Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 07/20/17
Another Thursday, and the day I usually give my advise as to whether or not those
planning a trip to fish the Smokies for the weekend, head this way. It is amazing to me,
that I am right at least half of the time. I finally figured out why. I base my advise on the
weather forecast and it is right about half the time.
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss
people. Therefore, I have an idea. If you are planning a trip to fish the Smokies this
weekend, don't worry about whether the weather is going to be good or bad. The trout
will be there, waiting on you, whether the weather is good or bad. I never let something
like weather interfere with my fishing the past sixty-five years, and I probably got to do
more of it than anyone, so why should you.
It looks like we will have a chance for some rain this weekend. That's good news. All of
the streams need it, especially those on the Tennessee side of the park. The water is
low and that requires some extra caution. It requires some extra thought.
Don't just get out of your vehicle and walk up to the water and step in one of the
streams. Stop a few yards back from the edge of the stream and study the water. Take
a minute or two, and decide where you think the trout will be holding. HInt-hint! Try the
riffles or runs, or where the water is moving the fastest. The broken surface of the
water will help disguise your presence by distorting the view the trout get of the world
outside the water.
Plan your approach. Determine where you can enter the water, staying hidden from the
trout, yet have the best opportunity to present your fly in that area of water. If you just
enter a stream and start casting, without giving any thought as to how to avoid
spooking the trout, you will have to be one lucky angler to catch a trout.
Fish'n Tales: (New Series - See the Menu of articles on your right: We plan on
replacing these every two to four 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.
The next six years of the learning curve - part 2
Part One of "The Next Six Years of the Learning Curve", mentioned that we had moved
to Gatlinburg. Not only did that put us at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it also
put us much closer to most any trout stream in the United States. We spent much of
our time during this six year period fishing in the Smokies and Yellowstone National
Park. We wanted to produce instructional videos on both national parks that including
fishing during all applicable seasons (Yellowstone isn't year-round like the Smokies),
and on all the streams in the parks. During that period of time, we made hundreds of
trips in the Smokies, which we could almost hit with a rock from our back door, and 16
trips to Yellowstone National Park that lasted from two to three weeks, to as long as two
months a trip.
Some of the time at Yellowstone, included trips to nearby rivers outside of the park -
the Madison, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Snake, Henry's fork of the Snake, Ruby and other
streams we could easily reach from one of the three places we stayed to fish
Yellowstone park - West Yellowstone, Gardiner, and Cook City, all in Montana.
There were many other trips made from our home in Tennessee, to various parts of
the nation that have trout streams. We revisited each major section of the country each
year fishing new streams and repeating fishing many of the better ones. During the
winter, we continued to fish the streams in the Southeast, and at times, the Southwest,
but we also made several trips to central and south Florida, including at least one trip a
year to the Keys. There, we fly fished for several fresh water species - largemouth
bass, bream, and peacock bass, as well as numerous saltwater species - tarpon,
snook, king and Spanish mackerel, bonefish, permit, sailfish, dolphin, wahoo, shark,
baracuda, bonita, tuna and other species. We made a few other coastal saltwater trips
to South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
On each and every fishing trip for trout, Angie and I collected insects from streams to
photo and video. We had special video permits from both National Parks, and special
permits to capture, video/photo insects. By the way, they are not free.
I could write one or more books on just the insects, but to summarize what we were
finding out, let me just say that almost everywhere we visited, we found out there were
local flies favored in the area, but when it came down to trying to determine the food
they were designed to imitate, no one seemed to know. When we asked fly shops and
local anglers what such and such, local fly imitated, the answer was maybe at best, a
mayfly, stonefly or caddisfly. In most cases, no one really knew. Most of them were
named after people, or the tier that came up with them. What we were finding out, was
that the insects and other foods the flies should be imitating, were much the same as
anywhere else in the same region and type of water. In other words, for example, a
baetis tricaudatus mayfly, commonly called a blue-winged olive, was the exact same
insect regardless as to whether it was found in Virginia or Idaho. Although there were
some differences in the aquatic insects in the western U.S., and the eastern U.S.,
many, if not the majority of them, were exactly the same nationwide.
We found out that the emphasis of most anglers and fly shops was on the flies
themselves, not the foods they should be imitating. It seemed that no one told them,
that trout ate real insects, not artificial trout flies. At the same time, we discovered that
all the recommendations for flies from anglers and fly shops, were based on trial and
error, or what Joe Blow caught some trout on recently. It was rarely the food that was
most plentiful and available for the trout to eat at the time. I had known for years,
regardless of the species of fish you pursued, they would always focus on eating the
most plentiful and available food. Although they are opportunistic feeders, it didn't take
very long for us to determine that was also true of trout..
I'm sure this won't go over very well with many, but what we discovered nationwide, was
that the trout fly business was a joke and a damn big mess, and in most cases, with the
blind leading the blind. .
Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)
Today, will be sunny with a high near 89. Wind will be from the northwest around 5 mph
in the afternoon. Tonight's low will be around 70.
Friday, there's a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3pm. It will be
mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 93. Heat index values will be as high as 97.
South wind will be around 5 mph. Friday night's low will be around 71.
Saturday, there's a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after
5pm. It will be mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 90. South wind will be around 5
mph becoming west in the afternoon. Saturday night's low will be around 72.
Sunday, there's a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 9am.
It will be partly sunny with a high near 87.
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 69 cfs at 1.54 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 273 cfs at 1.43 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 low.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake:
They are all flowing a little low.
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
Cream Cahills: 14/16
Cinnamon Caddis: 16/18 (mostly Abrams Creek)
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 8/15/17, in addition to
those on the above list.
Mahogany Dun: 18
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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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
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