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 Post subject: Most Over-rated Hatch?
PostPosted: December 30th, 2017, 8:47 am 
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All........

As I was looking over my dry fly box(es) this last week I gazed upon the compartment that holds my dries and emergers of Hendrickson’s.

Now many of us love Hendrickson’s (and, by extension, Red Quills) because they’re, along with the large BWO’s, the first real dry fly fishing of the season. (Yeah.....I’m aware that Quill Gordon’s hatch earlier.......but whether because of high, unwadeable or dirty water I almost never get to fish a Quill Gordon hatch in Maine.......so, by default......it becomes Hendrickson’s.

Great.....right? Well.......not so much as far as I’m concerned.

Hendrickson’s hatch when the water temps hit that magic 52* mark for three days in a row......or so we ve all been told by entomologists that know a helluva lot more about bugs than we fly fishers do. The reason, IMO, that Hendrickson’s are the most over-rated hatch in Maine is their duration......or lack thereof.

At BEST, that hatch lasts 9 or 10 days.....so we might get one weekend a year of Fishing Hendrickson dries. If it starts on a Thursday or Friday w might get a couple of weekends. That’s it.

Other hatches last several weeks to a month or more. (E.g. being the fall Tiny BWO’s). That sometimes......actually lately oftentimes is unfishable because of high water......
But at least the bugs are still hatching for six weeks, or thereabouts.

What do you all feel is the most over-rated hatch in Maine?

Dave M

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PostPosted: December 30th, 2017, 11:03 am 
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Location: Manchester, ME
All of them :lol:

There have been a handful of times I have reliably targeted hatches in Maine. They all involved rivers relatively close to home when I had a lot of free time to be on the water a lot--say 3-4 times per week. So I had the local conditions dialed in, and enough free time that I could plan my fishing to coincide with the times hatches were most likely. Even then, I spent a lot of time fishing nymphs, streamers, or generic dry flies while waiting for the hatch to start for my hour or so of cosmic hatch matching.

They also all involved stocked trout on rivers that ranged from large to very large. (Read that part again about "close to home".)

If I think about the habitat where most of Maine's wild trout live, hatches are a lot less predictable, and I don't spend enough time on any particular water to have them dialed in. The few places where, between my own knowledge and my contacts in the angling community, I can reliably target hatches tend to be large rivers below dams where (1) the insect population is shifted by the presence of the upstream dam and impoundment to be both more abundant and less diverse; and (2) the water temperatures and flows are more predictable and consistent than would be the case on a "natural" river. I'm thinking here of rivers like the West Branch, the Magalloway, multiple sections of the Kennebec, etc. (And I'd still probably pick a smelt imitation over one of the caddis emergers I know to be effective on these waters if you made me choose only one fly.)

To the extent that I find RELIABLE hatches even on these rivers, it's almost always caddis. I find a few mayfly hatches or spinner falls here and there, and the fishing can be cosmically good, but it's hit or miss and I feel lucky when I find it.

I fish ponds more than most. I've been fishing ponds hard for nearly 40 years, and I think I can probably count the number of serious hatches where lots of trout were rising selectively to a specific emerging insect or spinner fall in that time on my fingers and toes. Maybe I'm underestimating that by a factor of 2 or 3. Either way, we're talking about something that occurs at most a couple of times per season. (Again, if I were on the water every day like some of you are, especially the guides, my experience might be different--especially if I was fishing good trout ponds for hex hatches on evenings from late June to late July.) Of the good hatches I've fished on ponds, the majority have been either "hexes" or "drakes" and the hatch activity is limited to an hour or so around dark on June and July evenings. Throw in a few mid-afternoon emergences of mayflies in May and early June and a few September BWO/Callibaetis/caddis hatches and you'd probably capture 90% of my "match the hatch" fishing on Maine ponds.

