Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 03/09/18
Today, is going to be a clear, rather cold day. It will reach near 47 degrees, but it is
currently 26 degrees at 6:30 this morning. That's fine from a comfort standpoint for the
angler, but it isn't producing ideal water temperatures for the trout, especially after the
water stayed in the fifty degree category for nearly two weeks.

If you fish today, I would recommend fishing a Blue-winged olive, Blue Quill or Quill
Gordon nymph. The only likely hatch would be a midge, or a crippled emerging dun of
the just mentioned mayflies.

Specific Imitations Versus Attractor and Generic Trout Flies
When there's no hatch underway, which is about 75% or more of the time, anglers tend
to think they are better off using an attractor or generic trout fly as opposed to a fly
that's intended to be a specific imitation of an insect or other trout food. Most hatches
last for only two to four hours of the day, so even when hatches are underway, during
must of the day, there are not any insects emerging. The generic and attractor types of
trout flies represents the great majority of trout flies that are available from fly shops.
Although that's the general approach used by many anglers, it's actually a very poor
one. You should always imitate the most plentiful and available insects at any given
time. For example, if Blue Quills are hatching, the hatch takes place during the warmest
part of the day, and that's usually from noon to 4:00 PM. During the morning hours,
you should know that Blue Quills nymphs are out from their hiding place, developing
their wing pads and preparing to emerge during the next few days. Fishing a specific
imitation of a Blue Quill nymph during the morning is obviously a good strategy. Of
course, there may be other insects hatching and the same thing would apply to their
nymphs or larvae.

One reason there is a misconception about this is because book after book about trout
fishing lumped things into one of only two categories - selective feeding or  
opportunistic feeding. Quite frankly, other than actually knowing much about what they
were writing about, many authors of fly fishing publications just copied other authors. It
caused most anglers to think that trout are feeding either one way or the other. In
streams with fast pocket water this misconception has caused most anglers as well as
those that teach fly fishing to think that if trout are not feeding exclusively on one
insect, they are feeding opportunistically. By strict definition, that would be correct. In
other words, this caused many to assume that if trout feed opportunistically, it isn't that
important what you imitate or what fly you use. The other big reason books refer to
them is that prior to Perfect Fly, all the flies available were mostly all generic flies.
Other than a few specific imitations of mostly mayfly duns and adult caddisflies and
stoneflies, prior to Perfect Fly, just about all flies were imitations of no specific insect or
other food.

Most fly shop salesmen and fly fishing guides are quick to tell anglers that trout feed
opportunistically. In many cases, it's the biggest word they know. Few of them know
one mayfly from another, and some can't recognize a mayfly from a caddisfly. You
won't ever hear anyone with a good knowledge of the food trout rely on to survive
preaching the particular fly you use isn't important. Saying that trout feed
opportunistically is fine as far as technically categorizing their feeding habits is
concerned, but it has little to do with what is really takes place, and it is of absolutely no
importance when it comes to catching trout. If a trout eats 99 insects of a particular
species and one of another species, it is technically feeding opportunistically.  

For example, lets suppose that there are lots of Little Yellow Stonefly nymphs crawling
to the banks to hatch. When that happens, don’t think the trout don’t know it. They view
their underwater world 24 hours a day and they know and see exactly what is going on.
Since these nymphs crawl across the bottom to get to the banks, they are easy prey
for the trout. Naturally, the trout will focus on feeding on the easy prey; however, if the
trout are eating these nymphs migrating to the banks and a stray mayfly nymph
happened to come along, the trout may or may not eat it. If the trout doesn't have to go
out of its way to eat the mayfly nymph, it may well eat it. Common sense should tell you
that If it takes more effort for the trout to catch the mayfly nymph than the stonefly
nymphs crawling to the bank, then they wouldn't go to the extra trouble to eat it.

Lets suppose the mayfly nymph almost hit the trout in the nose and it did eat it. By
strict definition you would have to categorize the trout as feeding opportunistically.
That's why marine fishery biologist classify all trout as opportunistic feeders. It makes
sense from a scientific standpoint but little sense from a practical standpoint of
catching fish.

Call it whatever you prefer to call it, but under the conditions I just described, would you
rather be fishing an imitation of a stonefly nymph, or a mayfly nymph? I think most
anglers would agree that your odds would be greater if you were fishing the best
imitation of a Little Yellow Stonefly nymph you could get your hands on. By the way,
that would be a "Perfect Fly" Little Yellow Stonefly Nymph.

Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)  
oday, expect Increasing clouds, with a high near 47. West wind will range from 5 to 10
mph. Tonight, there's a 30 percent chance of showers, mainly after 1am. It will be
mostly cloudy, with a low around 39. Southwest wind is ranging from 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday, showers are likely, mainly after 10am. It will be cloudy, with a high near 53.
Southwest wind will range from 5 to 10 mph becoming light in the afternoon. The
chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter
of an inch is possible. Saturday night's chances of rain is 70%. The low will be around

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 299 cfs at 2.23 ft,
(good wading up to 250 cfs and with extra caution up to 400 cfs

Oconaluftee River: Rate 713 cfs at 2.18 ft.
(good wading up to 500 cfs and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 156 cfs at 2.81 ft  
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)

Little Pigeon River: It is near a normal level.

Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake:
They are just a little high.

Trout Flies Currently Needed:
Brown and White Belly Sculpin:
Hook Size 6

Black and/or Olive Matuka Sculpin:
Size 4, 6, 8

Blue-winged olives: 18 and 20

Little Brown Stoneflies: 14

Blue Quills: 18

Quill Gordons: 12/14
emerging duns (wet fly)

Little Black Caddis: 18

New: Trout Flies You Will Need During The Next Month (Through
03/15/17, in addition to the above list): None

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 one or two. 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 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:

Thank you for visiting our website

James Marsh
Copyright 2018 James Marsh
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