A Mayfly

This past week, my cousin Don and I did our annual wilderness paddle – a canoe route that takes us from a back road even further back into true wilderness. It was a gorgeous sunny day, but this made for very tough trout flyfishing (the avowed purpose of our trip), as this also meant the Mayfly hatch was in full swing.
Unless you’ve seen it, the sight of thousands (million? billions?) of flies hatching along a stream, followed by the eager trout getting their fill just as the insects emerge is something that is hard to describe. The Mayfly nymph hatches in the water and then emerges and comes to the surface, hesitating momentarily to dry it’s brand new wings before it takes off, mates and settles back to the water’s surface, its life over. The nymph form can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to complete (depending on the actual species of Mayfly), but this means the total above water life-span of the Mayfly is only 24 to 48 hours! Trout, and other animals inhabiting the watershed, feed voraciously at the time when the Mayflies come to the surface as it’s a brief but opportunistic grand buffet.
Paddling the route, through the clouds of hatching insects is a thrill, and add in the trout, especially the younger ones, feeding greedily and you get the idea of the scene. I feel blessed that I can witness this event, and only wish that the invasive species that have taken over the watersheds in so much of Nova Scotia weren’t there to also play a part in this drama – unfortunately a very destructive part, as the smallmouth bass and chain pickerel also eat the Mayflies, and so further limit the trout populations by robbing them of an important food source.
I came back home tired and with sore muscles from the paddling and casting, but also with a set of memories of the day Don and I had together and our witnessing of one of nature’s truly miraculous events.
Something we should all work to maintain.