As I enjoyed a few early evening hours on the McKenzie River last week, I noticed a few BWO’s, PMD’s, a few Caddis coming off as well as a larger, bright yellow fly that looked like a stonefly (not a mayfly). But would a stonefly be hatching in mid stream? Hmm? Well, let me express and share my ignorance once again.
I had believed all stonefly nymphs crawl out onto the shoreline rocks and vegetation to hatch. But, a little research reveals that not all stone flies follow that path. Some, like the Little Yellow Stoneflies in fact can sometimes emerge like other insects right out of the water and take flight, as I saw those bright, larger yellow flies doing. Actually, now that I think about it, I think I have seen the same thing with Little Black Winter Stone flies as well? Also, my first impulse would be to tie on a yellow Stimulator or similar dry pattern. But, another approach is sometimes advisable as written about at Fly Fishing Smoky Mountains:
“As simple as it is in terms of matching either the nymph or the adult Yellow Sally,
many anglers still fish the hatch wrong. In fact, I think most of them do. When they
start seeing the adults flying, in the bushes or on the banks, they start fishing an
adult fly pattern. This shouldn’t be done until you actually spot trout eating the
adults. That means the egg laying adults. That is the only time an adult stonefly
gets on the water.”
“They hatch out of the water and they don’t go back on the water
until the females deposit their eggs or the males happen to die and fall on the water.
That is actually rare because they mate and die in the bushes and on the banks,
not over the water like mayflies in the air. So, while you fish an adult imitation, you
should be trying to imitate the egg laying females. The females may hatch and live
out of the water for a few days before they begin to deposit their eggs. So often,
anglers are casting a dry fly imitation of the adult when the trout are not looking for
them on the surface.”
Of course, this is all contingent upon my observations of maybe a half dozen of these fluttering larger, yellow flies. They were not like any mayflies that I have ever seen that fly away in a fairly uniform manner…these creatures had the same gangly fluttering mannerisms as other adult stones I have observed over the years, but never as emerging out of the water before me. It is a pleasant part of fly fishing to solve these little questions and add them to your wisdom and to share them. So, more observations are needed to see if those were indeed Yellow Sallies or some other insect I had yet to observe. Part of the learning experience that keeps fly fishing enjoyable.
Oh, as I hiked out in a pleasant state of euphoria of once again being on the water and catching a few trout and feeling the rhythms of the rod, I looked up from the trail and…….eek!
A moment of contemplation. A moment in which I asked myself, how exactly do skunks spray? How fast do skunks move? Do I run? Does the skunk run? I moved to the right and the skunk stayed squared and moved equal to my tentative moves. Yes, I was calm or stupid enough to snap a pic. But, can I just say as a slight waft of that familiar sent, one usually only smells along the highway, floated my way I was soooooo happy when the skunk turned and trotted away into the stream side vegetation……it was a whew moment…not a phew moment.