Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 02/07/15
We have been getting a lot of website activity on our Great Smoky Mountains
National Park site the past several days. There are lots of people planning fly fishing
trips to the Smokies within the next two or three months. I'm answering a lot of email
from out of town anglers wanting to fish the park. A good percentage of them are
youngsters that are planning their spring break trips. I don't know if it is the lower fuel
prices or what, but the activity is way up over the last couple of years. This is
very welcome and good news.
I'm continuing the Blue Quill articles: Blue Quill Duns:
I hope you have read the other four parts leading up to this article on the Blue Quill
Dun. If not, this won't be as helpful as I would like for it to be. I will repeat this from
"By the time the Blue Quill mayfly becomes a dun, it's usually caught up in a current
seam where the slower water meets faster moving water. During the time the mayfly is
emerging, it's usually still in the smoother, slower moving marginal water".
As just mentioned, the Blue Quill duns usually get caught up in the current seams
between the fast and slow to moderate water they hatch in, but depending on the
weather at the time they hatch, they don't always drift on the surface a long ways
before they are able to fly. In some cases, they are able to hatch and fly off the
slower water before they get caught up in the current seams. This means you need
to cast the imitation of the dun to where it lands at the edge of the slower water they
normally hatch in, but very close to the current seam. When they do get caught
in the current seams, which is most of the time, they usually drift a few feet before
they are able to fly. Since they hatch when the water is as cold as fifty degrees, and
continue to hatch in a given area of a stream even when the water becomes colder
than that, they often drift for as long as twenty feet or more before being able to fly.
My guess is the average length of the dun's drift is probably around twenty feet.
Most of the time the duns are caught in shallower riffles that adjoin the slack water
areas of the streams but they can also hatch adjacent to a fast water runs. In this
case, the duns drift farther than they normally would before they are able to depart
When you make your upstream presentation of the dun, you want to target the
current seams but you want the fly to land in the slower side of the seam, not the fast
water side. At times the trout will take the fly within a few seconds of the time it lands
on the water, but not often. You want to get as long of a drag free drift as possible.
The problem is making a good, longer presentation whereas the fly lands on the
water without any disturbance. To make this simple, catching trout consistently on
Blue Quill dun imitations requires good cast and good presentation skills. This isn't a
matter of making a lot of short, upstream presentations that lands in fast water. It
requires cast that on the average may be thirty even forty feet long, yet land exactly
where you intend for the fly to land and with little to no disturbance. Trout feeding on
the Blue Quills can see you better than trout feeding on many other mayflies. It also
requires the fly drifts drag free without having to mend the line instantly. In fact, you
don't want to have to mend the line before the fly is caught in the faster moving water
at all, if you can avoid it. The bottom line is catching trout on Blue Quill imitations of
the dun or the emerger, is more difficult than it is imitating many other mayflies. This
is the main reason most anglers that fish the Smokies prefer making a lot of short
presentations in the fast water runs and riffles. They can get by with a lot more.
You also need to use longer, lighter leaders and tippets. Most of the time you can get
by with using 9 foot leaders ending in a 6X tippet. Longer and lighter leaders than
that aren't needed but anything less in length and larger in size, becomes a
disadvantage. Also, the trout usually get a decent look at the Blue Quills, much better
looks than they usually get of the Quill Gordon duns and other clinger mayflies, for
example. That means having a good imitation of the real mayfly dun is even more
important. Our Perfect Fly Blue Quill duns will catch more trout than any of the
generic, common fly shop patterns that are suppose to be Blue Quill dun imitations.
Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)
Today will be sunny with a high near 59. Southwest wind will range from 5 to 10 mph.
Tonight's low will be around 36.
Sunday, expect iIncreasing clouds with a high near 61. Southwest wind will be from 5
to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Sunday night, there is a 50 percent chance
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 401 cfs at 2.21 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 470 cfs at 1.85 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 121 cfs at 2.65 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. Yesterday, it was getting near a
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake. I'm sure
they are nearing their normal levels.
Current Recommended Streams: Any of the lower elevations streams with
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, Winter stoneflies
or small Blue-winged Olives. Switch to the adult Cream Midge, if it is midges
hatching, Winter stonefly, 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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