Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 01/30/15
I keep reading that when the water temperature is in the low forties and high thirties
that the trout are sluggish, want eat much, have a very low metabolism, etc. I guess
those that write such BS should notify all the ice fisherman in the World about that to
keep them from waisting their time. Bless the steelhead (a rainbow trout) anglers.
Most of them haven't seen water over 40 in the last few days. They should stay home
and study metabolism.
The water in lakes below ice is always 39 and lower, and the ice fisherman don't have
any problem catching plenty of fish including trout. What is different about it that
counts, is the water is still, or moving very slowly. That is what you have to find and
fish in pocket water streams to catch trout in cold water - still or very slow moving
water. The trout will not be in moderate to fast current.
Also keep in mind, the drop in water temperature doesn't affect the trout in a direct
proportional manner. For example, the difference in how it affect the trout in the 5
degree increment range from 42 to 37, is much, much less than the difference in
water that from 37 down to 32. It is an exponential change, not a straight line,
Yes, it is more difficult to catch trout in the Smokies in cold water than temps in the
fifties and sixties but only because they are in holes in the bottom of the stream, or
behind rocks and boulders where there is little to no current. Dredging the bottom
with a heavy weighted nymph isn't the right strategy. The current on the bottom is
almost the same speed as the other current. You have to find holes below the
general or average bottom level or small areas behind larger rock and boulders with
slow moving water. Trout will eat as long as food is available and you only need them
to eat one tiny fly. The catching is very slow but only because It is difficult to find
those places out of the current, especially if they are below faster moving water and
they often are. The fly has to move slowly like the water they hold in and that too,
presents a sometimes difficult presentation problem. Once you catch fish under
these conditions, you can usually continue to catch trout under the same conditions
in the same exact spot time after time, year after year. From a surface area
standpoint, I think it reduces the holding areas of the trout down to less than ten
percent. Volume wise, even less than that.
Today, will be a good day to test it out. It is snowing as I write this and cold. The
water temps today will be getting near the freezing point. We can expect snow
showers before noon, then a chance of rain showers between noon and 1pm. It will
be cloudy then gradually becoming mostly sunny with a high near 36. Northwest wind
will be around 10 mph. The chance of precipitation is 70%. A total daytime snow
accumulation of less than one inch possible. Tonight's low will be around 17.
Saturday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 47. Wind will be from the northwest
around 5 mph. Saturday night's low will be around 28. More snow is expected. The
chance of precipitation is 60%.
Sunday, there's a chance of snow before 10am, then rain likely. It will be cloudy with
a high near 48. South wind will be from 5 to 10 mph. The chance of precipitation is
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 244 cfs at 2.02 ft..
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 377 cfs at 1.68 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 83 cfs at 2.48 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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