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Chasing Stonefly Hatches In Alberta


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Over the last 2 decades I have been keenly chasing some of the stonefly hatches in Alberta. They are the biggest insect other than hoppers that those willy fish get to see. If you're not flooded out from run off or heavy spring rains, then you can have some of the best fishing on a dry fly you'll ever come across in Alberta for large trout. I find this extravaganza start in the middle of May and runs through to the end of june. Anyone else with similar experiences. The largest and most popular is the Golden Stonefly hatch on the Bow River, but there are others that go by unnoticed by most fly fisherman. The other hatches may not be as prolific as the Bow's but are none the less very productive when you do come across them with an adult dry fly version and are extreme fun.

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I'm not a hatch chaser, and this doesn't really qualify as a hatch, but you might find it interesting.

 

Two years ago I was fishing the Wildhay, up by Rock Lake, in September, when a great big bug landed on me. I reflexively flicked it off me, and as it was carried away by the stream I realized it was a Salmonfly! I only saw four more that day, but it was sure memorable, especially the image of those little fish trying to eat a bug not much smaller than themselves. It was like he was a bobber, and the fish were just plucking at the bait.

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QUOTE (Junior @ Mar 21 2011, 12:39 PM)

I'm not a hatch chaser, and this doesn't really qualify as a hatch, but you might find it interesting.

 

Two years ago I was fishing the Widhay, up by Rock Lake, in September, when a great big bug landed on me. I reflexively flicked it off me, and as it was carried away by the stream I realized it was a Salmonfly! I only saw four more that day, but it was sure memorable, especially the image of those little fish trying to eat a bug not much smaller than themselves. It was like he was a bobber, and the fish were just plucking at the bait.

 

 

 

Thats very interesting. Personally I haven't come across a stonefly hatch in September as yet. But you cant be every where. Usually if I even see one around I will put on a large stonefly dry and hit the water with it. The trout get so programmed to these bugs. Even if the hatch has passed for sometime (+_10days) they will still get after them.

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Junior, I doubt very much that it was a salmonfly that you saw in September, especially around Rock Lake. As far as I know, the only place in Alberta that has a significant salmonfly hatch (at least when fishing is allowed), is the Crowsnest River. That hatch typically starts in the lower reaches of the river in late May and works its way upstream, ending in early to mid-June. Unfortunately, that's when the river is in serious run-off mode. I think it is more likely that what you saw was a golden stonefly (they're pretty big too), although September is pretty late for them, especially that far north.

 

Getting to the question raised by Garhan, I don't chase stonefly hatches because most of the stoneflies down here that give rise to good dry fly action, are around continuously for a good stretch of the spring and summer (e.g. goldens, yellow sallies, etc.) and one doesn't have to worry about catching a hatch -- just tie on a yellow or orange stimulator and go fishing.

 

Terry

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Well Terry, if you're referring to the true Giant Salmonfly, Pteronarcys californica, we actually do not have any in Alberta. We have three species of Pteronarcyidae, AKA the Least, Dwarf, and American Salmonfly. I've also come across the misconception that the Crow has Hellgrammites, but it's actually a different species of Megaloptera; sorry, I don't have my reference books with me, and I can't remember that species off the top of my head.

 

All I can tell you for sure is that the bug was well over 2 inches long, had a dark slate colored body, with distincly salmon-colored markings.

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Junior, I wasn't trying to start an argument, I was just expressing an opinion, and some doubt. If you think it was a salmonfly, and are willing to learn some Latin along the way, good on ya. I'll take your word for it. In this corner of the world, what we call salmonflies are super big, and you're not likely to see one after July. Terry

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Hello all.

In a previous life, when I worked at 99 st and 88 ave. One ( not sure Juneish , Julyish )day,I was leaving work at 4:30ish , I noticed this Big Bug, yes a salmon fly,I still have it , poor thing is all dried up. I was very surprized to see it that far from the river, it wasn,t that windy of a day. Sounds like a lot of fun to catch a fish on a big dry like that. I thinks I might have to try it out. Thanks for the reminder...

Dan

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I don't purposelly look for stonefly hatches but am always on the look out for them as they can as Terry said hatch spuratically all summer depending where your at. The best Stonefly hatch I ever ran into was on Egale Lake (yes Dan) Ya Ha Tinda. it was either late july or early Aug. It was a very long time ago but am pretty sure they were goldens and they were landing all over the lake. The Cutts were going crazy over them. As Terry said I put on a yellow Stimmie and had a blast. Caught some very nice cutts in the 18 or better range.

