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Old 01-14-2009, 01:19 AM
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Lightbulb Mountain bugs v.s Tailwater bugs

This isnt a "fisheries issue," but it does concern biology- not of the fish, but of the aquatic insects trout consume. My question is: Why are the bugs that hatch on tailwaters generally smaller than the same species of bugs that hatch on mountain streams?
Are the bugs really different species, but the same fly is used to imitate both? Is is due to the abundance of bugs that are found in tailwaters (like a pond that is overpopulated with bluegill, thus stunting their growth)? Or is it just how it happens to be?

All thoughts are welcome..

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Justint
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:30 AM
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Default Sizes of bugs

Hi, MTN_TRT,
This is a question that has perplexed me for a number of years and I'll try to answer you from a non professional standpoint as best as I can. It takes some history and follow up of most of the tailwaters to understand some of the things that has caused the situation that we find now on many tailwaters. For many years TVA did not see the beneficial aspects of tailwaters, nor how to manage them properly. Much of the management that you see today, where there are good populations of insects has come from the help and prodding of TU and TWRA. Basically, most tailwaters were dead from lack of oxygen and man caused pollution for lots of years after they were built by TVA. As understanding and enactment of laws took effect, we began to see changes. The addition of oxygen being added to tailwaters through weir dams and oxygen generators really was beneficial for miles downstream. These processes began to show effects through insect life and nice fish living for years. In some places, heavy generation has taken the types of bottoms that once held excellent insect life and made it impossible for that species to thrive. With the addition of silt on the bottom, you can see certain insects do quite well for a few years and then heavy generation changes those conditions. Water temps can also be a factor for some insects as well. The Hiawassee River has traditionally had an excellent population of insects because stream conditions and temperature are close to normal much of the time for good insect life. These conditions will change through the years and you will see ebbs and flows of different insects on various streams. It seems that the midge population has been able to survive thru most of the harsher conditions of the tailwaters and therefore are your predominant bugs each year. The bigger insects continue to have favourable conditions in the mountain streams. The fish adapt to either situation and flourish. Thank goodness for that. You'll get lots of other more professional thoughts about this matter and I would just try to store it for future use on the stream.
Hugh
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:11 AM
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The other factor you have to remember is that most of the tailwaters before they became tailwaters were warm water fisheries and did not support most of the common insects that we see today in a cold water enviroment. As Hugh has pointed out the changing stream bottoms play a big roll in what insects survive. The huge amount of didymo in the S Holston I think has already changed the hatches, but that is only my opinion.
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Old 01-14-2009, 12:32 PM
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Just to add to Hugh's comment about midges...

Midges are one of the most widely distributed groups of insects worldwide. They inhabit almost every type of freshwater aquatic environment on Earth, and there are over 700 species of midges in North America alone. In fact, in most cases, midges represent over half of the total number of macroinvertebrate (insects, crayfish, etc.) species present in a given stream.

Due to their widespread distribution, relatively high concentrations, and diverse characteristics, they are able to persist in most environments. For this reason, it is always a good idea to have a variety of midge patterns in your fly box.

Grousegunner
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Old 01-15-2009, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grousegunner View Post
Just to add to Hugh's comment about midges...

Midges are one of the most widely distributed groups of insects worldwide. They inhabit almost every type of freshwater aquatic environment on Earth, and there are over 700 species of midges in North America alone. In fact, in most cases, midges represent over half of the total number of macroinvertebrate (insects, crayfish, etc.) species present in a given stream.

Due to their widespread distribution, relatively high concentrations, and diverse characteristics, they are able to persist in most environments. For this reason, it is always a good idea to have a variety of midge patterns in your fly box.

Grousegunner
In other words midges are a fly fisherman's best friend in the Wintertime...
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Old 01-26-2009, 08:48 AM
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In other words midges are a fly fisherman's best friend in the Wintertime...

UNLESS the tailwater happens to support scuds or sowbugs.....why have a french fry when a Big Mac is available? In other words....#24-22 midge vs #16-18 crustacean.
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