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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Salmon Fly Hatch Pursuits

Big Bug Bombers

giant stone fly salmon fly pteronarcys californica

giant stone fly salmon fly pteronarcys californicaIf there's one hatch that a good majority of fly fishers aspire to time "just right", it's likely the Salmon Fly hatch. These big bugs, AKA Pteronarcys Californica, are the largest of the stonefly order (plecoptera -- which literally means "braided wings") and incite large migrations of fly fishers from around the world as hopeful hatch-matchers descend on the Western rivers that host these giant bugs and their legendary emergences.
I've had the opportunity to chase these bug a few times in my life and it's usually more hype-and-hope than rope-a-dope fishing. But there are a few places I know of that can produce consistent enough hatches that's it's at least worth a shot or two every year. Last year, I hit the particular section of river and found a few bugs but not many fish interested. This year, thanks to a tip from a good friend, the stars aligned and we hit it good.

 The first thing we noticed was how localized the hatch was. Not that it's a river-wide hatch to begin with, but this time a mere 1/2 mile or less separated sections of intense bug activity and bug-less water. Not only that, but the hatch had been moving rapidly upstream on a daily basis.

The areas with the highest concentration of bug activity were literally crawling with these giant lumbering beasts. They were on trees, bushes and even taking up roost on my hat.

giant stone fly salmon fly pteronarcys californica

giant stone fly salmon fly pteronarcys californica

Once we found a good spot with lots of salmon flies, the fishing was great. Presentations that ended in a big "SPLAT!" usually got the most aggressive takes. That's what makes the salmon fly hatch so much fun.

giant stone fly salmon fly pteronarcys californica brown trout

 The fish were definitely keying in on these gigantic stoneflies and anything big and somewhat resembling the naturals was engulfed within seconds of hitting the water.

giant stone fly salmon fly pteronarcys californica petite sirloin
Cheech's "Petite Sirloin" Stonefly took many a brown trout
And when the hatch was over, the fish still had a hankering for the big salmon fly nymphs

Here's a video I did a couple of years back on a nice little pattern 

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