Friday, May 22, 2009

Kelts and Caddis

Holding on to the last good days of Steelhead fishing before heading to the John Day River for bass, we enjoyed another day of great company and fishing on the Sandy. October Caddis covered rocks along the banks in the early morning. Caddis belong to the family Dicosmoecus. They range from California to Alaska. The larva of these giant caddis build tube-like cases. During the winter months when the larva are tiny, these cases are made from vegetable matter attached to a foundation of silk. As the larva grows in size through the spring months they abruptly switch to cases made from small gravel. You can observe these larvae crawling around on the streambed dragging their cases with them as the forage for algae and decaying plant and animal matter. During the the summer months of June and July Dicosmoecus larvae are important trout foods. Daily behavioral drift cycles occur in the early afternoon, usually peaking about 4:00 P.M. They are one of the few families of caddis that leave their cases before behavioral drift cycles. This makes them extremely enticing to large trout. In August these larvae seal themselves in their cases and by September they are ready to emerge as adults.
Emergence occurs from late afternoon until dark. The pupae usually swim and crawl to shallow water, but some emerge mid-river. Many actually crawl from the water to hatch on rocks along the shore. Even when adults are not active, you can tell if October Caddis have been hatching by observing their shucks on stream margin rocks. Seeing Caddis along the banks is a sign of a health river.

Mid morning Marty tailed a beautiful kelt for me. When fishing for the income summer fish there is a chance of hooking a strong kelt making its way to the ocean. Handle these fish with care and keep them in the water, this is the future return.