Posts Tagged ‘match the hatch’

A Conversation on Mayflies with Ed Ostapczuk

Posted on: April 15th, 2020 by Irene Foster
Quill Gordon Mayfly (Epeorus pleuralis). Photo by Ed Ostapczuk

Quill Gor­don Mayfly (Epe­orus pleu­ralis).
Pho­to by Ed Ostapczuk


Irene Fos­ter, AWSMP’s Water­shed Pro­gram Assis­tant for the year, had a chance to speak with local angler Ed Ostapczuk about this year’s mayfly hatch in streams of the Ashokan water­shed. A “hatch” occurs when insects enter the final stage of their life cycle. The nymphs molt their skin and become sub-adults after they emerge from the water sur­face. Mayflies are a sta­ple in the trout’s diet and anglers who dry fly fish imi­tate the size and col­or of mayfly nymphs. One of Ed’s favorite mayflies is the “Quill Gor­den,” sci­en­tif­ic name Epe­orus pleu­ralis.

Irene reports: I talked with Ed Ostapczuk this week to learn about the Quill Gor­don Mayfly.  Ed is a knowl­edge­able fly fish­er and the author of Ram­blings of a Charmed Cir­cle Fly­fish­er.


Q: When do you usu­al­ly see Quill Gor­don mayflies?

A: You typ­i­cal­ly start to see them in mid to late April.  This year they appeared ear­li­er, because of the warmer winter.


Q: Where is the best place in the Ashokan Water­shed to find Quill Gor­don mayflies?

A: In head­wa­ters and trib­u­taries because they live in the clean, cold, fast mov­ing water found in these spots.


Q: Are you see­ing a lot of Quill Gor­don mayflies this year?

A: The usu­al amount, which is about a dozen or so with each appearance.


Q: Are there dif­fer­ent species of mayflies?

A: Yes, there are hun­dreds of species of mayflies, and dozens in the Catskills.  Dif­fer­ent species pre­fer var­i­ous envi­ron­ments and can be found in dif­fer­ent loca­tions.  For exam­ple, the Green Drake mayfly, which prefers silty pools, is rare on the Eso­pus but can be found in oth­er places in the Catskills.


Q: What sig­nif­i­cance do the Quill Gor­don mayflies have for trout fishing?

A: Trout most­ly feed on Quill Gor­don mayflies when they are in the nymph stage, and some­times in the dun stage.  There­fore, peo­ple who are going fish­ing can tie their flies to look like nymphs or duns to attract fish.


Q: What habi­tat con­di­tions do Quill Gor­don mayflies enjoy?

A: Quill Gor­don mayflies need cold, fast, and clear water because they need oxy­gen.  They can be thought of as canaries in a coal mine, because they are sen­si­tive to envi­ron­men­tal changes such as pollution.


Q: What role do mayflies play in stream ecosystems?

A: Mayflies are food for oth­er species such as trout, oth­er insects, or birds.

Quill Gordon fly fishing flies.

Quill Gor­don fly fish­ing flies.