Virginia fly fishing hatch chart

Virginia fly fishing hatch chart DEFAULT

West Virginia

"West Virginia Natives" by Dylan Roy a fly fishing narrative of West Virginia's backcountry mountains, creeks, and streams.

When talking about native brooke trout, the quaint mountain streams of the West Virginia mountains are often one of the first places to be brought up. Fly anglers from all over the nation make thier way here to chase the elusive species. The native brookies are found within the thousands of small streams between the hills, hollers, and mountains of the great state; most being barely wide enough to spit across. While they lack in size, the vast numbers of the little guys within some of these mountain streams is nothing short of astounding.

Before West Virginia became a haven for natural resources, the species thrived in practically every small waterway that held water year round. However, ever since the state became recognized for it's coal and timber potential in the late 1800's, thousand's of these thriving streams became sterile of the fragile species. As both industries grew and grew, the brookes containing the native trout grew fewer and fewer. Coal mining rose the acid levels of the small streams while timbering eliminated much of the streams' natural cover; resulting in a rise in water temperatures due to more of an exposure to direct sun light. These issues were ignored for several years; nearly driving the brookies out of the state. However, the formation of state and national parks and forests provided a safe haven for the fragile species. This, paired with Trout Unlimited's efforts of liming the streams and other resrtoration attempts, have assured a spot for the brooke trout within the state's ecosystem- at least for now.

There's something mesmerizing about this tiny fish, as in all trout. However, that mesmerization of the native brook trout is stronger than any other catch I've found yet. An experienced angler, when at the right place under the right conditions, can catch 70 or 80 of them within the span of an afternoon. They're not finicky by any means; striking almost anything they can fit in their mouths (as long as it's decently presented). However, there is a great amount of stealth involved when targeting them; more so than other species under other conditions. It's important to wear a color of clothing that clashes with the surrounding environment and move slowly and low to the ground; otherwise, they'll dart before you even get a fly wet. Their notion to dart at the slightest ripple and desire for a very well presented fly are the only things that keep the angler from catching one on every cast. The average catch, for most streams, is probably between 3-4 inches with a "trophy" being somewhere in the 8 inch range.

All of this makes you wonder: "What's so good about catching these things?". Honestly, if anybody truly wanted to catch a bunch of 2-3 inch fish, they wouldn't have to look much farther than they're closest creek. I don't know of many people who don't have an abundant source of bluegill or small bass within a few miles of their own home. So, what drives people to travel hours from home to fish tiny streams, creeks, and brookes in West Virgina, of all places? Well, the only explanation I have is the one of a kind experience you get out of doing it.

In doing this, you'll get to experience a number of sights and ventures that are unique only to this great state. In my opinion, it's worth coming here just for the drive through; even if you don't get out of the car, you'll experience some scenery that's downright gorgeous, and that's coming from somebody that's lived there his whole life. Driving miles down an old gravel road in the Monongahela National Forest, only to find a small stream to hike along for another 10 miles, provides an uncommon bond between you and the surrounding nature; one making it seem as if you're traveling uncharted ground. I've traveled, hiked, and fished some fairly remote places (in today's standards), and haven't found any place else that provides such a surreal feeling. This feeling, and the gratitude of catching and releasing a small, fragile piece of West Virginia's most natural and one of a kind species, is what it's all about.

Like I said, it's a one of a kind thing that can't be experienced elsewhere; you just won't understand until you try it. I know experienced guides and normal fisherman alike who spend the vast majority of their time on big water, chasing 24 inch browns and rainbows. While everyone can agree pursuing the larger fish is about as much fun someone can have, many agree that some of their favorite adventures have been spent in the bottom of a steep holler, dodging the rattlesnakes, battling the treacherous terrain, and hiking miles away from any one-way gravel road, all in the name of catching a few 2-3 inch brookies. That, I guess, is my best explanation to why myself and other anglers find enjoyment in pursuing the tiny species of trout that call the cold mountain brookes of West Virginia its home. Click the links on the left to see some of our favorite places to fish.

