Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Hatches and Flies for Big Creek GSMNP North Carolina
Big Creek is a high gradient, fast mountain stream that doesn't have a low pH. It probably
doesn't have as many aquatic insects as some of the other streams in the park. The first
insects to hatch are the little Winter Stoneflies. They will be crawling out of the water to hatch
in January through March. Imitations of the nymph work good during the cold winter.
Next, you will see the Little Brown Stoneflies start to hatch. They will start about the end of
March and last until the end of April. These are actually in the same family of stoneflies as
the black Little Winter stonefllies.
Blue-winged Olive are the most consistent hatch throughout the year in the Smokies. You will
start to see some hatches about the middle of February and they will continue off and on
throughout the entire year. These include the baetis species along with the Eastern BWOs,
Little BWOs and Small BWOs consisting of about 15 different species, some of which are
The little Blue Quills will start to hatch about the middle of February and last into the first of
April. They are usually very large hatches that are very consistent. About the same time you
will begin to see the Quill Gordons. They hatch until as late as the first week of April in the
Mid February will also bring about one of the largest caddisfly hatches of the year - the Little
Black Caddis or Brachcentrus species. This hatch is always very consistent. We have caught
more trout from this hatch than we have from the Quill Gordons during the last few years.
The Hendricksons start hatching near the last week of March. They are short lived, hatching
for only about a month to six weeks at the most. It will not be a major hatch in Big Creek but
there will be a few of them.
Around the middle of April, March Browns will begin to hatch. These mayflies are just about
everywhere you fish but they hatch inconsistently until around the first week of June. Much
more consistent are the Light Cahills. They start about a week or two after the March Browns
and last as long as three weeks, depending on the elevation. Both these insects exist in
good quantities in Big Creek.
The middle of April will bring about a hatch of the Short-horned Sedges. These are very
small black caddisflies that are quite abundant. About the same time you should notice the
first hatches of the Green Sedges. They hatch everywhere there is fast water for over two
months but never in large quantities.
Around the second week of May, Eastern Pale Evening Duns will start hatching. Most anglers
call these Sulphurs but the true Sulphurs will not start to hatch for another couple of weeks.
Both hatches will be very sparse in Big Creek.
The first of May the Giant Black Stoneflies will start hatching. These hatch at night and
deposit their eggs at night. Nymphs work well in the late afternoons. The Little Yellow
Stoneflies, called Yellow Sallies and one of the Smokies best hatches, will start around the
first of May and last until mid July. Another hatch also called Yellow Sallies, but different
species, starts again about September and last for about six weeks. The Golden Stoneflies
start hatching around the first of June and last about five weeks. The Little Green Stoneflies
start about the last week of May and last until July. These are sparse hatches, but stoneflies
in general are very important hatches for Big Creek.
By the middle of August hatches of Little Yellow Quills will start to occur mostly in the higher
elevations. This is a very good hatch that last until the end of October. By the middle of
August, hatches of Mahogany Duns will begin to occur. This hatch last for as long as two
months depending on the elevation.
Also by the middle of August you should start seeing some Needle Stoneflies. These hatch in
fairly large numbers until as late as November, especially in the higher elevations. Many
anglers take them for caddisflies which they resemble in flight.
From the middle of May until the middle of November, a long period of time, you will find
hatches of Slate Drakes occurring. These mayflies hatch out of the water but never in large
quantities. Imitations of the nymphs and spinners can be important.
The Great Autumn Brown Sedges, start hatching at night by the first of October and last into
the first of December.
During the month of June, grasshoppers, beetles, ants and inch worms, all terrestrial insects,
become important food items for the trout. There are few hatches occurring, so most anglers
start using imitations of these terrestrials. The inch worms, or moth larvae, are especially
important due to the large numbers of them in the forest of the park.
In addition to the terrestrial and aquatic insects, theres a lot of other food for the trout. Small
Crawfish is one of those items. Another one is Sculpin. The Black Nose Dace is another
baitfish that is important. Streamers imitating these and other minnows work great especially
when the water is slightly off color.
I didn't mention it in the aquatic insect part above, but midges are abundant throughout the
park. They can be very important when the water is cold and nothing else is hatching.
Imitations of the larva and pupa will catch trout anytime of the year.
Craneflies are everywhere water exist in the park. The larva and adults are important insects
to imitate. Hellgrammites, or the larva stage of the Dobsonfly, is another abundant insect.
Naturally we recommend our own "Perfect Fly" imitations. They are the best, most realistic
flies you can purchase. They are also the most effective flies you can use anywhere trout
exist including Big Creek. We hope you give them a try. You'll be glad you did.
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