May days for March Browns

The fixings for my Translucense Series March Browns: Kreinik pure silk dubbing and primrose Ephemera silk. Both color variations are tied with a fully colored Cree hackle and a heavily barred woodduck flank feather.

Despite best laid plans, I found little fishing during the peak of the Hendrickson hatch. Sky high flows and cold water seemed to keep the trout from rising when the flies made an appearance. When conditions changed, they changed rapidly, and I enjoyed some interesting and very technical fishing as my favorite hatch waned. There are a lot of new patterns in my fly boxes that didn’t get a chance to tempt a trout, but my Translucense Series 100-Year Dun did get a few casts when I encountered a good fish cruising and very gingerly sampling the bugs in the film.

I have a special blend of silk dubbing to match Ephemera subvaria, and this was the one day I found them on the water with any trout rising. The fly was fished to that cruising brownie after he ignored a few standby patterns. He accepted it gently and confidently on that bright afternoon and enjoyed the opportunity to spin my little 3″ St. George reel and put a substantial bend in my T&T Hendrickson. He beat the coveted twenty-inch mark by a nose!

After a bit of rainfall with dinner this evening, I sat down at the vise to tie two variations of the Translucense 100-Year Dun for the impending March Brown hatch. My idea was to modify the scheme to incorporate the bleed-through principle to produce the desired tan and yellow color phases. As pictured above, I tied these flies with 6/0 Ephemera silk in primrose, as opposed to the pure white silk normally used for the Translucense Series. I am anxious to find an opportunity to test them on the water.

These special duns will be reserved for the most difficult trout, those that fail to respond to my Dyed Wild and fur dubbed flies. Last season’s turkey biot CDC emergers showed well on the Catskill rivers, and will be well represented in my boxes again this season.

This heavily muscled 22-inch wild brown took everything my tackle could give to keep him out of a fallen tree he rose beside! He gently inhaled the March Brown Emerger pictured above.

I carry both yellow and brown/tan color phases of my primary patterns for the March Brown hatch as I have observed a wide variation in the natural’s coloration during three decades fishing Catskill rivers. I also carry specific patterns for the Gray Fox, a distinctly different mayfly the scientists now insist is just a yellow bodied March Brown. Sorry gentlemen, a DNA kit just won’t fit in my vest!

A yellow phase March Brown dun rides the swelled butt of my Thomas & Thomas. For twenty years, every dun I captured was a deep, caramel brown tone on its underside, but I see mainly yellow bellies now!

I plan to begin my search for hatching March Browns this week, as soon as the dangerous weather that is headed east gets away from these mountains. I would love to see one of the rare, epic emergences in 2022. The March Brown’s hatch intensity seems to vary more than any other. Some years we see hardly any of them, while others will be more productive. They are big flies, seemingly hard to miss, but they are also sporadic, daytime emergers.

If there are some around, the trout will find them, even if we anglers have a hard time doing so. I hope we get some much-needed rainfall from this weather system. It has been a long time since I floated the Delaware with good numbers of March Browns hatching. Mother Nature can kindly forget about the “large hail and even tornados” noted in our local forecast and use her miraculous energies to transform that mayhem into twenty-four hours of gentle, soaking rainfall!

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