"WHAT IS IT THAT CONFERS THE NOBLEST DELIGHT? What is that which swells a man's breast with great pride above which any other experience can bring him? Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have walked; that you are beholding in the human eye has not been seen before; that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere. To give birth to an idea, to a discovery of great thought-an intellectual nugget, right under the dust of a field that many a brain-plough had gone over before. To find a new planet, to invent a new hinge, to find a way to make the lightnings carry your messages. To be the first-that is the idea...." There are books so alive that you're always afraid that while you weren't reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on living too, and like a river moved on and moved away. No one has stepped twice into the same river. But did anyone ever step twice into the same book?

The Innocents Abroad (1869)

About our Name...
The king of upland game birds, the ruffed grouse, wears the scientific name Bonasa umbellus.
     Bonasa means "like a bison," and refers to the bird's drumming mating call sounding like a thundering herd of buffalo. Umbellus describes the umbrella-like Elizabethan ruff of black feathers around the bird's neck....

Hatches, Water, & Trout

Charles R. Meck

From the Introduction


Talk about getting down to someone’s level when you give a talk: Recently, I gave several talks to first graders about writing books and fly fishing. I showed them all the books I had written and I asked what the books had in common. Several youngsters eagerly raised their hands to blurt out that many of the books had the word “hatches” in their title. “Tell me what a hatch is?” I asked. Immediately, they said that it was a chick breaking out of an egg, which makes sense from a child’s point of view.

What I was really talking about, of course, was the insects that appear on the surface of a stream, river or lake, and often create trout feeding frenzies, the water boiling with the rises of fish slurping bugs from the surface. Not only aquatic insects—mayflies, caddis flies and stoneflies—but terrestrials (land borne insects) can also fall onto the water’s surface in heavy enough numbers to create a hatch. Anyone who has fished in late August can attest to the importance of the winged ant, for example. During August, this terrestrial often falls onto trout waters by the thousands and trout feed for hours on this bonanza. Caterpillars, ants, beetles, grasshoppers and plenty of other insects can bring trout to the surface.

When talking about hatches, I always liken a hatch and trout feeding on the insects to the artificial situation created in a trout hatchery. When fed pellets, trout often lose their timidity and feed voraciously. Add a good number of insects to a stream and the trout there do the same thing—they devour as many insects as they can while the hatch continues. On some streams, hatches don’t come along very often, so trout overeat to compensate for numerous barren days. The heavier and longer the hatch, the better your chances of catching trout. Yet hatches can be too heavy. I’ve seen Green Drakes, Brown Drakes, Hendricksons and many others on the water in numbers that dwarf the importance of your individual pattern. At times I’ve quit because I failed to compete for the trout’s attention with an imitation.

I have fished the hatches—actively hunting for them—for more than 35 years. The hatches and the waters that brought them to life have created many long-lasting, pleasant memories, ones that have stayed with me for decades, some for almost half a century.

I’ve shared many hatches with other anglers: I’ll never forget that early April day when several friends and I guided Dick Cheney and two of his aides on a small public stream. Or the time the fly fishing video director and producer called for me to catch a trout—immediately. Or the late season White Fly hatches that bring crowded angling—it often looks like opening day—well into the summer.

Experiencing some hatches, I’ve been alone, such as the fantastic hatch of Green Drakes that appeared on the surface upside down nearly 30 years ago. Or the first time I used a sunken Trico to imitate egg-laying spinners, a pattern that changed my way of fishing spinner falls forever. Then there’s the Green Drakes of the North and the giant brook trout that fed on them, too.

Certain hatches stand out more than others. Most I retain because they bring pleasant memories of a great hatch, a great fly to match the hatch, fishing friends and plenty of trout. Some hatches will linger always, like fishing the hatch on a small southeastern Pennsylvania stream shortly after I graduated from high school. These recollections will remain with me even during “senior moments,” which I won’t admit to having, just yet. Maybe—if I’m lucky—my “senior moments” will be spent in recalling matching these treasured hatches.

All of these elements—the hatches, the streams, the people and much more—are blended into this lifetime of fly fishing recollections.



Charles R. Meck

Autumn, 2003


Table of Contents






Chapter 1

That’ll Catch Trout


Chapter 2

Five Bucks and Change


Chapter 3

Tell’em Who You Are, Vince...


Chapter 4

I’m Really Proud of You


Chapter 5

The Hatch of the Year


Chapter 6

Alone on the Bitterroot River


Chapter 7

Blackflies, Gray Skies and Green Drakes


Chapter 8

Horses, Pain and Pleading


Chapter 9

A Winter of Tricos


Chapter 10

Ten for Ten...Well, Almost


Chapter 11

The Intruder


Chapter 12

The Upside Down Drake


Chapter 13

You’ll Never Make It

Chapter 14

Once in a Lifetime Hatch


Chapter 15

I Still Get Excited


Chapter 16

They’re Trying to Kill Me


Chapter 17

Great Rivers, Great Hatches...


Chapter 18

Sink That Fly


Chapter 19

Okay, Now Catch a Trout


Chapter 20

The Case for Catch and Release


Chapter 21
My Secret Stream


Chapter 22

The Plastic Man


Chapter 23

The Power of the Press