The story of the salmonfly buffet

At the heart of the aquatic insect world, there is one species that stands out above the others because of its massive size and terrifying appearance. His full name is Pteronarcys californicabut as fishermen, we simply refer to it as Salmonfly.

In the early spring of 2020, Phil Tuttle, Chris Cutler, and I began planning a trip around the next salmon fly tent. For weeks we anticipated not only catching fish with large dry flies, but as directors we also hoped for the opportunity to film their show; the exact moment when the adult salmon fly is released from its exoskeleton like a winged adult ready to make its first flight. Finding the main edge of the hat was our goal, and after traveling 400 miles to fish this hat for just two days, our fingers crossed so we could find both the fast fishing action and the salmon flies to catch it. was filmed.

It is important to note that with all other insects inhabiting the outflowing rivers, hatching begins in the lower reaches of the river and progresses upstream over a period of weeks with rising temperatures in the river system. In other words, if you are a mile away, you can completely lose the lid. Here are some other interesting features of the salmon fly life story that you should keep in mind when planning a trip to fish for a salmon hat.

Salmonfly Life-History

Salmonfly Nymphs:

Salmon fly nymphs live most of their lives at the bottom of the creek. Here they make a living by weaving, scratching and consuming debris from the river bed, growing more and more with each passing year. They remain as nymphs in this underwater state for up to four years before the time comes for them to progress into adulthood.

Salmon fly appearance:

Every year, in late spring to early summer, these nymphs experience a change that pushes them to migrate to the river bank in preparation for the show. Typically, in the late afternoon, salmon fly nymphs crawl out of the river and anchor on rocks, trees, or any other hard surface, where they then continue to emerge. This is when they leave behind for good their aquatic life.

Adult salmonfly:

Now, in their terrestrial form, salmonids have a major point on their agenda, and that is reproduction. Once reproduction has occurred, the egg-laying females return to the surface of the water to deposit their eggs. Both males and females are clumsy flies and often crash or blow up on the surface of the water. Hungry trout await the opportunity to gnaw on the less fortunate salmon flies that end up moving helplessly on the surface of the water. As fishermen, this is where we come into the picture. Throwing oversized dried flies to thirsty trout, which at the moment have lost all fear of the surrounding threats.

During the first day of our trip there were adult salmon lizards lining up and down the river. Just the look we were hoping to find, giant insects EVERYWHERE! However, we were finding the eaten fish occasionally ready to eat our dried flies, but the action was a bit slow and we felt like we were at least a few days and a few miles behind the cap in this part of the river. As night was approaching the end, we had not yet found the main edge where salmon flies were metamorphosing into adults. We knew we were close, but with the clock ticking on our trip, we had to find it quickly if we were to film their exit.

The next morning we decided to move the mile upstream from where we had been the day before. As we worked systematically downstream, not only looking for fish, but also checking every shadow on the back of every large stone for signs of salmonflies appearing, he began to feel hopeless over the hours. Mile after mile we continued fishing and hoping, but as the afternoon began to fade, we knew our opportunity was running out.

But we really had nothing to complain about. We had found quality fish that were increasingly willing to eat our dried flies the further we worked upstream and the scenery was impassable. But the hopes of filming salmon flies were seeming increasingly bleak as we approached the end of our final day. Even though we did not have the crowning sights we expected, we still had good enough sights to tell a compelling story of these amazing insects and the opening event they bring each year. Before our trip was over, we were already planning for next year when we would once again try to find and film their show.

However, as the afternoon was fading and our time was running out, we noticed in the back of a stone of suitable size half inside, half out of the water, a rising pile of dozens of salmon flies crossing their path straight adulthood. We could not believe it! There were salmonflashes in all stages of the key, nymphs crawling out of the water, others slowly out of their exoskeletal skeletons, and others drying their new wings before making their first flight. With so little time left we had found what we had hoped for. We quickly picked up our cameras and started recording.

The evening ended without throwing another fly. We found what we had come for, both fish and insects had fulfilled our desires and the river had left us nothing more to desire. Watch the full movie below:

Article, video and photos by Gilbert Rowleyfollow his YouTube channel here. Additional photos and videos from Phil Tuttle.

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