By contrast, I find reliable dry fly fishing with terrestrials a lot--flying ant falls, non-winged ants on the water under overhanging trees, beetles, lightning bugs, gypsy moth caterpillars (seriously about those last two, though it's been many years since the caterpillars). I also find a lot of days where fish are rising to something sporadically, but it's not clear what. On the water I will see a mix of this and that--a few mayflies, some caddis, some ants or other terrestrials, black flies, etc. These are some of my best days fishing, when a generic fly like a parachute Adams, a Griffith's gnat, or a Nelson's caddis can be highly productive. I suspect more typical "attractor" patterns like a Royal Wulff or a Stimulator or a Doodle Bug would be just as effective, but the more natural patterns also cover the hatches so I fill my fly boxes with (mostly) those.

But even those days are pretty rare, and I spend most of time fishing wet flies or streamers on the ponds (often attractors or generic patterns like a bugger or muddler variant), and nymphs on the rivers where fish are more focused in insects.

For all the time I spend dreaming, talking, and tying flies for hatches I anticipate, it's a small part of my actual fishing and an even smaller part of my catching.

If I spent most of my time on Catskill streams, the Battenkill, tailwaters like the Delaware or many western and southern rivers, or on Pennsylvania or Montana spring creeks, my experience might be different. But I don't. I do most of my fishing for wild brook trout, in Maine waters that tend to be pretty sterile and have a low diversity and abundance of insects. Those conditions lead to fish that mostly feed opportunistically on whatever happens by, and reliable hatches are few and far between.


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PostPosted: December 30th, 2017, 2:25 pm 
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I can see where Dave is coming from. From my observation and most of it is on the Farmington in CT temperature plays a HUGE role. And lately it seems the temps have been way out of whack. If it warms up too fast the hatch is over in what almost seems hours. On the Farmington the hatch starts on the southern reaches. I've heard of Hendricksons coming off a week to two weeks in the section between Collinsville and Unionville, before the New Hartford to Barkhamsted section. The Barkhamsted to Riverton section sometimes is 4 weeks after the Collinsville has wound down. Then the Riverton to the dam is another week. But the last couple of years it seems like within a week and a half to two weeks max from Unionville to the dam. These years have seemed like there was winter then summer with no spring. The fiddleheads are up and past within a week at most.
Twenty years ago when I first started working in the area and thusly fishing, the area I fished I could get close to 3 weekends of Hendricksons. Last year they were sporadic one weekend and past the following.
When we lived in Vt. I'd count on the time around Mother's Day as the start of the peak of super abundant Hendricksons usually on the West side of the mountains and the valleys to the east would be a couple weeks later. Unfortunately for me and Maine, Memorial Day weekend can be hit or miss for me. Usually lawn work overplays fishing time.
But I always hope for a long slow spring so every season can be enjoyed.

Ron

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PostPosted: December 30th, 2017, 8:36 pm 
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I'm in the "all of them" camp with Jeff. Growing up, I read a lot of fly fishing books that, in hindsight, were obviously written about the Catskills or the spring creeks of Pennsylvania or out west.

Fishing Maine as an adult, I can't say I've ever encountered a hatch that was anything like what I'd read about in those books. Caddis, sure, but not the legendary mayflies. Not that I haven't had some good dry fly fishing to a sparse emergence or spinner fall, but that's about it for me.

Having spent a week or two in Vermont each of the last few summers, I can say that my favorite hatch (one which I've not encountered in Maine) is the tricos--though technically, its the spinner fall that provides most of the action. It goes on and on for months and is pretty darn reliable given stable weather.


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PostPosted: December 30th, 2017, 8:36 pm 
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From a Maine perspective, I would agree... Hendricksons are cool just because it tells us it is spring and things are starting to move. But 99% of the time I go to a river with two rods strung... one with a right angle nymph rig and one with a sink tip for streamers. When I got to France I had to blow the dust off my dry Fly box. Aside from the Danica’s, I don’t know what a single one of those bigs is called, but they are easily matched by relatively few colors of cdc caddis and comparaduns.

