Middle Prong of the Little River Journal:

Blue Quills of the Middle Prong
(5/22/07):
It was about 11:00 AM, mid March of 2007. Angie and I wanted to get some
footage of fly fishing the Middle Prong of the Little River. It was time for the Quill
Gordons to hatch and we were looking forward to it.
We started at the end of the paved road. Angie grabbed a rod and hit the
stream while I was getting the video gear out of the car in the parking lot. As I
was walking across the road, she yelled "big fish". I had a few moves to make
before I could begin taping the scene. I couldn't help but keep looking out the
corner of my eye for the fish. It was jumping wildly at her feet when I got across
the road to where I could video the fish but I was all fingers trying to get the lens
cover off, filter set right, menu turned off, etc. She just held on, waiting for me to
video the fish. After all, that is our business.
I thought it was a big brown of course, but she said it was a rainbow. At first I
didn't think so because it was just to big to be a rainbow. Looking at the fish
more than I was the camera, I discovered she was right. It was a rainbow.
I don't want to make everyone shake their heads, but I would say the fish was at
least fourteen inches long. It was the largest rainbow that I have ever seen in the
park. We will never know because it broke her tippet. All I have on tape is a swirl
of water and a pan up to a very angry girl.
I had plenty of time to video that fish but it seems like I just couldn't move. I was
all fingers. It was fairly cold and I was a little shocked I suppose. It made both of
us sick. Naturally, I will never hear the end of that.
When I learned where and how she hooked it I was even more dumbfounded.
She hooked the fish in water next to the bank and about six inches deep. She
was making false cast close to the bank to prevent spooking the fish in the run
out a little ways from the bank she intended to cast too. She had a size 18
Parachute Adams tied on.
I continued to look along the banks and In a few minutes noticed what created
this situation. Blue Quills were hatching and some where spent collected in the
eddies and calm water along the bank. I assume there may have been a spinner
fall early that morning. This sometimes happen with Blue Quills or
Paraleptophlebia adoptive species.
Angie only caught one more fish that day. I caught five or six over the next three
or four hours. We take turns running the camera when we don't have a
cameraman along with us, so only one of us fished at a time. One reason for the
difference in our catch is that I fished a size 18 Blue Quill spinner and she fished
the Parachute Adams. The fly didn't make the difference as much as the way we
fished it. She fished areas next to the banks for a cast or two and then the fast
runs and riffles.
I only fished the slow, slick water areas. The Blue Quills hatch in calm to
moderate water in pockets and the calmer areas near the banks. They do not
hatch in the fast water. You will see them in very shallow water and that is where
you need to place your fly.
We saw only a few Quill Gordons that day. They hatched this year off and on
rather than in one big stretch. The water temperatures rocked back and forth
from the mid forties to the low fifties for several days. Assuming the time of year
is right, they hatch when the water temperature reaches 50 degree F and stays
there for two or three day. If the temperatures fluctuate, the hatches will start,
then stop. They can't put off the hatch waiting for warm water, but it will slow the
procedure down and that was happening at the time. Shortly thereafter, by the
way, the water temperatures shot up in the high fifties very quickly and remained
unseasonably high throughout the park for a few weeks. This caused all the
hatches to progress faster than normal and to occur sooner than normal by as
much as two weeks.
The only thing hatching in any quantities that day were the Blue Quills. They
were not thick either, but there were enough of them to get the fish interested.
For some reason, most anglers place far more importance on the Quill Gordons
than they do the Blue Quills. I suppose this is because the Blue Quills are
smaller mayflies. This can be a big mistake at times. The Blue Quills can bring
results many days the Quill Gordons don't. They are usually a lot more of the
Blue Quills and they stay around for a much longer period of time.
The biggest problem with them is that anglers fish the hatch incorrectly. They
cast the Blue Quill dun imitations in the fast water. They only fish the dun
patterns, and almost never the spinner patterns. Depending on the time of day,
this can be a mistake. Another common fault is that some anglers fish a fly far to
large, hook sizes 16 and 14. Blue Quills are a hook size 18, and this can make a
big difference.
All in all, we catch more fish in the Spring on Blue Quills than we do Quill
Gordons. Maybe not as many on any given day, but more considering the length
of time they are on the water which can be a month to two months on some
streams depending on the elevation and weather that particular year.  
Next Spring, don't make the mistake of just looking for the Quill Gordons and
disregarding the Blue Quills. Fish the hatches and spinner falls correctly and
you will find the results very satisfying.

Copyright 2007 James Marsh