Green Drake Mayfly

By Bruce Ajari  ·



Green Drake Mayfly  ·


Each year, anglers eagerly anticipate the big bugs of the early season that bring large trout to the surface on the Truckee River. One of those insects is the Green Drake Mayfly (Drunella Grandis and Drunella Doddsii). Both species are present in the Truckee River and most anglers just identify them as the Drakes, since the differences are mostly indiscernible.

As with all insects, the emergence occurs on a timetable. In normal water year, anglers tend to look for these insects around Father’s Day about the time that you see the first Mules Ears flowers appear along the river. After a sub normal water year, the emergence will be earlier. This year for instance, I observed the first ones early in the first week of June, roughly two weeks early.

Because these Green Drakes are a large insect, big fish tend to key on them when they are present. A size #8 or #10 dry fly will typically bring them to the surface. There are many patterns that work when they are present. My two personal favorites have been Lawson’s Paradrake and a Quigley Cripple. There are many other patterns that also are good. Nothing gets an angler’s heart pounding like a rise to one of these large flies by a large rainbow or brown on the Truckee.

I generally fish a small area across from where I live when these insects are present. By limiting the area in which I fish, I find that this hatch is really hit or miss for me on the Truckee River. While I have had a few stellar years, overall this emergence has only been what I would consider fair.

Because the Truckee is subject to dam releases, the fluctuations in flows play a huge part in how successful an angler fishing this emergence can be. This year, for example, the area in which I fish has had higher flows than I like to fish in this location. As a result, I was seeing Drakes emerging, but the fish were not eating them on the surface.

For anglers to be successful dry fly fishing during this emergence, I suggest moving until you find areas that have flows closer to normal or lower. Fish in these sections will more likely be looking up and eating the Drakes that are emerging. You will have a lot better chance of hooking a fish on a dry Drake pattern.

While most anglers concentrate on the evening fishing during this emergence, usually a two-week period or so, fishing during the day should not be overlooked. We have had some good fishing mid-day and seen good emergences of Drakes. Even blind casting with a dry Drake pattern during the day will bring fish to the surface once they are used to seeing them. The Green Drake Mayfly is an insect that excites both the fish and the angler.

There also is a good emergence of them on the Little Truckee River between Stampede and Boca that comes off a little later than the main Truckee River.



FISHING REPORT  (See Sightseeing for water levels.)

Boca | Inflow is at 151 cfs and the outflow is 216 cfs. Try powerbait or nightcrawlers. Throwing lures from shore has been working. Fly fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet, mostly nymphing and with streamers.

Donner | Fishing has been good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the bait of choice. Mackinaw and Kokanee fishing has been fair. Fly fishermen are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | Tributaries are only open July 1 to Sept. 30. Fishing has been fair to good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Most shore fishermen use inflated nightcrawlers.

Little Truckee River | Flow is at a 151 cfs. Fishing has been fair to good. Keep an eye on the flows here. At the higher level, the LT fishes best with a large and small nymph combination. Anglers have been using SJW, PMD and Green Drake imitations.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and Release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Some small cutthroats and an occasional large brown or rainbow can still be caught here. Smallmouth bass have been introduced in this water.

Prosser | The lake is fishing fair to good. Powerbait and nightcrawlers are the best bait. Lure and fly-fishermen are taking some fish from shore and near the inlets. Smallmouth Bass fishing is fair with surface water temperatures in the 65-degree range.

Stampede | Stampede continues to drop. Fishing has been fair to good from shore. Kokanee fishing has been good. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Smallmouth bass fishing is fair.

Truckee River | Flowing out of the lake at 298 cfs. The flow through Truckee is at 364 cfs as of June 22. Fishing seems to be fluctuating like the flows in the river. It can be good or fair. It is all a matter of location. Fish have been caught on nymphs, emergers, dries and streamers. The water flows seem to be fluctuating a bit and staying on the high side. The water is still a little higher than I like for dry fly fishing. Caddisflies, PMD, Little Yellow Stones and Green Drakes are the main attractions right now. Your best bet is to nymph or streamer fish at these flows unless you see an active surface feeding fish.

Other Waters | Davis and Frenchman have been fair to good. The damsel hatch is in full swing now. Fish also are being caught on blood midge patterns and Callibaetis imitations. Streamers fished deep also can be productive.


Bruce is a long-time area fly fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.