Jet lag - Florida Mayflies

Jet lag - Florida Mayflies

Florida Mayflies

I'm going to stretch my "East Coast" blog boundaries today--to Florida.  Last week, my wife Ruthann flew to Orlando to spend some time with her family.  I needed to stay home to work at the fly shop and to feed our 100+ pound English Mastiff, Midge (yes, she eats a lot of food).  Ruthann and I have been married for 17 years, 13 of which have occurred during my career as a fly fishing professional; I'm not really a professional fly fisherman--no one pays me to fish.   But if you know someone who would, please call me as soon as possible.

Ruthann is a fly fisher, but she doesn't love it.  We used to fish together more than we do these days; she keeps saying something about being burned-out.  Who knew that could happen?  But her last night in Florida proved that there's something about our sport that seeps into the subconscious, taking a deep hold on a person.  Or maybe she just realizes that I'm a lost cause, so she might as well swim with the current rather than fight it.

She was obviously excited when she called and even a little out of breath.  "You won't believe this," she said.  "There are mayflies covering mom and dad's house.  They're huge."  I could hear her mother speaking in the background.  It was clear that she was wondering what I had done to her daughter and why this was such big news.  Ruthann's parents live in a small community across a road from a lake.  I had studied the lake the last time I was visiting, wondering mostly if it had alligators in it.  But I thought about fishing it too.  Isn't that what we always do when we see new water for the first time?


Ruthann tried to photograph the flies with her small point and shoot camera.  She shot video of them buzzing around the outside lights.  If I'd ever needed reminding, I knew in that moment that I'd married the right girl.  But she was unhappy with her results.  Then I had an idea: I asked her to put some of the flies in her parents pill bottles, and to put the bottles in the refrigerator.  This is a trick that I often use to photograph aquatic insects.  The cold air slows their transformation from dun to spinner and even extends their life.  It also helps them keep still while you're trying to take their picture, but I wasn't worried about that yet.  She was flying home the next day, and I began wondering if she could get the specimens back to me to photograph.    After all, when would I get another chance to photograph Floridian mayflies?


We decided that the best course was to wrap the insect-filled pill bottles in plastic bags and then fill more bags with ice and place them around the pill bottles, burying this whole mess deep in her luggage.  That's what she did.  In hind sight, I guess I should have worried a little more about the embarrassing situation Ruthann could have found herself in if her bug collection had caught the attention of airport security.  But they didn't notice so no harm, no foul.


The best part of this story is that it worked.  I picked Ruthann up at the airport, drove quickly home, tore apart her luggage and found that the bugs were still alive.  That's how these pictures of a male Hexagenia orlando spinner and female dun, photographed on my front porch in Central Pennsylvania, come to you today.    I apologize if the bugs look a little tired--they were obviously jet-lagged.

Oh yeah, I asked Ruthann if she saw any fish rising in the lake, and she forgot to even look.  I guess you can't have everything.  But I now have a reason to go to her parents house that doesn't involve a yearly visit.  I just know that the bass in that lake are feverishly eating these giant mayflies off the surface; I can feel it.  And who knows, maybe I can even hook an alligator.

Florida Mayflies


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Here's a look at 8 new fly lines for 2019. Lines

8 New Fly Lines for 2019

Fly-Fisherman

Here's a look at 8 new fly lines for 2019.

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly. Fly Tying

Tying the Strong Arm Merkin

David W. Skok - July 09, 2019

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly.

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that occurred on what appeared to be a routine guide trip on Sunday, June 23, 2019 in a shallow lagoon near San Pedro, Brazil. Industry

Fly Fishing Community Stunned by Twin Slayings on Belize Saltwater Flat

Fly Fisherman Online Staff - June 27, 2019

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Breaking the Surface

Breaking the Surface

Attack of the Bass continues as Breaking the Surface attacks bass with fly and lure 12:30pm ET Sunday, April 17th.

 Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Finding giant Mongolia taimen and a state of enlightenment.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range. United States

Wind River Range Wyoming

Greg Thomas - July 27, 2015

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range.

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that occurred on what appeared to be a routine guide trip on Sunday, June 23, 2019 in a shallow lagoon near San Pedro, Brazil. Industry

Fly Fishing Community Stunned by Twin Slayings on Belize Saltwater Flat

Fly Fisherman Online Staff - June 27, 2019

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that...

Read about Colorado's backcountry fly fishing in United States

Indian Peaks Wilderness Area Colorado

Steven B. Schweitzer - May 03, 2016

Read about Colorado's backcountry fly fishing in " Indian Peaks Wilderness Area Colorado."

See More Stories

More Flies

This five-minute tie imitates one of the most common baitfish in trout streams across the country. Sculpin Fly Pattern Flies

Sculpin Fly Pattern

Chuck Stranahan - February 01, 2015

This five-minute tie imitates one of the most common baitfish in trout streams across the...

From my perspective, any list of the Flies

World's Top 13 Pike Flies

Matt Straw - September 05, 2017

From my perspective, any list of the "Best 13" pike flies on earth has to include something...

Dan Sturn breaks down his five favorite wet-fly methods. Flies

5 Proven Wet-Fly Methods for Steelhead

Dana Sturn - December 07, 2017

Dan Sturn breaks down his five favorite wet-fly methods.

See More Flies

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.