Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 06/11/14
Headline News! The big Hexagenia mayflies are hatching. Yes, these are very
large mayflies that get the attention of trout, bass and bluegills. They get the
attention of all fish; however, I didn't catch any fish when I discovered the hatch,
yesterday. I had gone with Angie to U.T. Hospital where she had some test done. She
had finished the test and we were leaving building "B" when she found the big mayfly.
It was on the sill of a hospital window. Yes, Hexagenia mayflies are hatching at
The only problem is finding the fish. There is a small lake down below the parking lot,
but it is man made, and one would be left to wonder how Hexagenia mayflies got in
the little pond. Something did dawn on me regarding the source of water where the
mayfly probably came from. As a bird flies, or in this case a mayfly, it is probably less
than a mile to the Tennessee River from the parking deck at the hospital. I think it
probably came from there because the Tennessee River does have the mayfly. Most
local warm water fishers call them Willow Flies, or at least they call them that on
Guntersville Lake. They look just like the Hexagenia limbata, or Great Olive Wing
Drake. It is impossible to tell down to the species without a microscope and it
probably is a slightly different species but I will assure you it is in the same genus.
They get so thick on the Great Lakes in July, they show up on radar. I'm not kidding.
Angie caught the mayfly and put it in a little bottle and we brought it home but it died
during the night. It didn't change into a spinner, so I assumed it just died from the
heat or lack of oxygen in the bottle. I intended to show a picture of it but I will have to
wait for her to get up and find my camera. She worked late last night filling fly orders.
I will post it on this page later on.
I know for a fact they can travel over a mile and do head for light during the night
when they emerge, that is, if any light source is available. Here is how I know for sure.
We were leaving the Au Sable river in Michigan, and heading back to Montana one
July when we stopped in the upper Peninsula and spent the night in a motel. The
next morning, our vehicle and the entire motel was covered in the big mayflies. The
lights of the motel attracted them from Lake Michigan, over two miles from there. The
motel manager said they come there every year from the lake. There is no water
closer to the motel than the lake.
When they hatch on Lake Guntersville, always in late May to early June, they cover
all the trees along the banks of the lake and also the bridges and power poles along
nearby highways. The bream and bass go nuts over them and you can catch a lot of
fish by catching and actually using the large mayflies. I feel sure they are hatching on
lower Little river and the Tennessee River at this time. We have caught the burrower
nymphs in Little River in the Townsend area and know they exist there. They exist in
the park also, but I've never found any in the same water wild trout exist in, although
they probably do in some places.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, showers and thunderstorms are likely, mainly after 2pm. It will be mostly
cloudy, with a high near 81. South winds will be from 5 to 10 mph. The chance of
precipitation is 70%. Tonight, showers and thunderstorms are likely before midnight,
then a chance of showers. The chance of precipitation is 60%.
Thursday, showers are likely and possibly a thunderstorm. It will be mostly cloudy,
with a high near 80. The chance of precipitation is 60%.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 103 cfs at 1.56 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 356 cfs at 1.67 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 70 cfs at 2.41 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. Yesterday it looked a little lower than normal.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake:
I am mostly guessing, but based on the rain fall map, they should be getting a little
Current Recommended Streams
I would avoid the lowest elevations. The forthcoming, slightly cooler weather (low 80's
versus low 90s) will help hold the water temps down.
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
8. Golden Stoneflies:
Hook Size 10/12
9. Moth Larvae: (Inch Worms): 10/12/14
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 Pale Evening Duns have been hatching. 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 have started to hatch 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.
Golden Stoneflies should begin to hatch anytime now, if not already. Like all
stoneflies, they crawl out of the water mostly at night. Fishing an imitations of the
nymph late in the day is a good idea, provided you know they are hatching in a given
area. Fish the adult when you see them laying eggs late in the afternoon.
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.
Light Cahills have started hatching and will continue for the next few weeks. This is a
good mayfly hatch for the Smokies and if you encounter any, you want to make sure
you fish it. If you encounter one today, you should fish the Light Cahill nymph in the
morning and for the next few days in the same area. This hatch tends to move
upstream a few days at a time. If you see the duns, you can expect the spinners to
fall late in the afternoon. They are very difficult to see and you probably won't see
them. Just fish the Light Cahill spinner pattern at the ends of the runs and riffles
where they will congregate. If a hatch has occurred, they will be there for certain but
sometimes it is quite late near dark.
There are plenty of moth larvae hanging from the tree limbs. Notice I added Inch
worms to the list of flies above.
Tips for Beginners:
You will find that by fishing as late in the day as the park rules allow will be a big plus.
Spinner falls and egg laying activity is at its peak just before dark.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
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Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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