I don't know about you, but this year spring seems to be taking its darn time getting here. Normally, it seems that by now, frequent spring rains have raised the level of our rivers, and colored them a dark, coffee-with-milk hue. This year, the Blue-winged Olive hatch has been coming off strong the last few weeks, and it seems many river rats I know are anticipating the Hendrickson hatch very soon, sooner than normal. Really? Although my records show some stragglers here and there this early in the year, the hatch usually begins the 7-10th of April in recent years, here in beautiful Northern New Jersey. I say recent, because not so long ago we didn't see them until somewhat later in the month. The theories for this change vary; an emotional debate for another time.
The deep green daffodil leaf clusters on the hill behind the house are only about 4-5 inches high, and I have yet to see the tell-tale elongated bulbs within, ready to pop into a brilliant yellow trumpet. And what about the forsythias? They to are not yet in flower. So why are some anglers convinced that the Hendricksons will hatch any day now in our region? Usually the aforementioned bright flowers of spring are filling the hillsides, glens and yard borders when the Hendricksons begin their annual metamorphosis into terrestrial insects.
Is Mother Nature's clock off, or is our mental clock just so tired of winter's dull edge that our minds are wishing the life-cycle of one of our favorite aquatic insects into the fore? The Hendrickson hatch after all is that which tells every angler that spring has finally sprung, and the parade of mayfly and caddis hatches we dream about while the snow flies, has finally begun.
And what of the prognosticators of bugs and their confidence the trout will see Hendricksons any day now? While I'm not yet convinced, just a quick glance at our relatively low, clear rivers and streams, tells me they may be right that this year's hatch will be early. After all, low, clear water tends to warm more quickly than high, turbid flows, and it allows the energy of the sun to penetrate to the bottom where the nymphs are maturing. This is the fuel that hastens the metabolism of growth and change from a bottom dwelling nymph, to a surface riding winged insect, whose fate may rest in the jaws of a trout or songbird, or if its lucky, to ensure the cycle of life continues.
All I know is when the Hendricksons do begin to hatch, another promise will become reality. I can wait, things move much too fast for my liking as it is...........
Enjoy the journey.