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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

Dorsal view of a Skwala (Perlodidae) (Large Springfly) Stonefly Nymph from the Yakima River in Washington
This Skwala nymph still has a couple months left to go before hatching, but it's still a good representative of its species, which was extremely abundant in my sample for a stonefly of this size. It's obvious why the Yakima is known for its Skwala hatch.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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March Browns

Like most common names,"March Brown" can refer to more than one taxon. They're previewed below, along with 7 specimens. For more detail click through to the scientific names.

Mayfly Species Stenonema vicarium

These are pretty much always called March Browns.
In the East and Midwest this is one of the most important hatches of the Spring. They are large flies which emerge sporadically, making for long days of good fishing.

This species contains the two classic Eastern hatches formerly known as Stenonema vicarium and Stenonema fuscum, the "March Brown" and "Gray Fox." Entomologists have discovered that these mayflies belong to the same species, but they still display differences in appearance which the trout notice easily. Anglers should be prepared to imitate both types.
Artistic view of a Male Stenonema vicarium (Heptageniidae) (March Brown) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
I collected this mayfly on the same trip as a female of the same species. After these photos it molted into a spinner. This is the form of Stenonema vicarium which anglers call the "Gray Fox."
Lateral view of a Female Stenonema vicarium (Heptageniidae) (March Brown) Mayfly Spinner from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
I collected this mayfly on the same trip as a male of the same species. They are Maccaffertium vicarium mayflies of the type formerly known as Stenonema fuscom, the "Gray Fox."
Dorsal view of a Stenonema vicarium (Heptageniidae) (March Brown) Mayfly Nymph from the Beaverkill River in New York

Mayfly Species Ephemera simulans

These are sometimes called March Browns.
The Brown Drakes are a favorite hatch of many in the Midwest, and they make a good showing on localized waters across the country. They are usually the first in a series of big drakes which bring large trout to the surface at twilight and into the early hours of the night. The experience can be much like fishing the Hexagenia limbata hatch, except that the nymphs seem to emerge from slightly more wadeable, sandy bottoms instead of the boot-sucking mud underlying the best Hex water. It will draw big trout out from the depths of a big pool to feed in the shallow tailout after dark.
Male Ephemera simulans (Ephemeridae) (Brown Drake) Mayfly Dun from Flathead Lake in Montana
Lateral view of a Male Ephemera simulans (Ephemeridae) (Brown Drake) Mayfly Spinner from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Ephemera simulans (Ephemeridae) (Brown Drake) Mayfly Nymph from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin

Mayfly Species Heptagenia pulla

These are very rarely called March Browns.
This elegant species may produce fishable hatches.
Dorsal view of a Heptagenia pulla (Heptageniidae) (Golden Dun) Mayfly Nymph from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen is interesting because Heptagenia pulla has not been reported from Washington or neighboring states (Saskatchewan is the closest), yet the distinctive key characteristics are clear. Furthermore, it might even be a species not listed on this site—Jacobus et al. (2014) writes, "the northern and western specimens of H. pulla may in fact be a synonym of the Palearctic species H. dalecarlica Bengtsson (Kjaerstad et al. 2012) and the true H. pulla may be restricted to eastern North America."

It keys to the genus Heptagenia because the tarsal claw has a single basal tooth, and the gills on segment 7 have fibrils.

For the species key in Jacobus et al. (2014):
1. The left mandible is planate, whereas the right mandible is angulate.
2. The labrum is much wider than long.
3. There's a thin light-colored streak lateral to the eye on the head.


March Browns

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