Wisconsin Spring Creek Mayfly Hatches


Mayflies are the glory insect, the group that most fly anglers know the latin names for, have their own secret flies tied up for, and are normally the most dependable and anticipated hatches of the year. Wisconsin is fortunate to have some of the East and West's better hatches. When it comes to the Hex hatch, Wisconsin certainly earned the reputation it enjoys. While not nationally known for many of it's other hatches, they too can be spectacular...and can be fished in the light of day, unlike the Hex!

The following table is a rough guide to some of Wisconsin's better spring creek mayfly hatches. It is arranged by hatch dates, which often overlap.


Insect Hatch Dates Hook Size Patterns Spring Creeks
Hendrickson

(Ephemerella subvaria)

Early April to Mid June 14
  • Sparkle Duns
  • Parachutes
  • Catskill
  • Black Earth
  • Timber Coulee
  • West Fork
Sulphur Duns

(Ephemerella invaria and dorothea)

Mid May to Mid July 14-18

(Decrease with time)

  • Sparkle Duns
  • Thorax
  • Emergers
  • Spinners
  • West Fork
  • Timber Coulee
  • Big Green
March Browns

(Stenonema vicarium)

Mid May to Mid July 10-12
  • Carpet Fly
  • Catskill
  • Parachute
  • Spinners
  • West Fork
Light Cahill

(Stenacron canadense and others)

Early June to Mid August 12-14
  • Parachute
  • Catskill
  • Thorax
  • Spinner
  • West Fork
  • Timber Coulee
  • Black Earth
Hex (Michigan Mayfly)

(Hexagenia limbata)

Mid June to Mid July 4-8 with extended body
  • Foam Flies
  • Spinners
  • Sparkle Duns
  • Para-Drakes
  • Black Earth
  • Mt. Vernon
  • Central Wisconsin streams
Blue Winged Olives

(Baetis vagans and many others)

All Season 14-24
  • Sparkle Duns
  • Thorax
  • Emergers
  • Parachutes
  • Black Earth
  • West Fork
  • Timber Coulee
  • Big Green
  • Castle Rock
Pseudos

(Pseudocloeon sp.)

Early July thru September 20-24
  • Thorax
  • Sparkle Dun
  • CDC Emergers
  • West Fork
  • Timber Coulee
  • Big Green
Trico

(Tricorythodes sp.)

Late July thru September 20-24
  • Spinners
  • Thorax
  • CDC duns
  • Timber Coulee
  • West Fork
  • Black Earth

Suggested Patterns

The suggested patterns are listed in order of my personal preference, your personal favorites may vary. Sparkle duns are a favorite for slow to get off the water mayflies such as Hendricksons and for heavy hatches such as the Sulphurs and BWO's. Parachutes are a favorite low light and slightly broken water fly. The thorax tie is a favorite of mine when a near exact imitation is needed and they also are easier to tie in the small sizes so often needed in Wisconsin. The Catskill style is normally reserved for larger flies and is largely ignored now days though it is still an excellent series of flies. Spinners will occur for all hatches but some for some hatches, the spinner stage represents the bulk of the action.

Spring Creeks

This is only meant to list some of the more common spring creeks that these hatches occur on. You will notice that only a handful of streams are mentioned. These certainly are some of the most popular streams and represent some of the best fishing in Wisconsin (the Midwest, the U.S., maybe the world) but many other area streams contain the same hatches. It's your job to find them, I have friends who would have me killed if I gave up where streams like "Deliverance Creek" are located!!


Jason Freund1998, for Bob Blumreich and Silver Doctor Fly Fishing