Dry Falls slow, Yakima warmer

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by cabezon, Jun 2, 2006.

  1. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    I fished Dry Falls Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday. As I headed out about 7:00 PM, there were sporadic risers at the surface. There appeared to be two targets: cream-colored mayfly spinners (about a size 14-16) and a red/tan midge that was emerging (about a size 16). The mayfly spinners vibrated on the water (loosening/releasing eggs?), but it seemed like they were ringing the dinner bell to me. As dusk turned toward dark, there was a flush of tiny and medium-sized midges and tiny mayflies (Caenis??). I managed to hook and land two 18-22" bows on a Lady McConnell dry fly; both fish fought well with several extended runs and one of those leaps where the fish hits the surface yards from where you think it is based on the position of the flyline. Still, I would have anticipated more action given the number of bugs on the surface. At dark, I picked up two more bows cruising the shallows; both fish hit a lead-eyed rabbit-strip sculpin.

    Wednesday had partial overcast and light winds. I tried the chironomid combo that had worked in April, but had no love after two hours of watching the float. Unlike the situation in April, I saw only the occasional fish cruising the shallows (10-15'). For most of the morning and early afternoon, there were occasional showy rises after a largish midge that was emerging in low numbers. While I had no success enticing these risers with dry flies, another flyfisher said that he had picked up a few over the course of the day. I managed to hook and land one bow on the rabbit-strip sculpin as I trolled back to the launch for a mid-day break. There were some damsels emerging in the shallows and even a few fish trying to knock them out of the sky with leaps; alas, they weren’t interested in my damsel dry imitation. In the evening, flat-calm was replaced by swirling winds. During lulls, surface activity increased, but none of the risers were interested in what I had to offer. After dark, I had four short-strikes on the sculpin pattern. Major league frustration for the day; it seems that the fish aren’t all cued into the same prey: some fish working the shallows along the shore, some on the topwater, some in the deeper holes. When that happens, it’s a big lake.....

    As it was on the way home anyway, I stopped at the Yakima on Thursday and drifted from Reds to Big Pine. Overcast skies produced a light drizzle occasionally in the afternoon (gotta love a place where it can drizzle on you for an hour and you’re still dry when it done!!). Water visibility in the canyon was about 18" – translation, if you’re using dry fly, it works better in shallower water. There was an intense PMD hatch beginning just before noon; it continued for about an hour and then petered out for another hour or two thereafter. The fish were really keyed into PMDs at the surface for the first hour and parachute PMDs were a favored offering. I don’t know if the fish were full or what, but the surface action tailed off before the presence of PMDs did. Later in the afternoon, there was a mixed emergence of larger yellowish mayfly, a gray-drake-ish mayfly, and a BWO-ish mayfly. In addition to the occasional fish that took a swipe at flies drifted along the bank, there were occasional pods of fish rising to bugs just below the surface and less commonly on top. These pods were centered on tailouts where the water is shallower and the current a bit slower. A CDC caddis was effective for some fish; after several clear ignores, I managed to induce the hold-outs to play by switching to a parachute biot-bodied BWO. I finished my float just as the caddis flies were picking up their activity. All in all, it was a fun day on the moving water.

    Steve
     
  2. Taxon

    Taxon Moderator Staff Member

    Steve-

    Your post was extremely interesting and informative. Gotta love it when someone knows their bugs. You are undoubted correct concerning the Caenis. Also, the cream-colored female spinners were likely Callibaetis, although their oviposition activity is more often described as flying along, repeatedly dipping their abdomen in the water until they eventually fall to the water, fully spent.

    One interesting fact (at least to me), is that Callibaetis female imagoes are unique among mayflies, in that following copulation, they retire to resting spots in vegetation along the shore for up to five days, allowing their eggs to fully develop, so the eggs are ready to hatch upon contact with the water.
     
