Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 12/19/14
A few days ago, the long range forecast didn't look very good for this weekend. The
forecast has improved a lot and although we may possibly get too much rain and/or
snow tonight and Saturday morning, the forecast doesn't really seem to be all that
bad. I feel quite sure it will result in some roads being closed in the park, but the high
temperatures on Saturday and Sunday should end it soon. Of course, the higher
elevations in the park are a completely different thing. You can expect to see "on top
of old Smoky, all covered with snow" in real time.

Tuckasegee River, North Carolina, part 3:
If you read the past two articles on the Tuckasegee River, you probably picked up on
the fact that it isn't difficult to catch a lot of trout during the fall and winter months
when the stream is being heavily stocked.

We have a couple of pages on the
Tuckaseggee River on our Perfect Fly website,
with a link to the
release schedule for the East and West tailwaters from Duke Energy
that make up the flows in the delayed harvest section of the stream. I don't need to
repeat the information that on those pages. I will say that the odds of catching trout
change greatly with the particular time you fish the river. I took our associate and
good friend Chris Christopher, there last August, because he wanted to try out a new
bamboo Spey rod he had built on a larger size river. It was his first chance to use the
rod, and it was close to where we were fishing in the Smokies that day. He is as good
of a fisherman as good gets, and he failed to catch a trout. The water temperature
was fine at the time, meaning it was cool enough that day for trout to be happy. I feel
certain the reason he didn't catch a trout in about two hours of fishing, is there wasn't
any trout in the water to catch. The delayed harvest section of the Tuckasegee River
doesn't have many, if any, holdover trout. Some of the upper sections above there
do have holdovers, so I'm not referring to the entire river system.

The river has a few mayflies, a very few stoneflies, and a lot of caddisflies. There are
a lot of net-spinning caddis of several different species as well as free-living Green
Sedges (rock worms), along with some cased caddis species. After the trout have
been in the stream for a month or so, they begin to get a little wiser about what to eat
and where and how to find it. In the popular delayed harvest section, most of the time
because of the regular stocking, generic flies seem to work just fine, but the trout that
have been there for a couple of months will definitely eat specific imitations of the few
mayflies and many caddis species, much better. Using the specific imitations at
anytime, will catch just as many of the newly stocked trout, but also give you an edge
on catching higher numbers of those fish that have been there for a while.

Getting the discharge information is critical. If you travel there expecting to wade, and
they are running very much water, you can forget it. You would have to have a drift
boat or pontoon type vessel. On the other hand, I have seen guys hire guides with
drift boats when they had to get out of the boat so the guide could pull it through
certain locations in the shoals that cross the river. I have seen this cause a problem
for wading anglers because it spooks the fish and they often have to move because
of drift boat use in very slow current and low water levels. If they are running water,
you can rent one of the guides (rent a boat and oar man) but if it isn't running high,
you won't need a guide in the delayed harvest section. I promise you won't get lost.

Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, in Gatlinburg, it will be partly sunny with a high near 48. The wind will be from
the north around 5 mph in the afternoon. Tonight, there's a chance of rain before
5am, then rain and snow is likely. The low will be around 33. The chance of
precipitation is 60%. A new snow accumulation of less than a half inch is possible.

Saturday, rain and snow is likely before 10am, then a chance of rain. It will be cloudy
with a high near 47. Wind will be from the west around 5 mph in the afternoon. The
chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch is
possible. The low Saturday night will be around 33.

Sunday, it will be mostly sunny with a high near 52. Wind will be from the north
around 5 mph. There is a 50 percent chance of rain, mainly after 11pm, Sunday

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

Little River: Rate 142 cfs at 1.69 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)

Oconaluftee River: Rate 273 cfs at 1.45 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 58 cfs at 2.34 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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