Thursday, June 23, 2016

Western Yellow Drake Mayfly

Yellow Occi ~ Steven Bird
It’s good to be a Northern man enjoying a normal trout country June of mixed sun & cloud with temperatures hovering in the seventies. The kind of weather that brings up good mayfly hatches. Can’t remember seeing March browns as thick as they are this season. It’s been about fifteen years since an upstream smelter quit dumping toxic waste into my home water, & mayflies, & mayfly species, are on the increase. And a new one this year, when, suddenly, Siphlonurus occidentalis (Gray Drake or Yellow Drake) put in a surprise appearance, hatching in strong numbers, early to late evening. A happy occurrence, turns out.

Depending on location, adults may be gray or yellow. The elegant UC dun is buttery-yellow all over, with long, light gray wings. The bodies are long & slender; fairly replicated dressed on a #12 TMC 200R, or other 3x-long hook. To avoid confusion with the more widespread Eastern yellow drake (Ephemera varia), & the gray mode of the same species, I’ve dubbed the local model ‘yellow occi’.  

Though not as widespread as its East/Midwest cousin, the western yellow drake does produce major, long-duration hatches on certain Columbia tributaries, as well, apparently, as the Columbia/American Reach mainstem. Like the eastern model, yellow occi is long on the water, spindly & easily tumbled – & for that reason, as well as the ease a wetfly affords in fishing near-dark until dark when these mayflies are most prevalent, I’ve found the wet version fairly handy.

Yellow Occi

Hook: #12 TMC 200R

Thread: yellow UNI 8/0

Tails: barred lemon wood duck

Body: blend 3 equal parts Wapsi Superfine sulfur yellow; creamy-yellow poly yarn; bright yellow poly yarn – dubbed on a loop of the tying thread

Wing: pearl-gray calf tail  

Hackle: yellow hen

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