One of the most common creatures frequenting the underwater world is the mighty midge.
Midges are present in nearly all rivers and streams throughout the UK. The underwater part of the midge’s life often starts in the mud and silt.
Some midge species’ larvae is bright red due to haemoglobin in the blood; we refer to these as bloodworms. Bloodworm are a favourite of the carp who sift through the bottom of the lakes gorging on the a bloodworm with the keenness of wedding guests at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
From the bloodworm, the hatching pupa ascends towards the surface where it will provide an easy meal for cruising fish.
The pupa then emerges through the surface film and takes to the wing. After mating, the female deposits her eggs on the water. These eggs will eventually complete the cycle by developing into the larvae. This cycle for many species of midge is very short, in summer the whole process from egg to adult can take as little as two to three weeks.
From a fly anglers point of view, the midge plays a vital role. It is one of the few flies that are present (in some form) in the water, even in the depths of winter. This can provide opportunities for fishing on the cold blustery days where there is precious little else in the water.
As with all waterborne flies, we can imitate all stages of the lifecycle with an artificial fly for the bloodworm through to the adult midge.
During the warmer months when there are mass hatches of midges, the trout can gorge on the emerging midge pupa exclusively, becoming hard to catch on anything other than the most delicately presented tiny imitation. This presents a real challenge and satisfying feeling of accomplishment when successful.
If you are unsure of what fly to use or can’t see what’s hatching, midges are a great ‘if all else fails’ pattern, as due to their abundance trout will be familiar with them as a food source through out the year.
By David Johnson