Fly fishing can be quite a challenge if you just take a look at casting and presentation by itself but the one thing that does give us an advantage over other types of fishing is the astounding variety of fly patterns at our disposal and our ability to imitate just about any food item possible. We're sure to be able to find something that's on the dinner menu of the local waters, no matter what the fish might be eating. Be it a fish, frog, lizard, damsel fly, crab, shrimp, a Hexagenia Limbata Mayfly like the one shown to the right, or a berry that dropped off the mulberry tree along the shoreline, there's a fly out there to imitate it. You just have to figure out what's going to work.
I was recently fishing on John's Lake in west Orlando and finally got a chance to see a hatch of what local fishermen have been telling me about for years. A hatch of mayflies had occurred and just about every surface in the parking lot had a few of these beauty's resting in preparation for their mating time. I'd heard of these occurrences but had never actually experienced one first hand. Folks come in to the shop each year looking for mayflies and we show them a variety of types ranging from the smaller Blue Winged Olives to the giant Adult Hex as they tell stories of bass and panfish swimming across the surface with their wide open, inhaling bugs as fast as they can. These anglers normally chose the larger of the two, making me wonder what they've been drinking. Now I know what flavor Kool Aid they're sipping and I'd gladly join in.
As I've said in other posts (Hotdogs, Hamburgers, and Hatch Charts) fish know what's on the menu and you, the angler, better be throwing something close to what their looking for, or luck won't be turning in your favor. Many of these hatches occur for such a limited time that hitting it right can be quite a challenge. Baitfish availability isn't normally that specific, but can be limited to a particular season be it spring, summer, fall, or winter. Shrimp are a prime example of a prey item that's available during a particular season, so throwing imitations at the right time of year is an obvious necessity. Your success rate will drastically increase once you've got the pattern figured out as it repeats year, after year, after year.
Florida anglers are lucky in the sense that we've got so much food for the fish to chose from, but on the other hand, why would they eat a piece of metal, fur, feather, or plastic on the end of a fishing line when they've got so much food to chose from. We need to work doubly hard to ensure we're matching the hatch when there is one, as was the case a few weeks ago, and throwing somewhat generic bait patterns when there's nothing special going on. So do a little research, determine the flavor of the week, and stock your boxes accordingly to maximize your chances of success.
Brian "Beastman" Eastman
White River Fly Shop