Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 05/17/15
Some people that claim to know what they are doing fly fishing for trout go all their life
not knowing the difference in a mayfly dun and a mayfly spinner. Some go all their life
not knowing the difference in caddisfly hatches and egg laying activity. Both are very
basic, elementary things that anyone over 6 years old that fly fishes should know. I
mention this because there is a lot of false information being spread around
the web about hatches taking place in the Smokies just before dark.
Stoneflies, mainly Little Yellow stoneflies and Giant Black Stoneflies, hatch at night,
but sometimes start late in the day before dark. Other than that, nothing of
importance is hatching very late in the day. The late afternoon flurry of aquatic
insect activity taking place is due to mayfly spinner falls and mayfly, caddisfly
and stonefly egg laying activity. Other than the possibility of a stonefly hatching
just before dark, nothing is hatching at that time.
American March Browns hatch sporadically from about 10:00AM until 4:00 PM and
almost never in any concentrations. Blue-winged Olives, Light Cahills, Eastern Pale
Evening Duns, Sulphurs and other mayflies that may be hatching now, hatch
(emerge) from about 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM.
Caddisflies, currently Green Sedges and Cinnamon Caddis are hatching from about
1:00 PM until 4:00 PM. Again, stoneflies, mostly Little Yellow, Giant Blacks and soon
to hatch Golden stoneflies, all hatch during the evening hours.
What is happening late in the day near dark is all the mayflies that hatched
throughout the day, changed from duns to spinners. The female mayflies are
depositing their eggs and then fall to the water and die, and the males fall as soon as
the mating is complete. This concentrates those mayflies that hatched during the day
into a 30 minute to an hour ordeal where the streams are covered with dead, spent
wing, mayfly spinners. You should imitate these mayflies with a spent wing imitation
of their spinner. For example, below are pictures of the Light Cahill (your left) and
American March (your right) Brown spinners.
At the same time this is going on, caddisflies that have hatched during the past few
days may be depositing their eggs and/or dieing on the water in the same area.
Stoneflies, especially the Little Yellows, that previously hatched may also be
depositing their eggs at the same time in the same places. And, yes, as I have often
written for the past few years, you can usually catch more trout in a shorter amount
of time during the spinner fall/egg laying period of time than you can any other time
during the day.
Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)
Today, there is a slight chance of showers between 8am and 11am, then a chance of
showers and thunderstorms after 11am. It will be mostly cloudy with a high near 79.
South wind will be around 5 mph becoming southwest in the morning. The chance of
precipitation is 50%.
Sunday, there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms. It will be mostly cloudy with
a high near 80. South wind around will be around 5 mph becoming west in the
afternoon. The chance of precipitation is 50%.
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: 134 cfs at 1.62 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 347 cfs at 1.62 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 77 cfs at 2.45 ft (good wading conditions up to 125 with
extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby but it is in good shape.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake:
Customers reported recently that Hazel Creek is in good shape.
Current Recommended Streams: All the streams are okay.
Recommended Trout Flies:
Hook Size 20/18
American March Browns: 10/12
Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6
Eastern Green Drakes: 4/6 (Abrams Creek Only)
Cinnamon Caddis: (mostly Abrams but a few in all of the streams) 16/18
Green Caddis: 14/16
larva (green rock worms)
Giant Black Stoneflies: 4/6
Eastern Pale Evening Duns: 14 (called sulphurs by some)
Little Yellow Stoneflies: 16/14
Light Cahills: 16
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.
If you fished the day or two before and know where something is hatching, fish the
nymph or larva stage of it. If you haven't fished the day or two before, until I spotted
something hatching, I would fish a size 18 Blue-winged Olive Nymph. They are little
swimming nymphs that are easily caught and eaten by trout and are still hatching. If
you spot something else hatching (coming off the water) that is relatively small, it will
most likely be Light Cahills. It it is relatively large, it will probably be an Eastern Pale
Evening Dun or American March Brown. Change to the appropriate emerger, dun or
adult imitations of the insect.
When March Browns, Light Cahills or Eastern Pale Evening Duns are hatching, there
will be a spinner fall late in the day. Often, you can catch more trout fishing the
spinner fall quicker than you can during the hatch. Change to the spinner imitation of
Giant Black Stoneflies and Little Yellow stoneflies are hatching, but of course, this
takes place during the evenings. Fishing a Giant Black Stonefly nymph or Little
Yellow Stonefly nymph very late in the afternoon near sunset should produce. If you
see the little stoneflies depositing their eggs on the surface of the water, switch to the
adult imitation of the Little Yellow stonefly.
Eastern Pale Evening Duns, often called Sulphurs but not true Sulphurs (which will
hatch later on), are still hatching in some areas. These are not any and everywhere,
but some of the larger pools. Sulphurs should begin to hatch anytime now. I will add
them to the list later this week.
As mentioned above, Light Cahills are hatching. Look for them in the faster water
areas. They will get caught up in the fast water runs and riffles.
Tips for Beginners:
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
Copyright 2015 James Marsh
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