  3. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Hi Roger,

    I hoped that you would read my description of the bugs. That's part of the reason while I was a bit imprecise in places; I know a few, but I'm not a bug expert, especially for lake insects. I'm not convinced that the cream mayfly was Callibaetis for two reasons. I have seen Callibaetis emergence and spinner falls at Leach Lake (among other places) and what I saw at Dry Falls doesn't match what I have observed and what I've read. First, at Dry Falls I never saw any mayflies hatch during the day in any significant numbers or that matched the timing that I have observed before and had described to me for Callibaetis. Second, the anterior wing margins of the spinners that I observed were also cream colored, just like the bodies. Aren't the anterior wing margins of Callibaetis spinners a mottled black?

    Thanks for your input,

    Steve
     
  4. Taxon

    Taxon Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Steve-

    Yes, the anterior margin of the fore wing on Callibaetis female imagoes is usually as you describe. However, whether (or not) one could make that distinction in a flying mayfly is questionable. Also remember, the female imagoes you observed (engaged in oviposition) had likely emerged 3-5 days earlier. And of course, when one observes a mating swarm, it is mostly composed of male imagoes, which may have entirely clear wings as imagoes.

    It is much easier to identify still-water (than flowing-water) mayflies, as there are so many fewer genera. It really boils down to six, Callibaetis, Caenis, Tricorythodes, Hexagenia, Siphlonurus, and Leptophlebia. Most still waters have (at least some) Callibaetis, but all of the other five genera are comparatively rare.

    In any event, Caenis, Tricorythodes, and Hexagenia can be immediately eliminated, as the first two are many hook sizes smaller than #14 - #16, and the last is many hook sizes larger than #14 - #16. If you noticed the number of tails, and whether the hind wings were minute or normal sized, we can probably narrow the possibilities to a single genus.
     
  5. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Hi Taxon,

    It wasn't a problem to see their wing clearly. The females were splayed out on the surface of the water jerking spasmodically from time to time (until the trout finished them off). The anterior wing edge was white/cream just like the body color. The bugs had two white/clear tails. While I didn't key in on the wings per se, the impression that I have is on one wing per side; presumably the other is reduced. One surprise is that I did not even see these bugs flying out over the water. They would just appear on the water's surface. If there were mating swarms under way, they must have been occurring right along the shore or even a bit upland. I wish that I had taken some pics, but my camera does a lousy job at macro photography.

    What do you think?

    Steve
     
  6. Taxon

    Taxon Moderator Staff Member

    In case some lurkers are trying to follow this thread, unlikely as that seems, this is what cabezon and I have been discussing:

    [​IMG]
    Callibaetis female spent spinner by Westfly

    [​IMG]
    Siphlonurus male spinner by Dave Hughes

    Steve-

    What do I think? Well, two tails eliminates Leptophlebia, so now we're down to Callibaetis and Siphlonurus. Statistically speaking, Callibaetis would probably be about 1000 times more likely. However, whenever someone wins the lottery, they have surmounted far worse odds.
     
  7. Flyn'dutchman

    Flyn'dutchman Member

    The ones I saw were white bodied, about size 18-20. Looked about like tricos. There were little white shucks all over my jeep friday night when I came off the lake. The one fish I pumped had a bunch of little tiny white nymphs in it also along with a size 8 or 10 black chironomid. The ovipositors I saw "buzzing" were definitely large chironomid adults.
     
  8. sjterry

    sjterry Sr. Lurker

    This thread is a perfect example of why love this place and have semi lurked on this fourm for years.

    Zen - when are you going to write another story?
     
  9. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Hi Roger,

    Just replace the dark anterior wing edges with white/cream and you have the right bug.

    I think that the bugs which Flyn'dutchman describes were Caenis which came off at dark and later; I would say that they were more in the 22-24 size, about 2mm total for the body. Like Flyn'dutchman, my car and pontoon boat were covered with tiny shucks as duns quickly molted into spinners.

    I haven't fished the lakes on the dryside very often and I'm trying to absorb as much info as I can from those who know the fishing conditions there better.

    Steve