Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Hatches and Trout Flies for the Oconaluftee River GSMNP North
The first insects to hatch in January are the little Winter Stoneflies. The hatch through the
month of March. Little Brown Stoneflies will start hatching about the first of March and hatch
until the end of April.
Blue-winged Olive are the most consistent hatch throughout the year in the Oconaluftee
River. 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 bi-brooded.
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.
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 is moderate and only occurs in certain
locations in the Oconaluftee River.
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.
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. They are plentiful in this river. At the same time the first
hatches of Cinnamon Caddis show up but they are sparse.
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 last about a month but are very sparse.
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.
The last week of June through the month of August you will find some Cream Cahills. These
are sparse but important at that time of year. 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
Crayfish is one of those items. The brown trout are especially fond of them. 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.
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
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 own "Perfect Fly" imitations. They are the best, most effective
flies you can purchase and use anywhere trout exist. They have been tested extensively in
Great Smoky Mountains National Park and on the Oconaluftee River. If you haven't done so
already, please give them a try. You'll be glad you did.
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