Smokies Fishing Report 7/4/21

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 196cfs / 1.97 feet
Pigeon: 257cfs / 1.77 feet
Oconaluftee: 299cfs / 1.52 feet
Cataloochee: 53.1cfs / 2.34

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 63 – 67 degrees
Mid elevations: 61 – 65 degrees
High elevations: 59 – 63 degrees

Current Conditions

Last week’s rain plus the cold front that followed has streams in pretty good shape for July… especially on the TN side. The NC side of the park is a little warmer with lower water levels.

Projected Conditions

Going to get hot again this week with a brief break mid week. Rain possibilities again later in the week. Should be an okay week, especially if we can get that rain!

Tips

If you’re wanting to hit some of the bigger, low elevation streams, get out there early or late in the day. Early will give you the best water temps. Late will give you the best hatches. Mid day will give you lethargic fish! Mid to high elevation streams may slow down a bit in late afternoon but should fish pretty well all day.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

We’re still in “yellow season,” when most everything hatching is yellow in color. Look for bigger numbers of sulphurs (#16), Light Cahills (#14-12) and Yellow Sallies (#16). They’ll be most active in the evenings. Keep your eyes open and you may even see a few large golden stones hatching here and there.

During the heat of summer when hatches are sparse, attention turns to terrestrials. Fish are feeding a lot on ants and beetles. Inchworms are abundant as well and a Green Weenie can be a killer this time of year. It’s a great fly to drop off a dry fly. Check out my article Hidden Terrestrials for a different approach to your terrestrial fishing,

As always, a good selection of attractors will get you through most situations. Parachute Adams, Parachute Hares Ears, Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs always do pretty well. But as mentioned above, you’ll want to be sure to have some dry flies in yellow. A Neversink in #16 – 14 is a staple for me. So is a Yellow Stimulator. I’d also have a selection of Parachute Sulphurs and Cahills.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. And with so much stuff hatching, now is a pretty good time to start experimenting with soft hackles. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

Featured Fly

A soft hackle ant is a great fly to drop of the back of your favorite dry fly in pocket water. Ants are not strong swimmers and presenting an ant pattern just below the surface can be deadly!

Soft Hackle Ant

Smokies Fishing Report 6/13/21

Smoky Mountain Brook Trout

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 199cfs / 1.98 feet
Pigeon: 549cfs / 2.27 feet
Oconaluftee: 506cfs / 1.86 feet
Cataloochee: 64.6cfs / 2.41

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 62 – 66 degrees
Mid elevations: 60 – 64 degrees
High elevations: 58 – 62 degrees

Current Conditions

Water temperatures are getting a little on the warm side in lower elevations but thanks to last week’s rain, water levels are close to perfect.

Projected Conditions

The coming week will start hot but we’re look at some very refreshing overnight lows in the 50’s toward mid week. The second half of the week going into the weekend should be fantastic.

Tips

If you’re wanting to hit some of the bigger, low elevation streams, get out there early or late in the day. Early will give you the best water temps. Late will give you the best hatches. Mid day will give you lethargic fish! Mid to high elevation streams may slow down a bit in late afternoon but should fish pretty well all day.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

We’re still in “yellow season,” when most everything hatching is yellow in color. Look for bigger numbers of sulphurs (#16), Light Cahills (#14-12) and Yellow Sallies (#16). They’ll be most active in the evenings. Keep your eyes open and you may even see a few large golden stones hatching here and there.

We’re about to head into the heat of summer when hatches are sparse and attention turns to terrestrials. As things continue to warm, fish will begin feeding a lot on ants and beetles. Inchworms are abundant as well and a Green Weenie can be a killer this time of year. It’s a great fly to drop off a dry fly.

As always, a good selection of attractors will get you through most situations. Parachute Adams, Parachute Hares Ears, Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs always do pretty well. But as mentioned above, you’ll want to be sure to have some dry flies in yellow. A Neversink in #16 – 14 is a staple for me. So is a Yellow Stimulator. I’d also have a selection of Parachute Sulphurs and Cahills.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. And with so much stuff hatching, now is a pretty good time to start experimenting with soft hackles. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

Featured Fly

A foam beetle can be a killer during the summer and the strikes can be violent. This is just a generic pattern with a thread body, black foam and rubber legs. I usually fish it in a size #14.

