In the mountains of the West, winter turns to spring in a hurry. Dark, snowy days quietly fade away and, before you know it, you’re becoming increasingly fixated on the what’s to come. It’s not a question of “if” instead it’s an obsessive speculation of “when” and “how”.
You begin to monitor the flows and snowpack with an alarming compulsivity. You call and text your fishing buddies daily, asking them if they’ve seen anything yet, or probe for beta on how it’s looking down the canyon. “Not a thing, man,” they answer, “crushed ‘em under a bobber but haven’t seen anything flying around.” It might not be here yet, but you know it’s right around the corner.
The anticipation is growing, and you can’t take it any longer. You pick up your phone, recruit a couple of buddies, grab your gear and head to the river. On the way to the boat ramp, you talk about the past and you can’t help but wonder what it’ll be like this year. Too much runoff and the river will be flooded and brown, making it hard for the fish to see. Last winter was a dry one, though, and rivers across the state are flowing low and clear. It seems like the stars have aligned and you hope they stay that way for at least a little while longer.
After a long drive down a dusty road, you make it to the ramp and prepare the boat for a long float. Then, just as you heave a loaded cooler over the gunnel, it happens. You feel the first one before you see it; a gentle crash on the back of your neck and then the unmistakable sensation of insect feet dancing on your skin. A smile creeps across your face as you reach back and pluck a giant, slate-and-orange bug from the collar of your shirt. You look up and see dozens of them flying overhead, their dual pairs of wings keeping them aloft like a miniature squadron of Chinook helicopters.
The day on the water is an exceptionally good one. You can’t seem to lose that cheeky grin you’ve had since the first bug appeared. You think about the fact that the hatch will be popping up on a number of different rivers over the course of the next few weeks.
Simultaneously, you think about the fact that you’re about to drop everything so you can make your way to each of them. Beers and high fives near the take-out punctuate what is sure to be just the beginning of something very special. Everyone smiles in anticipation for the adventure the coming weeks will bring. “The wait is over, boys;” you say to your friends, “the hatch is finally here.”
Born and raised in the Midwest, Mark Rauschenberger honed his writing skills at The Ohio State University while simultaneously honing his fly fishing skills chasing smallmouth on the Scioto River. He moved west nearly a decade ago and now works as a contributing writer to a number of fly fishing and ski publications. When he’s not hunched over his laptop with a cup of espresso, you’ll likely find Mark with his fiancé, Claudia, exploring new water throughout Colorado and Wyoming on their never-ending pursuit of the next greatest destination.