Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 01/27/15
Just a reminder that the January Issue of the Perfect Fly Fishing Journal is going out
tonight, so if you haven't signed up for it, please do so. It is free. The form is on your
right below and only requires an email address. The Journal has a very long article
on fishing cold water along with several other interesting articles including one on fly
fishing for Sheefish. Yes, that is what I wrote - Sheefish. No, they are not salwater fish.
It looks like we are going to have a very cold day today, at least cold to someone who
spent most of his grown life in Florida. The high will be 37 and it is currently snowing.
I expect some roads will be closed in the park.
Snow showers should end by 8am this morning. It will be cloudy with a high near 37.
Northwest wind will be around 5 to 10 mph. Tonight's low will be around 20.
Wednesday, will be sunny with a high near 42. East wind will be around 5 mph
becoming north in the afternoon.
I am continuing the articles I wrote back in 2012 on Winter Stoneflies.
Winter Stoneflies - Part Two
Winter stoneflies are weird little creatures. In the middle of the Winter, their nymphs
crawl out from beneath their rocky bottom homes up through cracks and crevices of
the rocks and across the bottom of the stream to either the nearest rock that
protrudes out of the water or on the bank to hatch. They will do this even when
snow and ice covers much of the surface at the edges of a stream they have lived in
for a year. Even though the little hatched-out adult stoneflies have four wings rolled
around their bodies, they will stay in the snow and ice around the banks of the
streams rather than fly away to a tree or bush. They start looking for mates like
freshman college kids just set free by their parents.
Until I read some boring scientific studies, I wondered why these nymphs don't freeze
when they climb out of the water in below freezing temperatures. The nymphs
emerge as adults either in air pockets between the water and surface ice (which
provides an insulated area), or out on the cold banks covered with snow or ice in air
that's below freezing temperatures. Without going into all the scientific stuff that none
of you are interested in, the little adult bugs supercool. That means they are capable
of cooling to a lower temperature lower than the air without freezing.
The scientist think the little flies have what amounts to anti-freeze compounds in the
fluids of their bodies. They also think that they like the snow because they can get
under it in air spaces and avoid the subzero freezing temperature of the air above
the snow. That's like Eskimos living in igloos. By the way, that's also thought to be
why their bodies are either brown or black - to absorb solar radiation.
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 254 cfs at 2.05 ft..
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 425 cfs at 1.77 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 87 cfs at 2.50 ft (This gauge is also messed up due to
ice) (good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. It was getting near normal
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake. My guess
is they are most likely near normal levels.
Current Recommended Streams: Abrams Creek
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
5. 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:
Copyright 2015 James Marsh
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