Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 01/23/15
Yesterday, I was rambling about how the colors red and pink appear to be different
colors at different distances underwater. Here is some more rambling for you. Water
absorbs different wavelengths of light to different degrees. The longest wavelengths,
with the lowest energy, are absorbed first. Red is the first to be absorbed, followed by
orange & yellow. The colors disappear underwater in the same order as they appear
in the color spectrum.

Red disappears at about 15 feet but that is in perfectly clear water and although it
may appear clear, the water in most trout streams isn't clear. If there is a little stain or
lots of dissolved particles in the water, red disappears much faster, or at a shorter
distance from the eye of a human or fish. Of course, the color doesn't just instantly
disappear. It dissipates gradually as the distance increases. For example, as a fish
approaches a red fly, it would constantly be changing from gray to red.

Without getting technical, the point to remember is that the colors fish see (just in
case you haven't checked on it in the last thirty years, fish can see different colors
very well), vary greatly with the amount of light passing though the water. Of course,
this changes with the time of day, the amount of cloud cover, and the amount of
shade from trees, etc. If you want a fly to be seen as much as possible, it should be
yellow. Most bass anglers are aware that chartreuse spinnerbaits work great for bass
in highly stained water and that's why.

It would take a thick book to cover the subject of light as it related to catching fish. It
is a very, very important factor, and can actually change on almost every cast you
make. A simple way I have always tried to explain this to someone who has a difficult
time understanding its effects on fishing, is that you want a fish to be able to see your
lure or fly. If not, you don't have a possible chance of catching a fish, that is, unless
you accidentally snag it. You just don't want a fish to see it well enough to detect it
isn't something to eat.

Notice, I haven't mentioned the importance of the amount of time a fish has to view a
fly. That too, is a huge factor. That is why Joe Blow can often catch a few trout in a
fast water trout stream on just about any junk fly.

What I have just written is also why just about any fly one could tie will eventually
catch a trout. It will be seen by the trout under varying light conditions. I don't think
you could tie a fly of a reasonable size that wouldn't catch a trout. The big question
is, how often. It always gets down to a matter of odds. That's why advise such as "try
such and such fly - you never know - it might work" is a joke. Buy a lottery ticket
today. You never know, it might be the winner. If you go fishing today, just shut your
eyes and select a fly from your local fly shop fly bin. You never know. It might catch a
however, I think much better advise would be for you to take a walk
down to the river and throw all your fly gear in the water and take up

The streams need some more water and it looks like we are going to get some.
Today's high will be near 43. Southeast wind will be around 5 mph. The chance of
precipitation is 100%. Tonight, we can expect more rain with a low of around 33. The
chance of precipitation is 90%.

Saturday, more rain in forecast with some snow before 11am, then a chance of rain
between 11am and 1pm. The high will be near 42. West wind will range from 5 to 10
mph. The chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than a half
inch is possible. Saturday night's low will be around 31.

Sunday, there is a 30 percent chance of rain, mainly after 5pm. It will be mostly sunny
with a high near 51. West wind will range from 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20

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

Little River: Rate 167 cfs at 1.78 ft..
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)

Oconaluftee River: Rate 322 cfs at 1.57 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 72 cfs at 2.42 ft (This gauge is also messed up due to
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)

Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. It was about normal yesterday

Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake. My guess
is they are about normal but I still have no reports.

Current Recommended Streams: Any of the lower elevation streams with trout.
Certainly, Abrams Creek would be a good one.

Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 20/18

2. Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6

3. Cream Midges: 20/22

4. Winter Stoneflies: 16/18

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. Winter stoneflies should begin crawling
out of the water to hatch within the next few days.

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:
Learn to imitate the most plentiful and available insects and other foods at the time
you are fishing, or continue to use trial and error methods and forever be a mediocre

Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:

Whatever Hits Me:
Thank you

James Marsh
Copyright 2015 James Marsh
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