Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 02/25/15
We got 4 to 5 more inches of snow yesterday, and since the temperature hasn't gone
above freezing, it's still on the ground. The roads are in good shape. Pigeon Forge
does a great job of clearing them, even the smallest least traveled ones like we live
on in the foothills. The ultra high taxes pays off in that respect. They are going to
have more work to do. That much more snow is likely to fall tonight and tomorrow.
I still cannot think of much to write about. Actually, I could, I am just down and out with
the continued cold weather and don't feel like it. Right now. I will run what I consider
an interesting article that was in our last Perfect Fly Journal: If you are one of the
16,000 plus that receive this Journal, please accept my apology.
The Sheefish and some of our country's finest men:
I had to pause and think fast when Donald Kinser called me and ask me to
recommend some flies for his upcoming trip to a remote part of Alaska. He wanted
flies for trout, salmon and sheefish. I said, "do you mean "Stenodus leucichthys", and
he said, "say what"? Actually, thanks to Google, I just this last minute made that part
of our conversation up. I had heard of Sheefish before, but I had to pause and think
fast to know what to say about a Sheefish. Thanks to Google, the scientific name of
the sheefish is Stenodus leucichthys, but it is one species of fish I have yet to catch.
As a matter of fact, it is most likely one I will never catch.
At one point in my life, I had hopes of one day catching every species of sportfish
recognized by the IGFA, or International Game Fish Association. I was narrowing the
list down to a number very possible for me to reach but a few years ago, that became
a dream, rather than a reality. I can't remember exactly when, but at some point in
time, I think around the early 1990's, the IGFA added several new species to the list,
some of which were so rare it could possibly take days, possibly even hundreds of
days, to catch. I don't remember if the Sheefish was one of them or not. About all I
really knew about the sheefish is they existed in Alaska, and a few countries such as
Russia, and were very large fish. I don't think they are terribly difficult to catch or very
rare, but I do know they take a lot more than a normal amount of effort to pursue. I
confessed to Don that I didn't really know what flies to use, but that I could certainly
find out and get back to him. He and his partners were planning on fishing the
I did a little research for this article because I wanted to show the pictures of the
sheefish that he and his partner caught, which I am sure most anglers have never
heard of, much less seen or caught. I sent Chris Tobias, one of the regular writers for
this Journal an email and asked him. He currently lives in Anchorage. Chris is the
main contact I go to with questions I have about steelhead and salmon because he
has been fishing for them most of his life. He responded with recommendations and I
forwarded them to Don.
What is far more important than the big, rare Sheefish these guys caught, and
certainly my input is the story behind the trip. The genesis of this great adventure
started as a request last Fall from the Warrior Bonfire Project
Three gentlemen, Hank Zachary, Bruce Hare, and Don Kinser planned the Wounded
Warrior trip for Iraq war vet, Jake Altman. You can read about Jake in this news
article. The three of them escorted Jake down 195 miles of the Kobuk River in
Alaska from Walker Lake to Ambler. They were on the river for 15 days. A single
engine Beaver dropped the four men on a small beach on the shore of Walker Lake
in the middle of the Arctic wilderness of Alaska. From that point, it was 13 days
before they saw any sign of human habitation and 15 days before Brooks Range
Aviation met them in Kobuk Village, 125 miles downriver from their starting point. Of
course, they weren't always completely alone.
I will continue to keep the below fly recommendations posted - It is getting a
very good response:
As I have mentioned before, the "recommended trout flies" and "recommended
fishing strategies" listed below are for the current date, not future dates. That isn't
much help to those who want to know what to purchase for the next week, month, or
quarter of the year. We prefer you call or send us an email at Perfect Fly for that
information. The "options for selecting flies" box on your right has the toll free
number and email address for that.
For a change, today, I'm going to list the flies you will need for the month of March in
addition to those listed below except you shouldn't need the midges, or Winter
stoneflies much past the first two weeks of March. You will need the BWOs, Brown
Sculpin and Little Brown Stoneflies:
Blue Quills: 18
Quill Gordons: 12/14
Little Black Caddis: 18
Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)
There is a 50 percent chance of snow after 1pm today. It will be mostly cloudy with a
high near 36. Wind will be 5 mph in the afternoon. Tonight, more snow, mainly after
7pm. The low will be around 27. The chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow
accumulation of 2 to 4 inches is possible.
Thursday, snow showers are likely. It will be cloudy with a high near 37. The chance
of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
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: 587 cfs at 2.57 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 436 cfs at 1.79 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 125 cfs at 2.67 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
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake. Probably
just above normal.
Current Recommended Streams: Abrams Creek, but check the road access at
the park's Tweeter postings. The stream levels may be high and colder due to the
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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Warrior with a
Bruce Hare with
a huge Sheefish
Don Kinser and a
Jake Altman and
and a Grayling
Jake Altman, with
a big Sheefish