Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 02/18/15
The weather forecast graphic outline for the next week still looks more like a
Christmas card than a weather report. It is decorated with snow flakes from one end
to the other.
I'm continuing with part 3 of the Little Black Caddisfly article:
As mentioned in the last article, the adult Little Black Caddisflies are only on the
water for a few seconds when hatching, and probably never over a minute, or so.
You will have far better results fishing an imitation of the pupa than an adult fly
pattern. The reason is the trout have a much easier time eating the pupae on their
slow accent to the surface to hatch than they do the newly emerged adults on the
surface. Never-the-less, some anglers prefer to fish the dry fly and use an adult
imitation during the hatch. There's nothing wrong with that as long as you understand
that in terms of numbers of trout caught, the odds of success are less than they
Also, as previously mentioned, female adults from previous day hatches often begin
to deposit their eggs before the hatch ends. This usually occurs near the end of the
hatch, but it's not uncommon to see both the hatch and egg laying occurring at the
same time. In that event, you have at least equal and sometimes much better odds of
using the adult imitation.
Keep in mind that, depending on the weather, the entire time period of the hatch is
usually only an hour or two. On cloudy, overcast days, the hatch last longer. If it's
cloudy, the egg laying usually starts before the hatch is over but it usually last until
dark. Unlike many other caddisfly species, the Little Black Caddis don't continue to
lay eggs after dark.
Some species of Brachycentrus caddis (Little Black Caddis) dive into the water to
paste their eggs on underwater objects. The ones that hatch in late Winter and early
Spring deposit them on the surface. I'm mentioning this only to avoid confusion
because there are species of this genus that dive to deposit their eggs. Those can
also be imitated with the adult fly pattern because after diving into the water to
deposit their eggs, they do return to the surface and drift for a few seconds before
departing the water. In the Smokies, that is the species that hatch later in the year
and only in very small quantities.
Once the hatch has ended, you should change your fly to an imitation of the adult.
There's a very simple way of determining where to present the fly. Cast it wherever
you see the Little Black Caddis depositing their eggs.
Fish the adult dry fly pattern in a dead-drift fashion wherever you see the most
activity. Most of the time, I fish the adult fly down and across. Usually the adult dry fly
works great but factors such as the water and air temperature can affect the activity
Very late in the day, near dark, there may be a lot of spent caddisflies on the water.
In pocket water streams such as we have the Smokies, they usually collect in the
eddies and slow, calm pockets along the banks. If you find this situation, that's
exactly where you want to present the adult fly pattern. Sometimes the trout will rise
to it when it's just drifting slowly around in circles in the eddies. They will also collect
at the heads of the pools in the calm water adjacent to plunges below riffles and runs.
Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)
Today, snow showers are likely, mainly after 8am this morning. It will be mostly
cloudy, with a high near 25. West wind will be around 5 to 10 mph increasing to 10 to
15 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph. The chance of
precipitation is 70%. Total daytime snow accumulation of around an inch is possible.
Tonight snow showers are likely, mainly before 11pm. The low will be around 2. Wind
chill values are between -10 and zero. The chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow
accumulation of around an inch is possible.
Thursday, there is a slight chance of snow showers before 8am, then a chance for
flurries before ending. It will be partly sunny and cold, with a high near 13. Wind
chill values will be between -4 and -14.
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 495 cfs at 2.40 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 156 cfs at 2.79 ft (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 a little above a
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake. I'm sure
they are approaching a little higher than normal levels.
Current Recommended Streams: Upper Abrams Creek, if you can get there.
Check the park road closings.
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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