Mayflies are not just in May

In July I caught a bad flu, not the manmade one, just one the doctor called “the crud”. I developed a fever and cough on the July 4 weekend and I’m just now getting over it so during July the reservoir bream had a hiatus from me frothing up the water with my flyrod. I did keep up with the hatches the best way I could and true to form just about every 6-11 days there was a hatch.

So last Friday, July 30, I was glad to hear from my scout that mayflies had been spotted. Unfortunately my truck was on the fritz but luckily I made a last minute repair and found I had a working truck not long after quitting time. I needed a test drive and so I just used the opportunity to check the Rez. I found plenty of bugs and the fish were on them. A heat wave was on and there was no wind making it ideal for late evening wade fishing. Just before dark I had a basket of fish, and then I realized I didn’t have a thing to put them in. Figuring I could get a mess the next day I just released them all. That’s how confident I was I would fill a cooler the next day.

A heat wave was settling on Mississippi so the following day, Saturday, I waited until after 5:30 pm to try again. With a cooler full of ice, I made my way out to the same spot. Of course a hatch of Hexagenia Bilineata only lives one day so more bugs had to emerge overnight for me to do any good. To my dismay, I couldn’t see any bugs when I drove up. After walking all the way down to the water and checking the bushes I did indeed find some mayflies. I quickly returned to the truck and donned a pair of waders and with flyrod and fish basket in hand I returned, only to find an interloper was already in my spot:

It is my understanding there has never been an alligator attack at the Rez, but wading out toward this big joker just didn’t seem like a great idea. He was standing his ground and my name is not Amos Moses. Fishing from the safety of the rocks I managed to catch quite a few just roll casting, but Mr. Gator just wouldn’t leave. Well, the thing about the mayflies at the Rez is they occur in more than one place so I just found another spot without a big gator in it. I wound up with the following cooler of bream. I kept probably kept only one out of five due to size. The reservoir bream are just generally not very big, unfortunately. Not like the gators.

I happen to like the medium sized bream because they clean quickly, fry quickly, and I just think they taste better.

I have tied all kinds of different mayfly patterns with the goal of coming up with one that hooks the bream readily. The Catskill type flies didn’t seem to do terribly well. They attract strikes well but they don’t hook up with the bream very well. It has something to do with the lightning fast strikes the bream make. I really haven’t quite figured it out, but to remedy the problem I started trying articulated patterns with moose hair and foam. I have a pattern that works very well, but this weekend what I found that worked the best was a popping bug tied with a lot of deer hair in the tail. It has white rubber legs on a brown foam body. My brother and I used to use deer hair tail poppers on the clearwater creeks of south Mississippi and we used one a man in Laurel tied. We called them “Laurel bugs”. They worked great so I tied up something similar.

The deer hair will fluff up with a few false casts and especially if you grease it with silicon. The popper body will hit the water with a “spat” which attracts the bream in the stained water. I was hooking up with bream at a phenomenal rate compared to using Catskill type flies and other patterns. Maybe the fish were just hungrier and more voracious, but it was the popping bug below that really hammered them. I know I caught five times as many as I have in the cooler photo. I just released the smaller ones. The very simple “flip-flop” popper below worked better than anything I have tried.


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