Blue Winged Olives on the Lower Madison
Blue Winged Olives have officially been spotted on our Bozeman area rivers. The water temperatures are in the zone for some prolific hatches and we expect ideal conditions for fish to crush baetis adults this weekend.
About the BWO Hatch
Blue winged olives or baetis represent the first mayfly hatch of the season in Southwest Montana. They have little olive colored bodies and light gray to blue wings. They blow a small bubble on their backs to propel themselves to the surface. These nymphs hit the air-water interface and must break through to get to the surface of the water as adults. As they wait for their wings to dry these bugs are very susceptible to predation by trout. This usually only takes a few seconds but when it is raining or the air is humid, it takes a bit longer, making wet conditions preferable to find rising trout. When blue wings are on the water, fish are eager to rise for this valuable source of food. After the wings of the baetis dry they take flight to mate in the air.
Fishing The Hatch
When this first big hatch of the season gets going, the Baetis tend to be large (size #16) and the fish are very willing to come up and devour BWO adults. Because the trout are not picky an angler can get away with fishing a 9' 4x leader to a size #16 purple parachute or a BWO Quill Gordon also in size #16. I will usually fish a single dry at the end of the leader. The most important practice for this time of the year will be a drag free drift. If your fly is skating along the surface, trout will more likely than not pass up your fly for the dead drifting naturals. However, a perfect dead drift in a trout's feeding zone is hard to pass up. In the off-chance that a parachute fly isn't working, I will have a few BWO Last Chance Cripples just in case.
BWO's have officially been spotted on the lower Madison, one of our favorite rivers for prolific dry fly hatches and thousands of rising trout. Be sure to swing by our Bozeman fly shop prior to hitting the river so you don't have a shortage of flies, leaders, tippet, or floatant for the BWO hatch. The hatch will only get better from here!