Rivers of Note: The Elk River, Second Creek, North Fork Cherry, The Cranberry River


    Virginia Fly Fishing

    Thanks to its location, Virginia is a wildly popular state not just to live in, but also to visit. There is just so much that attracts people to the state, and its outdoor recreational activities are one of those top reasons. Although it hasn't always been the case, Virginia is now becoming quite popular for fly fishing. Anglers love the fact they can find a true challenge here, and take on water that will push their skills.

    The sport is becoming so popular that there is now an annual Fly Fishing Festival. This festival takes place in April, and may be what you want to plan your trip around. This festival has grown to be so popular, and large, that it is now one of the largest fly fishing festivals in the U.S. today.

    This guide is dedicated to all things fly fishing in the state of Virginia. We will explore some of the top locations, take a look at the fly fishing season, hatches, and even the gear you’ll want to bring along. So sit back, relax, and learn what this beautiful state has to offer.

    Virginia Trout Fishing Map

    Best Places to Fly Fish in Virginia

    Virginia’s varied terrain is absolutely perfect for those looking to do a little fly fishing. Not only can you find a variety of locations scattered across the state, but they vary in skill level. You can choose to push your skills to the limit; or maybe you just want an easy go of it, where you can relax and reel in a number of fish with ease. Virginia has it all.

    According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, there are more than 2,900 miles worth of trout streams, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs you can explore. Within this area are 600 miles of stocked trout waters. Here’s a look at some of the most popular areas for fly fishing.

    Accotink Creek

    Accotink Creek is located near Annandale, and is ideal from March through to the end of November. Anglers can look forward to catching brown and rainbow trout. It is located fairly close to a major highway, which can be distracting for some. On the positive side, it means the location is very accessible by car. This location is perfect for a half-day or full-day experience.

    Lake Brittle

    Sometimes you don't want that small stream experience. If you're looking for a lake to enjoy, then Lake Brittle could be the answer. The lake is located near the city of Broken Hill, in Fauquier County. The season runs from May until November, giving you plenty of time to visit. The water here is a little warmer, which changes up the type of fish you'll find. Fish species in Lake Brittle are walleye, largemouth bass, and sunfish. It’s not the typical trout fishing that many other areas offer. If you're looking for the "quiet" time to visit the lake, weekdays are best. This little known lake gets next to no anglers during the week. The weekends attract some people, but it doesn't usually get crowded.

    Holmes Run

    Located near the city of Alexandria is Holmes Run. This is a very small, scenic, and quiet creek. The water from the creek flows from the Lake Barcroft dam. What's really unique about this creek is that it's not in some remote location. Instead, it's in the busy suburbs. You can easily escape to the creek for just a few hours of solitude and fishing. This is a perfect example of a creek that is stocked by the state. Twice a year the rainbow trout are stocked, which means a fairly simply fishing experience for you. Another great benefit with this creek is that it is open year-round for fishing. No time is a bad time for Holmes Run.

    Shenandoah River - South Fork

    The Shenandoah River - South Fork is one of the more popular options in Virginia. Anglers can expect to find a very healthy amount of smallmouth bass available, along with largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, muskellunge, common carp, and more. The catch-rate for the smallmouth bass in this river is higher than any other river in the state, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. With that said, you won't be catching the big trophy-sized fish here. As a side note the river is absolutely stunning as far as the scenery goes. You'll be in awe of the natural beauty surrounding you. This river can be enjoyed by float or by shore. Fishing is open year-round on the river. With that said, smallmouth bass has a shorter season that runs from April to September.

    Best Time for Fly Fishing in Virginia

    If you are fishing for trout in Virginia, then you will be able to do so all year long. With that said, there are limits set by the state. You won't be able to catch more than six trout per day. There is also a size restriction, as the trout can't be shorter than seven inches in length. It doesn't matter if you are fishing in stocked or wild trout streams; there is no low period.

