Trout Zone Anglers, LLC

Bugs Are Here

The calendar has turned to March, and right on schedule the quill gordon mayflies have started hatching. I’ve seen blue quills, early brown stoneflies, and little black stoneflies for the past week and a half or so, but the quill gordons had eluded me, until yesterday that is. For now the hatch is just getting started. As anyone who has fished this hatch should know, it seems to come and go before you really get serious about fishing it. We probably have two to three weeks upcoming now when it should be prime, maybe even a month or so, but certainly not more than that. The best thing about the bugs yesterday? I caught fish on dry flies.

A Little River rainbow trout on a dry fly in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The hatch started a bit late, probably because of the clouds and rain showers early in the day. When it finally got going, the hatch was helped along with a few bursts of sunlight from an otherwise cloudy sky. Fish seemed to show a definite preference for the quill gordons although they were also taking a few of the blue quills when the opportunity presented itself. I even noticed one quality brown of 16-18 inches rise once. Unfortunately it never even looked at my flies, at least not that I could tell.

Dry fly eating rainbow trout in the Smokies

Before we know it, the whole river will have hatching bugs. For now, stick with the traditional early season pools but be ready to move around until you find bugs and fish. I say and because some people have reported plenty of bugs but no risers. If you encounter this on the water, try fishing a wet fly imitation of the prevailing hatch dead drifted near the bottom like a nymph. Use split shot and a strike indicator if necessary. If you are lucky, you’ll find bugs and beautiful trout.

Brown trout on a quill gordon spundun in the Great Smoky Mountains National Par




10 thoughts on “Bugs Are Here

  1. Hans Ahlstedt

    If I might add, don’t neglect to use a soft hackle emerger right under the surface, more often than not the fish are taking emergers not the dun.

    1. David Knapp Post author

      Hans, great point. I’m actually working on a new hybrid between the traditional quill gordon wet fly and a soft hackle. Contains elements of both but I need to fish it hard still to perfect the pattern. Thanks for stopping by the new site and for commenting!

      1. Hans Ahlstedt

        Good looking site, I have to be honest, I was a little lost between the Trout Zone and your guide page and now this. Are you planning on some kind of consolidation. I understand if you don’t want to mix your guide site with this one.

        1. David Knapp Post author

          Hans, great question for sure. I’m exploring options for a new site that will at minimum become the Trout Zone Anglers (guide) site with more capabilities than the platform I’m using right now. Currently it is in a test run status as I continue to add content and work things out. I’m also considering merging the Trout Zone (blog) with the Trout Zone Anglers sites (guide) using this Word Press platform but haven’t decided if I want to deal with that yet. More or less I’m just experimenting right now but this site will continue to grow and will at least become the main guide site.

  2. Charlie Barton

    I saw a few Quill Gordons rising while I was out yesterday. Just one here and there. And the fish (the few that I caught) were hitting dries for me as well.

    1. David Knapp Post author

      Charlie, I’m glad you found bugs along with your fish as well. Definitely something to enjoy after the cold months. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. Ian Jones

    This is the time that my favorite, the Mr Rapidan, was actually designed for. Unfortunately, I’m way too busy to make it up there right now.

    1. David Knapp Post author

      Ian, I’ll have to try that one out one of these days in the near future. Those bugs come off in some choppy water and a high floating fly like the Mr. Rapidan is perfect for those conditions. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on the new site!

  4. Jamie Pride

    David, if the Caney ever quits running, what could be the possible hatches there, assuming it will probably be the later part of March? I mostly wade, I haven’t floated in over 3 years. Thanks for your reply.

    1. David Knapp Post author

      Jamie, the Caney has minimal hatches. In late March you might see a few caddis hatching throughout the river, otherwise you mostly want to fish midges (#18-#20 Zebra Midge for example) and maybe some sow bug imitations. Later, in May and onward, there may be a few Sulfurs from the Rest Area downstream as well as a few more caddis and even crane flies. Hope this helps!