Breathing bugs

Who among us doesn’t dream of a heavy hatch?

The kind that triggers one of those few-times-a-year trout feeding frenzies.

The kind that causes us to only smile and shake our heads when our friends ask, “How was it?”

The kind that requires us to breath through our teeth to keep from sucking bugs into our lungs.

Such insect explosions aren’t even the best for fishing, at least not for me.

I do far better when there are enough bugs to get fish in the feeding mood, but not so many that my not-so-well-presented flies go unnoticed.

Still, there is just something about being on the water when all heck breaks loose.

Like it did for Jeff Yates and me during a recent evening on Pennsylvania’s famed Spring Creek.

Earlier that evening we had filled up on barbecue at a dinner capping a busy Saturday at Trout Unlimited’s mid-Atlantic regional meeting in State College.

The cookout was at a public park on the banks of Spring Creek, and many of our cohorts planned to hit the creek at the park.

Not that we had anything against sharing the water with like-minded company, but Jeff and I decided to head for the limestoner’s so called Canyon section, where a hike up a gated streamside gravel road seemed likely thin out the crowds.

It did.

We had a 200-yard stretch of creek to ourselves.

It was sulphur season and we had high hopes.

We had no idea.

The hatch started on cue, a few minutes after sundown, the bright yellow bugs buzzing around the cool stream as the creek’s wild browns aggressively splashed after the emerging duns.

From my station it was just one of those great, productive fishing hatches, with enough bugs to get trout in a somewhat reckless mood, but not so many that my fly wasn’t occasionally mistaken for the real thing.

It was close to dark when I left my spot a hundred yards downstream from Jeff and headed toward him.

“Do you see this hatch?” he yelled as I was ducking under a thick, overhanging tree branch about 25 yards below him.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s pretty good.”

But then I straightened up out of my crouch and saw THE HATCH.

Jeff, TU’s volunteer operations communications director, wasn’t even fishing.

He just had his camera in hand, shooting video of a cloud of sulphur spinners so thick they literally darkened the sky.

“But not this good,” I laughed.

Jeff put away his camera and started casting.

I figured his efforts would be futile, but he quickly hooked a fish.

Pictures can’t do that kind of hatch justice, but I pulled out my camera and took a few shots anyway, the entire time smiling, shaking my head and breathing through my teeth.



said on Monday, June 16th, 2014

Great story, Mark.  We get "THE HATCH" on Western rivers, too.  And I don't mind picking bugs out of my teeth while fishing -- unless they're the biting variety, of course!

said on Monday, June 16th, 2014

Thanks, Sam! One of the great hatches I've ever seen was out West. Salmonflies on the middle Deschutes. They weren't quite thick enough to suck into our lungs, fortunately, or physical damage would have been a real possibility.

said on Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Love it!  Great piece, Mark.  


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