This is the first really good dry-fly opportunity of the season for most Eastern anglers. They are large mayflies and they have good points of vulnerability both underwater and on the surface. Where & When
» Species pleuralis (Quill Gordon)
Region:The Quill Gordon hatch begins in early April in central Appalachian streams and moves into southern Pennsylvania by mid-April. By early May it is going strong in the Catskills, and it lingers through the rest of May in the Adirondacks and New England.
EastTime Of Year (?):
April through late May
Some books report that this species occurs in the East and the Midwest, though I have not found any accounts of fishable hatches in the Midwest and they are not reported there by the USGS.
Once the pleuralis hatch is triggered by several consecutive days of ideal water temperature, it carries a sort of momentum. The duns supposedly continue to hatch almost every day, regardless of weather, until they are all done.Hatching Behavior
Time Of Day (?):Quill Gordon duns crawl out of their nymphal shucks (Shuck: The shed exoskeleton left over when an insect molts into its next stage or instar. Most often it describes the last nymphal or pupal skin exited during emergence into a winged adult.) on the stream bottom and rise to the surface as fully formed adults. This behavior can be well imitated by wet fly imitations. Swisher and Richards describe how to fish the wet in Selective Trout:
Early afternoon, usually from 1:00 to 2:00pm; later when hotHabitat:
Riffles and rapidsWater Temperature:
It is best fished by casting upstream, allowing it to sink, and then twitching it up through the currents in front of feeding fish.
Once the duns are up, they may ride the surface for a long time and make several failed attempts before getting airborne. Skittering a dry fly accordingly may improve one's success.Spinner Behavior
Time Of Day: Anytime between noon and dusk, depending on temperatureThere are several values given in the fly fishing literature for the time it takes Epeorus pleuralis duns to molt and return as spinners. Different books say 1-2 days, 2 days, or 3-4 days.
Habitat: Riffles and rapids
These spinners can provide good fishing, especially in pocket water in the rapids where they fall spent (Spent: The wing position of many aquatic insects when they fall on the water after mating. The wings of both sides lay flat on the water. The word may be used to describe insects with their wings in that position, as well as the position itself.).Nymph Biology
Current Speed: FastSeveral authors have noted that Epeorus pleuralis nymphs have an unusual habit of gathering en masse on the downstream side of certain objects in the stream prior to emergence. These objects may become a source of unexpected feeding lanes for the trout during emergence.Epeorus pleuralis Fly Fishing TipsIn the cold water of the early season when the Quill Gordons hatch, the trout may not yet rise freely. Although this hatch can provide good dry fly action, you should not hesitate to fish subsurface.
Substrate: Gravel or rock
Environmental Tolerance: Very intolerant of pollution or slow water
Pictures of 5 Mayfly Specimens in the Species Epeorus pleuralis:
Epeorus pleuralis (Quill Gordon) Mayfly Nymph
View 4 PicturesThis Epeorus pluralis dun is recently deceased in these photos. I decided not to photograph several lively, less mature nymphs. This one was ready to hatch, as indicated by the black wing pads (
Wing pad: A protrusion from the thorax of an insect nymph which holds the developing wings. Black wing pads usually indicate that the nymph is nearly ready to emerge into an adult.). I believe it had not been dead long enough to lose its natural coloration.
The wing pads on this final instar Baetidae
mayfly nymph are extremely dark.
2 Streamside Picture of Epeorus pleuralis Mayflies:
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