I’m afraid I have an infection. I’ve come down with a serious dose of INSECTion.
At an early age, I had a deep fascination with nature. Particularly the mini-world down an my feet consisting of reptiles, amphibians and hundreds of different insects. My eyes would become a macro lens and I would immerse myself in another world and try my best to ignore my brothers request to cop another flogging at backyard cricket. Skinks (lizards) would become mini-dragons and dragonflies were flying dinosaurs, like pterodactyls, while big gnarly spiders were simply terrifying, but in an intriguing way that kept me observing.
This interest alone certainly formed a strong justification for fly fishing when introduced some years ago by long-time friend Andy. It just felt normal to me. Natural, if you like. That observation element is still just as prevalent now as when I was eight years old, enabling me to delve into another world and explore until my heart is content, if time allows.
Recently on the water, I witnessed something pretty cool. Tasmania is home to a decent-sized stonefly, typically named the Giant Stonefly (Eusthenia spectabilis). They are quite similar in shape and size to the famed Salmon Fly of Montana. Stoneflies that I’ve seen here in Tasmania would reach in excess of two inches, sometimes bigger. I’ve seen quite a number of these over the years, particularly in the Western Lakes and on some river systems, often higher in the catchment. Unlike their Montana cousins, however, I have never really seen something that I would classify as a ‘hatch’ – up until now…
Arriving at the headwater creek, I immediately spotted a nice little brown cruising around a shallow run. He showed signs of active feeding and upon presentation, he promptly accepted my dry fly. Then, as I took a few steps up-river I noticed a giant stonefly. I stopped to take my camera out of the bag and as I was taking a few images, another stonefly was on the wing and landed on the stone next to this one. As I looked around, crouching in the one spot – I could see more than a dozen other rocks that held the giant stonefly, sometimes couples mating. I even had 6-8 individuals land on my shirt, neck and arms. Stoneflies that I’ve encountered to date, have always had a black/grey body in addition to a brown/black/grey mottled wing. The outer casing wing on these was quite purplish in colour. This was such an awesome sight to see and something I’ve often wondered about – especially in terms of when and where they occur. I basically put my rod down, satisfied with my one cast: one fish ratio and hopped around taking photos. Nature is so cool!