October 26, 2014

How-To guides for The River's Calendar

We have a slew of documents that offer tips on all aspects of the River’s Calendar project.
If you have questions about

  • Recording observations in the field, collecting specimens and taking photos;
  • Identifying specimens;
  • Using photos with the Rivers Calendar and iNaturalist;
  • Entering observations in the iNaturalist Rivers’ Calendar project; reviewing your own or others’ observations on iNaturalist;
  • Field guides to selected aquatic insects in Oregon and Massachusetts (will also work for areas near these 2 states);

we have answers for you. A two-page primer gives summary advice on all of these, and more detailed instructions on each are available from the www.riverscalendar.org web site, on the Getting Started page: http://riverscalendar.drupalgardens.com/content/rivers-calendar-starter-kit

Download these documents, take a look, try them out, and send us your comments and questions – what works, what doesn’t, what’s missing, etc.


Posted on October 26, 2014 17:14 by jerry2000 jerry2000 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 05, 2014

Mayflies in a hurry

I guess when you live the short life of an Ephemeroptera, you don't want to waste any time getting started.

Check out this video of mayfly eggs hatching within a minute after being laid - courtesy of the Stroud Water Research Center, video credit David H. Funk.


They're not all as fast as this species, Cloeon cognatum. It's more common for mayflies to take weeks or months to hatch from egg to larval stage.

Posted on August 05, 2014 21:10 by jerry2000 jerry2000 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 28, 2014

Indian Hollow Weekend - lots of water, lots of bugs

The Massachusetts / Rhode Island Council of Trout Unlimited held its annual camping weekend at Indian Hollow campground on the Westfield River, East Branch, May 16 - 18.

Several of us took advantage of the high water (courtesy of torrential downpours Friday evening) and eschewed fishing. We collected bugs instead, nymphs and adults. To download Mike Cole's report of what we found, complete with a species list (22 different nymphs, 5 adult species - not including an unidentified size 18 mayfly spinner not on the list), open this link .

The report contains photos of a number of the specimens. One species of particular interest was Cynigmula subaequalis - sometimes called dark red quill, or small quill gordon. A picture of the nymph.

These were found in good numbers, suggesting a decent hatch in the days or weeks ahead. If true, this might be considered a Westfield specialty. According to Troutnut.com and other fishing/entomology sites, the best Cinygmula hatches (which are pretty uncommon) occur in the west. Subaequalis is the only eastern Cynigmula species, of which Troutnut says "It may produce fishable hatches in places, but it is not a generally important mayfly." So - be on the lookout for a size 16 or so, reddish/brown mayfly, 2 tails.

Also seen in good numbers, and a sign of better fishing to come, were mature Maccaffertium vicarium (March brown) nymphs. None were seen in the air, which is a contrast to last year's Indian Hollow event, May 17-19, when Gary Metras collected several adult March browns.

As far as the adults go, Brachycentrus (apple caddis) was the star of the day, if we're counting by numbers. By late afternoon Saturday, hordes of them were flying above the water, apparently ovipositing, as this picture suggests. Green eggs and ham, anyone?

On Monday, May 12, I fished the Westfield for several hours, in the stretch below Chesterfield Gorge. I saw only one caddis all day. But on the same date in 2011, fishing with friends, we ran into an apple caddis hatch quite similar to what we saw this Saturday - a few coming off in the early afternoon, with numbers increasing to prolific status by 5 or 6 PM.

Posted on May 28, 2014 20:42 by jerry2000 jerry2000 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 18, 2014

A tale of two stoneflies

I suppose I could title this post A winter’s tale. Or perhaps Winters’ tails.

There are two stoneflies that make their appearance in Massachusetts in the winter and early spring, both of which bespeak of winter in their common name. The small winter stonefly, (a.k.a. snowfly, family Capniidae), has been seen by River’s Calendar members as early as February 10 in this and in past years. The ones we’ve seen range in size from 4-6 millimeter, or approximate hook sizes #18 – 22. The females appear to be larger than the males. Males can have rather short wings, some not quite extending to the end of their abdomens. Capniidae are quite thin, body and wing.

