Talk about getting down to someone’s level when you give a talk: Recently, I
gave several talks to first graders about writing books and fly fishing. I
showed them all the books I had written and I asked what the books had in
common. Several youngsters eagerly raised their hands to blurt out that many of
the books had the word “hatches” in their title. “Tell me what a hatch is?” I
asked. Immediately, they said that it was a chick breaking out of an egg, which
makes sense from a child’s point of view.
I was really talking about, of course, was the insects that appear on the
surface of a stream, river or lake, and often create trout feeding frenzies,
the water boiling with the rises of fish slurping bugs from the surface. Not
only aquatic insects—mayflies, caddis flies and stoneflies—but terrestrials
(land borne insects) can also fall onto the water’s surface in heavy enough
numbers to create a hatch. Anyone who has fished in late August can attest to
the importance of the winged ant, for example. During August, this terrestrial
often falls onto trout waters by the thousands and trout feed for hours on this
bonanza. Caterpillars, ants, beetles, grasshoppers and plenty of other insects
can bring trout to the surface.
When talking about hatches, I always liken a hatch
and trout feeding on the insects to the artificial situation created in a trout
hatchery. When fed pellets, trout often lose their timidity and feed
voraciously. Add a good number of insects to a stream and the trout there do
the same thing—they devour as many insects as they can while the hatch
continues. On some streams, hatches don’t come along very often, so trout
overeat to compensate for numerous barren days. The heavier and longer the
hatch, the better your chances of catching trout. Yet hatches can be too heavy.
I’ve seen Green Drakes, Brown Drakes, Hendricksons and many others on the water
in numbers that dwarf the importance of your individual pattern. At times I’ve
quit because I failed to compete for the trout’s attention with an imitation.
I have fished the hatches—actively hunting for
them—for more than 35 years. The hatches and the waters that brought them to
life have created many long-lasting, pleasant memories, ones that have stayed
with me for decades, some for almost half a century.
I’ve shared many hatches with other anglers: I’ll
never forget that early April day when several friends and I guided Dick Cheney
and two of his aides on a small public stream. Or the time the fly fishing
video director and producer called for me to catch a trout—immediately. Or the
late season White Fly hatches that bring crowded angling—it often looks like
opening day—well into the summer.
Experiencing some hatches, I’ve been alone, such as
the fantastic hatch of Green Drakes that appeared on the surface upside down
nearly 30 years ago. Or the first time I used a sunken Trico to imitate
egg-laying spinners, a pattern that changed my way of fishing spinner falls
forever. Then there’s the Green Drakes of the North and the giant brook trout
that fed on them, too.
Certain hatches stand out more than others. Most I
retain because they bring pleasant memories of a great hatch, a great fly to
match the hatch, fishing friends and plenty of trout. Some hatches will linger
always, like fishing the hatch on a small southeastern Pennsylvania stream
shortly after I graduated from high school. These recollections will remain
with me even during “senior moments,” which I won’t admit to having, just yet.
Maybe—if I’m lucky—my “senior moments” will be spent in recalling matching
these treasured hatches.
of these elements—the hatches, the streams, the people and much more—are
blended into this lifetime of fly fishing recollections.
Charles R. Meck
Table of Contents
That’ll Catch Trout
Five Bucks and Change
Tell’em Who You Are, Vince...
I’m Really Proud of You
The Hatch of the Year
Alone on the Bitterroot River
Blackflies, Gray Skies and Green
Horses, Pain and Pleading
A Winter of Tricos
Ten for Ten...Well, Almost
The Upside Down Drake
You’ll Never Make It
Once in a Lifetime Hatch
I Still Get Excited
They’re Trying to Kill Me
Great Rivers, Great Hatches...
Sink That Fly
Okay, Now Catch a Trout
The Case for Catch and Release
My Secret Stream
The Plastic Man
The Power of the Press