    With that said, the summer months can prove to be a bit more challenging. During these months the water starts to heat up, and the water suffers from low stream flows. These factors play into how difficult it can be to catch the trout. You may find it takes a bit of research to find a good spot in summer. Experienced anglers probably won’t have many difficulties during these months. They will be able to adjust their technique accordingly in most cases.

    Virginia seems to hit that perfect balance in terms of weather. It never seems to get too cold, nor does it get too hot. Instead it's that "just right" temperature on a consistent basis. The summer months are warm and can get humid. Depending on the region, it can get as hot as 88 degrees in July. Meanwhile the winter temperatures in January can drop as low as 19 degrees. This is mainly in the northern area of the state. So what this tells anglers is that it’s going to be comfortable most of the year.

    It's always wise to familiarize yourself with a state's hatch chart before you pack your gear. In Virginia the best hatches takes place from about March until the end of October.

    Mayflies come off from March through the end of June. The stone fly and caddis fly hatches tend to take place from April until July, and again for September and October.

    Terrestrials appear from April until the end of October. Keep in mind, this when hatches typically occur, and some areas may be a few weeks earlier or later.

    Essential Fishing Gear

    In order to pick the best equipment, meaning your fly rod and reel, it’s important to determine where you’ll be fishing. Other factors to consider are the time of year, the hatches taking place, and the fish species you are fishing for.

    In general most experts would agree that choosing a fly rod that is between seven and a half and nine feet is ideal for Virginia waters. A five or six weight is usually as safe bet as well.

    If the area you are fishing in doesn’t offer much room for casting, you may need a shorter rod. This will give you a bit more control while casting.

    Whether you like floating, wading, or fishing on the shore the state of Virginia has all of the bases covered. You can pick and choose based on the style of fishing if you like. If you plan on doing any wading, be sure to pack a pair of high-quality, chest-high waders.

    Need Gear? 

    Below are recommendations for essential gear to make the most of your time on the water.

    Quality rod, reel, line and rod tube at a reasonable price. Backed by Orvis 25-yr guarantee, a brand you can trust.

    High performance nylon leader, great for fishing Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers.

    Rio Powerflex Tippet

    Excellent knot strength, stretch and suppleness make this the finest nylon tippet.  3-pack of the sizes you'll need the most.

    Simms Freestone Chest Waders

    Heavy duty, waterproof, yet breathable.  If you are tough on waders, these are for you. Backed by Simms Wader Warranty. If they leak, they got your back.

    Simms Freestone Wading Boots

    Most durable, yet comfortable, boot on the market.  Excellent foot and ankle support.  Great for rocky rivers. Lightweight and designed for all-day wear.

    Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS2 Chest Pack

    Sweet pack with ample storage. Unique harness system reduces neck strain. Sleek tapered face improves visibility - you can see your feet when wading!

    FishPond Nomad Native Net

    Durable and lightweight. The carbon fiber frame floats.  Hooks don't get stuck in the rubber mesh bag . Extra length makes it easier to net fish.  Simply the best nets on the market.

    Kingfisher Fly Fishing Box

    Tough, waterproof and priced right. Hold 900+ flies in slotted foam.  If you need more storage - you have too many flies!

    Umpqua River Grip Zinger/Nipper Combo

    Simple, sharp nippers at great price. Clip on retractor keeps this must have gear at your fingertips.

    Dr. Slick Spring Creek Pliers

    Strong with a fine tip. Perfect for removing split shot and hooks. Simply the best fishing pliers.

    Costa Del Mar Fantail Sunglasses

    The 580 Glass polarized lenses are super clear and somehow relaxing on the eyes.  Game changer.

    Note: DIY Fly Fishing earns a commission (at no cost to you) on sales made using the links above. Thank you for your support!

    Best Flies for Fly Fishing in Virginia

    When choosing your flies you want to try to match the hatch as experts put it. A good Virginia hatch chart will give you a pretty good idea of what is in season. 

    Visiting a local fly fishing shop can certainly be helpful in finding those perfect flies. A fly shop will carry what’s in season, what works in the region, and what is most popular with anglers.