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PostPosted: December 31st, 2017, 9:02 am 
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Joined: December 11th, 2001, 1:00 am
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Location: Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris...
Geez, at first I thought most over-rated Hutch as in Hutchins...Chris or Greg but I'll leave that for another post.

I am with Jeff on this one too. Other than the big hatches that happened at Shawmut and probably still do I have never come across predictable hatches at least in Rangeley. Even the flying ant hatch on Quimby never really happened this past year. The Andro in NH used to have a predictable Alder fly hatch but haven't fished over there in a few years. That's what I love about leeches...they always hatch!

Ken


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PostPosted: December 31st, 2017, 9:14 am 
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I forgot about the alder Fly hatch on the andro. I hitnit once on father’s day weekend. Pretty awesome!

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PostPosted: December 31st, 2017, 9:23 am 
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Agreed on the Hendricksons and BWO. Those tend to happen when the conditions are very "variable" - lots of extenuating circumstances that impact the hatch and whether it's fishable or not. The most reliable I've found lately is the stone hatch, along with a dragon fly hatch on a fairly popular river. It happens mid/late June when conditions are more reliable. Upper Dam used to be super consistent during the summer months; haven't fished it during the summer with the new dam. I don't fish terrestrials enough - thanks for the reminder Jeff!


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PostPosted: December 31st, 2017, 8:02 pm 
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The early mayflies for me are the most inconsistent. With less time on the water recently combined with how difficult it is to time up hatches anyway I usually carry the patterns with me but in case I catch the hatch, but increasingly I either nymph fish with a two nymph rig. I seem to have more consistently caught the caddis hatches and thus "matched the hatch" with the. Alder flies on the kennebec, and smaller gray and white caddis' further up the Kenny. I have caught some flights of Golden Stones on the Kennebec in spots. Where there were enough of them around to make things interesting. I have caught the red quill hatch twice in May and caught some nice Browns in central Maine. When I actually had time in the fall in years past I did well with BWO's on the Kennebec, as far as being able to count on it?? some days were just better than others. I felt the hatches were better at Shawmut during its heyday than in other parts of the river, maybe not better, but more consistent and denser.

I have had some crazy fishing with caddis' on the Penobscot, as far as timing it up ???? right place, right time with enough flies that look right I guess. Increasingly I find myself using two nymph rigs with strike indicators even when some fish are showing on the surface. I will switch to dries when the hatch gets heavy enough and the fish are going crazy on the surface.


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PostPosted: December 31st, 2017, 9:55 pm 
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This topic is a great illustration of why one half of a two sided fly box is more than enough room to cover dry fly fishing in Maine. I'm willing to guess an angler on the same water on the same day during a hatch could out fish him/herself 2:1 on nymphs and emergers.
Oh and everyone is talking about Hendrickson's as the first hatch, mayfly maybe, but the early/little black stones that come off in late March and early April aren't to be overlooked.

Edited to add: There is one particular pool somewhere in Maine where a size 14 hook dressed as a mayfly all in white, tail,thread body, and hackle (no wings) trailed 12-14" behind a copper john/ BHPT on bottom is absolutely phenomenal.


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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2018, 10:38 am 
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While I agree that there are few times that dries will out fish nymphs or emergers in ME, I have had plenty of days where dries saved the day when a hatch was nowhere in sight. Many a day has gone from dismal to outstanding when fishing big attractors at the tailout of Upper Dam (first spot burn of 2018!). Love those days when you stumble on to "the answer" by dumb luck. One of my largest Kennebago salmon came on a day when NOTHING was working. Late afternoon I tossed a #10 green drake Wulff to a spot I had fished for a couple hours, with no results. The water opened up like a toilet bowl - good times! They don't always work but my box of big attractors never leaves my vest!

RoundaboutCaddis wrote:
This topic is a great illustration of why one half of a two sided fly box is more than enough room to cover dry fly fishing in Maine. I'm willing to guess an angler on the same water on the same day during a hatch could out fish him/herself 2:1 on nymphs and emergers.
Oh and everyone is talking about Hendrickson's as the first hatch, mayfly maybe, but the early/little black stones that come off in late March and early April aren't to be overlooked.