Foam Beetle

Smokies Fishing Report 5/31/21

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 164cfs / 1.89 feet
Pigeon: 359cfs / 1.90 feet
Oconaluftee: 361cfs / 1.60 feet
Cataloochee: 66cfs / 2.44

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 60 – 63 degrees
Mid elevations: 58 – 62 degrees
High elevations: 56 – 58 degrees

Current Conditions

We had another good week of fishing. Water had been getting a bit low for this time of year but we got a little help on Friday. It receded quickly and we could use a little more… particularly on the North Carolina side. Water temperatures are great and fish are active on most streams.

Projected Conditions

A little milder week ahead and we do have a little rain in the forecast toward the second half of the week. Expect conditions to remain pretty constant if not slightly improve in the coming days.

Tips

With days getting warmer, expect better fishing early and late in the day, especially at lower elevations. High elevations should fish pretty well all day. A stealthy approach is always a good idea in the Smokies but will become even more important as water levels continue to drop.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

We are firmly into “yellow season,” when most everything hatching is yellow in color. Look for bigger numbers of sulphurs (#16), Light Cahills (#14-12) and Yellow Sallies (#16) over the next month.

As always, a good selection of attractors will get you through most situations. Parachute Adams, Parachute Hares Ears, Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs always do pretty well. But as mentioned above, you’ll want to be sure to have some dry flies in yellow. A Neversink in #16 – 14 is a staple for me. So is a Yellow Stimulator. I’d also have a selection of Parachute Sulphurs and Cahills.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. And with so much stuff hatching, now is a pretty good time to start experimenting with soft hackles. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

We’re also on the front end of terrestrial season. As things warm, fish will begin feeding a lot on ants and beetles. Inchworms are becoming more abundant as well and a Green Weenie can be a killer this time of year. It’s a great fly to drop off a dry fly.

Featured Fly

The Doculator is the creation of New Mexico fly guide, Doc Thompson. It floats well, it’s yellow and fish dig it. It’s as if Doc had the Smokies in mind when he came up with this one!

Doculator Dry Fly
Doculator

Smokies Fishing Report 5/23/21

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 154cfs / 1.85 feet
Pigeon: 276cfs / 1.74 feet
Oconaluftee: 408cfs / 1.69 feet
Cataloochee: 81cfs / 2.52

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 60 – 64 degrees
Mid elevations: 58 – 62 degrees
High elevations: 56 – 58 degrees

Current Conditions

The past week has been a good one. Evening hatches have been hit and miss but daytime fishing is getting pretty steady. As is known to happen in East Tennessee, we’ve gone from one extreme to another with weather. It’s been getting hot and we could actually use a little bit of rain.

Projected Conditions

Hot and dry conditions are expected to continue through next weekend. Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend. Crowds should really start to increase.

Tips

With days getting warmer, expect better fishing early and late in the day, especially at lower elevations. High elevations should fish pretty well all day. A stealthy approach is always a good idea in the Smokies but will become even more important as water levels continue to drop.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

We are firmly into “yellow season,” when most everything hatching is yellow in color. Look for bigger numbers of sulphurs (#16), Light Cahills (#14-12) and Yellow Sallies (#16) over the next month.

As always, a good selection of attractors will get you through most situations. Parachute Adams, Parachute Hares Ears, Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs always do pretty well. But as mentioned above, you’ll want to be sure to have some dry flies in yellow. A Neversink in #16 – 14 is a staple for me. So is a Yellow Stimulator. I’d also have a selection of Parachute Sulphurs and Cahills.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. And with so much stuff hatching, now is a pretty good time to start experimenting with soft hackles. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

We’re also on the front end of terrestrial season. As things warm, fish will begin feeding a lot on ants and beetles. Inchworms are becoming more abundant as well and a Green Weenie can be a killer this time of year. It’s a great fly to drop off a dry fly.

Featured Fly

Yellow Stimulator

Smokies Fishing Report 5/16/21

Eastern Green Drake
Green Drake

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 264cfs / 2.20 feet
Pigeon: 472cfs / 2.08 feet
Oconaluftee: 531cfs / 1.90 feet
Cataloochee: 113cfs / 2.67

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 52 – 56 degrees
Mid elevations: 50 – 54 degrees
High elevations: 50 – 52 degrees

Current Conditions

We’re coming off a pretty weird week… at least for mid May. Another big rain system brought water levels up early in the week. The accompanying cold front played all kinds of havoc with feeding patterns and hatches. It was pretty weird to be fishing in mid May in full waders and a fleece jacket! Things began to stabilize by the end of the week and it looks like that trend will remain heading into the coming week.

