Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 01/26/15
I had an email last night asking exactly what a Winter Stonefly is. I answered it and
decided to write some about them in today's report. Curious as to what I had
previously written, I found a series of articles I wrote in early 2012. I don't see any
point in repeating the information, so I will do what in the TV business is called a
re-run. Here is the first part of the 2012 article on Winter stoneflies. There are four
parts to it, so I will be continuing this for the next three days.

Before I get started, lets first look at the use of common names of stoneflies.
Entomologist normally don't use common names for insects at all. In fact, they almost
seem to enjoy making fun of us amateur bug guys and anglers that try to simplify the
insect terminology by using common names.  I can understand their concern.
Common names can be misleading even when they are used for fishing purposes.
They are especially confusing when it comes to the use of colors for names. There
are not but nine families of stoneflies. The species within the nine families are not  
that difficult to tell apart. Out of the nine families of stoneflies, four of them are often
called Little Brown Stoneflies. The Capniidae, Nemouridae, Taeniopterygidae and
Leuctridae families of stoneflies are all called Little Brown Stoneflies. Even more  
confusing is the fact that not all Little Brown Stoneflies are brown. Many species of
these four families of stoneflies are black. The thing that should be remembered
about these four families (and it isn't the Latin names of them) is that they are usually
small, less than a half-inch long.

There's another problem with using colors for names of stoneflies. Some anglers
think the color refers to the adults or fully grown stoneflies, and some think it means
the color of the nymphs and probably some think it means both the nymph and the
adults. Most of the time, the color of the nymphs is different from the color of the
adults. The other problem is the worst one of all. Little Yellow adult Stoneflies aren't
all yellow. Little Green Stoneflies, a common name used for the Chloropertidae  
family of stoneflies, aren't all green. Some of them are yellow. I could go on and on
but the only thing I would like for you to take from this is from the get go, lets forget
using colors alone for the names of stoneflies. If color is used, the name should
include more to help further identify it.

Winter Stoneflies:
The common name "Winter Stoneflies" refers specifically to two families - Capniidae
and Taeniopterygidae. Here again, the Latin names of the families aren't important to
remember. Notice both families are called "Winter Stoneflies".

From now until about the middle of March, both of these families of stoneflies are
important because for a week or two prior to the time they hatch, they represent food
that the trout can easily acquire. They have to come out from under the rocks on the
bottom of the streams and crawl out of the water on rocks or the bank to hatch.
During that time, the trout can easily grab them for a meal. They can't swim. They
can't even crawl very fast. The trout have a very easy meal.

Now keep this in mind. Out of the two families of Little Winter Stoneflies, there are 15
different species that have been identified in the streams of Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. Here they are:

Family Taeniopterygidae - Winter Stoneflies
Boltoperla rossi (Frison 1942)
Oemopteryx contorta (Needham & Claassen 1925)
Strophopteryx fasciata (Burmeister 1839)
Strophopteryx limata (Frison 1942)
Taenionema atlanticum Ricker & Ross 1975
Taeniopteryx burksi Ricker & Ross 1968
Taeniopteryx maura (Pictet 1841)

Family Capniidae - Winter Stoneflies
Allocapnia aurora Ricker 1952
Allocapnia frisoni Ross and Ricker 1964
Allocapnia fumosa Ross 1964
Allocapnia granulata (Claassen 1924)
Allocapnia recta (Claassen 1924)
Allocapnia rickeri Frison 1942
Allocapnia stannardi Ross 1964
Paracapnia angulata Hanson 1961

I listed these, not that you need to know anything about them other than the fact
there's that many different ones and they don't all hatch at the same time. Any one
species of them don't even all hatch at the same time in the same stream. In other
words, there will be hatches occurring at different times and at many different places
for the next couple of months.

I hope that you can see that knowing something about these little bugs could help
you catch trout during the next couple of months. In the next part of the "Winter
Stonefly" series of articles, I will go into how you can go about imitating these nymphs
when they start becoming exposed and later, when the adults become important and
how you can imitate them. The good part about these bugs is that all behave almost
exactly the same way.

I think some roads in the park will be closed today, so you may want to check with the
Tweeter Bird.

For today, we can expect rain showers before 1pm, then a chance of rain and snow
showers. The high will be near 41. Northwest wind will range from 5 to 10 mph. The
chance of precipitation is 80%. Little or no snow accumulation is expected. Tonight,
there's a chance of rain and snow showers before 9pm, then a slight chance of snow
showers. The low will be around 27. The chance of precipitation is 30%.

Tuesday, there's a slight chance of snow showers before 2pm, then a chance for
flurries. It will be cloudy with a high near 40. Northwest wind will be around 5 mph.
The chance of precipitation is 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 272 cfs at 2.10 ft..
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)

Oconaluftee River: Rate 464 cfs at 1.84 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 91 cfs at 2.52 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 high yesterday afternoon
but rain last night may make it a little high today.

Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake. My guess
is they are most likely still be a little high.

Current Recommended Streams: None

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

Little Brown Stoneflies: 14

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 and Little Brown stoneflies will start very soon, if not already.

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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