Stoneflies and Michigan Trout

Stoneflies make easy meals for Michigan brown trout

One of the bugs that I’m falling more and more in love with for Michigan trout is the stone-fly.  With so many species of stone-flies in Michigan rivers, trout are very accustom to seeing and feeding on stones.  While michigan does not get the notoriety of having a “salmon stone-fly hatch” like some of western rivers.  Here in Michigan we do have plenty of stones, and as an angler we need to have a little understanding of the what’s, where’s, and when’s of this big morsel.
One of the biggest misperception of stone-fly nymphs is that they are not very active swimmers.  Actually the only stone-fly that curls up in the fetal position is the Pteronarcys.  The Pteronarcys is the big boy that we have all read about.  But unlike the Pteronarcys all other stone-fly nymphs are great swimmers, their wiggle like swimming motion pulsates them threw the current.  Letting them move around and feed and find shelter.  Now they do not dart around like sculpins or black nosed dace.  But there is no need to dead drift most stone-flies.
Most definitely my favorite stone is the Golden Stones or Paragetina, which run size #6-8, and are very common in the Upper Manistee river.  These yellow to olive colored stones can be found in gravel runs, on downed wood, and are found in a variety of water conditions.  Making them very easy to target in the nymph or dry fly phase.
Understanding that stones are always in our rivers lets us know that trout are used to feeding on them, but May and June you should really take notice as they stones start to crawl around even more and become active, as it’s time for them to emerge.  Stones are crawlers, you will find them on random stumps and logs near river banks.  When you don’t see fish rising in early season to Hendrickson’s or Black Caddis don’t be afraid to put on a stone!

A big meal that is easy to fish


5 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    Some useful information there Jon. Surpisingly black stones work well in warm still waters too.

  2. Brian Koz
    Brian Koz says:

    I am familiar with the Ptarynarcys, but don't know the family of 'paragetina', perhaps the perlodidiae or Perlid family? please help.
    Koz

  3. Jon Ray
    Jon Ray says:

    Brian,
    Golden Stone as I know them are the most common on the manistee. Ann Miller helped me with the latin term, Paragetina. These stones are about an inch to an inch and half. They are bigger than the yellow sally we see in the next week or two. Great nymph to fish when nothing else is going, in the Bear you might want to look for the Medium Brown Stonefly Isogenoides, hatching April-June, size #6-8 they love really cold fast water says Miller.

  4. Sean Hickey
    Sean Hickey says:

    Been playing around with my own stone patterns that aren't such a pain to tie. This is validation that I need them for more than just steelhead season!

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