2017-05-20 / Outdoors

Wolf Tracks

Outdoor Columnist
Dave Wolf

Those bugs that are now flying along the river are not the pests they have been made out to be. They don’t bite. Most live for a very short period, usually 24 hours. Others will hatch the next day or evening, and will repeat the cycle.

They are called mayflies, caddis and stoneflies. Most common at this time of the year are mayflies and caddis.

Fly anglers welcome their arrival because they often send trout into a frenzy.

Personally, I like fishing imitation dry flies, even though many of my friends suggest that fishing the nymph stage will bring more trout to net.

My personal favorite is what is called a sulphur, even though I admit that both white flies and green drakes are hard to resist. Sulphurs are now emerging in many areas of the state.

I recall fishing the famous Kettle Creek when both sulphurs and green drakes were coming off at the same time. Despite offering the best patterns I could muster of the drake, the trout would snub them.

Frustrated, I sat on the bank and watched closely. It wasn’t long before I noted that the trout would only take a drake after it alighted from the water. However, the trout were sipping something on the surface.

They were taking sulphur spinners. The spinners were depositing their eggs and dying, making them an easy meal for the trout that were now lying just beneath the surface. Fish taking as many as five at a time.

I tied on my best spinner pattern. To make a long story short, I was able to hook and land 13 trout that day, and lost another five.

My grandfather called those green drakes “shad flies.” After working all day in the coal mines, he and his co-workers headed north to catch the hatch. They always made it back in time for their morning shift. On weekends they would travel to Kettle Creek and fish every minute they could.

I have also had a longtime addiction to using caddisflies. Although they come in a wide variety of colors, my favorite is tan. After years of experimenting and tying, I found that one tied with grizzly hackle for both thorax and wings is the best pattern.

Caddis emerge throughout the day, especially when the sky is overcast. At this time of year, trout are found close to undercut banks and logs, created by fallen trees. A splashy rise usually indicates they are taking emerging caddis or ones that have already taken flight.

It takes years to learn all the “ins and outs” of fly fishing. However, I have found the journey both enlightening and enjoyable. Matching the hatch isn’t always necessary, but in most cases, size and wing positions are.

Obtaining the proper gear, especially the fly line, can make all the difference. Once your journey begins, you will discover what works best for you.

This is the perfect time to try out this very enjoyable hobby, as the streams are still cool, and the hatches are incredible.

(Dave Wolf may be reached by email at wolfang418@msn.com.)

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