Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Hatches and Trout Flies for Cosby Creek GSMNP Tennessee
Cosby Creek has some great early season hatches. Beginning in late February, you can
usually find some Blue-winged Olives hatching on a cloudy day. We have seen these hatch
even when it was snowing. About the first of March, chances are good that the Blue Quill
mayflies will start to hatch. The exact time can vary a couple of weeks or more if the weather
is abnormally warm or cold.
Around the same time you will begin to see the Little Black Caddis along the rocks and
banks. They will hatch out in the stream on the surface almost like a mayfly. These can
actually provide more action and result in more trout caught than the Blue Quills or Quill
Gordons. From about the middle of the afternoons you can fish imitations of the pupa, then
change to an adult pattern when the hatch gets to going good. After about an hour, the egg
layers from previous hatches will return to deposit their eggs. The action can last until dark.
Almost at the same time the Blue Quills start hatching, the larger Quill Gordons begin to
come off. This can really turn on the trout and the anglers. They actually turn on the anglers
more than they do the trout. The larger mayflies are easy to see and give the impression
that the trout are really interested in them. Actually, they probably eat far more Blue Quills
than Quill Gordons, but the Blue Quills are more difficult to imitate. You can match the flies
alright, but you must fish the shallower, slower moving water where the trout get a good
opportunity to examine your fly. It is easy to spook the trout feeding on the Blue Quills. The
larger Quill Gordons hatch behind the boulders and in pockets where they quickly get
caught up in the current seams and head downstream.
The Quill Gordons hatch on or near the bottom and may or may not get any attention from
the trout on the surface depending on several factors. Often anglers are frustrated by
seeing them hatch and still not catching trout. When that happens, fish an emerger pattern.
We have a "Perfect Fly" pattern just for this. It is a wet fly that works great whether the trout
are taking the duns on the surface or not.
Fishing the Quill Gordon hatch, you can usually get by making rather shot upstream
presentation in the current seams and at the ends of long runs and riffles. When they take
the duns on the surface, the action is exciting and provides a lot of fun for anglers. Come
April, the Quill Gordons will be gone for another year and you will have to start looking for
other less concentrated mayfly hatches.
The March Browns will show up on Cosby Creek but not in heavy concentrations. Soon the
Light Cahills will start hatching here and there but again, not in a concentrated manner. You
can catch trout fishing these hatches, but not as consistently as you can on the Little Black
Caddis, Blue Quills or Quill Gordons.
I haven't mentioned the stoneflies but they are very plentiful in the stream. The first ones to
appear are the Winter Stoneflies that show up in January. In April you will begin to see the
Little Yellow Stoneflies, or Yellow Sallies. They will provide a lot of action late in the
afternoons around sunset.
In early to mid October, the water will cool down and some late season hatches of
Blue-Winged Olives and Mahogany Duns will start to hatch on the lower section of Cosby
Creek. The Mahogany Duns, a sister to the early Blue Quills, usually hatch in large
quantities and provide some great action. These are small mayflies, usually a hook size
18-20 but they will get the attention of the trout.
During the month of June, grasshoppers, beetles, ants and inch worms, all terrestrial
insects, become important food items for the trout. Theres 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. These small fish are abundant in
most of the stream. Imitations of them can be very effective. 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
that is in many of the park's streams.
We recommend our "Perfect Fly" imitations. They are the best, most effective flies you can
purchase and use anywhere trout exist. If you haven't already done so, please give them a
try. You'll be glad you did.
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Cosby Creek Tennessee
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