Hatches Building in the Smokies While Water Dropping on the Tailwaters

This weekend was one of those typical early season events that we always seem to forget, then remember that’s usually how things play out. There were plenty of bugs, but just a few rising fish. Looks like the fishermen are just a little ahead of the fish.

It’s still February, the water is in the low 40’s and a little on the high side so when we think back on it, we’re not that disappointed. And we shouldn’t be. We still caught some fish on dry flies and some good ones too, so it feels a little piggish to complain that we didn’t just slaughter fish.

Underwater scene of a rainbow trout in the Smokies

So far we’ve seen far more Blue Quills and Early Brown Stoneflies than anything else, although there have been some Quill Gordons in the mix. Nymphs are still accounting for most fish hooked, but this will certainly move to dry flies in the coming weeks. The weather forecast is calling for another major cool down this week and the crest of the Smokies will likely see some more snow.

Here’s an interesting photo of a Blue Quill taken from under water. As you can see they are pretty well silhouetted against a bright sky. These insects are about #18, so they are relatively small.

Mayfly As Seen From Under Water

What the trout see

The situation on the tailwaters is looking up! Most of the reservoirs have almost fallen to the point where they are within TVA’s flood control guidelines so we can expect to see flows diminish as a result.

We’re not expecting minimum flows, but it looks as if the Clinch will certainly fall to within fishable levels even if a boat is necessary. The Hiwassee is also falling to standard high water flows which are quite fishable with a boat. Those who spend a good deal of time on the Hiwassee will even know a few spots where they can wade.

This is good news as we usually see flows fall off some time in March with some superb midge hatches.