Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 02/28/15
It looks like we're finally turning the corner from Winter headed towards Spring. There
will be cold fronts passing throughout the month of March and April, but they usually
only last a couple of days before warm weather returns. There are a few
things I want to point out about determining whether or not to make an extended trip
to the park to fish.
1. Two USGS stations in or near the park have gauges that provide water
temperature. One is the Cataloochee station and the other is the Little River station
both of which are linked below under stream levels. Right now the Cataloochee
station is showing temps bouncing between 34 and 37 degree F. It is usually fairly
accurate for most of the streams in the park. The Little River station is located
outside the park several miles below water that holds trout. It is currently showing
temps bouncing between 36 and 38 degrees. It is usually anywhere from 3 to 7
degrees warmer than lower elevation streams that hold trout. In other words, you
should deduct a few degrees from its reading for it to be useful.
2. The water temperature at any one point in time is only an indication or indirect
factor in determining hatch times. It is the average temperature over a long period of
time that determines the exact hatch times. You will hear 50 degrees mentioned over
and over as being the time Blue Quills and Quill Gordons will begin to hatch but
again, that's only a guideline. For example, if it is the third week of March and the
water temperature averaging a high of only 46-48 degrees, you will probably find
both these mayflies hatching.
3. The water temperature doesn't have to be in the fifties to catch trout. I always
quote the fact Angie and I fished the entire month of April one year in Colorado,
caught about 700 trout, all recorded on video, fishing one at a time, and the water
temperature was never over 50 degrees. You may think the location makes a
difference in that respect, but it doesn't. Again, water temperature is only an indirect
4. Everyone tends to want to see big hatches of aquatic insects and most pay little
attention to the sparse hatches. This is a big mistake. Often, huge hatches don't
provide as much "catching" opportunity as the moderate and/or sparse hatches. One
reason is the trout have a lot of insects competing with your fake imitation.
5. Multiple hatches are the most confusing. For example, when the Quill Gordons,
Blue Quills, Little Brown stoneflies, Blue-winged Olives and Little Black Caddis are all
hatching in a given section of water, anglers often have a tough time catching trout.
You're better off with one insect hatching that you can identify.
6. At any one point in time, on any one section of a stream, Quill Gordons usually
only hatch for about 3 or 4 days. The hatches move upstream as the water warms.
The Blue Quills string out a lot longer in duration. They may hatch on a given section
of water for as long as two weeks. Most of the others mentioned above only last
about a week or less, again, at any one point.
7. When someones tells you such and such insect is hatching, it all depends on the
exact location they are fishing and it may change the very next day. It doesn't mean
they are hatching any and everywhere. Someone else may fish all day and not see
the first bug emerging. In other words, if you try to copy other anglers, you need to
take up golf or shuffleboard. During the month of March take the water temperature
yourself and move around, down or upstream accordingly, to where your fishing the
warmest water available..
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)
Today will be mostly cloudy with a high near 40. The wind will be calm. Saturday night
there's a 20 percent chance of rain after 4am. The low will be around 34.
Sunday, there's a 30 percent chance of rain, mainly after 7am. It will be cloudy with a
high near 49. South wind will range from 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon.
Sunday night there is a 60% chance of precipitation.
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: 365 cfs at 2.13 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 361 cfs at 1.65 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 91 cfs at 2.53 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: Lowest elevation streams that hold trout
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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