My personal highlight of the week was running into a pretty nice hatch of Green Drakes. These are big mayflies that are always rumored to hatch in certain locations in the Smokies but few people ever see more than one or two. This is only the third time I’ve seen them come off in good numbers and they definitely got the attention of the fish. Of course, they barely hatched at all in following days.

Projected Conditions

It should be warm and mostly dry this week. As a matter of fact, it looks like it will be down right hot next weekend. I’m expecting the activity to finally start showing some consistency this week. Fishing should be really good most anywhere but as it really starts warming up next weekend, expect low elevation fishing to slow down a little in the afternoons.

Tips

With things warming and water levels normalizing, fish should begin spreading out more and you’ll likely see activity picking up in the pockets. This is great dry/dropper water. Choose a buoyant dry fly, preferably yellow, and drop your favorite nymph about 15″ off the back. Most days your strikes will be split about 50/50 between the dry and nymph. You can read more about rigging here and you can find more specific fly recommendations below.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

We are firmly into “yellow season,” when most everything hatching is yellow in color. Look for bigger numbers of sulphurs (#16), Light Cahills (#14-12) and Yellow Sallies (#16) over the next month.

As always, a good selection of attractors will get you through most situations. Parachute Adams, Parachute Hares Ears, Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs always do pretty well. But as mentioned above, you’ll want to be sure to have some dry flies in yellow. A Neversink in #16 – 14 is a staple for me. So is a Yellow Stimulator. I’d also have a selection of Parachute Sulphurs and Cahills.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. And with so much stuff hatching, now is a pretty good time to start experimenting with soft hackles. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

We’re also on the front end of terrestrial season. As things warm, fish will begin feeding a lot on ants and beetles. Inchworms are becoming more abundant as well and a Green Weenie can be a killer this time of year. It’s a great fly to drop off a dry fly.

As a matter of fact, lets just make the Green Weenie our featured fly this week. If you’ve spent much time fishing the Smokies, you’ve likely heard of this pattern and probably fished it. Don’t be fooled by its simple appearance… fish dig it!

Featured Fly

Green Weenie
Green Weenie

Smokies Fishing Report 5/9/21

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 287cfs / 2.26 feet
Pigeon: 499cfs / 2.12 feet
Oconaluftee: 538cfs / 1.91 feet
Cataloochee: 75.591.3cfs / 2.57

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 54 – 58 degrees
Mid elevations: 52 – 56 degrees
High elevations: 50 – 54 degrees

Current Conditions

It continues to be a really strange spring. It seems that just as fishing really starts to turn on, we get another major rain system or cold front to set things back. And when I say “set things back,” fishing is still decent, it just hasn’t quite gotten to consistently great yet.

Speaking of rain systems, it’s coming down pretty good as I write this and is supposed to rain into Monday morning. Different models are showing different things, but looks like we may see about an inch and a half of rain tonight, which will likely blow out these mountain streams that are still full from last week’s big rain. You better check the latest gauge readings if you’re heading out in the next couple of days because the ones above will probably look way different in the morning. Reading Stream Gauges.

Projected Conditions

As mentioned above, it’s been a weird spring. Here it is nearly the middle of May and we’re not supposed to get out of the 60’s for highs this week. Overnight lows are staying in the 40’s. And it looks like a decent chance of rain most every day until next weekend.

Tips

If the rain doesn’t screw up the streams, fishing should be okay this week. With these cooler overnights, expect better fishing in the afternoons. Topwater activity has been very good recently. For me, it’s been on tan caddis and Thunderheads, but I’d say any common attractor should do well. If water comes up this week, plan on doing more nymphing. In addition to what’s mentioned below, rubber-legged stonefly nymphs, Wooly Buggers and San Juan Worms are always good in higher water.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

We’re starting to transition to “yellow season,” meaning much of what you’ll see hatching will be yellow. Blue Quills (#18) and Light Hendricksons (#14) will likely still be seen here and there. You’ll probably see a fair number of Red Quills (#14-12) and March Browns (#14-10) as well.

But look for bigger numbers of sulphurs (#16), Light Cahills (#14-12) and Yellow Sallies (#16) over the next 4 or 5 weeks. Caddis are also abundant this time of year depending where you are. A tan body in a #14 will do the trick.

