Spring Fly Fishing has Arrived in Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains

Spring seems to have arrived in the rivers and streams of the Smoky Mountains and East Tennessee along with the great fly fishing that goes with it. We’re now officially in the month of March. We picked up our new Tennessee fishing license yesterday on the way to the water.

Daffodil in the Smokies

Flowers and trout stream insects usually show themselves around the same time.

Fishing has been good on the tailwaters for a while, but the fishing in the Smokies is really turning on now. Bugs are starting to appear and the trout are looking for them.
Blue Quill mayfly

Care to guess why the fish have started feeding?

Bugs are starting to hatch on Little River, our home water in the Smokies upstream of Townsend. Blue Quills are the main insect the fish are feeding on right now, but we’ve also seen some larger Quill Gordons. The Blue Quills are pretty small, about #18, but they really bring the fish to the surface.

Early Brown Stone Fly, Smoky Mountains

Early Brown Stoneflies are buzzing around too.
We’re probably seeing more brown stoneflies than any other insect, but these aren’t eaten by the trout as frequently. The nymphs are probably eaten, but we rarely see the adults targeted by the trout. This is probably because they don’t spend much time on the water. The nymphs crawl up on boulders to hatch and don’t typically hatch on the surface of the water as mayflies do.

Ian Rutter Fly Fishing on Little River, Great Smoky Mountains

Opening dry fly session of the year

We didn’t put waders on and only cast from the bank. Our daughter Willow was with us and it’s easier to keep track of her if we’re not too serious about wading. Sometimes I think we do this because if the fishing isn’t any good we can always say we weren’t serious about it anyway. We wouldn’t categorize the day as one with exceptional hatch activity but after a long, cold winter any day with rising trout is a good one.

Smoky Mountain brown trout

First fish on the new fishing license

We caught several rainbows and browns but missed far more than we hooked. I’m going to blame the fact that we were fishing from the bank and had to make such drastic mends that it was difficult to set a hook. We really didn’t care though. The fish were rising, the sun was warm, and that was enough.

I was over on the Holston River the other day. While the weather wasn’t near so pleasant, it seemed like almost every fish in the river was up rising. I took David Howard for a day of fishing on the river. He grew up on a farm just downstream of Indian Cave but lives in Memphis now, so he enjoys getting back no the water at home. A cold rain fell intermittently but midges hatched all day long. We did best with a #20 midge pupa fished under a strike indicator but also caught a few on #22 midge dries. David got a ton of eats but broke off a bunch of fish on the light tippet. It won’t be long before the caddis begin to hatch and the fish get real greedy.

Our Hazel Creek camp trip is almost full, but we still have a few spots left. If you’ve been thinking about it you might go ahead and make your reservation because this trip typically fills up.