Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 12/16/14
Heavy rain woke me up very early this morning - too early for me to rise and shine. It
looks like there are still a few scattered showers around at 6:30 this morning, but the
rain is about gone, and the skies will be clearing up soon. The bad news is there is
rain and snow in the forecast from Thursday through Sunday. I say bad, but in
reality, it depends on the amount, and that is yet to be known. Maybe things will turn
out better than I'm anticipating. I don't think the trout will care, one way or the other. It
is wet where they live around the clock.

Hiwassee River, Tennessee, part 3:
The Hiwassee has some insects you won't see in very many tailwater trout streams
and I'm not exactly certain as to why. My guess is that it has something to do way the
water is delivered to the power house - through a ten mile long pipe. I don't think the
pipe has any effect on it but the manner in which the water is discharged from the
lake may have something to do with it. In some ways, the tailwater acts much like a
freestone stream. The temperature of the water being discharged in any tailwater
has a huge affect on the insects that live in the stream. So does the pH of the water
and I have not checked that at the Hiwassee. Another thing about the insects is that
certain ones only hatch in certain sections of the tailwater.

One insect that you see there and not so often in most other tailwaters are Slate
Drakes. Those are from the
Isonychia genus of the Siphlonuridae family of mayflies.
The most important species is the
Isonychia bicolor. These are big swimming nymphs
that hatch out of the water like a stonefly. You see fly companies selling dry dun flies
for the hatch, but they are only people that haven't finished bug kindergarten. The
duns rarely get in the water, only the spinners. They hatch from May to September
but mostly dwindle down to almost nothing during July and August, and then pick
back up again. They are not bi-brooded, rather just hatch over a long period of time.

There's another very unusual hatch that takes place for a tailater, although I don't
think it is very prolific. It is the Hendrickson (female) and Red Quill (male). It takes
place in April.

Another unusual one is the White Drake. This hatch takes place in September and
again, isn't very prolific but occurs.

Then you have several species called Blue-winged Olives including a few
species. They hatch about half of the year or more. Then there's the true Sulphurs.
These two hatches are probably the most important two mayflies, but keep in mind,
any hatch is important when it is taking place, regardless of the size and intensity.
And more importantly, any insect is important because they are in the stream
year-round, not just during a hatch.  

You also have a few Light Cahills. These don't exist in most tailwaters. Then there is
a good hatch of Tricos, or the white-winged curse in the late summer.

The river has a huge variety of caddisflies with a lot of net-spinners. That tells me the
pH isn't low, for sure. There are Little Black Caddis, Cinnamon Caddis of several
species, Little Sister caddis, Little Brown caddis, Green Sedges and Great Autumn
Brown sedges. There caddis hatching much of the time.

There are several stoneflies, again something not so usual for a tailwater. Little
Browns, Winter stoneflies, Little Yellows and even a few Golden Stoneflies exist in the

The river has a huge variety and population of baitfish and scupins. Streamers are a
very important fly to use on the Hiwassee and often bring the larger fish to the net.
Then you have the terrestrials, something most everyone thinks is a bigger deal than
I do. Imitations of them will work. The river has plenty hoppers, ants and beetles.

Oh yes, don't forget the mighty midge. They are there in huge numbers and hatch
year-round. It is just that they are far more important when the water is in the high
thirties and low forties because they are usually about the only thing hatching.  

Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, there is a 40 percent chance of showers but that's this morning and about
over. The high will be near 54. West wind will be from 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as
high as 20 mph. Tonight's low will be around 35.

Wednesday, will be mostly cloudy with a high near 47. Northwest wind will be around
5 mph.

Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:

Little River: Rate 165 cfs at 1.77 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)

Oconaluftee River: Rate 218 cfs at 1.55 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 68 cfs at 2.40 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
yesterday afternoon.

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
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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