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Fly Fishing Hatches Where Are They in 2016?
Eugene Macri

©2016 E. Macri All Rights Reserved 

I've had many e-mails concerning the fly hatch problems in the East this year. From the Delaware River to the West branch of the Delaware Creek to the spring creeks you name it the hatches are not right they tell me. Well if you been to my sites over the years and you've read a lot of what I've written about hatches you should realizeFly Hatches Leptophlebia spinner from that most of the books written on them are basically worthless. I'm not saying that this is intentional by the writers. They really don't understand aquatic biology. They really don't understand hatches and how the environment affects them. We've had changing climatic patterns for the last 30 years. The real problem is that guys read these books and they think this stuff is accurate. They then go out on the stream expecting such hatches when they don't get the hatches, they don't understand why.

Let's start off by understanding what's going on environmentally. Climatically, things are not like they used to be someone once said. For the most part that is an understatement when it comes to what's going on weather-wise and climate wise. You only have to look at the rash of tornadoes and the size of the paths of these tornadoes to understand that maybe, just maybe we are having an extremely negative effect on our environment due to global warming. This year we had a pretty typical spring, perhaps more like the springs we had many years ago we were young some of us. However, due to the cold and wet weather many hatches failed to develop this spring. Well some of the hatches occurred all right--- they just didn't occur when you were there. The basic rule of thumb is for most fly hatches is that they will emerge doing the best time of day. That doesn't mean, that is the best time of day for you. What it means is the biochemical mechanisms that allow that insect to emerge are environmentally controlled. Because they are environmentally controlled the flies will emerge when ever they find it to be the best time. The normal hatches periods written in those books is an ideal situation which seldom occurs anymore ( Leptophlebia spinner).


The spring was cold, long and wet and now we are in hot weather. Two things happened: 1) the hatches emerge at different time periods and 2) the hatches overlap. I have already watched this on numerous streams. What is happening is that the hatches are coming all at once on some streams. But they are not coming during the best hours of fishing. Let me give you an example. The sulfurs which usually emerge during the hours of 1 to 4 in this time period are now emerging at a variety of times throughout the day and night. The spinners which usually return to the stream towards evening are now coming back late at night or in the early morning hours. The duns are also emerging early in the morning on some streams and in the middle of the night on others. With the hot weather predicted for the rest of summer, realize that the hatches are going to be disturbed the rest of the year.

Part of this is related to water temperature, but is also related to the environmental conditions that surround the stream. These include the air temperature, the barometric pressure, and whether the stream is located in a valley or higher up on mountain. All of these things will affect the time of the hatches. So what should you look for? Well realize that the normal conditions do not apply anymore. If you're looking for spinner falls try late at night and very early in the morning. If you're looking for hatches of the duns then I would suggest that you keep a close eye on the water temperature the barometric pressure, and the sky covering. Let me give you a quick example. I was at a limestone stream which I will not mention the other day, and it got cloudy and the temperature dropped because a storm was coming in. All of a sudden for about 10 min. the sulfurs came off in profusion. If you were there at that time you probably had about 20 minutes of good fishing. If you weren't then you will say there were no sulfurs on that section of the stream today, but actually there were quite a few but they came off in a very short period time.

Two days ago on a freestone stream I happen to be driving by late at night I saw the spinners of sulfurs against the lights of a store. They were everywhere. This was about midnight. The night was hot and it was just beginning to cool down. So the Fly Hatches Potomanthus dun from www.flyfisher.comhumidity, the temperature, and the environment all play a part of when the flies will come off and when they will return. You get masked hatches this time of year. Which means basically that you're going to get one hatch overlapping another hatch and this is hell if it's in the evening or at night. The next problem you have on some streams is that the spinners and duns of numerous species will be popping and returning at the same time. If the trout happen to be selective well it's a tough go especially at night(Potomanthus Dun).

Here's a couple of tips. First, always go with the sulfurs if everything else is on the water try to match them first. Why? Because the sulfurs for some reason are the flies the trout like. Sometimes this is due to the fact there are more of them in the stream than other mayflies and caddis flies. But other times it's just the fact for some reason and we don't know why trout prefer sulfurs. Second, if you are not getting hits on the duns but you know they are taking the duns and you can't see well, fish a nymph just under the surface or on the surface. Some of the flies that may come back at this time like the March Browns well just about forget them because usually they aren't worth the trouble if the sulfurs or other flies are hatching. Even if some kind larger flies are coming off many times they will take the sulfur for the first couple days the hatch rather than take the drakes. I've seen this for years and years in my studies on Penns Creek and other streams that have a good Green Drake catch.

And one other thing I'd like to just briefly discuss is the length or duration of the hatches and the number hatches. I'm sorry to say that once again most of the books are basically nonsensical when they talk about hatches. The hatches have diminished greatly over the last 20 years both in their number of different types of hatches and the quantity of the flies emerging on the streams. Because I've had many reports of guy saying that I've seen some flies but they weren't in great numbers and the fish won't come up. Well I'm sorry to say that's going to be the way it is for most of you for the rest of your lives because the streams biogeochemically are not getting better and we're losing our hatches. This is a worldwide phenomenon but nobody wants to talk about in the fly fishing world. In many instances,  there isn't enough of a stimulus to bring the fish to the surface. In these situations, I know you want to fish dry flies, but try using nymph. You'll get more strikes and hook more fish and be happier.

Well that's just a capsule report of what the problem is with the hatches this year. It has not been a good year for chasing the hatches unless you happen to be on the stream at the right time. Best of luck this year and remember the flies will come off when it's best for them not necessarily best for fishing.


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