As always, a good selection of attractors will get you through most situations. Parachute Adams, Parachute Hares Ears, Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs always do pretty well. But as mentioned above, you’ll want to be sure to have some dry flies in yellow. A Neversink in #16 – 14 is a staple for me. So is a Yellow Stimulator. I’d also have a selection of Parachute Sulphurs and Cahills.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. And with so much stuff hatching, now is a pretty good time to start experimenting with soft hackles. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

The featured fly this month is a Sulphur Comparadun. Sulphurs are one of the more reliable hatches in the Smokies. They’ve already started and should be around until at least the end of May. Most any sulphur pattern will fit the bill but if you run across any stubborn, slow water trout, the Sulphur Comparadun is an excellent choice!

Featured Fly

The Smoky Mountain Candy is a fly pattern originated by my good friend, Walter Babb. It is essentially a Thunderhead with a yellow body. Yellow is a great color this time of year. This fly floats well, is easy to see and catches fish… what more could you ask for?!? Order some from Little River Outfitters.

Smoky Mountain Candy
Smoky Mountain Candy

Smokies Fishing Report 5/2/21

Fly FIshing a Smoky Mountain Trout Stream

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 173cfs / 1.92 feet
Pigeon: 337cfs / 1.86 feet
Oconaluftee: 430cfs / 1.73 feet
Cataloochee: 75.5cfs / 2.49

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 54 – 58 degrees
Mid elevations: 52 – 56 degrees
High elevations: 50 – 54 degrees

Current Conditions

Fishing has been pretty good of late. It’s that weird time of year when days are getting warm but trees haven’t filled in all the way yet. A lot of direct sunlight is on the water in the afternoon making for spooky fish. That will change in a week or two.

Water is actually running slightly below normal for this time of year, especially on the North Carolina side of the park. Water temperatures are approaching perfect.

Projected Conditions

The week ahead is, shall we say, unsettled. We’ll have some thunderstorms moving through and estimated rain totals change every time I look. More than likely we’ll see around 1 1/2″ of rain over the course of three days. The bulk of it will be on Monday and Tuesday with lighter rain likely on Wednesday. A moderate cold front will follow.

I’m expecting water to come up a bit. How much is hard to say but I don’t think it will be a total blowout. Folks planning to fish on Tuesday or Wednesday should have the biggest concern for high water. Folks fishing Monday and Tuesday should plan on some wind and keep an eye out for thunderstorms. In any case, I’d keep an eye on the stream gauges this week. Reading Stream Gauges.

Tips

Fishing should remain good this week. Topwater activity has been very good recently. For me, it’s been on tan caddis and Thunderheads, but I’d say any common attractor should do well. If water comes up this week, plan on doing more nymphing. In addition to what’s mentioned below, rubber-legged stonefly nymphs, Wooly Buggers and San Juan Worms are always good in higher water.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

We’re starting to transition to “yellow season,” meaning much of what you’ll see hatching will be yellow. Blue Quills (#18) and Light Hendricksons (#14) will likely still be seen here and there. You’ll probably see a fair number of Red Quills (#14-12) and March Browns (#14-10) as well.

But look for bigger numbers of sulphurs (#16), Light Cahills (#14-12) and Yellow Sallies (#16) over the next 4 or 5 weeks. Caddis are also abundant this time of year depending where you are. A tan body in a #14 will do the trick.

As always, a good selection of attractors will get you through most situations. Parachute Adams, Parachute Hares Ears, Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs always do pretty well. But as mentioned above, you’ll want to be sure to have some dry flies in yellow. A Neversink in #16 – 14 is a staple for me. So is a Yellow Stimulator. I’d also have a selection of Parachute Sulphurs and Cahills.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. And with so much stuff hatching, now is a pretty good time to start experimenting with soft hackles. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

The featured fly this month is a Sulphur Comparadun. Sulphurs are one of the more reliable hatches in the Smokies. They’ve already started and should be around until at least the end of May. Most any sulphur pattern will fit the bill but if you run across any stubborn, slow water trout, the Sulphur Comparadun is an excellent choice!

