Interesting Things I’ve Encountered While Fly Fishing
September 4th, 2023
When you spend as much time fly fishing as I do, you’ll inevitably see some pretty interesting things in nature.
This article (the first of several) will act as a repository for the pictures and videos I’m able to take of these types of unique encounters throughout the years.
And with that, let’s get started!
White-lined Sphinx Moth
One day in early September while standing in a river scouting for trout rises, I noticed a really big insect fall out of an overhanging tree and plop onto the water’s surface.
My curiosity was piqued, so I waded over and picked it up for a closer look.
After some subsequent research, it turns out it was a White-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata). They can hover like hummingbirds and drink nectar from flowers. Pretty cool insect.
After snapping a few pictures and taking in its impressive appearance, I let it continue drifting downstream. Why didn’t I place it safely onto the shoreline? Because I wanted to see a big trout inhale it.
But, as I watched the giant piece of protein drift downriver, nothing touched it. It was so big I could still see it 50+ yards away, but nothing ate it.
My guess is it ended up escaping into the shoreline vegetation around the bend.
A Coyote that didn’t notice me
It was the Friday before Labor Day and I was standing in a river hunting for rises. Despite being beautifully overcast, it was a slow fishing day with no hatch. So, I was noticing the things around me more than I ordinarily would have.
I noticed a coyote out of the corner of my eye, but I could see it hadn’t seen me. It was sniffing around the dirt and vegetation, looking for food I’d imagine. Every so often the people setting up camp a few hundred yards downriver would make noise, at which time the coyote would stop, raise its head, and listen.
Eventually it looked right at me, we locked eyes, and it decided it was time to head out. You can see this happen in the above video I took of the encounter.
A Mantis Ooth
This is a praying mantis egg case containing 100+ baby mantids. It’s technically called an “ooth” and I see them occasionally in seemingly random spots.
They’re tough to detach, but if you can manage it, the babies will hatch a few weeks later. They are, of course, adorable.
Growing up in the midwest, we never saw mantises in the wild. I figured they were an exotic species only found in far away jungles.
That is, until I was golfing with my uncle in Northern California. He noticed something, bent over, and picked up an adult praying mantis. I couldn’t believe it.
The Bear Tunnel
I used to fly fish in a mountainous area where I could reach my targeted waters in one of two ways: either take a row boat across a giant pool, or climb through the “bear tunnel.”
In the above video, I take you through the tunnel and show you the other side.
It’s fun during daylight hours, and less so at night.
But, it’s quicker than rowing a boat, so it was what I usually opted for when fishing in those secluded areas for rainbow trout.
An Alligator approaches me
In the above picture you can see an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) that’s camped out right next to my position on the shoreline.
My streamer had gotten caught on a clump of surprisingly tough weeds/brush, and the commotion brought the gator right to my spot. The gator had slowly moved from the middle of the marsh to just a few feet away from where I was casting.
This was in southern Louisiana.
Eventually I pulled my streamer loose, but the gator didn’t move. I kept casting, but the gator stayed put.
Ever Seen a Buzzing Cicada?
One day while I was fly fishing at a reservoir during the summer, I heard a cicada buzzing nearby. We’re talking just a few feet away. I put my rod down and closed in on the loud insect. Most people have never seen one up close.
In the above video, you can see what a cicada looks like. I find them fascinating. If you haven’t read about their life cycle, you owe it to yourself to spend a few minutes reading about it. It’s insane.
Mormon cricket invasion
Mormon crickets (Anabrus simplex) are gigantic insects. They’re just huge.
If you’ve never seen one in person, you may initially be repulsed by their size and numbers. They live out west, and seem to appear in large migrations where they cover the road.
I was driving along the shoreline of a reservoir and saw innumberable mormon crickets crossing the road. I had to stop and take a picture.
The cricket in the above picture has a body (not including the legs) that’s a full 2-inches long.
Otters showing me up
If you’re a fly angler, you know that otters can (somehow) catch trout seemingly at will. They’ll also spook every fish in the vicinity.
If you see otters, either scare them away quickly, or move to a new section of river.
In the above video, I was fly fishing for rainbows in a mountain stream and for some reason the bite had turned off like a light. Within minutes, I had my answer.
These otters were hunting the pool as a team. Coincidentally, the main otter in the video was eating the biggest trout I’d ever seen in this small stream.
A giant bee hive
I came across this seemingly defunct bee hive while fly fishing a desert river.
It seems like I don’t see big bee hives very often, so I thought it was picture worthy. I didn’t notice any actual bees buzzing around, but that was probably due to it being fall.
This article is the first of several, and it was a little insect-heavy, but I hope you enjoyed it. I’ve already created the second installment which you can find here.
I’ll continue to document interesting things I come across while fly fishing. In fact, here’s a link to the second installment of this series.
About the Author
My name's Sam and I'm a fly fishing enthusiast just like you. I get out onto the water 80+ times each year, whether it's blazing hot or snow is falling. I enjoy chasing everything from brown trout to carp, and exploring new waters is something I savor. My goal is to discover something new each time I hit the water. Along those lines, I record everything I learn in my fly fishing journal so I can share it with you.