage of life of
the Green Sedge.
Tips for Beginners:
I'll leave this up for another day.
If you play golf you should know you can hit a ball with any club in your golf bag.
Similarly, you can catch a trout on any fly in your fly box. That said, if you expect to
score good in a golf game, your odds will be much higher if you select the best club
for the circumstances. If you expect to catch plenty of trout on your fishing trip, your
odds will be higher if you select the best fly for the circumstances. In the case of the
golf club, it will always be the one that hits the ball within the distance range the next
shot should be. In the case of the fly, it will always be the one that best imitates the
appearance and behavior of the most plentiful and easiest to acquire food.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Read the tip for beginners
Whatever Hits Me:
Thanks for visiting
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Please enter your e-mail address in
the box to sign up for a free
subscription to the Perfect Fly "Fishing
Journal". It includes feature articles on
blue-ribbon destinations , fly fishing
techniques, and many other types of
articles of interest to any fly angler. You
can opt out at any time. If you decide
you don't want to receive our
information, just change your status by
clicking at the bottom of an e-mail we
send you in the "Remove" box. We will
not sell or give your e-mail address to
New! If you haven't signed up
previously, please sign up for
our Free Perfect Fly Fishing
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing the park and
we will send you a list of our fly suggestions.
Please allow up to 24 hours for a response.
2. Call us at 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Call or email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select them
and get them to you in time for your trip.
Shipping is free in the U. S. for all orders of
any size. Orders over $50 are shipped free via