Featured Fly

Sulphur Comparadun

Smokies Fishing Report

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 275cfs / 2.23 feet
Pigeon: 701cfs / 2.43 feet
Oconaluftee: 579cfs / 1.97 feet
Cataloochee: 93.4cfs / 2.58

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 52 – 56 degrees
Mid elevations: 50 – 54 degrees
High elevations: 48 – 52 degrees

Current Conditions

As predicted in the last report, we hit a little bump in the road last week. A significant cold front hit on Wednesday and dropped water temperatures in a big way. We are gradually recovering from that and things improved a lot this weekend. Rain on Saturday helped. Not only did it warm water temps a little, streams were starting to get a little low for this time of year.

Projected Conditions

We’re going to make a hard rebound this week with temperatures reaching the 80’s mid week. It’s hard to believe that the projected high for this Wednesday is about 40-degrees warmer than last Wednesday! These poor trout don’t know if they’re coming or going. Otherwise, mostly a dry week with better chances for rain late week. It’s going to be hard for me to not wet wade Wednesday and Thursday but I’m going to give it another week or two.

Tips

I’m expecting fish to really turn on this week and stay a little more consistent. As it warms up, fishing should be pretty good at all elevations. If you’re heading to the high country I’d focus more on the afternoon. Trees are beginning to fill in which will help, too. Some of those warm days two weeks ago were tough with all of that sun hitting the water.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

Dry fly fishing should really start getting more consistent this week. We’re starting to transition to “yellow season,” meaning much of what you’ll see hatching will be yellow. Blue Quills (#18) and Light Hendricksons (#14) will likely still be seen here and there. You’ll probably see a fair number of Red Quills (#14-12) and March Browns (#14-10) as well.

But look for bigger numbers of sulphurs (#16), Light Cahills (#14-12) and Yellow Sallies (#16) over the next 4 or 5 weeks. Caddis are also abundant this time of year depending where you are. A tan body in a #14 will do the trick.

As always, a good selection of attractors will get you through most situations. Parachute Adams, Parachute Hares Ears, Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs always do pretty well. But as mentioned above, you’ll want to be sure to have some dry flies in yellow. A Neversink in #16 – 14 is a staple for me. So is a Yellow Stimulator. I’d also have a selection of Parachute Sulphurs and Cahills.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. And with so much stuff hatching, now is a pretty good time to start experimenting with soft hackles. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

For the featured fly, I’m keeping the same fly as last week because it should be even better this week! Neversink Caddis. The yellow body version, which is great, is pictured but I’d play with other colors, too. The tan body has been working great lately. It fished well by itself but is also a nice, buoyant fly to support a dropper nymph. Two Fly Rigs.

Featured Fly

Neversink Caddis
Neversink Caddis

Smokies Fishing Report

Smoky Mountain Brook Trout

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 170cfs / 1.91 feet
Pigeon: 451cfs / 2.05 feet
Oconaluftee: 538cfs / 1.91 feet
Cataloochee: 109cfs / 2.65

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 55 – 59 degrees
Mid elevations: 52 – 56 degrees
High elevations: 50 – 53 degrees

Current Conditions

Fishing is good in the Smokies right now. Water temps are sitting pretty and so are levels. And most important, at least for my sanity, is the crowds have dropped to “reasonable” levels. We’re in a very mild weather pattern and it looks like it may stay this way for a little while. Overnights and mornings are cool with nice warm-ups in the afternoon. Expect your better fishing to be from late morning to late afternoon.

Projected Conditions

Though overall we’re in good shape, it looks like we’ll see a minor setback this week. Rain is expected Wednesday and with it is a pretty significant cold front. Highs on Wednesday aren’t expected to get out of the 40’s and Wednesday and Thursday night lows will hit near freezing. While I don’t think this will have long term effects on fishing, I’d expect pretty slow activity on Thursday and Friday.

Tips

Fish are beginning to spread in the stream more and activity is picking up in riffles and pockets. However, without full tree bloom, fish may be spooky in the bright sunlight. Seek out locations near shade lines. Fishing is starting to get productive even in the mornings in the lower elevations. For mid and high elevation streams, I’d try to focus on the afternoon.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

Fish are really beginning to look up now and most fish on my trips this past week were taking dry flies. Hatches are fairly diverse right now with very few heavy hatches of one insect coming off. Blue Quills (#18) and Light Hendricksons (#14) are accounting for most of the mayfly activity. Red Quills (#14-12) should begin showing up in better numbers and you may even see a few March Browns (#14-10) showing up early to the party.

