Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 12/15/14
I looked at the radar this morning and noticed the frontal line moving across the
nation that should arrive late tonight and bring some needed rain. According to the
long range forecast, there's another front that will follow that one and arrive in our
area on Saturday morning. The seven day forecast graph shows the high
temperature in Knoxville decreasing each day for the next seven days. The high in
Knoxville on Saturday is shown as 43 and on Sunday as 38 and it will be colder in the
foothills and mountains. We can expect cold weather and snow in the mountains this
weekend. In other words, it's not a good weekend fishing forecast.
Hiwassee River, Tennessee, part 2:
Continuing with the Hiwassee River, I should first mention it is a stocked trout stream.
There are not any wild, or stream-bred trout, but there are some, mostly brown trout,
that hold over through the summer. Most of the trout don't make it through the hot
months and that's the reason for the fairly new "delayed harvest" regulations. In fact,
the Hiwassee was the first "delayed harvest" trout stream in the state of Tennessee.
It is "catch and release" only from October 1st., to February 28th. Only artificial
lures and flies can be used. On March 1st, the regulations allow the meat fishermen
to keep trout. These rules are based on the fact the fishery managers believe most of
the trout will not make it through the summer anyway. At least it gives anglers
plenty of trout to play with during the fall and winter months.
When the water levels are low, with no turbines running, the trout that have been
stocked for a month or two can become a little difficult to catch. It is usually best
to use longer and lighter leaders and tippets. During high water levels, streamers
usually work well. There are a lot of forage fish in the river.
You can wade the Hiwassee when the water level is low and the turbines are not
running. In some areas, it can be waded when one is running. It can still be tough to
wade in some areas and you should use extra caution. It they are running water, a
driftboat, or pontoon type boat provides the best solution. I have seen kayaks and
canoes on the river, but I'm not sure how safe they are. I'm sure it depends on the
The type of flows change from the power house downstream to Highway #411. If they
are running much water, the river can have white water condition near the power
house. Like the Clinch River that I recently wrote about, the Hiwassee River has
shoals that run across the river that provide a variety of different types of water. You
will find just about every type of water in the Hiwassee, depending on the discharges
and levels. There are some smaller size pools, and runs and riffles of varying lengths.
Above the little community of Reliance to the dam, a distance of about six miles, is
usually the best area to fish. Some of it is bordered closely by a road but the Trophy
Section is not close to the road. It has a trail that you can use to access it, but it only
requires a moderate amount of hiking.
The section of the river from Reliance to the Highway 411 Bridge is quite different
from the upper section of the river. There are fewer shoals and it can usually be
waded much easier. During the cooler months of a year, this section of the river can
be very productive.
As with any stocked trout stream, there are various types of techniques that will work
depending on whether you are focusing on catching newly stocked trout; trout that
have been stocked for a few weeks that have become adjusted to eating the natural
food the stream provides; or the larger, holdover trout that didn't get big by being
stupid. The newly stocked trout can be caught on a large variety of flies, but nymphs
usually perform better than dry flies. Just keep in mind that using just any old fly to
catch the stockers will always decrease you odds of catching the wiser trout.
For a tailwater, the Hiwassee has a very large and diverse population of aquatic
insects, baitfish and crustaceans. I will get into the food the trout have to eat in the
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, will be mostly sunny with a high near 58. Calm wind will change to come from
the southwest around 5 mph. Tonight, there is a chance of showers, then showers
and possibly a thunderstorm after 1am. The low around 41. The chance of
precipitation is 80%.
Tuesday, there's a 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before 10am. It will be
mostly cloudy, with a high near 53. Southwest wind will be from 5 to 10 mph becoming
west in the afternoon.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 162 cfs at 1.76 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 295 cfs at 1.50 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 65 cfs at 2.38 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby but it was in good shape
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake: They are
in good shape.
Current Recommended Streams: I would fish the lower elevation streams
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 20/18/16
2. Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6
3. Cream Midges: 20/22
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, assuming I was fishing a low to mid elevation
stream, I would fish a size 18 Blue-winged Olive nymph. Many of the species of
mayflies called Blue-winged Olives are bi-brooded, meaning they hatch twice a year.
They are swimming nymphs that dart around in short spurts and hide wherever they
can. They don't stay wedged up under the rocks like most of the other mayfly
nymphs, the majority of which are clingers.
If the water is below 43 degrees, I would switch to a Cream Midge larva and Cream
Midge Pupa tandem rig, with the larva the bottom fly and the pupa above it.
If you spot something hatching, it will most likely be Cream Midges or small
Blue-winged Olives. Switch to the adult Cream Midge, if it is midges hatching, or the
BWO Dun or emerger, if it is the BWOs.
Tips for Beginners:
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
Thank you for visiting our site. James Marsh, Pending CFO
(Chief Fishing Officer) Perfect Fly
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Twas 10 days before Xmas, when all through the
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