When I was out fishing late last week, there was little action fishing-wise, but that didn't mean there was nothing to fascinate me. I know, it doesn't take much to draw my attention to something; my fishing friends tell me I'm easily distracted. Anyway, the air had that late winter, early spring feel to it; not really warm but not chilly either. The river was vodka clear and flowing at normal levels for this time of the year. I stood in a long, flat pool whose bottom varied from sandy in spots, to gravel, to small cobble stones, with scattered large boulders that diverted the current and created surface eddies that could drive an angler crazy when a trout decided to feed in the middle of one.
It was mostly breezy, but on the rare occasions when the wind stopped for a few minutes, the early black stoneflies came out of the streamside shrubbery and filled the air over the river. There were hundreds of them flying about clumsily, as is their style. So I watched them, casually at first, and then I focused on the females as they dropped down to the water to touch the light colored egg sac attached to their abdomens on the water surface. Some would skitter along, leaving a wake, and the surface tension would pull the eggs off before they would gain some height and mix with the others flitting about. Others would drop almost straight down, abdomen first, so the egg sac would penetrate the surface before immediately flying back up, and the surface tension would pull the eggs off - when the light was right, I could see the tiny, light-colored ball of eggs slowly fall through the water towards the bottom and out of sight. I completely forgot I was fishing as I watched stonefly after stonefly repeat their ritual, each one with their own nuanced maneuvers, to insure the next generation of their species would drift gently to the bug nursery among the gravel lining the streambed.
This morning while making my coffee, I spotted a dark mayfly on the kitchen window over the sink, minding its own business. Of course, I had to make it my business to go out on the deck, grab it, and bring it inside and drop it on the cutting board under the spotlight. It was a beautiful Dark Quill Gordon/Brown Dun male - Ameletus ludens - size #14. It must have motored up from Sawmill Creek just down the street, drawn to my window to be admired by the old man that lives inside.
How do we know this is a Dark Quill Gordon? It has two tails, a dark brown body, it's a size #14, the hindwing has a spur on it's fore edge just above the thorax, and it hatched in April. Pretty cool stuff, don't you think?
So there you have it, sometimes its good to be bugged.
Sharpen your hooks.