The Flies of March

by David Hulsey

Warmer March winds usher in some of the sweetest first gifts of the year if you are a fly fisher. All winter long we’ve been pulling big streamers and plowing furrows in the riverbeds with grossly over-weighted Stonefly and Caddis nymphs. Then, finally on the early days of the month, we pull up to the river to find huge clouds of Black Caddis swarming upstream going God only knows where. In a rush, we assemble our fly rod, and of course missing a guide or two, tie on a black Elk Hair Caddis and proceed to flog the water for an hour without so much as a look from a trout! I’ve been there done that. A few splashy rises are about and maybe the light bulb finally switches on that the fish are only interested in the emerging or the descending Brachycentrus Caddis. During these first cool days of March, a small flashy Black Soft Hackle bout a size 16 swung and tantalizingly twitched down and across stream can be a killer.

Along about the middle of the month, gargantuan Quill Gordon Mayflies start hatching and showing up on most freestone streams here in the Georgia Mountains and the forgotten far west of North Carolina. After squinting all winter trying to see sporadic hatches of tiny Black Midges and itty bitty Blue Winged Olives on the water, the big size 12 and 14 flies are a sight for old sore eyes. They are easy pickings for the trout, and they do not hesitate to slurp down these steely gray beauties. The first Quill Gordon fly pattern originated by Theodore Gordon in the famed Catskill Region of New York, is still probably the best imitation to fool early spring rising trout.

Along about the end of March if it’s warm, another big juicy bug, the March Brown Mayfly, starts showing up on our waterways. It’s a large beautiful creature, and the imitations can be seen from afar. A lot of times both the Quill Gordon and the March Brown hatches can overlap and run into April. When this happens it’s truly can be magical. The March Brown is about a size 14 with a light brown or tan abdomen. This must be a good target for a trout because of the way a lightning fast rainbow will blast them. Again, the Catskill tie of this fly seems to be the most effective version to use at this time of year.

If you want to get into some of this early season action check out our website at to book a trip. Or if you want to have a chance at a true trophy rainbow or brown trout contact us at With over two miles of the most fertile freestone stream in Georgia, plan an early season outing and give the Flies of March a shot!