Return of the Woodstock March Brown?

The Woodstock March “Brown” Parachute

Garish looking fly isn’t it? Probably the last thing I would ever tie to present to a wild brown trout, except…

I was hosting my best friend Mike Saylor last spring and we fished to a nice emergence of March Brown mayflies. Yes, we fished to them while the trout rose and sucked them down, but we got ourselves blanked. For twenty years of fishing in the Catskills, every March Brown I ever plucked off the surface, and every one that ever landed on my person had a nice, warm caramel brown colored abdomen and thorax with heavily blotched wings with a tan cast. Then the entomologists started confusing the bugs with their damned DNA testing.

The bug scientists renamed them a couple of times, then they started telling us we were all wrong, that there was no Gray Fox mayfly, that that pale dirty yellow mayfly was just a March Brown. This obviously confused the insects more than the experienced fly fishermen. We all know we need a completely different fly to match the Gary Fox hatch, but the poor bugs started showing up with the blotched, but paler March Brown wings and pale tannish yellow bodies.

So now we tie two March Browns: the traditional caramel colored fly and the tannish yellow version. Of course we still tie the Gray Fox too because it is a different looking mayfly regardless of the ento-boys and their DNA. Last season. I think the mayflies decided to throw them for a loop, sort of like insect revenge for all the confusion the scientists had caused them.

While we were getting blanked that day on the river, neither Mike nor I had the opportunity to get our hands on a bug. It was only after the hatch had petered out and the rises ceased that MIke was able to pick one up while wading out of the water. “Look at this” he said, “I got one”. He had a very strange expression on his face as he reached out and handed me a brilliant, psychedelic, safety yellow mayfly.

The bug was a size 10, had the required two banded tails and the characteristic wings with the dark blotching, but oh that color! I gave it the name as a joke since last summer was the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock festival, held right here on the southern edge of the Catskills. I fully expected we would not see them in future seasons. I wasn’t so sure about the remainder of last season though.

At home, I dug out these bright yellow turkey biots and some dubbing that I had never used, and couldn’t recall why I ever bought. Perhaps I ordered them sight unseen trying to get biots for sulfurs. I tied a couple of the monstrosities pictured above, as well as a couple versions with a deer hair comparadun wing. I remember that I was laughing as I tied them.

A couple of days later I ventured back to that spot and encountered the March Brown hatch, and again the trout ignored the caramel and tannish yellow flies. I swallowed hard and tied on the garish yellow parachute and pitched it to the closest riser. I felt better when that “thing” floated over him and was ignored too, but I kept casting it a few more times.

I was shocked when that brown tipped up and sucked that garish yellow catastrophe in like it was his favorite entre. I raised the rod into a tight arc, the reel sputtered then screamed as he took of downstream, and suddenly I was into a serious fight with a big fish! When I got him tuckered out and slid him into shallow water a few minutes later, I slipped my net under 21 broad shouldered inches of gorgeous wild brown trout; no tie dye, no headband of flowers, no joint hanging out of his mouth, just that damned yellow fly stuck in his jaw.

If I was more comfortable believing that fish was a fluke then the 20″ brownie that smashed that parachute a few minutes later just shattered that comfort level. He wasn’t the last nice trout to eat one of those crazy flies last season either. They produced for the duration of the hatch.

The other day I stopped at that river and saw one or two big mayflies riding the surface. No fish were rising, and none did while I was there, but before I left I saw a big bug drift past, upside down on top of his crumpled wings, displaying a brilliant yellow abdomen with brown segmentation. Yes, I have tied a few new versions. You have to have a couple CDC duns and 100-Year Duns with brown ribbing right?

I have a couple of tie dye Jimi Hendrix tee shirts in a trunk upstairs, and the weather has finally started to warm up…

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