Old Rupe is "off his feet" for a while, and we will fill in
for him the best we can. If you are knowledgeable about a particular
insect or local hatch, please help us out - contact:
Don't worry about photos, we have good references.
For the past two weeks we've had a bee as our Fly of the Week. The first one
an oldie, The McGinty, which really does work. This week it is a Steelhead
Bee, done as a spey fly.
Bees fall into the 'terrestrial' group of insects. Many folks see bees as a natural
part of the fish's diet. Bees belong to a very large order Hymenoptera,
which includes wasps, ants, and sawflies.
Even though we don't hear much about flies for this insect group (except the ants),
knowledge of bee and wasps as flies for fish dates back to the third-century writing
of Claudius Aelianus, who spoke of bee/wasp flies in the book De Animalium
Natura. Dame Julian's first fly was the 'waspe flye."
Chances are if you do find a bee in a local you fish, it will work as a fly there. Bees
live in colonies, and occur in very large numbers. If the colony happens to be in a
tree overhanging a stream - it guarantees large numbers of insects in a small concentrated
region. With any amount of wind, the possibility of them getting blown into the water
is pretty good.
Some regions seem to 'fish' better with bee patterns than others. The White River in Arkansas,
(particularly after October when presumably cold weather makes it more difficult for them
to get and stay airborne.) The Yellowstone also produces great results with both bee and
wasp patterns. Ernie Schweibert in Trout Strategies notes that "on the
limestone streams of Pennsylvania many anglers swear by bee imitations in hot weather."
Schwiebert further states that clipped-hair patterns of honeybee, sweat bee, and bumblebee
"have often proven themselves on selective trout."
Perhaps the hot weather is a key in the west and midwest, where we have seen bees
and wasps drinking from the stream! I have a bumblebee which appears regularly
on the tiny creeklet between the little ponds in our yard. There is plenty of saltwater
around, this bee obviously has a preference for freshwater.
There are some who believe fish do not 'take' bees for the insect they are, but instead
take them for wasps. There are a group of wasps which enter the water to seek out
the aquatic insect as hosts for their eggs! Diving wasps attach eggs, larvae, or the
pupae, depending on the species. Some of this group crawl to the bottom, while
other swim using their wings to propel them. Either way, they are certainly available
to the fish as food - trout, steelhead, and panfish!
Regardless of what the fish take bees for, they do take them. Being observant is
always the key to success in fly fishing. If you see or hear bees, change to a bee
pattern. Try the McGinty on still or slow
waters, and the Steelhead Bee on faster
water and riffles. You might be surprised!