We Have Bugs

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for. Well… almost the day we’ve been waiting for. Charity and I returned from a short trip up the Little River this afternoon and we’re happy to report that there are Quill Gordons hatching.

Quill Gordon mayfly

Quill Gordon photographed last year by Julie Tallman on a North Carolina stream

The river is still running a little bit high from the rain we had a few days back, but it’s certainly fishable. The hatch was not what we’d call heavy by any means, but there were mayflies on the water.

Brown stoneflies were still the most prevalent insects on the river. Most were buzzing through the air after hatching on the rocks. Remember, trout take these insects when they’re laying eggs, not so much when they’re hatching.

Back to the mayflies… It was probably the first day that they hatched in any kind of numbers because there were only a few fish paying any attention. This will change quickly as the number of mayflies increases and the fish learn to expect them. It’s on!



  1. Hey Ian,
    My GF and I are heading to Hazel this weekend, minding the storm headed our way, but I have been itching to get out there for a few years. Any advise for that area, during this time of the year, or do you think it is washed out from the last storm we received earlier this week ?

    • Right now streams across the Smokies are full, but not too high to fish. The forecast for the weekend looks pretty grim. Here’s your issue with Hazel Creek. It’s unlikely that the lake is high enough for you to be able to get out on the trail side of the lake. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there when the lake is completely down. When the lake is full you can park a boat on the trail side of the embayment. However, when the water is down you can’t do that because a cliff blocks your way. There was a bridge to use at low water, but it’s been gone for a couple of years now. That will be difficult to cross with full packs from your boat. The main concern is getting back across if the stream rises dramatically.

      You might look at another destination only because of the weather. Take care and have a great time.

  2. Thanks Ian that was definatly part of the plan. We will be at the campground the 20th late night through the 24th. If you would like to swing by and throw some flies feel free…..If nothing else I’m sure we could round you up some dinner and a beer ๐Ÿ™‚ Hoping the BWO are out cause I’ve been at the vice with those the last couple of weeks making sure im stocked up ๐Ÿ™‚ Its my first trip up to the smokies as well so hopefully it will be a memorable one!!!
    Come on by if you can find a free minute. Thanks again for the reports and hopefully we can have a couple good days.


  3. Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the reports. A have recently gotten a buddy of mine into fly fishing. I grew up fly fishing the Eastern Sierra Moutains in California. Anyhow we are headed to the park and the smokemont area the middle of this month from Florida. I was just wondering if you had any recommendations for that general area. Thanks for any tips you can send my way it would be appreciated as it is my friends first real fly fishing adventure and I dont want to spoil the sport for him with all my talk and no action ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks again and Tight Lines


    • That’s a great place to camp. Bradley Fork is a great stream for backcountry fishing and the Oconaluftee is excellent while providing opportunities without a walk. You should have some very good dry fly fishing from about noon until at least 3:00 if not longer. Good Luck!