Bug Profile : Epeorus Pleuralis (Quill Gordon)

Quill Gordon Female Dun
The Quill Gordon hatch is considered by many to be the first good mayfly hatch of the season. In my experience they don't come off everywhere but on streams that do have populations of them they do tend to be there in good numbers. These bugs are generally only found where there is decent water quality and very little slow water, in fact their emergence often takes place over riffles or pocket water. This hatch happens usually right behind the Paraleps or simultaneously near the end of that hatch. This usually begins in early April in northern new england and is going on in the Catskills by early may. This species seems to be isolated to the east coast although there are mixed reports of them being found elsewhere.
Quill Gordon Nymph
The duns tend to show themselves in the early afternoon but they are known to continue hatching throughout the day. As mentioned before they ride the surface drying and stretching their wings and they often make many failed attempts to take flight. They return to the river as spinners several days later but it doesn't usually happen en masse given that they will hatch daily regardless of conditions. The duns are anywhere from a tan to dark brown often exhibiting shades of olive and as a result they are often confused for BWO's. Their wings are a grey/slate color and as spinners they tend to become more pale, often tan with clear wings. They have two very long tails and are quite large compared to parallels and BWO's often being found in large sizes up to a 10 but more commonly a 12 or 14.

Quill Gordon Spinner
This is an important hatch to anglers because of the warming trend usually taking place at this time of year. The trout have often begun feeding actively on the Paralep activity which is quickly followed by these Quill Gordons. Its often still too cold for good dry fly fishing but I would never leave the house without a few patterns in case the fish feel spunky but there is no doubt that the fish are beginning to feed aggressively at this time of year and will certainly key in on the nymphs.
Here are a few popular imitations for these bugs
Quill Gordon Wet
Quill Gordon Traditional Dry
Quill Gordon Nymph (Hare's Ear)

The Quill Gordon activity is triggered each year by having several days of steady ideal water temperatures which can vary from one watershed to another but its generally in the neighborhood of 50 degrees. The cool thing about this hatch is that once these bugs start coming off they will continue to do so even if the weather turns for the worse whether that means colder temperatures or more precipitation it does not matter. This tends to make the hatch somewhat short lived. Several other hatches are known to last longer because the bugs will only hatch under ideal conditions where the Quill Gordons metamorphosis is unstoppable once they get those steady water temps.

As nymphs, they are active during the hatching period and they crawl around on the bottom often being found in large concentrations in rather small areas. The duns emerge from their nymphal shuck underwater and float to the surface where they remain for a short period of time drying their wings. This emergence behavior makes swung flies or wet flies very effective during this time. The nymphs have two tails and large paddle like gills on their abdomens which make them easily identifiable. 

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