A Peek at the Fare that Drive Trout Crazy
(page 3 of 4)
Pale Morning Dun
Species: Inermis & Infrequens
1. Emergence: May - August
2. Life Cycle: Egg, nymph, adult, spinner
3. Location: Riffles, runs and flats
in slow-moving water
4. Size: 14-18
For anyone who’s ever cast a fly rod across a cool mountain stream, the term “mayfly” is held in lofty esteem. Simply mentioning the word “mayfly” to a fly fisher almost always elicits a smile. And there’s no better example of a classic mayfly than the Pale Morning Dun (PMD).
“It’s a true mayfly hatch. It starts in May, often in late May, just as the season is starting and goes right through July, usually,” explained Scott Schnebly, arguably the most well-known fly fishing guide in and outside the Wood River Valley. Scott’s been fishing the waters of central Idaho for four decades and owns Lost River Outfitters in Ketchum.
“The first ones are giant, but as the season and summer comes on they get smaller. The fish have been feeding on micro stuff all winter. It’s the first large morsel of the season to eat so they go after them, which makes it great if you’re fishing. Anybody can catch a fish on a PMD in the early season when they’re going off,” he said.
PMDs belong to the crawler group of mayflies. The average hatch lasts for only an hour. The really odd thing about PMDs, according to Schnebly, is that they occasionally all but disappear on places like Silver Creek and the Henry’s Fork of the Snake for a few years, only to reappear as prolific as ever.
Scott’s favorite PMD imitations are Parachute Sulfer and Trim Thorax PMD. He also recommends long leaders and skinny tippet—always. “It’s a handsome fly. It has bright colors and you can see it well. It’s really the bread-and-butter hatch on Silver Creek, and most spring creeks and tailwaters,” Schnebly said.