Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Mahogany Duns
3.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
4.   Little Yellow Stoneflies
5.   Slate Drakes
6.   Cream Cahills - hatching in Isolated locations
7.   Little Yellow Quills
8.   Needle Stoneflies
9.   Beetles
10. Grasshoppers
11. Ants
12. Inch Worms
13. Crane Flies
14. Helligramite
15. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

The Learning Process - Part 55
After our first couple of years, like many other anglers, we usually didn't have any
trouble catching trout in the streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park when
conditions were great. I say "usually" didn't have any trouble because there were
those days when we couldn't catch very many trout even though conditions were
excellent. When I say "excellent conditions", I mean the water temperature, stream
levels, water clarity, weather and other things were great for catching trout.

Then there were those days when things seemed perfect that we, as well as other
anglers we talked to, just didn't catch many trout. In fact we have a situation like that
occurring right now in the Smokies. I am writing this currently, meaning the same
day it will be published, and the conditions for catching trout couldn't be better. The
stream levels are a little low but still in great shape. The water temperature is
excellent, even in the middle and lower elevations of the park. I can't pinpoint any
problems that should affect the fishing at least through yesterday afternoon. Even
so, I have talked to two different anglers this week, both of which are experienced at
catching trout in the Smokies, and both of them reported the fishing is lousy. In
preparation of a trip with some friends that was to take place this weekend, I made a
test run Tuesday. I wanted to see why the fishing was slow. I stopped at two
locations, fished less than two hours and caught a few trout at each location. It
didn't appear slow at all. My results were good. The results will be of little use.  The
friends cancelled out because there aren't any rooms available in Pigeon Forge or
Gatlinburg this weekend. Everything is booked for the car show and the ladies like
to shop.

When conditions appear great and most anglers are still not catching trout, they
start thinking of everything they can think of as a reason for their lack of success.
They may blame the full moon, or the change in the barometer, or any number of
other things. You will see this same type of situation occurring quite often
throughout the year. I remember the same thing taking place this past Spring.
During the time the Quill Gordons and Blue Quills were hatching, a time every
angler anxiously awaits, there was a complete week of time that transpired when
everyone was reporting poor results. One of the excuses I heard then was that the
trout were in a transition period of changing from the winter's cold water to the
warming water of springtime. In other words, these guys were blaming their poor
fishing results on the ideal conditions most anglers were waiting for. The excuses
really don't have to make any sense. If the person believes in the excuse, it satisfies
the problem. Its Mother Nature's fault, not the angler.

If you stop and think about it, when conditions have been great, such as they have
for the past several days, it doesn't make any sense that the trout would have just
suddenly stopped eating. In fact, with the water temperatures we currently have,
you can rest assured they didn't stop eating. The question becomes, what they ate
and where they ate it, not if they ate.

Several years ago, I began to notice that when this same type of situation occurred,
again meaning the conditions were great but the fishing was quote "Poor",
"Average", or "Not So Good", the problem was most anglers continued to fish the
same way they normally fish. Basically, they first fish a dry fly on the same type of
runs and riffles they normally fish. When that fails to produce anything, they change
to a nymph and continued to fish the same type of runs and riffles. Many of them go
to a dropper rig and fish a dry on the top and a nymph below it. In other words, they
assume the trout are always in the same place. Now (due to my lack of writing
ability)don't misunderstand this. I don't mean they fish the same runs or riffles they
always fish (although they may do that too). I mean they only fish that particular
type of water, irrespective of where they choose to fish. The problem with it is that
the trout are not always in the current seams of the runs and riffles.

Picture a couple of medium size boulders about six feet apart with water pouring
downstream between them. Above each of the boulders, theres an area of water
that is almost held up, or stopped, but in a short time, makes its way to the sides of
the boulder and flows around them. Below the boulders are two pockets, or
miniature pools with smoother, flatter water thats moving much slower and may
even tend to circle or eddy. Often, it the declination is steep, there may be an area
of white water that covers the deeper water at the bottom of a plunge. Between the
boulders, the water speeds up and runs downstream. Theres a current seam on the
outside edge of each boulder.

You place your dry fly in the center of the water passing between these boulders
and allow it to drift to where the water slows down. You may place the fly along the
left and right current seams on the fast water side and allow it to drift down the
current seam. You may place it on the slow side in the pocket and watch the fly
slowly move to the current seam. You may allow the fly to drift along with the
bubbles all the way to the end of the area of water flowing between these two
boulders. The water flowing between the boulders and continuing on downstream
may be fairly shallow beneath the fast water, with basketball size rocks on the
bottom, or it may flow over a smooth bottom. The water may be deep with only a few
rocks on the bottom. There may be a sand bottom, or a bottom covered with small
cobble and gravel.

Then theres those boulders near the bank, where the water flows between the
boulder and the bank. Theres places like this where the banks are undercut,
providing great hiding place for the trout. Some of these areas are deep and others
are shallow. Then theres the pools. Some are long and deep with current flowing
into the head. Some have long riffles above the pool and some have a run that
enters the pool. Some of the pools have shallow water along the edge and some
have deep water against the bank. Some of the banks along the pools are
undercut. I could go on and on describing the streams, but I'll stop here.

You place your dry fly in every type of place I have listed and after three hours of
fishing, you still haven't seen the first trout attempt to take your fly. You conclude
that the trout are not taking the dry fly. That makes perfect sense doesn't it? At
least it does to me, because my guess is that the trout probably eat less than 5% of
their food from the surface of the water, even under the "excellent" fishing
conditions of this scenario.


Copyright 2009 James Marsh