Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 06/26/17
Good morning! We are at the beginning of another week of fly fishing opportunity in
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Three or four days ago, based on the weather
forecast, I would have never thought the streams would be running low. I expected just
the opposite. Facts are, we could use some rain and it doesn't look like there is much
of a chance of it until this coming weekend. I guess everyone should start getting use
to fishing low water levels again.
The streams are not real low, by any means, but low enough that you need to put more
emphasis on staying hidden from the trout than you have during the past few months.
The water is warmer and the trout are going to seek the most oxygenated sections of
the streams. The broken surface of the water, helps conceal your presence to some
extent, mostly by distorting the view the trout get of the world outside the water. You
still need to stay as low as possible.
We recommend fishing the middle and higher elevations. If you fish the lower
elevations, do so in the early mornings.
Fish'n Tales: (New Series - See the Menu of articles on your right: We plan on
replacing these every two or three days. Note that this is something I am just sitting
down and writing mostly off the top of my head, with no editing. It isn't intended to be a
professionally done release of any kind )
Some things we learned the first four years.
At the end of the fourth year of fly fishing exclusively, Angie and I had fished in all of
the states with streams that hold trout except California, Oregon and Washington. We
had fished about two-thirds of the Top 100 Trout Streams listed in a book that was out
at the time. After realizing that, we set an objective to fish them all. That wasn't a major
objective, just something we wanted to accomplish. We were discovering that some of
the streams listed were not as good as some not listed. The author tried to give all
sections of the country equal opportunity, but facts are, some sections just have better
streams than others. In subsequent years, we managed to fish 96 of them, including
most all the major streams on the West Coast. This was just the beginning. We fished
full time, exclusively fly fishing, for the next several years.
During those first four years, we had discovered that wild trout and native trout, were
usually much more difficult to catch than stocked trout and that the newly stocked trout
were not at all selective. We also discovered that stocked trout that had been stocked
as fingerlings were a different thing. They were difficult to tell from wild trout as far as
the difficulty in catching them. In general, hold over trout, or trout that have been
stocked a few months or more, were almost as difficult to catch as wild or native trout.
We also learned that in general, brook trout, wild or native, were easier to catch than
rainbows or brown trout. We found cutthroat trout were not quite as difficult to catch as
rainbows or browns. We learned that slow moving, clear water was far more difficult to
catch trout from than fast, pocket water, and that smooth flowing, spring creeks were
the most difficult to fish.
I mention what I have written in the above paragraph, because we had determined that
most of the time anglers were talking about how to catch trout on the fly, or what they
had accomplished in terms of their success, that they were comparing apples and
oranges. The type of water and type of trout, greatly determined the difficulty of
catching trout on the fly.
Moving from one stream to another and from one section of the country to another, we
also learned that when anglers and fly shops began describing trout flies using local
names, a Montana trout fly, or a Smoky Mountain trout fly, for example, that the names
being used were actually meaningless. Trout flies should imitate insects, baitfish or
crustaceans, etc., or the food trout eat. Having taken samples from throughout the
nation, we knew there was no difference in any species of insect regardless of where it
existed. In other words, a Quill Gordon in the Smokies is the same Quill Gordon that is
in Maine, or a certain species of baetis mayfly, was the same in Colorado as it is in New
As I mentioned in previous articles in this series, we also learned that most all the trout
flies that were on the market being sold by fly shops, numbering into low thousands,
didn't imitate any specific insect or other food. It was very obvious that the main
emphasis on the appearance of the flies was mostly all to do with dry flies, or flies that
floated on the surface, where trout actually only obtain a small percentage of the food
they eat. We knew many anglers preferred dry fly fishing and that was one of the main
reason for that, but no excuse to place most all the emphasis on them.
We also learned, and please don't take this as if I am trying to knock fly shops, that
most fly shop owners and salesmen were at the Kindergarten grade level when it came
to knowing even the basics about aquatic insects. If questioned about any of them,
they usual response was that it didn't matter. I can't blame them for trying to stand up
for the products they were and still are selling. They didn't and still don't have any
other option but to sell the generic trout flies that for the most part, are imported by
As mentioned in a previous article in this series, during the forth year we were fishing
for trout almost exclusively, all of the above convinced me of one thing - the fly fishing
market was in bad need of improvements. That is why that in addition to producing
instructional videos on fly fishing for trout, during our fourth year, I set another
objective. That was, to capture and video all of the real foods trout ate, and to
eventually come up with better and more specific imitations of the real things that could
be named after the real things. It was the beginning of Perfect Fly, even though it was
a few years later when we had our own patterns and flies to sell.
Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)
Today, will be mostly sunny with a high near 78. Light and variable will be from the
northwest at 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Tonight's low will be around 54.
Tuesday, there is a 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before 2pm. It will be mostly
cloudy, with a high near 74. Wind will be from the northwest around 5 mph in the
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data: Click the
links to see updates:
Little River: Rate 146 cfs at 1.89 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 341 cfs at 1.58 ft.
(good wading up to 500 cfs and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 61 cfs at 2.36 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River: It is flowing a below a normal level.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake:
They are all flowing below a normal level.
Recommended Trout Flies:
In addition to the two list below, you can always send us an email
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or call us at 800 594 4726 providing the specific times
you plan on fishing the park, and we will provide a list of flies and other associated
gear and equipment you need.
Trout Flies Currently Needed:
Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6
Black and/or Olive Matuka Sculpin:
Size 4, 6, 8
Blue-winged olives: 14 and 18 baetis BWOs,
Little Yellow Stoneflies: 16/14
American March Browns: 10/12
Short Horned Sedges: 20
Green Sedges: 14/16
larva (green rock worms)
Light Cahills: 14/16
Cinnamon Caddis: 16/18 (mostly Abrams Creek)
Eastern Pale Evening Duns: 14 (some call these Sulphurs)
Golden Stoneflies: 10/12
Little Green Stoneflies: 16
Inch Worms: 10, 12, 14
Japanese Beetles: 14/16
Carpenter Ants: 16/18
Sandwich Hoppers: 6/8/10/12
New: Trout Flies You Will Need Soon (through 6/31/17, in addition to
those on the above list.
Slate Drakes: 10/12
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.
Not all of the insects you see above will be hatching in the same location. It is usually
only two or three. It varies with the elevation. Some are just starting in the low
elevations and some about finished in the higher elevations. 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 the BWO or maybe the Light Cahill nymph. If you spot something hatching (coming
off the water), change to the appropriate emerger, dun or adult imitations of the insect.
Tips for Beginners:
Don't let anyone intimidate you by contending that fly fishing is more difficult to learn
and master than other types of fishing. It isn't.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
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Copyright 2017 James Marsh
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Fly Fishing The Great Smoky
Mountains National Park:
(Year-round Dry Fly Fishing) This new
DVD (2 Disc Set) provides over 4 hours
of fly fishing for trout in the park. See
all of the streams and witness the
action. Learn everything you need to
know in order to successfully catch
brown, brook and rainbow trout on the
fly. Fishing methods, strategies and
much more are covered. Learn all
about the insects and other food the
trout eat and how to imitate it.
Techniques for each season of the
year are covered.
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