With spring just around the corner it’s time to start matching the hatch!
What Does It Mean?
The expression comes from the fly fishers attempts to imitate natural insects with artificial imitations in order to fool the fish. The fly fishing hatch is probably one of the most productive ways to catch a fish. I find it so fascinating when the flies are hovering all over the water and the trout are rising to the top to eat them!
How To Identify A Hatch?
When the water temperature is starting to rise (getting warmer) and you see a bunch of flies on the water you have probably found a hatch. The flies will start transforming from a nymph to an adult when the water temperature is starting to heat up. So if it has started to warm up outside and you see little flies everywhere, quick go and grab your rod, chances are you have found a hatch!
When Do Hatches Occur?
A hatch will usually occur in the spring time when the ice has melted (if you live up in the North like I do) and the water starts to heat up a bit. Where you live, elevation, climate and what type of waterbody are all key factors to when this might occur. We still have over 3 feet of ice on our lakes, several feet of snow and cold temperatures up here in the North so our hatch is still a ways away but on my recent trip to Powell River in Southern BC the chironomid hatch was just starting. The best ways to find out if the hatch is happening is to head out to the water and see for yourself, this is going to be the most reliable source. Another great option is to talk to a local Anglers in your area and see if they know what is happening. These folks know so much and are a wealth of knowledge, I have been incredibly lucky to have lots stop and chat while out fishing and share their fishing stories, tips and tricks with me, or if you want to know something ask them a question they are more than happy to help out!
While fishing Cranberry Lake in Powell River a few weeks ago a local Fisherman stopped and asked how the fishing was going. After chatting about for a bit about life and swapping fishing stories and of course the weather he told me what was hatching, what fly to use and what time the fish would be biting….. 3pm. At 3:07pm my son had a cutthroat trout in his hands! He left me with some hooks, split shots and worms dug up that morning from his garden, and a fly from his tackle box. My advice to you is never pass up the advice of an old timer on the dock or shore. Listen to what they have to say and be grateful when they give you a lure they have had luck on!
How Do The Flies Transform In A Hatch?
The flies will go from pupal or larval stage to the Emerger stage and then to an Adult Fly. These flies will all gather in the same area drawing in the fish to feed on them, you will often see the Trout coming to the surface to feed on the hatching bugs. Caddis Flies, Mayflies, Chironomids and Stoneflies (rivers only) are all different types of flies that will have hatches. There are obviously more but these are some of the more popular ones.
Chironomid life cycle (from left to right) Larva(Bloodworm), Pupa, Adult.
Mayfly life cycle (from left to right) Nymph, Emerger, Dun, Spinner.
Caddis Fly life cycle (from left to right): Larva, Pupa, Adult .
Can You Fish Without A Hatch?
Yes, absolutely! Fishing during a hatch doesn’t always guarantee success. There are still going to be fish in the water regardless what time of the year you go fishing at. Yes, a hatch is great. Yes, you can catch lots of fish during a hatch. But you can still catch lots of fish throughout the year regardless of whether a hatch is going on or not!
In conclusion, matching the hatch is a lot of fun on the fly rod especially when you can find that right fly that the fish are biting. It all comes down to trial and error and you really just don’t know until you try an assortment of flies. Do your research before you go, talk to locals who have fished there before and remember to just have fun! Until next week, tight lines everyone!