It started! Those magnificent and perhaps most delicate and beautiful of all the mayflies have begun their evening dance. In the words of Ernest Schwiebert, whose artistic and analytical prose aligned and complimented so perfectly with the bold and adventurous Chicago born icon who visited the Northwoods rivers of Michigan’s trout utopia; the one and only Hemingway himself, Schwiebert writes the following in his masterpiece opus “Nymphs”:
“Yet when my thoughts turn to these prolific blue-winged mayflies (Hendrickson’s, sulphers, olives etc.) the memory invariably drifts back to boyhood rivers of Michigan where I first fished them. There where excellent hatches then, and we fished them all over the years, from the Pere Marquette to the swift flowing Sturgeon-but the best of those storied Michigan rivers in the time of the Hendrickson’s (author note: light Hendy’s pertain to the sulpher mayflies here), was always the beautiful Au Sable”
In the spring “Mayfly issue” of Hallowed Waters Journal we dive deeper into thios hatch than ever written in a magazine, and article worth a book unto itself. We look ate every aspect of theis hatch and one whose phases- especially the emerger and spinner phase, can throw your hatch matching skills curve balls as you watch trout after trout ignore your fly presentations.
From the mountain rivers and tailwaters of New York’s Adirondack and Catskill legacy, to Pennsylvania’s heritage waters of the Cumberland and Happy Valley that are so perfectly designed for the delicate swimming Ephemerella, to the southern tailwaters of Tennessee… and finally to those gentle northern forested rivers of fine gravel and pure spring water that Schwiebert talks about: Michigan, we take you into the world and the reason we dry fly fish and love it so dearly!
They are delicate mayflies and fit their “ephemeral” billing perfectly. The British called the lightish Baetis fuscatus: Pale Watery Duns, but they have different applications/meanings depending on locale and rivers. Here across the pond our true sulfurs are the Ephemerella invaria and dorothea- flies of May. The Pale Watery are mayflies that have a lightish yellow tinge though Baetis are more associated with the Blue-winged-olive mayflies. Thus if you look at our Ephemerella invaria, they have that same yellowish-olive hue. Hence any creamy, yellowish mayfly can be called sulfurs and are usually labeled by the average fly fisherman as just that. Since they emerge usually smack in the middle of May generally, they are the true mayfly, whereas the Danica “Mayfly” drake, usually starts at the end of May but can emerge late as June and July, and into August. Sulfurs, as called by Fox ands Marinaro from the limestone legacy days, are an eye catching beauty that can’t be missed like the often very hard to see “white curse”/aka Tricos, or the late night big mayfly emergers of the darkness.
The Sulfur’s yellowish-orange color makes them impossible to ignore as a fly angler and as a hungry trout. They embody all the things so lady-like and gentlemanly about the dry fly pursuit. They appear sporadically throughout the day as tea and crumpets are served streamside, thus the perfect hatch when staying at a riverside estate or lodge in the finest country sporting tradition. Then as the last brandy and cognacs are consumed après-diner, they hatch and spin in the sunsets giving them a poetic and ethereal significance to the fly fishers ceremonial pursuit.
“It is the most fantastic thing in the world to see a cocky blue-winged sulpher (invaria) float downstream, drift into the face of the jam (log jam), bank slowly with the current, and travel along the edge until it breeches the deepest bend of the concave face. There it stops and eddies about for the longest time, turning around and around, the circumference of each revolution becoming a little larger each time, until finally it is seized by the outlying positive currents and carried around the end of the jam and through the narrow gut to the stream below. In this way thousands of duns are paraded in front of the trout, where they obligingly stop, pirouette, and are sampled by a breed of fish who might have read Horace and learned about Roman orgies, for they seem to lean on their elbows and allow the food to fall into their mouths” (Modern Dry Fly Code – Vincent Marinaro)
In our “Sulphur Chronicles” exposé and complete manifesto on the intricacies of this super hatch, besides the invaria and dorothea we look at the many yellow mayfly cousins like Epeorus, PMD’S , Heptagenia and Stenonema that add to the mix. We do an analyses of the various stages of the hatch, the tactical approach, the killer fly patterns needed for success and so much more. We start in New York state with Matt DeLorenzo from the Hungry Trout on the hallowed waters of the famous Ausable and other iconic freestoners in the Adirondacks/Catskills as he discuses these freestone mountain waters and the fine tactical approaches needed for them.
Then its off to the iconic Pennsylvania limestone spring creeks of the Cumberland and Happy Valleys with the modern deans that are continuing the limestone legacy -Tommy Baltz and Dave Rothrock. Here they describe the cult-like following the Sulphur and drakes have in the month of May from the Yellow Breeches and Letrort; to State College’s legendary Spring and Spruce creeks, along with the Little Juniata.
Finally we go big tailwater Sulphur magic with Patrick Fulkrod on his wild brown trout filled South Holston in Tennessee and Virginia. Tailwaters like the Delaware in the Catskills and others around the world are the ideal habitat for the sulfur mayflies since they are full of the icy cold water, vegetation and gravel and sand they love so much.
In this our best issue yet, the 264 luscious pages of the spring/summer issue is packed full of mayfly magic. Hallowed Waters Journal is dedicated to bringing you content and eye candy images that reveal the true heart and soul of why we fly fish and the natural journey of the hallowed waters, flies and the trout/salmon/steelhead that tease us to venture into their realm. Hallowed Waters is what we have lost in today’s fast past frenzied world of skimming only the shallow surface of the total fly fishing passion. A journey and obsseeion for the true troutbum that was born in history, science and the joys of the natural world , one that delves into a realm which is so much needed today to bring heart and soul to the total vibe that fly fishing provides. Hallowed Waters treats our passion differently than just another trendy action sport- it’s a lifestyle journey that is begging you to explore it.
To explore this hatch that will consume us from May/ June, until well into July and into fall on the ice cold multi-brood tailwaters of the Catskills and spring creeks of Montana come to https://www.hallowedwaters.com…your passion and journey will never be the same…subscribe today! Fly fishing is more than just an action sport, it’s a passionate lifestyle and journey- reset your journey today with Hallowed Waters!