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Fly Fishing in the Southeastern US
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 Post subject: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:51 pm 
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Rainbow Trout
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I've watched the insects change over the years on my favorite river, the SoHo. I've collected a lot of samples in jars, both from fish stomachs & from seining many different places on the river. I have the jars dated (I also put whether it is a brown or rainbow & what place on the river it is from) going back almost 10 years, which is not very long, ecologically speaking.

The diversity & richness of insects in this river is astounding to me! Different sections of river sometimes have completely different bugs, and of course fish can change their preferences from day-to-day in the very same spot.

I'm gonna mention 2 changes that I've seen lately on the bottom end of the river, and would love to get your opinions/thoughts on these things:

1) CRANEFLIES! AAAAARGGGGGHHHH!!!! For about the past 4 weeks or possibly longer, there have been major cranefly hatches, usually in the afternoons/evenings, from at least Rock Hold all the way to the lake. For me it has been frustrating on more than one occasion. For one thing, the fish seem to be eating these bugs as emergers, and that's one bug that I have not researched much at all. How do they emerge? The fish seem to be pretty picky on the color as well as the very-slender size of the bugs. The best pattern I've had luck on was a Puff-Daddy, but it has to be cream/very-light yellow & sparsely tied; this patterns seems to imitate well a variety of insects in a variety of stages. For another thing, these cranefly hatches seem to happen simultaneously with other hatches! The cranefly hatch seems to be the longest hatch, & will sometimes happen from noon til dark; during this hatch there will often be a Baetis hatch, & sometimes the fish will readily take both; stomach samples sometimes reveal bugs that are still alive; last week I pumped a small brown & it had 4 different 'bugs' that were still alive: they were cranefly adults, Baetis larva & adults, midges, and very small scuds (technically not bugs). Another hatch I have seen occur during this cranefly hatch was Caddis! Yes, large #15 caddis pupae & adults!

2) Caddis! It was weird seeing these. I've seen those small # 18 & #20 black caddis that sometimes hatch in the winter on the middle & upper sections for the past 6 years or so, but this is a different species, & is down on the bottom end for almost a mile or possibly more. [To be honest, I assume the fish eat these small black caddis, but out of all the stomach samples I've done over the years, I have not once found a small black caddis in a trout's stomach. Maybe/probably they eat them, but I just haven't found any in trout stomachs.] Anyway, the first time I saw this happen was about 5 weeks ago--I began to hear loud, splashy rises in the evening down near the lake, just as the water generation was about to start down there. I looked close & thought I saw some caddis; the water came all the way up & more bugs hatched & finally I caught one; sure enough, a size 15 tan/brown/olive caddis; looked to be a Brachycentrus appalachia, just like on the Watauga, but a tiny bit smaller & a little darker olive. Within a few minutes there were hundreds of these hatching & the fish were eating them like candy. I have not seined down there in about a year or more, but the last couple times I did seine I don't remember seeing any caddis pupae whatsoever. Anyway, then last week I got into a frustrating hatch with Monroe & G2, and we were all out of Puff Daddy's; craneflies seemed to be the main course again, but when I took a stomach sample, there were several Brachycentrus? pupae that were still alive; they had olive bodies & dun-colored wings, and were about a size 15. Of course, there were also some craneflies, Baetis, midges & scuds that were also still alive...

I guess it is the challenge that keeps me coming back to fish that river year after year...


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 Post subject: Re: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:17 pm 
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Brown Trout
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Maniac,

Bugs going back 10 years....really neat.

Since you are emphasizing the lower river, I'll point out another observation. I've seen a fair number of the big sulfurs(14) on the lower river over the past 3 days. Stomach samples revealed mostly size 22 midge pupa and flying ants until about 1 pm each day. After that, stomach samples were all colored up with those other bugs you mentioned.

Crane flies- yep. I'm pretty confused on this one. It had been my understanding that crane flies came from the muddy areas adjacent to the water...but....I've sure seen them popping off the water.


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 Post subject: Re: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:37 pm 
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Rainbow Trout

Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:03 pm
Posts: 70
Check out the genus Antocha (Tipulidae, Crane Flies) - sometimes reported in the family Limoniidae. This is a very common crane fly in flowing waters and found in the cobble/pebble riffles and the Fontinalis (moss) with the mayflies, black flies, etc..


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 Post subject: Re: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:57 pm 
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Location: Hildebran, NC
Good stuff Scotty.


Kim 8-)

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 Post subject: Re: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 5:12 pm 
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Rainbow Trout

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:25 am
Posts: 121
If they are taking the adult crane fly on the surface that is a pretty easy bug to imitate. Sub surface it can be real tough. Since I fish upstream from where you guys are seeing them I have not seen very many.


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 Post subject: Re: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 5:43 pm 
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Rainbow Trout
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How far upstream are these craneflies? I haven't fished above Rock Hold lately (except for floating)...and how do they hatch? I gotta research this...


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 Post subject: Re: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:53 pm 
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Brown Trout
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I haven't seen many craneflies in recent weeks on the river above Weaver Pike bridge.


Last edited by River Man on Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:36 pm 
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Rainbow Trout

Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:03 pm
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There are crane flies in the upper reaches according to the TWRA. The data I have seen is from 2003-2005. In this data there are more Antocha downstream (in the 20s at the site below the dam, mile 49.2, and over 100 crane fly individuals at river mile 39.4 downstream). I know that river mile 49.2 is immediately below the dam, because the dam it built at river mile 49.8, but I don’t know the exact location of 39.4. And I have no idea of TWRA’s sampling area, so the number of crane flies per what – square foot, square meter, enclosed area of sampler? Even with this question you can still get a handle on the relative abundance of the critter (22-29 upstream versus 99-145 downstream).

Examining the TWRA macroinvertebrate data from 2003-2005 tells an interesting story when it comes to the caddis, stones, and mayflies as well. There are several different genera that are present in the lower reaches that are rare or not there at the upper site.


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 Post subject: Re: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:29 pm 
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Brown Trout
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Craneflies are indeed very common upstream. The section of runs and riffles below Jack Prater's are often full of them during the summer months. They are often the first bugs to come off in the morning. Hmmm...come to think of it, Rusty F. and I saw come coming off behind Jack's last Friday afternoon.


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 Post subject: Re: S. Holston Bugs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:44 pm 
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Brown Trout
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Location: Statesboro, GA
Good on ya fer dern near 10 years of record keeping!

My few times seeing Craneflies on the S. Holsten they've been flying from the grass and the bank toward the fiver. Maybe a Stonefly type emergence?

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