What’s that bug? The Salmon Fly
25%, maybe more of our ramblings as anglers is about the mythical, 3-inch enchanting salmon fly. Especially around this time of year! It’s hard to avoid the fly fishing chatter of anglers exploiting the famed long aquatic insect. Fishing this hatch gets our blood bumping and longing for the story to our arsenal of impressive fishing stories.
Salmonflies are very large stone flies! Montana has three salmonfly species: the most common being the giant salmonfly (Pteronarcys californic. The other two are the American salmonfly (Pteronarcys dorsat), and the least salmonfly (Pteronarcella badia). The least salmonfly is a little bit smaller than the giant and the American. They usually get up to 2 inches, and are in their nymph stage for about 2 years. The American and giant have the bright orange or red band behind their head and the underside of their abdomen.
The hatch is very short lived, and hitting the right timing for the hatch varies by river. This grand insect spends 3-4 years living as a nymph before crawling to the banks just around the same time as run off. It’s funny how some of the best hatches, just happen to be during run off…
Hitting the salmonfly hatch at the right time is part experience and part luck. Hit it too early and the fish are still focused on the nymphal stage. Get there too late and the trout have gorged themselves. This hatch typically runs from mid-May to early June so keep an eye out for this incredible insects.
It could be your best or most frustrating day of fishing ever. Someone has to catch the biggest fish this year, why not it be you?