The Fly Fishing Hertiage and Stream Ecology in The World
Eugene P. Macri Jr.

Fly Fishing and Stream Ecology Vince Marinaro on the Letort from

Many citizens have questioned the links between stream ecology and fly fishing.  Well there are many reason for this "holy or unholy alliance" depending upon your view point.  The first one seldom mentioned is that many early biologists and scientists that studied streams were fly fishermen.  These include James Needham and his son Paul Needham.  They were instrumental in their studies of aquatic insects, rivers and fisheries. They published hundreds of papers on the subjects. Even today aquatic scientists often become interested in theses subjects when they are young and begin fishing.

As a kid turning over rocks in a stream I wanted to know what those critters were in the stream.  As one graduates into the realms of fly fishing it becomes a natural order.  The famed aquatic science book, Ecology of Running Water by Hynes is said to be in the hands of more fly fishermen than biologists!

Mayfly Nymph Ephemera from Fly Fishing Heritage and Stream Ecology at www.riverscientist

It's natural for fly fishermen to want to know about the insects, the streams, and the environment because it affects their fishing. Many of the modern aquatic entomology manuals and aquatic science books are purchased by fly anglers and this greatly expands a rather small market.  Many years ago I was working on the famed White Fly Hatch, Ephron leukon on the Yellow Breeches near Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania.  It was in mid August and I was collecting nymphs.  Three young boys approached me all around the age of 12.  They wanted to know what I was doing.  I explained what type of scientist I was and what I was doing. One of their mothers came down to the stream and asked if they were bothering me. "No, I said..their getting a lesson in stream biology."  She said, "That's good because they go back to school next week."  Over the next few hours the boys helped me collect nymphs. I gave each of them a number of vials with insects in alcohol and identifications. I told them when they get back to school and teacher wants to know what they did that summer....hit her with the insects and give the class a little lesson.  Maybe one of those boys became scientist! I hope so.

The macroinvertebrates in a stream tell a story for both the biologist and fly fisherman.  They are the best indicators of the stream's health. The fly fisherman and the biologist can both benefit from this alliance since many fly anglers are on the stream and can observe and collect things when scientists cannot.


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