The Ultimate Thompson-Nicola Hatch Guide

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The Ultimate Thompson-Nicola Hatch Guide
- Water Boatmen -
By Karl Bruhn

Water Boatmen
Order: Hemiptera

Identifying Features
Water boatmen can be recognized by the two long rear legs which they use as very effective sweeping oars. They breath atmospheric oxygen and must regularly travel to the surface to replenish the air supply they carry in a specially-adapted abdominal pocket. This gives the abdomen a silvery sheen; fish key to this. Backs are dark brown and the undersides pale yellow to whitish.

What to Look For
Very quick-swimming beetle-like creatures darting to the surface, pausing momentarily, then darting back out of sight, are sure to be water boatmen. The very similar backswimmer is larger and also captures its air in a special pocket, but they swim on their backs, as the name implies.

Crystal Chenille Back Swimmer Contributed by Brian Chan
Courtesy of Flyfishing British Columbia
Masters Series Book 1

Life Cycle
Unique among aquatic insects, water boatmen do not go through the remarkable transformation from water-dwelling nymph to airborne insect. Mature water boatmen are capable of flight, but remain in the water, leaving en masse only during mating. For some boatmen spring is mating time; for others the season is fall. In both cases mating occurs away from water with the egg-laden female returning to deposit her eggs under water. After the eggs hatch, the nymphs evolve through about five molts before reaching the winged adult stage. The entire process, from egg to winged adult, is completed in one year. Wings are held over the back in beetle fashion.

When to Fish
Boatmen are only important to Kamloops trout at specific times, normally when the returning female deposits her eggs. The favored time is late September when most hatches are finished for the year and the trout will respond well to this last bonanza. The early spring flight of boatmen is less important, but, as always, any mass movement is likely to trigger a response.

Krystal Boatman
Contributed by Phil Rowley
Courtesy of Flyfishing British Columbia
Masters Series Book 1

How to fish
BC Outdoors fly tying columnist Ian Forbes uses a floating water boatman pattern made of styrofoam with rubber legs and colored with felt pens. The pattern solves many of the difficulties involved in successfully fishing boatmen imitations. It floats very well and when fished on a slow sinking line can be pulled under the surface in much the manner of the naturals. After a few quick pulls, it will bob back to the surface and thus will take fish both on the way down and while bobbing back to the surface. Most strikes occur either dead-drift on the surface or on the way down.

Fishing Tip
The grayling-like rise forms of rainbow trout taking water boatmen is unusual enough to provide a valuable clue. Watch for high-arching head and tail rises during early spring, but especially late in September. This activity normally occurs close to shore.

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The Ultimate Thompson-Nicola Hatch Guide