There are a lot of small dark stoneflies but the adults don’t spend much time in front of the trout. A #18 Pheasant Tail is a respectable imitation for the nymph. A lot of #16 dun caddis are out and about and starting to see some larger tan caddis in a #14. And I’m seeing a few Yellow Sally Stoneflies. Expect more of them toward the end of the month.

You can certainly carry exact imitations of any of the flies mentioned above. But with so many different bugs and no large numbers of any, keeping your fly pattern fairly generic is not a bad idea. A Parachute Adams and Parachute Hares Ear are really good all-purpose spring dry flies. Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs also do pretty well. On many of the backcountry streams, caddis have been the ticket. An Elk Wing or Neversink in #16 – 14.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. My most consistent producer has been a creation of my own that I call an Early Spring Nymph. I’ll include the pattern in my next newsletter. Until then, an olive Hares Ear is pretty similar. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

For the featured fly, I have the Neversink Caddis. The yellow body version, which is great, is pictured but I’d play with other colors, too. The tan body has been working great lately. It fished well by itself but is also a nice, buoyant fly to support a dropper nymph. Two Fly Rigs.

Featured Fly

Neversink Caddis
Neversink Caddis

Smokies Fishing Report

Location

Smoky Mountains

Water Levels

Little River: 253cfs / 2.17 feet
Pigeon: 645cfs / 2.35 feet
Oconaluftee: 727cfs / 2.18 feet
Cataloochee: 164cfs / 2.81

Water Temperatures (approximate)

Low elevations: 55 – 59 degrees
Mid elevations: 52 – 56 degrees
High elevations: 50 – 53 degrees

Current Conditions

We’ve gotten a nice, long break from the heavy rains and sharp cold fronts and conditions are actually begining to stabilize. What has not been going our way is an unprecedented number of tourists… and when you’re talking about what is already the most visited national park in the country, that says a lot! It seems to be the perfect storm of spring breakers and Covid shut-in refugees and I’m hoping it slows soon. Right now our national park is being loved to death. With so many people out and about, it may be a good time to brush up on your Stream Etiquette.

But if you can manage to find a quiet place away from the masses, fishing is getting pretty good. Mornings are still a little chilly and it still needs to warm up in the high country. But most everything is fishing well with low elevations and afternoons being the real highlight right now.

Projected Conditions

We have a slight cold front and a little bit of rain in the forecast toward the end of the week but all and all, it looks like a good week ahead. I don’t expect drastic changes in water temperatures or levels. As we get a little farther into April, hopefully spring breaks will wind down and a little of the tourist traffic will decrease.

Tips

Fish are beginning to spread in the stream more and activity is picking up in riffles and pockets. Without full tree bloom, fish may be spooky in the bright sunlight. Seek out locations near shade lines. Fishing is starting to get productive even in the mornings in the lower elevations. For mid and high elevation streams, I’d try to focus on the afternoon.

Hatches/Fly Suggestions

Hatches are fairly diverse right now with very few heavy hatches of one insect coming off. There are still a few Quill Gordons (#14) hanging around but Blue Quills (#18) and Light Hendricksons (#14) are accounting for most of the mayfly activity. Red Quills (#14-12) should begin showing up in better numbers and you may even see a few March Browns (#14-10) showing up early to the party.

There are a lot of small dark stoneflies but the adults don’t spend much time in front of the trout. A #18 Pheasant Tail is a respectable imitation for the nymph. A lot of #16 dun caddis are out and about and starting to see some larger tan caddis in a #14. And I saw my first Yellow Sally Stonefly of the year. Expect more of them toward the end of the month.

You can certainly carry exact imitations of any of the flies mentioned above. But with so many different bugs and no large numbers of any, keeping your fly pattern fairly generic is not a bad idea. A Parachute Adams and Parachute Hares Ear are really good all-purpose spring dry flies. Thunderheads, Adams Wulffs and Royal Wulffs also do pretty well.

For nymphs, try Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns and Tellico Nymphs. My most consistent producer has been a creation of my own that I call an Early Spring Nymph. I’ll include the pattern in my next newsletter. Until then, an olive Hares Ear is pretty similar. Check out my Hatch Guide for complete hatch information.

For the featured fly, I’m going to suggest a Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail. It’s a great generic pattern that does a great job imitating a number of emerging insects. I frequently fish it in tandem as the top fly in a double nymph rig or as a dropper behind a dry fly. Two Fly Rigs.

Featured Fly

Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail