HELENA - In Montana's fly fishing world, chasing the salmon fly hatch is one of the great challenges of the summer. In this week's Outdoor Report, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks traveled to the bank of the Big Hole River for an up-close look at the star of on this amazing event.
In late spring and early summer, there is an insect event taking place on Montana's Western Rivers that drives the fish and fishermen a little crazy: the giant stone fly.
Pteronarcys Californica, commonly known as the salmon fly, spends its first three to four years underwater. Ready to emerge as adults, the nymphs congregate near the shoreline sometimes losing their grip and falling prey to the waiting trout.
Anglers use artificial fly patterns with local names like "The Black Creeper," "The Sofa Pillow," or "The Bloody Butcher" to fool the aggressive fish.
As the day comes to an end, boats return to trailers, anglers back to camp the insects wait for the moonlight to begin their extraordinary metamorphism.
The adults mate, then the females lay their eggs, then they die. The whole event is over about as fast as it begins. And, all that's left as a reminder are the exoskeletons, but under the surface, this incredible cycle of life begins again.
In real time, the entire insect transformation from nymph to adult took a little over two hours to complete.