Edited to add: There is one particular pool somewhere in Maine where a size 14 hook dressed as a mayfly all in white, tail,thread body, and hackle (no wings) trailed 12-14" behind a copper john/ BHPT on bottom is absolutely phenomenal.


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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2018, 2:48 pm 
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For me it's mayflies.... almost all of them. I don't think I have a single standard dry fly... Parachutes- yes, sparkle duns- absolutely. I hardly ever fish parachutes, I just can't see the small(under 18) ones, which are always the size I need to match. If I want to cover a mayfly hatch it's going to be with a sparkle dun in amber, gray or olive, 16 to 22.

Caddis are the only dry I ever see consistently, and I know a few places where I can plan the hatch, with in a few days.

Yes, little black stones in late winter can be great, but the fish are not often looking up, but a black copper John will take fish.

Peter

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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2018, 4:08 pm 
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Joined: July 23rd, 2012, 12:11 pm
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“Most over rated hatch”?
This question is really a philosophical quandary rather than a tactical issue. What does “overrated” really mean? I suspect that some will jump on the Hendrickson hatch as it is an important bug in the Northeast and many anglers travel to find them (think Farmington, Delaware, Au Sable, etc.). Is this hatch “over rated”? Some years in some locations, without a doubt it certainly is. For example, last year on the Au Sable I got skunked during what should have been prime time, but did great on the Farmington earlier in the year. Who can figure? I have also given up the traditional tie for the adults and strictly tie up a Purple Haze variation (including some PH Klinks) which I find much more effective, especially if I tie with UV dubbing. So, does using a non-traditional fly to make the catching more productive make the hatch overrated? I don’t know.
Take the case of the lowly Caddis. We sometimes get huge hatches on our local rivers and have good success, but very few target them for a fishing travel adventure. In addition, Caddis appear over a much longer time period than something like the Hendrickson. Since it is not generally a “targeted” hatch, is it over rated, or even rated at all. Again, I don’t know.
I have never really thought about hatches as other than productive/non-productive in the fishing sense. So rather than sit on my porch smoking my pipe (with traditional tobacco rather than the “new” tobacco now legal in ME) and contemplating the vagaries and vicissitudes of the universe I will continue to try and target the correct fly at the right time (match the hatch, etc.) and hope for the best.


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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2018, 4:12 pm 
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Salmosebago wrote:
While I agree that there are few times that dries will out fish nymphs or emergers in ME, I have had plenty of days where dries saved the day when a hatch was nowhere in sight. Many a day has gone from dismal to outstanding when fishing big attractors at the tailout of Upper Dam (first spot burn of 2018!). Love those days when you stumble on to "the answer" by dumb luck. One of my largest Kennebago salmon came on a day when NOTHING was working. Late afternoon I tossed a #10 green drake Wulff to a spot I had fished for a couple hours, with no results. The water opened up like a toilet bowl - good times! They don't always work but my box of big attractors never leaves my vest!

RoundaboutCaddis wrote:
This topic is a great illustration of why one half of a two sided fly box is more than enough room to cover dry fly fishing in Maine. I'm willing to guess an angler on the same water on the same day during a hatch could out fish him/herself 2:1 on nymphs and emergers.
Oh and everyone is talking about Hendrickson's as the first hatch, mayfly maybe, but the early/little black stones that come off in late March and early April aren't to be overlooked.

Edited to add: There is one particular pool somewhere in Maine where a size 14 hook dressed as a mayfly all in white, tail,thread body, and hackle (no wings) trailed 12-14" behind a copper john/ BHPT on bottom is absolutely phenomenal.


I'm not surprised you can now lay claim to the first spotburn of the year.

"Upper Dam is hot right now"


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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2018, 7:12 pm 
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I only know of three hatches in Maine that really matter: Mosquitoes are overrated. And blackflies and deer flies are underrated.


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