Posts Tagged ‘Epeorus

23
Jun
11

Fly Fishing: The Water Is Alive

For the beginning fly fisher recognizing your insects can be confusing. On a lake, the insect population is seemingly distinct and more recognizable: hexagenia, callibaetis, dragons, damsels, and of course, the other creatures of scuds (rivers too), leeches, water boatman, chironomids (rivers too) etc. Maybe, at first you might confuse a damsel and dragon. On a river or stream, the puzzle can be a bit more confusing. 

The other night, an associate was fishing the McKenzie River. There were what appeared to be bright yellow, large mayflies out over the water, “as big as a dragon fly”. There were additional yellow mayflies near shore bobbing up and down and almost like a swarm. The fly fisher saw no surface activity from fish.

This is confusing for a beginner and also for the non-beginner. But, this is truly part of the fun of fly fishing! This part of the thinking, observing, planning, deciphering, responding that makes the endeavor so satisfying….at least if you successfully sort out the puzzle. If you don’t observe to start with or if you observe but can’t sort it out then it is daunting. But, don’t let it be.

Keep it exciting and do the research, which has never been easier for the beginner given today’s on line resources: identify the river (or lake) you were fishing. You can do this before or after your fishing. What hatch charts can you find for that water? What insects are present during what months or when you were fishing? Research those insects. Find pictures of the nymphs, duns, spinners for that mayfly lets say (or caddis?).

In my friends case: what were those ‘large’ yellow mayflies? PMD, PED, Yellow Sallys (stonefly), Epeorus, Golden Stones. Color, size, hatch location, stage of life (dun, spinner), hatch method, time of day…can be important in narrowing down the insects you are seeing. Asking the local shop; writing knowledgeable fly fishers who really know that water shed and insects. The resources are there. Then be armed with patterns for several insects from the bottom (nymphs) up to the top. Remember there can frequently be more than one mayfly hatching at the same time and the duns and spinners can be simultaneously present. Recognize the busy egg laying spinners (no fish activity); the hatching duns, different mayflies from spinners (in this case there could have been the hatching Epeorus, hatching Pale Morning Duns, and egg laying PMD spinners.

In this instance, I did a little research and learned something interesting. The larger, yellow mayfly called Yellow Quills or Epeorus is a mayfly that ‘hatches’/’emerges’ beneath the surface and then moves to the surface to view. Now I know that I should have, for that particular mayfly on that river a larger yellow wet fly to be fished beneath the surface. I learned from my friends bewilderment and hopefully you will too.

So, stay patient. Study. Ask questions. Observe and keep notes. Take a picture if possible. And enjoy the puzzle! Then again, I did some more research and in Arlen Thomason’s excellent Bug Water, he and Rick Hafele arrived at Heptagenia solitaria…a PED. All part of the puzzle.

01
Jul
10

Fly Fishing: Yellow Quill Mayfly Emerger

Recently, I was fishing a beautiful stretch of water in Oregon. I had worked my way down to where the riffles converged with perfect seams, edges and rolling riffles. Fish were caught and the afternoon was winding down well. As I stood knee deep next to a twenty yard long riffle, my attention was drawn to mayflies hovering six inches to a foot above the riffles. They were bright yellow, about 1/2″+ long in the body. There were also two long tails, well beyond the length of the body. The mayflies were emerging out of the riffles; just appearing and hovering. There was no surface activity, although I could see some trout slashing beneath the surface next to the riffle. I had some success with a smaller tan emerger pattern. Also, I ran a dark nymph down through the riffle and caught a couple of trout.

So, I left the river wondering what that mayfly was. I am not adept at identifying all the mayflies beyond a few common, prolific ones. So, I queried Westfly and Troutnut and there seemed to be some likelihood the mayflies I saw (given the size, color, hatching location, actions) might be a ‘Yellow Quill’ or a mayfly from the genus Epeorus. The pictures and descriptors really seemed to match my observations. What stood out was the advice that this insect is best presented by a subsurface pattern, an emerger pattern that depicts an emerging mayfly well below the surface, unfolding and rising….trying to escape the current and ultimately the surface film.

A little query here and there lead to UK Fly Dressing, which had a nice discussion on the ‘yellow may spider’…a wet fly presented for a bright yellow mayfly. Within the forum discussion, the renowned Hans Weilenmann of Danica fame, provided additional information for a yellow wet fly pattern and a wonderful tutorial. Beautiful patterns and visuals for sure.

Mindful of the riffle I had observed (depth and velocity) I thought I might concoct a little pattern that would suggest the color, emerging wings and sink to the needed depth. So, I came up with a pattern I am most excited to try. I suspect it will work for other insects as well.


Pattern Information:

Black 8/0 thread; Size 12 TMC 3761 Nymph hook; gold bead, yellow Nature’s Spirit Peacock stick; trailing tail is Fly Tying Specialties Hare & Ice Dubbing (Tan); underwing two CDC feathers; hackle two turns of brown hen hackle.




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