Personally I enjoy entomology. I found that working with Art Flick in the sixties in order to identify the aquatic insects in Virginia very rewarding and it was the beginning of a very special friendship.
We now have many excellent books on aquatic entomology so if you enjoy this I believe you will find it very rewarding.
However, one of the greatest trout anglers and finest gentleman I have ever known used a different approach. He was not into technical entomology, but he did not seem to need it. When he saw large tan natural aquatic insects on the stream he would take an artificial fly from his box which matched it and catch many trout. If he saw small yellow natural insects on the stream he would go to his fly box and match it with great success. His name was Jack Sperry and he was a true master angler.
I really enjoyed identifying the aquatic insect hatches with Art Flick’s help for the three book I have written on the subject. And I still spend a great amount of time studying and photographing aquatic insects. Admittedly, I do rely on this information when I am fishing.
However, one of the finest anglers I have ever known simplifies the match the hatch game. He always studied the streams carefully and each day when we were on the stream he watched closely to see what was hatching. The important physical features to him were the size and color of the hatching insects. Then armed with this information he would select the fly to use that day which matches the naturals in size and color. I have never fished with anyone who caught more trout than Jack Sperry.
Just as Mother Nature controls the time of the year in which the beautiful little wildflowers push through the thick leaf carpet in the mountains to bloom, so does she dictate the time which the natural insects hatch in the streams. Since I am fond of photographing both of these I have kept stream notes on them for forty years.
Interestingly enough this has helped me in my fishing because usually a specific fly hatch will coincide with the blooming of a specific wildflower. The beautiful little blood root which is the first wildflower to bloom in many mountains tells me it is time for the first aquatic insect hatch. The trillium follows this and usually brings the next two aquatic insect hatches. Different wildflowers follow throughout the season with their accompanying hatches.
The specific insects that hatch at these times vary from one geographical part of the country to the next. However, it repeats each year in a predictable pattern. Keep stream notes and you will be richly rewarded.
Would you like to catch some of those natural insects that come buzzing by you when you are on the stream so you can match them with your flies? Actually a fine mesh landing net does a pretty good job as an insect catcher. Some get through but not all of them.
There is a good hatch of aquatic insects on the stream and the trout are feeding well upon them. You catch several of these insects and by carefully selecting a dry fly from your box you are confident you have a good match for it. However, fishing this fly to rising trout for half and hour does not bring a single strike. On each of your presentation casts you can clearly distinguish your fly from the naturals around it. Then it dawns on you…if it does not look exactly like the naturals to you, it probably does not look like a natural to the trout. Most likely your fly is too large or the wrong color…Try again.
Blue Quills, a few Quill Gordons and a few March Browns are coming off on different areas of the Mountain Brook Trout Streams. The prime time seems to be around 2:00 to 3:00 pm. A Mr. Rapidan Parachute #16 has worked quite well this week.
These are the first two Mayflies to hatch on the Shenandoah National Park Brook Trout Streams each season.