    Need flies? 

    Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere.  Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box. 

    Dry Flies
    - Adams Dry Fly
    - Elk Hair Caddis
    - Blue Wing Olive
    - Royal Wulff
    - Griffith's Gnat White
    - Stimulator, Organge
    - Chernobyl Ant

    Nymphs/Wet Flies
    - Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
    - BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
    - BH Prince Nymph
    - BH Hare's Ear Nymph
    - Barr's Emerger Nymph
    - Zebra Midge Nymph, Black

    - Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
    - Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)

    Virginia Fishing Regulations

    Anyone who plans to fish in Virginia, and who is 16 years of age and older, requires a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident licenses available. Choose from a one-year or five-day license. For those who plan to hunt as well as fish, there is a combination license available. For information on licensing, as well as the regulations for fishing, you can visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

    Virginia Fly Fishing - What's Not to Love!

    Virginia is a state that is ready and waiting to welcome visitors and residents to its many fly fishing locations. You won’t be disappointed in the scenery, diversity of fish species, and the amount of ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers open for fishing.

    About the author

    Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

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    Virginia Fly Fishing

    Virginia is bordered by West Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia (across the Potomac River) to the north, by Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, by North Carolina and Tennessee to the south, and by Kentucky and West Virginia to the west. The Chesapeake Bay divides the state, with the eastern portion (called ‘the Eastern Shore of Virginia’), a part of the Delmarva Peninsula, completely separate (an exclave) from the rest of the state.

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    Mossy Creek – Located in Augusta County, Mossy Creek is Virginia’s premiere brown trout fishery. Ranging from 8-20 feet across, Mossy is a small limestone stream with slow moving and flat water. Known for its heavy vegetation and excellent but difficult year round fishing, Mossy Creek requires a private landowners’ pass that can be obtained free. Mossy Creek is a nice spring creek that flows north through the Shenandoah Valley and offers world-class fishing for huge brown trout.

    Mossy Creek, and nearby Smith Creek, carve their way through some of the most scenic country in the state and offer trout-fishing opportunities second to none. Mennonite farmers, still clinging to their centuries-old customs, own much of the land that these streams flow through and keep a tight grip on access. Some sections are leased by clubs and guides, but a three-mile piece of Mossy is open to the public through a cooperative effort between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and landowners. One-and-a-half miles of Smith Creek are open to the public under a similar agreement.

    Both streams are stocked annually with fingerling brown trout, but a private fish farm on the upper reaches of Smith Creek sometimes unintentionally adds good-sized rainbows to the mix in that water. On those sections off-limits to the public, clubs and guides stock a mix of browns and rainbows. Don’t be fooled, however. These fish revert to their wild, wary ways soon after they grow accustomed to their new surroundings, and become extremely difficult to catch.

    “You can catch fish out of Smith just about all year, but it does slow down in the winter. It has some freestone stream influence,” notes Billy Kingsley, owner of Harrisonburg, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Angler. “Mossy Creek remains good even in the coldest parts of winter. That’s why I think it’s better than Smith. It’s a true spring creek and stays at a constant temperature nearly all year.”

    Water temperatures in Mossy fluctuate only about four to six degrees throughout the year. Expect it to range between 52 and 58 degrees. In some sections, aquatic vegetation remains green and vibrant in the harshest part of winter.

    Kingsley also prefers Mossy because it is more fertile than Smith, which lies on the other side of the Valley. In other words, of the two, Mossy is Kingsley’s favorite. And thanks to tighter regulations, an angler has a good chance of doing battle with some monster brown trout in Mossy Creek. Five-pounders are common in the sections not open to the public, and biologists, as well as a few anglers, have landed fish up to seven pounds in the public stretch.

    Smith Creek, on the other hand, receives less pressure than its sister stream. Kingsley will seek refuge there if crowds become a factor on the public sections of Mossy.

