THE FIRST HATCH TO ARRIVE: LITTLE BLACK STONES

Hatch reports are spreading.  The bugs are beginning to appear in the southern states, and Internet rumors about them are multiplying; the insects have been spotted as far north as South Eastern Pennsylvania.  Some might say that their emergence is disappointing, even anticlimactic  compared to what will follow.  They'll belittle the hatch, complaining that, often, the fish don't eat them, and that they're usually unimportant to fly fishermen.  But the Little Black Stones have begun creeping from their icy depths, and even if the haters are correct this season, and their arrival is irrelevant to fly fishers, they bring me hope.  Spring is coming.

I have yet to see one in 2012.  The photos in this blog were taken last winter.  But I've found them many times in years past.  I'm sure you have too.  And sometimes I have also found trout noticing them.  They're similar to Blue Winged Olive mayflies in the way that fly fishers lump many species together.  They are black (mostly) and to avoid the Latin language, and scientific study, we anglers call them Little Black Stones, just like we call many diminuitive, olive-colored mayflies, Blue Winged Olives.  But we're really seeing several different stone fly species from the following genuses: Capnia, Allocapnia, Strophopteryx, Taeniopteryx, and others.

The  Capnia and Allocapnia are the first to appear, and they usually do so with the coldest temperatures.  They're small, and if you don't notice their movement on an ice-shelf along the water, or on top of snow, you might not even know they're there.


Black Stone


Look at their wings.  They're really only half-wings, and they are not functional.  Nature knows what it's doing.  If these stone flies could fly away, they would, leaving them to freeze on clear nights when the Arctic air descends from Canada.  But they can only crawl, so enough of them remain near the water's warmer micro-environment where it's just warm enough to keep them alive, ensuring the continuation of the species.  Those with wanderlust will not survive to procreate.  When I lived along New York's Beaverkill I would find them in my backyard, too far from the water to remain viable after  sunset.  I always wondered where they thought they were going.

The bigger ones that come later, Taeniopteryx and others, do have fully functional wings, and they can fly.  These bugs are tough.  They can survive not only the cold, but they can also live in degraded water.  I've found them in streams where coal mining's orange glow ensures that little else can live there.  They buzz across the water's surface and sometimes elicit a trout's first splashy rise of the new year.


Strophopteryx fasciata is the last of the early stones to arriveIt has a rich, chocolate brown body that provides the first color diversity of the season.  It is often a little smaller (#14/16) than its Taeniopteryx cousins (#12-16), but it carries similar-looking, leaded-glass-window wings.


This one is having a rough start to its new year.  Imagine waiting all year to emerge, only to have your nymphal shuck get caught on your antennas.  I think we've all been there before.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

 Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Bahamas - Bonefish

Bahamas - Bonefish

Conway casts for his personal best bonefish while fishing the Grand Bahama islands.

Black Beauty

Black Beauty

Master fly tier Charlie Craven discuss the tools and materials needed to tie the Black Beauty.

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 Articles

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...

Fly-Fisherman Editor Ross Purnell shares his top five best trout fishing destinations in the world. Worldwide

5 Best Trout Fishing Spots in the World

Ross Purnell, Editor

Fly-Fisherman Editor Ross Purnell shares his top five best trout fishing destinations in the...

Drift boats help you search through miles of river quickly and effectively. Here's the top models on the market today. Gear

Top Drift Boats of 2019

John Fedorka - April 02, 2019

Drift boats help you search through miles of river quickly and effectively. Here's the top...

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 Trending Articles

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

Get Digital Access.

All Fly Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now