Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Cinnamon Sedges (Caddisflies) (Abrams Creek)
3. Green Sedges (Caddisflies)
4. Little Sister Caddisflies (Abrams Creek)
5. Eastern Pale Evening Duns
7. Little Yellow Stoneflies -Yellow Sallies
8. Slate Drakes
9. Light Cahills
10. Little Green Stoneflies
11. Golden Stoneflies
18. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
Importance of Terrestrial Insects?
It has always been my opinion that many anglers place far too much
emphasis on terrestrial insects. You've probably heard anglers say that
during the summer months, terrestrial insects become the main source of the
trout's food supply. Except for a few streams, I doubt that is ever the situation.
There are situations where trout streams are surrounded by huge hay fields
or meadow streams with high grass along the banks where this may become
the case but even then, in most cases it is doubtful. Most of these streams
are in the Mid-west or West. If you place a net in a typical stream in the
Smokies and try to catch ants, beetles or grasshoppers, you will find out soon
they are few and far apart. The facts are, there just isn't that many terrestrials
that get in the water.
Now that I have said that, let me also say I do think there are times when lots
of terrestrial insects get in the water, including the streams of the Smokies.
Those are the times there are high winds or heavy rainfall and high winds.
Water is powerful and small insects are not any match for it. I always try to
fish terrestrial imitations when either of these conditions exist.
It isn't that the streams are void of aquatic insects. Although many of the
mayflies and caddisflies have hatched for the year by the summer, there are
still lots of nymphs and larvae in the water for the trout to eat. Every one of the
species that hasn't hatched are still in the water in their larval form. There are
plenty of Blue-winged Olives because most of them are bi-brooded. There
are several species of Little BWOs, and Small BWOs that haven't hatched.
There are plenty of Little Yellow Quills, Mahogany Duns, Slate Drakes,
Cream Cahills, Great Autumn Brown Caddis, Needle Stoneflies, Summer
Stoneflies, and many other species that haven't hatched.
There is another factor and that is when a terrestrial insects does get in the
water it is completely helpless. It cannot escape the trout. Even so, I doubt
there are many situations where the trout are looking for terrestrial insects. I
have seen that occur on some Western streams in large hayfields. I have
actually been able to spot trout near the banks looking for terrestrials. Now
I'm sure many of you would question how I would know that. It is just based on
common sense. When you see several trout along the banks and you see
some of them crashing insects that get in the water, you could rightly assume
that was the case. I remember one afternoon on the Yellowstone River, it was
very obvious. When the trout would normally be hidden and out of sight, they
were many out in open water cruising the banks. The wind was blowing hard
and when I walked down the bank, hundreds of grass hoppers would fly out
from under my feet. If I tossed a real hopper in the water, it would get
consumed in a few seconds. Such a situation is not rare, but certainly not all
that common. I caught several trout in a short time on imitations of hoppers.
That same situation could exist when lots of ants are washed into the water
from the drainage of heavy rainfall.
Facts are there are plenty of food in the streams of the Smokies. My guess is
that someone wrote a book a few years ago, someone who didn't know one
insect from the next, and made the statement that there are not many aquatic
insects in the steams of the Smokies and others copied him. I guess if
someone puts it in a book it makes it the gospel, even if the writer is
completely ignorant about the subject. Facts are there are plenty of aquatic
insects in the streams and in fact just as many as they are in most any
headwater stream in the nation. Even the streams that are high in acid
content have a good quantity of insects.
You should certainly fish imitations of terrestrial insects during the summer in
the Smokies but I wouldn't suggest you close your eyes and think the streams
are void of aquatic insects because that is far from the truth.