    In those private areas open to the public on both streams, anglers are restricted to fly fishing tackle and single-hook, artificial lures only. The limit in Mossy is one fish per day over 20 inches; in Smith Creek, anglers may creel two fish per day over 16 inches. Most anglers, however, release all fish. Clubs and guides who lease parts of Mossy generally restrict their clients or members to fly fishing tackle and enforce a no-kill policy.

    Like any spring creek, the summertime vegetation can cause the best angler to chew his fingernails down to the nubs and pull his hair out by the roots. Both shoreline grass and aquatic vegetation are thick. Of course, that’s exactly what makes Mossy Creek so good. The fish have plenty of places to hide and insects are never in short supply. Watercress and elodea make up the bulk of the wet salad. Tall shoreline grass, weeds and crops planted near the water’s edge add to the mix and sometimes make casting a challenge.

    Livestock used to be a problem all along its course, but concerned anglers, VDGIF workers and landowners have erected exclusion fences. Now, cows are kept away from the streambanks.

    Fly Patterns
    Like fish in most other spring creeks, the trout in Mossy Creek are extremely fussy eaters. If it isn’t a near-perfect replica of the insect of the hour, they probably won’t touch it. Hatches are sometimes phenomenal, and the variety is staggering, but a few key patterns, used at the right times, will do the trick.

    In early spring (mid-March through April), size 18 blue-winged olive hatches are in steady supply and trout will rise even on the coldest days. Typically, hatches begin in the afternoon, but can occur throughout the day during warmer periods.

    “Actually, we have blue-winged olive hatches just about all year long,”noted Kingsley. “They are at their peak in early spring, however.”

    Sulphur hatches come on strong in April, with late afternoons and evenings the peak times. Spinner falls occur right before dark and dry-fly fishing is absolutely superb. Skilled anglers can catch one fish right after another during times of high fish activity.

    Try size 16 Compara-duns and sulphur duns, and as April fades into May, switch to size 18s. In mid-May, trico hatches begin and at times can blur your vision and cause difficult breathing.

    “I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve sucked in a trico or gotten them stuck in my eyes,” said Kingsley. “There are clouds of them up and down the river on calm mornings.”

    The hatches are short-lived, though. Be there from about 7:00 to 11:00 A.M. and use either a size-22 or -24 trico. Fortunately, they continue throughout the summer months and into autumn.

    As summer approaches, terrestrial action picks up. Thick shoreline grass and weeds produce an abundant supply of crickets, hoppers and beetles. Like any stream, this type of fishing is best on breezy days when insects are knocked into the water. A wide variety of patterns, including Japanese beetles, will work.

    The trico hatch continues into mid-October and blue-winged olives make another appearance in October and November.

    As the grass dies off and winter takes a firm grip on the region, switch to minnow- and crawfish-imitating patterns in sizes 4 through 8 and concentrate on undercut banks. That’s where the big browns like to hold and ambush passing prey. Zonkers and sculpin patterns also work well during the winter months.

    Fishing Access
    Anyone can fish the sections of Mossy and Smith Creek that are open to the public, but since they run through private land, anglers must have a written permission slip. They are available from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ office in Verona. Send a request, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Fisheries Division, P. O. Box 996, Verona, VA 24482. Simply ask for permission for both creeks, if you desire to fish them both.

    Private sections of both streams are open only to those with landowner permission, which is practically impossible to get. The better areas are leased to guides or clubs.

    Shenandoah National Forest Freestone Streams – A number of streams in the Shenandoah National Forest offer excellent winter, spring, and fall fishing. The summer months tend to dry up a number of the streams, however a hike further into the National Forest will usually produce good fishing in the summer months. Hip waders are recommended. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries maintains a habitat restoration and trout stocking program (visit the site for National Park information and Trout Stocking information).

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    By Bruce Ingram

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    A Lovely Day Enjoying Mossy Creek
    great photos and descriptions of day on Mossy Creek

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    A Winter Smorgasbord of Virginia Bassing
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    “explore fly fishing opportunities in Virginia and learn from those that fish here everyday”; a great site

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    Rifflle and Rise
    a website dedicated to fishing in Northern Virginia and Maryland
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    America’s largest estuary offers year-round light-tackle angling.

    Shenandoah River Smallmouths

    Smallmouth Action On The New River
    The New River below Claytor Lake Dam offers some of the best smallmouth action in the entire state. And spring is certainly prime time.

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    Murrays Fly Shop
    PO Box 156, 121 Main St. Edinburg, VA 22824 540-984-4212

    Anglers Lane
    P O Box 1265, Lynchburg, Virginia 24551-5265 434-385-0200

    The Anglers Lie
    2165 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia 22207 703-527-2524

    Mossy Creek
    40 Pine Ridge Lane Mt. Solon, VA 22843 540-350-4828

    The Trophy Room, LLC
    210 King Street, Alexandria, VA. 22301 703-837-8215

    Blue Ridge Angler
    1756 South Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 (540) 574-3474

    Mountain Sports, Ltd
    1021 Commonwealth Avenue, Bristol, VA. 276-466-8988

    Fly Fishing Flies Explained (Streamers, Nymphs, Dry Flies \u0026 More)
    Tiny & Early Stone (14-22)Dec - MarHatches all winter. Tiny-black, Early is BrownMidges (20-22)all winterUse Griffith Gnat or Cream MidgeBlue Quill (16-20)2/20 - 4/15Good hatches on So. Fork 4/16/02Early Tan Caddis2/20 – 4/15Can be a daily hatch on So. Fork, saw some 4/16/02Quill Gordon (12-14)3/20 – May 81st large mayfly! A few seen on Whitetop 5/07/02Isonychia (16-18)4/10 - 5/20Hatches also in Aug. on So Fork; swim the nymph!March Brown (12-14)4/15 - 5/10I catch more fish on MB nymph than the dryLittle Yellow Stonefly (16)4/15 - 8/1good all late spring/summer, some are lime or brownLight Cahill (16 - 18)4/25 - 6/25few seen on in high countryMother’s Day Caddis (14)5/1 - 5/20May 2002- slight hatch on Whitetop.Light Hendrickson (14)5/15 - 6/10I did not see many in 2002Sulphur Dun (16)5/15 - 6/30Has been our best mayfly hatch in recent timesEastern Green Drake (8-10)5/25 - 6/20The hatch on Whitetop Laurel began 05/14/02Giant Black Stonefly (10-12)6/1 - 7/25best in the evening, fish a StimulatorBlue Winged Olive (18)6/1 - 6/25The parachute is easier to see in the shadowsCrm,Brn, White Drake (10-14)6/25 - 7/25Notice King bird feeding on these in the So ForkCinnamon Sedge (12)9/20 – 10/30“Stickbait” caddis

    Hatch virginia chart fishing fly

    Hatch chart, mayfly chart, Virginia Fly Fishing in the Shenandoah Valley. Virginia fly fishing, Va Fly Fishing, Fly Fish Virginia, Virginia fly fishing with Wild Mountain Trout Fly Fishing.
    Hatch chart, mayfly chart, Virginia Fly Fishing in the Shenandoah Valley. Virginia fly fishing, Va Fly Fishing, Fly Fish Virginia, Virginia fly fishing with Wild Mountain Trout Fly Fishing.
    Hatch Charts for the Appalachian, Allegheny, Shenandoah Mountains as well as the Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway

    Hatches: The hatches above are for the Allegheny, Appalachian, Shenandoah Mountains as well as the Shenandoah National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway.NOTE: When a month is listed twice in the Hatch Chart, it represents the first half of the month followed by the second half.

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    Matching the Hatch for Big Trout

    Shenandoah Hatch Chart

    14-18FebruaryWoolly Buggers
    18-22MarchWoolly Buggers
    Quill Gordon
    14-16AprilWoolly Buggers
    Light Cahill
    Quill Gordon
    14-16MayBrown Drake
    Light Cahill
    Woolly Buggers16-18

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