The winter stonefly (a.k.a. willow fly or early brown stonefly, family Taeniopterygidae) may emerge a little later than Capniidae – we’ve seen them March into April. These run a little larger; 6-7 millimeters, or size #16-18.

In trying to tell these two apart, time of year and size can help, but there is some overlap in both. A close look at tails and wings can help.

If you see tails extending well beyond the wing, it’s likely a Capniidae.

At least some of the Taenipterygidae have wings that are slightly club shaped, like a bowling pin; they get wider towards the tail end. But a better diagnostic cue is the pattern on the wings. Taenipterygidae have two rows of veins that are more or less parallel, with cross veins that look like rungs on a ladder. These are seen close to the base of the wings. The wings on Capniidae don’t exhibit this pattern. They veins are less neatly organized.

Here’s a photo that illustrates these properties - tails, shape and pattern of the wings. Taeniopterygidae on top, Capniidae on the bottom. Note these are not to scale. The Capniidae was the smaller of the two specimens.

I had thought that neither of these stoneflies seem to be important to fish, at least not in their adult form. The high and cold water conditions generally found at this time of year aren't conducive to rising trout. However, as Dan mentions in a comment below, fish will rise to them under some conditions. Dan, were the stoneflies in the trout stomach adults? Has anyone else had experience of fish rising to these flies?

Posted on April 18, 2014 18:59 by jerry2000 jerry2000 | 3 comments | Leave a comment

March 23, 2014

Thoreau and early season stoneflies

Henry Thoreau's journal of March 24, 1857, in which he describes a paddle up the the Assabet River (which runs through Concord, MA), includes this entry:

"I see many of those narrow four-winged insects (perla?) of the ice now fluttering on the water like ephemerae. They have two pairs of wings indistinctly spotted dark and light."

Did he mean the genus Perla, one of several in the Perlidae (golden stonefly) family, or did he use "perla" as a generic term for stonelfies? Throughout his diaries, Thoreau uses a variety of common terms for various plant and animal species that may be confusing to modern readers. In the same diary entry, for instance, he mentions a fish hawk (osprey) and a striped squirrel (chipmunk).

It's possible that what he saw was one of the winter stoneflies - Capniidae or Taeniopterygidae - both of which fit the description of narrow (and 4 winged) insects, may be out this time of year, and are commonly found on snow or ice. The description of a spotted wing may be a bit misleading. Here are examples of adults of

genus Perla (from the UK)

Capniidae (western MA)

and Taeniopterygidae (I think - from western MA)

Thoreau didn't offer any information about the size of the insects he saw. Nor did he mention whether any fish were rising.
Perhaps he didn't want the word to get out.

Posted on March 23, 2014 16:41 by jerry2000 jerry2000 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 06, 2014

2014 - new arrivals

In New England, some of the first emergers of the year show up in mid to late February. Two years ago, we observed stoneflies on the Swift River as early as February 14. This year, similar reports have come in from the Swift, and observations of little winter stoneflies (probably Capniidae family) were recorded for the Hoosic River (Williamstown, MA) on February 22 (with earlier anecdotal reports), and near the mouth of Hop Brook, on Quabbin Reservoir on March 2. The critters don't seem at all fazed by the foot or more of snow that covered the ground, right to the riverbanks. As the Hoosic River 2/22/14 images show (check the observations pages), they were quite active; mating and producing eggs.

Posted on March 06, 2014 20:13 by jerry2000 jerry2000 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 15, 2013

Late season cahills

A cream or yellowish Cahill mayfly (size #14 or #16) has been appearing on several Massachusetts streams this fall. Most likely a Maccaffertium of some sort, this fly has been seen on the Swift River as early as mid July this year, and as late as December 3 last year.

They never appear in great numbers (not to my knowledge, anyway), and spinners are seen more often than duns. The females seem to lay eggs by bouncing onto the water surface several times.

Here's a spinner from the Swift River, October 11:

A dun from the Deerfield River on September 26:

And a dun from the Millers River September 20: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/416743

Posted on October 15, 2013 20:09 by jerry2000 jerry2000 | 0 comments | Leave a comment