Finally! We are transforming from one of the coldest and wettest winters we can remember here, to the sound of birds chirping or gobbling and of course aquatic insects hatching. We will soon see wildflowers covering the ground in the Smokies. We will watch as trees begin to grow new leaves. We will smell the change, and of course feel it. We have been waiting for this moment for a long time.
This is the time, right now, that fly fishermen, especially trout fishermen have been waiting for. And, baring any unforeseen cold fronts, it’s here. Already Quill Gordons and Blue Quills are on the water in the Smokies. That alone puts us all in a better mood. Trout are eating these bits of food right from the surface today. The Spring feeding event is not in full swing by any means. But you can catch trout in the Smokies on a dry fly. We like that.
The water is still chilly. The heavy accumulation of snow is melting and filtering into the stream headwaters. Rain is adding more flow in addition to the snow melt. If we don’t get a lot of rain which would blow the streams out, or a cold snap, fishing will be good for the remainder of March.
So, what should you do? First, dry fly fishing should be better later in the day. Second, select mayfly patterns that are gray in color. The early mayfly hatches are gray in color. You will see Quill Gordons and Blue Quills. You will also see some Blue Wing Olives that are a gray to greenish gray color. Sizes vary. You can cover any hatch with gray flies in sizes #10 down to #20. Hey, that’s a lot of sizes. Try this: Have some #12 and #14 Quill Gordons, Smaller Blue Qulls in #16 and BWO’s in #18. That should be good enough. You can also use an Adams or Parachute Adams in all sizes down to #20.
Drop a wet fly or nymph about 16” off your dry. The easy way is to tie some tippet to the hook bend of your dry fly using an “Improved Clinch Knot”. Tie on the nymph or wet fly to the end of that tippet. So, you have a dry fly, which also functions as a strike indicator. The trout may take the dry fly or the nymph/wet fly. For the dropper I would use a Quill Gordon wet fly or a Bead Head Pheasant Tail. I would choose a #16 or #18 Pheasant Tail. As usual, stay low and hide. If the water is low and clear, use light tippet, 5X or 6X.
Wear subdued clothing that blends in. Make accurate casts into feeding lanes and get a good drift. Try not to wade much and don’t wade where you think trout will be lying. This is a good start for a great time fishing in the Smokies streams during this early Spring. Have fun!