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The Best Fly Fishing Media On The Planet

by Paul Weamer   |  September 6th, 2011 5

     I’ve been privileged to write for what I consider to be the best fly fishing magazine on the planet for several years now, and I’m really jazzed to get this opportunity to reach our online readers too.   In the weeks and months to come, I’m going to focus on all things important to eastern fly fishers—the fisheries, fishing, hatches, flies, tackle, macro photography, all of it.
I spend a lot of time (when I’m not working at the fly shop, fishing, tying, or writing) taking macro bug photographs with my Nikon.  And today I thought I’d share some cool shots I took this week.    I live on Penns Creek in Central Pennsylvania, so I usually don’t have to go far to find interesting subjects to photograph.  In fact, sometimes they come to me, like this week’s photo.
I was in the middle of my normal morning routine, drinking coffee and gazing out my picture window at Penns Creek, when I noticed something on our front porch’s red glider.  It was the movement that first caught my eye.  I immediately recognized the bug as a Hex, a Hexagenia atrocaudata for you bug nerds like me.  If Latin’s not your thing, then most anglers call this bug a Big Slate Drake.  Though, for some unknown reason, anglers who fish the Yellow Breeches Creek in Carlisle, PA call these Brown Drakes.  Everyone else in the world calls E. simulans the Brown Drake, but I’m getting a little off-topic.
I’d seen the big Hex’s hatching all week.  They prefer to emerge from slow pools just as the evening light is fading.  So seeing one on my porch, drawn to the light from my living room windows, wasn’t unusual.  But this one was twitching and twisting; it just looked weird.  At first I thought it was molting into a spinner.  I couldn’t see the whole bug because my view was obscured by the glider.  So, I grabbed my camera walked out to the porch to take a couple transformational shots.  But what I saw wasn’t a mayfly becoming a spinner.  It was more like an attack on Sigourney Weaver in Aliens.
A Bold Jumper spider (Phidippus audax—you’re welcome fellow bug nerds) had a hold of the Hex near its head.  The spider was injecting venom into the Hex’s back, preparing for what must be a delicious breakfast in spider world.  If you’re a real bug nerd, you can read more about these spiders here: http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/uf019.pdf
I couldn’t help but think about the things we don’t see.  How nature goes on without us when we’re not on the stream.  It had taken this Hex two years to get from an egg to this point.  It had survived predatory aquatic insects, trout, birds, and automobile windshields to get to this moment in time.  And just when it thought it was in the clear, just as it was readying itself for one night of passion before falling spent to the water, BAM! Spider!  But, of course, spiders have to eat too, so good for him.

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