I've not run into them again on the lake.

 

Tight lines Always.

Dennis S :fishing::fish_jump:

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Haven't chased any stonefly hatches for what seems like ages. But rememder vividly chasing the golden stones on the Crowsnest. Black stones in March on the North Raven and April/May on the Bow.

Roy..

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Hey Terry, sorry if I seemed harsh. I wasn't trying to argue either. I'm certainly not an entomologist, it's just that I was interested in bugs twenty years before I ever picked up a fly rod. Honestly, my intent was just to share some facts that I find fascinating.

 

Incidentally (please take no offense if you already know this), that Hellgrammite imposter is a species of Sialis, AKA a Fishfly. I also discovered that we have a few species of large aquatic beetles that, in their larval form, could easily be mistaken for a Hellgammite, so thanks for making me go back to the source and learn something new.

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Hey Junior -- no offense taken. I just wanted to make it clear where I was coming from so that we wouldn't get into an argument.

 

As far as Dipperdan's observatin is concerned, that's a whole different story. I'm sure he was into the Pisco, so I don't believe that he ever saw a salmonfly on 99st in Edmonton.

 

I'm not familiar with the hellgrammite looking nymph that you've seen in the Crow, but to be honest, I don't spend as much time looking under rocks as I suppose I should.

 

In the five years that I've been living near the Crow, there's really only been one year (last year) when the Crow was fishable during the salmonfly hatch. The other years, it was too high and muddy during most of the hatch. Talking to others who've been here longer, one year in five is about par for the course. Anyway, I haven't had the experience of fishing that hatch -- last spring I was too focussed on some stillwater opportunities.

 

Terry

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Haven't chased any stonefly hatches for what seems like ages. But rememder vividly chasing the golden stones on the Crowsnest. Black stones in March on the North Raven and April/May on the Bow.

Roy..

...yes, I agree...the little black stoneflies on Stauffer are something else...throw anything in the same size and color and the fish were hammering them...I wish I could witness the golden stonefly hatch, but I am always too late...with the quantities of shucks that one sees along the edge of streams and creeks...it would be amazing to see...

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The nice thing about the sciences is that there are new discoveries to be made all the time, increasing distribution ranges, species identification and such are a continuos moving target. There is no absolute to it. Thats why it is science.

 

Quote by Rob Hichliffe an Alberta biologist.

 

 

"Given all that we know, we are still only scratching the surface – there are many species yet to be discovered and of those that are known, their full range and biology are often shrouded in mystery. There is ample opportunity for professional and amateur entomologists alike to add small bits of information to our collective knowledge; another piece of the puzzle – a puzzle so immense and complex that it will never really be finished."

 

 

Well there is another Black Stonefly coming off the end of May beginning of June on a few central creeks around RHM.I have been hitting this hatch for over twenty years now. An equivalent size for the dry would be a number 4. The only time it doesn't come off (and that probably not correct) is when heavy rains coincide with those 2 weeks and the river is flooded. There is also a good brown stone hatch on the Red Deer in May as well. And then the secret Golden Hatch on the Bow that fishes very well at night or/and the first hour at dawn in June/July. And fishing the nymph up to two weeks prior to the hatch and into the hatch is very productive. A Umbridge Creek behind a Corkie works very well. It is no secret you just need to be their at the right time. (June and July)

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Here's one from the Crow -- picture taken on May 1, 2009. From discussions with people who know more about this stuff than I do, I believe it's a skwala. It looks a lot like the second one that you posted Paul -- i.e. the one from the Red Deer. I believe skwala's are a pretty important hatch in that area.

 

Posted Image

 

Down here in April, we're just as likely to see the little black stoneflies that you mentioned Paul -- about 1/2" to 3/4", most often seen crawling around on the snow. Even though I've seen a lot of those guys in the spring, I'm not sure they're a big menu item for the fish.

 

Hey, it's good to see some discussion happening on the Club's board -- everyone must be starting to think that we might actually get to fish some time soon. :lol: There's lots of open water on the Crow right now, but there's still a ton of snow on the ground, so I haven't been out yet. Maybe next week -- supposed to hit +15C next Thursday. :kicks::kicks: Terry

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Guys

 

Have not seen so much Latin since I was an alter boy back in the late 50's. Here is what I know for sure...

big bug on water...put on big fly

small fly on water...put on small fly

lay line on water

 

Interesting topic guys...good posts

 

Vince

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Vince, young man, you forgot something.

