Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 07/04/17
Happy 4th of July to everyone. There are a lot of people visiting the Smokies today,
and I hope everyone enjoys the day. It should be cloudy for most of the day. That
should be a help in the way of catching trout. It appears the weather guys and gals are
expecting some accumulation of rain today and tonight. They are predicting from 1/4 to
a 1/2 inch today, and the same amount for tonight. That totals a 1/2 to 1 inch. The
streams could use the water. They are low and a little warm in the lower elevations.
There are a lot of insects listed below on our fly list. Each one could hatch in a stream,
but many of them are only going to do so in isolated areas of the streams and in low
concentrations. There are not going to be any heavy hatches except possibly Light
Cahills, and Little Yellow, or Little Green stoneflies. They have been hatching good.
Sulphurs are mostly in pools and most of the pools have gotten too warm lately. There
are not many pools with any soft bottom in the higher elevations. State Drakes could
hatch, but are just starting to do so. The little Greens look much like the little Yellows,
but prefer slower water.
Some are catching a few trout on terrestrial imitations. I wouldn't fish them as long as
anything was hatching, but would sure give you a shot after a heavy rain. Our yard,
oak tree trunks, and porch is covered with Carpenter ants.
Oh, by the way, one of the turkey hens that raise little ones in the heavy cover of a
steep bank across the street each year, is now displaying her ten youngsters. They
are fun to watch. She leads them in a single file from across the road through our yard
and up the driveway into the woods at the rear of the house. The look like little solders,
marching in line, following their mother. I'm doing my best to get a picture of them this
year, it isn't easy. It may be a week or two before we see them and I never have a
camera handy. We have spotted others in past years maybe two or three days in a
row. We have seen them twice this year in the last month. They are a little larger than a
crow or pigeon right now.
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 - part 2.
The first four years of exclusively fly fishing, or from approximately 1999 to 2003,
taught me one thing that was the same frustrating thing I had been experiencing during
the previous twenty years of fishing for a living primarily for saltwater species. I learned
much the same things that I learned the five years prior to that fishing the professional
BASS tournament circuit. After the BASS fishing, during the twenty year period of
fishing an average of at least 200 or more days a year, from coast to coast in the U.S.,
as well as many other countries, I ran into one thing that just about always was very
obvious. Wherever, I traveled to fish, almost all of the local, so-called experts that were
regular working and/or retired people, or guides and/or charter boat captains, were
stuck in their ways of fishing and often stuck into fishing only a few places over and
over. In other words, they were not flexible or diverse in their strategies or methods of
fishing at all. They basically just repeated the same things over and over, and when
they were unsuccessful, they blamed it on the fish or the conditions.
They were always confident they knew all they needed to know, and actually believed
that if they didn't do well, it was due to the conditions or the fish, not anything to do with
their strategies or methods of fishing.
Both freshwater and saltwater regional and national tournaments usually illustrated and
proved that point well. Anglers that fished new water a few times often outperformed
anglers that had fished the same location for years. In most cases such tournaments
didn't exist, and there was no way to make real comparisons. It was just assumed.
At first, producing TV programs on saltwater fishing 52 weeks a year for five years,
almost always in a different location, and the subsequent 18 years, producing
instructional videos on mostly all saltwater fishing, almost always in a different location
and usually with different professional anglers and captains, made it perfectly clear
that the single biggest problem all the professionals (guides, captains, mates
and anglers) had was a lack of flexibility and versatility. They basically knew a
few things well about a few species, and only at a few locations. They basically did the
same thing, day in and day out. They changed methods and tactics with the seasons,
but relied on the same things they had success with over and over.
I discovered that I had a huge advantage about anywhere I went to fish with others who
had a reputation of being one of, if not the best, at catching the species I was pursuing
at the location I wanted to fish. Sometimes, things went great, but I always noticed that
when it didn't go well, the pros that I was fishing with were not very flexible or diverse,
rather stuck in their ways. If I tired to point out things I thought would work, that I had
seen and experienced working at other locations for the same species, they usually
took it offensively, or as criticism. I was the boss, but if I pushed hard to do it my way, it
often ended up causing problems.
Often, I had to learn the hard way to deal with the problem. If I didn't, I almost always
failed to accomplish what I set out to do - catch fish and teach others how to do it. If I
didn't make progress on a TV show or instructional video program, it was very costly. I
didn't accomplish anything that I would later be paid for. In other words, I was working
but not making any money.
After just a year or two of doing that, a couple hundred days a year or more, I
learned I had a big advantage almost no one ever picked up on. I was in training
or had a fishing school class about everyday, from the best of the best of teachers. I
had an different expert in fishing for many different locations for different species of
fish. I was learning new methods and techniques everyday, and from different
teachers. I was going from one University to the another, learning from a different
professor at least every week or more. All were highly experienced and many World
renounced angles, mates and captains. My classroom was the whole world with the
So, when I began to fly fish exclusively, doing the same thing I had done full time for the
past many years, I had a big advantage. I knew how to go about learning what I needed
to know. I knew most of the things I would learn from local experts would be the same
type of things I had learned for years for other types of fishing and species at other
locations from other experts who were for the most part, not very flexible or versatile. I
quickly discovered that fly fishing for trout, was no different in that regard than many
other types of fishing. There was always plenty of local experts that thought they knew
Almost everyday, I would run into someone local to the area or stream Angie and I were
fly fishing for trout, and after trying to tell them what i was doing, and often what I had
done for years, it always ended up with the person telling me how long they had been
fishing those waters, and how well they knew what they were doing. They would say
something like "I've been fishing these XYZ waters for thirty years". Knowing, he was a
weekend warrior or recently retired person, I knew I had probably fished more that
year, or maybe during the past few months, than he had fished in his lifetime, I would
just have to grit my teeth and listen. After all, whatever I said to such a person, usually
went right through one ear and out the other. They would often be quick to remind me
that it took time to learn all the little things I needed to know about fly fishing for trout,
again, not realizing I had already fished for trout more than they had.
Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)
Today, expect showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 11am, then showers and
thunderstorms are likely, mainly after 5pm. It will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 84.
Wind will be southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. The chance of precipitation is
70%. New rainfall amounts of between a half and three quarters of an inch are possible.
Tonight's low will be around 68. The chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall
amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.'
Wednesday, there is a slight chance of showers, then a chance of showers and
thunderstorms after 8am. It will be partly sunny, with a high near 84. West wind will
range from 5 to 10 mph. The chance of precipitation is 30%.
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 114 cfs at 1.76 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 261 cfs at 1.40 ft.
(good wading up to 500 cfs and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 51.0 cfs at 2.30 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River: It is flowing below a normal level.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake:
They are all flowing below normal levels.
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 Eastern BWOs
Little Yellow Stoneflies: 16/14
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
Slate Drakes: 10/12
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 7/31/17, in addition to
those on the above list.
Cream Cahills: 14/16
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.
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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brown, brook and rainbow trout on the
fly. Fishing methods, strategies and
much more are covered. Learn all
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