Thursday, June 04, 2009
Waiting for Brown Drake, 2009
The brown drake mayfly hatch on Silver Creek is one of the most spectacular hatches you'll ever see--if you're lucky enough to actually be there when they hatch.
Brown drakes are large mayflies, and they hatch in numbers that defy description. As with many mayfly species, they live as nymphs underwater, and then mature all at once. They emerge from the water as winged insects, breed, lay eggs and die. They cloud the sky, they cover the water. And they hatch only for a few days each year, typically in early June.
As in other places where prey exists en masse, this natural phenomenon draws predators. In this case, trout.
It's a feeding frenzy: Perhaps the one time on Silver Creek when trout are reasonably easy to catch.
Anglers know this. The problem is, they don't know when exactly the drakes will hatch.
Last year, I brought friends to fish this hatch. We waited for the drakes, but by the end it felt more like the absurdist play Waiting for Godot--in which two actors spend the whole play literally waiting for Godot. Who never shows.
I hoped this year to avoid a repeat of that effort. Last night, it looked promising. A few brown drakes appeared on the water.
Anglers gathered, waiting anxiously. A party atmosphere prevailed. Any time now, the hatch would start.
Or not. As darkness fell, it became apparent that tonight was not the night. Everyone else left, but I stuck around. I had no schedule or obligations and maybe I'd have the whole hatch all to myself.
Of course, the insects never hatched. As my mind finally acknowledged that nothing would happen tonight, I walked back to my car, the words of another angler echoing in my head: "They'll be on tomorrow for sure."
Naturally, tomorrow I did have a schedule and obligations.
But for any other angler reading this, perhaps tonight's the night. Then again, anglers are incurable optimists; otherwise, they wouldn't fish Silver Creek.
Trust me, though, it's worth the wait. Maybe you'll see for yourself tonight. Maybe. --Matt Miller
Photo by Morgan Buckert.