03/14/12

Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
Hatching:
1.    Midges
2.    Blue-winged Ollives (
Baetis brunnicolor) and Little BWOs
3.    Blue Quills
4.    Quill Gordons
5.    Little Black Caddis (
Brachycentrus)
6.    
Little Brown Stoneflies
7.    Hendricksons & Red Quills

Most available/ Near hatching and/or other types of available food:
8.     American March Browns
9.     Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)

"K.I.S.S. A Bug" Series -  American March Brown - Part 2
The Clinger Nymph

In previous articles that I have written about the American March Brown, I referred to hatches of
the mayfly as frustrating hatches. In the last article I wrote, I called it the two-faced mayfly. The
articles tend to make it appear that the American March Brown mayflies aren't very important for
anglers to imitate. That's not true at all, so it's obvious I haven't done a very good job of
explaining my thoughts about the mayfly.

American March Brown nymphs are probably in every trout stream that exist in Great Smoky
Mountains National Park. They are very plentiful. They are clinger nymphs that love the fast,
pocket water that exist in all the streams in the park. If you examined the numbers of the nymphs
in a stream, you would think they would hatch in huge numbers, yet it's right the opposite of that.
They usually hatch in small quantities. The reason for that is they hatch over a very long period
of time. Furthermore, they don't hatch at one specific time of the day. These mayflies can hatch
throughout the middle part of the day. They don't hatch within an hour or two like most other
mayflies. They hatch over a period of three or six hours.

The sporadic manner in which they emerge, together with the fact they can hatch for several
days in any one area of a stream, strings the hatch out to where there are not usually very many
American March Brown duns on the water at any one time. Most of the time you will just see a few
here and there. The thing that congregates them more than anything is the spinner fall. It
happens in a very short period of time each day. We will get to that later.

This isn't a bi-brooded mayfly. It's a single yearly hatch that has a very long duration. The
"multiple" hatches (other mayflies that hatch during the same time period) that normally occur at
the same time seems to lessen the importance of the American March Brown.

The American March Brown nymphs are clinger nymphs. Most of their life the flat shaped nymphs
are doing what their name implies - "clinging' to the undersides of rocks. Most of the time they are
not readily available for the trout to eat.

These nymphs are strong and fast. They can move around on the streambed very fast compared
to most other nymphs, even most of the other clinger nymphs. They are able to cling to the rocks
to the point you have to pry them loose if you want to remove one. When they are exposed in
open water, they act much like crayfish. They run backwards if you approach them from the front.
Although they are harmless, they have a very mean look to them.

When they near the beginning of the hatch period, the American March Brown nymphs move from
underneath the rocks on the bottom of the fast water runs and riffles, to the slower water on the
outside of the current seams. They don't emerge directly in the fast water runs and riffles. Most of
the time they move to the pockets but it can be any water that is flowing moderately to slow that's
immediately adjacent to the fast water.

Depending on the weather and the changes in water temperature, the nymphs can remain in
these type of areas for a week or two before hatching. We have caught several of them at a time
using a small kick net in such places just prior to a hatch. Normally, the pockets don't hold any of
these clinger nymphs. When you do find them in the pockets and other slow moving water near
their normal fast water habitat, their wing pads will be very noticeable and obviously near the
point they are going to soon split for the dun's emergence.

The bottom line to this is the best time to fish an imitation of the American March Brown nymph
(as well as most other clinger nymphs) is a week or two prior to a hatch. The problem is
determining when the hatch is starting in any one area of water. Since they do hatch sporadically,
over a relatively long period of time, I think anytime you find a dun on the water or along the
stream in the grass, bushes or trees, you should try fishing a March Brown nymph in the areas of
water I just described. If it's near the middle of the day, at a time you think they may actually be
hatching, you may also want to try an imitation of the emerger or dun. Just don't overlook the fact
that the trout may be feeding on the nymphs getting ready to hatch that are holding in the
pockets and other slower moving water immediately to the fast water runs and riffles.

Fish the American March Brown nymph imitation right on the bottom on the slow water side of the
current seams along the fast water runs and riffles. This is best done with short, upstream cast.
Hi-stickin also works great for this. Weight the fly down just enough to get it on the bottom quickly
and keep it there through the short drift. Of course, you must stay hidden from the trout. Whether
your high stickin or making short upstream cast, making a lot short drift presentations is the key
to increasing your odds of success.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
Thumbnail: Click to enlarge