CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Note to self: Hang in there. Bug season begins soon.
When I see the first green leaves appear on weeping willow trees, or see the cheery yellow blossoms of forsythia bushes, I know it's almost "my" time of year.
Most people call it spring, but I call it bug season.
Deep in the turbulent waters of West Virginia's trout streams, bugs of all sorts are getting ready to hatch. From mid-April through early June, mayflies and caddis flies and stoneflies make the almost-magical transformation from larvae to adults.
To do so, the larvae float or swim to the water's surface, where they split their skins and crawl out as fully formed adults. As they float and struggle on the surface, they become sitting ducks for feeding trout.
For fly anglers, catching a full-blown hatch is like hitting the lottery. Catching trout is sometimes as easy as seeing a fish rise to a real fly, casting an artificial fly to that spot, and setting the hook when the imitation disappears.
The bugs go by a dizzying array of Latin scientific names: Epeorus pleuralis, Brachycentrus americanus, Maccafertium vicarium and the like. Only true wonks use the Latin names, though. Most anglers distinguish the species by the names of those artificials used to match the hatch. One can hardly blame them, as names like Quill Gordon, Grannom and March Brown are infinitely easier to pronounce and remember than all that Latin gobbledygook.
Many of the early-season mayfly hatches involve species best imitated with drab flies size 18 and smaller. Several broods of Blue-winged Olives become active in April, as do Blue Quills.
The first sizable mayfly to come along is the size 14 Quill Gordon, also a somber pattern. The famed Hendrickson comes next, followed by the Orange Sulfur, the March Brown, the Gray Fox, the Green Drake and the Leadwing Coachman.