Mild temperatures, lengthening days, blossoming trees and plants, the smell of fresh cut grass and the emergence of aquatic insects: Spring is truly here!
All but the last are signs noted by most people but anyone not familiar with the peculiar world of fly fishing may find our fascination with aquatic insects odd.
For fly fishers, spring in the eastern United States is a special season in which the greatest abundance of aquatic insect emergences occurs. In turn, trout gorge themselves upon this abundance and, at the height of this activity, rise to the surface of the area streams to intercept the insects as they float on the surface, temporarily stuck in the transitory phase between aquatic and air-born flying insect.
Fly fishers attempt to imitate these insects with artificial hand-tied flies in order to catch the feeding trout. The final component of this special spring mix is the beautiful wild trout found in the best of our central Pennsylvania streams, such as Penns Creek, Spring Creek, Big Fishing Creek and the Little Juniata River.
The May “hatches,” our common name for these insect emergences, have begun in earnest, with March Browns, Gray Foxes (both now listed by entomologists as the same species but still noted separately by many fly fishers based on size and coloration), Sulphurs and little Blue-winged Olives leading the ranks of Mayflies.
A variety of Caddisflies, Stoneflies, Craneflies and Midges can be important as well. When attempting to understand and navigate the proverbial bug blizzards of May, a resource such as the Pocket Guide to Pennsylvania Hatches by noted authorities Charles Meck and Paul Weamer can be extremely helpful. Charlie and Paul are both residents of central Pennsylvania and Paul manages the TCO State College fly shop.
If you are visiting the area for the first time or are new to fly fishing, the best piece of advice I can offer is to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and expertise found here. One of the best ways to do this is by working with a licensed fly fishing guide service, such as Lance Wilt’s Outcast Anglers.
A recent day on the water with Lance netted this for the happy client:
PIC: Cheryl White with Spring Creek Brown Trout
Additionally, our area is home to three excellent fly fishing specialty stores:
The Feathered Hook – located in the town of Coburn on the banks of Penns Creek. http://www.thefeatheredhook.com/ TCO State College http://www.tcoflyfishing.com/
Flyfisher’s Paradise – State College http://www.flyfishersparadise.com/
The spring is a wonderful season. Whether new to the sport or an experienced angler, why not consider a visit to central Pennsylvania?