01/18/12

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Midges
2.    Little Winter Stoneflies
3.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)

Winter Stoneflies - Part One

Before I get started, lets first look at the use of common names of stoneflies.
Entomologist normally don't use common names for insects at all. In fact, they almost seem to
enjoy making fun of us amateur bug guys and anglers that try to simplify the insect terminology
by using common names.  I can understand their concern. Common names can be misleading
even when they are used for fishing purposes. They are especially confusing when it comes to
the use of colors for names. There are not but nine families of stoneflies. The species within the
nine families are not  that difficult to tell apart. Out of the nine families of stoneflies, four of them
are often called Little Brown Stoneflies. The Capniidae, Nemouridae, Taeniopterygidae and
Leuctridae families of stoneflies are all called Little Brown Stoneflies. Even more confusing is the
fact that not all Little Brown Stoneflies are brown. Many species of these four families of stoneflies
are black. The thing that should be remembered about these four families (and it isn't the Latin
names of them) is that they are usually small, less than a half-inch long.

There's another problem with using colors for names of stoneflies. Some anglers think the color
refers to the adults or fully grown stoneflies, and some think it means the color of the nymphs and
probably some think it means both the nymph and the adults. Most of the time, the color of the
nymphs is different from the color of the adults. The other problem is the worst one of all. Little
Yellow adult Stoneflies aren't all yellow. Little Green Stoneflies, a common name used for the
Chloropertidae  family of stoneflies, aren't all green. Some of them are yellow. I could go on and
on but the only thing I would like for you to take from this is from the get go, lets forget using
colors alone for the names of stoneflies. If color is used, the name should include more to help
further identify it.

Winter Stoneflies:
The common name "Winter Stoneflies" refers specifically to two families - Capniidae and
Taeniopterygidae. Here again, the Latin names of the families aren't important to remember. This
"Bug Guide" website shows you some pictures of the little nymphs and adults of the
Taeniopterygidae family. This
"Bug Guide" website shows you some pictures of nymphs and
adults from the Capniidae family. Notice both families are called "Winter Stoneflies".

From now until about the middle of March, both of these families of stoneflies are important
because
for a week or two prior to the time they hatch, they represent food that the
trout can easily acquire
. They have to come out from under the rocks on the bottom of the
streams and crawl out of the water on rocks or the bank to hatch. During that time, the trout can
easily grab them for a meal.
They can't swim. They can't even crawl very fast. The trout
have a very easy meal.

Now keep this in mind. Out of the two families of Little Winter Stoneflies, there are 15 different
species
that have been identified in the streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here
they are:

Family Taeniopterygidae - Winter Stoneflies
Boltoperla rossi (Frison 1942)
Oemopteryx contorta (Needham & Claassen 1925)
Strophopteryx fasciata (Burmeister 1839)
Strophopteryx limata (Frison 1942)
Taenionema atlanticum Ricker & Ross 1975
Taeniopteryx burksi Ricker & Ross 1968
Taeniopteryx maura (Pictet 1841)

Family Capniidae - Winter Stoneflies
Allocapnia aurora Ricker 1952
Allocapnia frisoni Ross and Ricker 1964
Allocapnia fumosa Ross 1964
Allocapnia granulata (Claassen 1924)
Allocapnia recta (Claassen 1924)
Allocapnia rickeri Frison 1942
Allocapnia stannardi Ross 1964
Paracapnia angulata Hanson 1961

I listed these, not that you need to know anything about them other than the fact there's that
many different ones and
they don't all hatch at the same time. Any one species of them don't
even all hatch at the same time in the same stream. In other words,
there will be hatches
occurring at different times and at many different places for the next couple of months.

I hope that you can see that knowing something about these little bugs could help you catch trout
during the next couple of months. In the next part of the "Winter Stonefly" series of articles, I will
go into how you can go about imitating these nymphs when they start becoming exposed and
later, when the adults become important and how you can imitate them. The good part about
these bugs is that all behave almost exactly the same way.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh