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by Steve McCadams

 They ought to change the name from Mayfly to Junefly or Julyfly. Around the lakes of Tennessee the peak of the hatches occur long after the month of May has come and gone.

 Welcome to fishing's finest hour. Millions of tiny mayflies appear from out of the blue and literally every specie of fish benefits from this natural buffet. From bluegill to bass, everyone seems to belly up to the bar and partake of these abundant morsels that fall from the overhanging trees and bushes.

 Kentucky Lake has long been a great place for experiencing the joys of a feeding frenzy when mayflies hatch. There are a lot of lakes across Tennessee that share the same high.

 Perhaps no method or technique is more enjoyable than that of the fly rod. Like an artist at work, each cast commands the skill and attention, as does that of the painter's brush. Make a bad stroke and you're in trouble. It's either a snag of no fish. Either way, it's unproductive.

 Seeing bluegill and bass erupt to strike a popping bug that has gently arrived beneath the shade of a willow is a sight for sore eyes. Just the finesse of working the long line and making a deposit with the artificial bug is a display of talent and skill.

 Most anglers choose to use not only a floating popping bug on a long monofilament leader but also tie a slow, sinking nymph some 12 to 18 inches behind. With the popper up ring and a submerged bug behind, the combo is deadly.

 Fly rod enthusiasts will find the action about as fast as they want it to be. It's easy to catch more fish than you care to clean. It's a prime time for catch and release.

 Mayfly hatches have already been underway on Kentucky Lake and should continue throughout July and into early August.

 Adult flies cling to any overhanging trees and after a day or so begin falling off into the water. Birds of all kinds also join in to feed off these natural phenomena and in the process shake the limbs and send flies spilling into the lake.

 Fish have the birds and windy days to thank for helping send the flies to the lake surface where it's a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't, scenario.

 He who hesitates is lost. That's why the bluegill strike the fly as soon as it touches the water. Competition is stiff so they waste no time in gobbling up the morsel.

 From the lake bottom comes the larva stage of the mayfly. Triggered by the warmer weather, rising surface temperatures and other factors known only to Mother Nature, the larva wiggle from the substrate and emerge, leaving a floating husk on the lake surface.

 The adult takes to the air for a short life span that may last only a day or two. Once in flight the adults mate and eggs are dropped into the water where they may lay dormant for long period of time.

 Meanwhile, other anglers have learned to take advantage of the summer seasonal patterns where currents wash flies or larva against banks or submerged sandbars, It is here where hefty largemouth or illusive smallmouth can be found.

 Catfish and crappie feed off the larva too. And, sometimes the crappie are tough to catch for sport fishermen using a single hook and minnow rig. It's tough competition when nature sends a million baits in which to feed her fish and you're sitting out on the lake with one in hand hoping to get a strike.

 Perhaps it's the panfish that benefit most, namely bluegill. While a lot of long eared sunfish, pumpkinseed and others are on hand, some hefty bluegill can be taken.

 Other popular techniques, such as casting ultra-light and light spinning tackle work great. Tossing lures like a small rooster tail, mepps spinner or a beetle spin can be deadly. Back to back success is the ticket. Fish after fish will jump on the little lures and send you a thrill.

 Not to be forgotten is the use of crickets on small bobbers or tightlined. It's a deadly bait but expect to use a lot as these finicky panfish are masters of deception, stealing bait after bait before getting the hook.

 Look for some great action in the weeks ahead as the main river islands and steep banks on the main lake shoreline offer the best bets for success. Early morning and late afternoon seem to see increased mayfly activity.

 If you've never witnessed a feeding frenzy beneath the spell of a mayfly hatch then grab a youngster and head out. It's a great way to introduce someone to the sport while keeping even the veteran anglers amused as well. After all, catching fish stills brings out the kind in all of us and there's no better way or time than during the summer season and mayfly madness.

Steve McCadams
  is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area and host of The Outdoor Channel's television series  IN-PURSUIT. 




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