 

Stonefly nymphs crawling out of water -- fish pigging out on stonefly nymphs -- tie on a nymph pattern and go deep. I'll show ya in April. :lol: Terry

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Terry

 

As this is the year that I'm going to go deep I'll be like a young grasshopper learning from a master...counting the sleeps.

 

I did forget on important item in my previous post and it should have read as follows:

 

big bug on water...put on big fly

small fly on water...put on small fly

lay line on water

if no takers, pull out fly box and tie on a CFF and hold on.

 

Now, the only other thing I need to do before fishing season starts is to win that beautiful bamboo rod that Don Andersen so kindly built and donated to our club.

 

Vince

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Tell you want Vince after I win that rod I might be pursauded to to sell or trade it to you. :kicks:

 

And as Terry said go deep or go home. :devil:

 

Terry see you in Apr.

 

Yes Vince getting new mask speacially for you and Rick. Blessful sleep ever night. :clap:

 

 

Tight Lines Always

Dennis S :fishing::fish_jump:

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I tried remembering th last time i fished a Stone Fly Hatch, after the last post, I am busy blowing the dust off my fishing gear. By the looks of it, there is a lot of new cool stuff out there, just had a chance to visit Wholesale Sports in South Common, got lost in the flyshop, i want one of everything :-) . Looks like i will be spending a few bucks at the outdoor show next week. I thought i would go through a fishing journal i keep way back in the days. To add to the excitement just read a piece in the Edmonton Sun.

 

http://www.edmontonsun.com/life/columnists...8/17672686.html

 

Here is a page from that fishing log, if you are chasing the hatch, we have a lot more snow this year, and its going to be a late spring with huge run-offs.

I plan on hitting Stauffer in the next 2-3 weeks, weather permitting.

 

 

North Raven River (Stauffer) March 27th 1987

Fish time – 10:00 – 17:00 Hrs

Fishing with Lloyd Shea and Bill Miller

Fishing Township 372A and Range 53 upstream

Total fish 51 largest 24” German Brown

Skwala stones – similar to little yellow stoneflies

Tiny Winter Black (Nemoura spp)

 

North Ram River June 11th 1987

Fish time – 07:30 – 22:00 Hrs.

Fishing with Brian Dygdala (fishin hole) Roman Scharabun

Fished the honey hole at the first bend to mile 6,

Fished Hummingbird, Philip and cripple creek

Total fish 283 largest fish at 22” at mile 6

BlackStone hatch

 

Crowsnest River August 26th 1987

Fish time – 06:00 – 22:00 Hrs.

Fishing with Roman Scharabun

Fished Hillcrest and Lumbreck Falls

Most fish taken at the falls

Total fish 604 fish, 22 Bull Trout largest fish 25” bull

Golden Stone Fly Hatch ( Acroneuria pacifica)

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  • 10 months later...
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Hello all.

In a previous life, when I worked at 99 st and 88 ave. One ( not sure Juneish , Julyish )day,I was leaving work at 4:30ish , I noticed this Big Bug, yes a salmon fly,I still have it , poor thing is all dried up. I was very surprized to see it that far from the river, it wasn,t that windy of a day. Sounds like a lot of fun to catch a fish on a big dry like that. I thinks I might have to try it out. Thanks for the reminder...

Dan

 

Interestingly, if I recall correctly I was at my mothers home once and had come across the same thing. She is on 64 Ave and 96 street. If my recollection is correct I think they used to be found in Mill Creek or Argyll Creel behind the Veladrome from time to time down to Mill Creel Pool. But thay creek is no where near what it used to be back in the 60's and early 70's. As children we freely played up and down the creek right to its confluence with the NSR. I also, one other time came across a Black Stonefly (Salmonfly) while guiding on the NSR at the Capilano Bridge for walleye and sauger back in about 92-93.
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Hi all, Greg here, would it be fair to say sporadically mid-February thru to late-September for the stonefly hatches.

 

I am not aware of any stoneflies that come off as late as September, but certainly until mid or later in July. Possibly early August in Alberta as a latest date..

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