ERIE – Anglers expect an angler’s paradise towards the end of May in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Brood X cicadas are expected to emerge after 17 years of sleep, and the protein-rich insects are delicious food for a variety of fish.
Eric Hussar of Lewisburg, commissioner of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, anxiously awaits the cicada’s outbreak. He said you can catch trout and bass with these bugs.
“Any type of predatory fish will eat them,” Hussar said, remembering the last time he fished when cicadas emerged. “It’s like a steak for these fish. Like a big filet mignon. It’s quite an incredible sight to see.
Hussar said during the peak there will be insects on the ground and in the trees and some will fall into the water. “It’s like a protein bar” for the fish, he said.
He said sporting shops that cater to fly fishermen should soon have a variety of imitation cicadas that anglers should stock up on in anticipation of the outbreak.
“It’s a unique experience. … You don’t see this often, ” Said Hussar.
Hussar said cicada flies should be fished in the same way as popper lures used overwater for bass.
For equipment, Hussar suggests fly rods of 4, 5 or 6 weights with a heavy tip. He said to drift your fly cicada where you see fish coming up or where you think there will be fish in the water.
“Just give it a shake,” he said about the fly moving along the water. “They will nibble them.”
Hussar enjoys fly fishing on the Susquehanna while kayaking to reach different parts of the river. He said the cicada outbreak would be a nice change from the flies you see every year.
“We can not wait to be there,” he said about the emergence of several weeks.
“What makes this incredible is that fish are masters of efficiency”, said George Daniel of the fish taking advantage of the abundance of insects that will be available during this outbreak.
Daniel is the lead instructor of the fly fishing program at Penn State University and is a guide. He is a former member of the Team USA fly fishing team.
One of its favorite fish to catch is carp, and during this emergence, carp will rise up to catch insects.
“Just because of the amount of protein on the surface” carp and catfish will rise up to feed on them, Daniel said. “This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime fishing opportunity. Not just for trout, but for anything that eats what’s in the water.
He said fish can’t get enough of these bugs and it could be one of the easiest and best times to catch a variety of fish.
Daniel suggests keeping the fly models fairly simple and easy to replace. He also suggests that anglers fish a little below the surface when fishing pressure increases. He believes that a partially submerged fly can be one of the most productive ways to fish.
Daniel recorded a video on YouTube that reveals his top three “must have” fly models for Brood X.
When will the emergence actually occur? Daniel said it depends on many factors, including how quickly the ground heats up.
“Being able to leave on a whim and be prepared”, he said about planning a trip.
Daniel said an emergence like the one predicted will make fishermen in their 40s or 60s want to live 17 years longer for the next cicadas to emerge.
“In all honesty, this hatch could be amazing,” Daniel said, while noting that cicadas are emerging in different parts of the country and that there are anglers who follow the location of the outbreak every year because the fishing is so good.
Ross Purnell, editor and publisher of Harrisburg-based Fly Fisherman magazine, said Daniel was a master fly fisherman and he took his advice. Purnell also said that the flies made by Blane Chocklett are excellent imitations of cicadas to use during emergence.
Purnell said fly fishermen are interested in tracking outbreaks and so are cicadas. The excitement of this event is that “The fish become gluttons and stuff themselves with these things.”
Purnell said anglers should think about bigger fish such as largemouth and smallmouth bass and older trout and carp that are used to feeding.
He said now would be a good time when you hear the cicadas “Roaring in the trees.”
Purnell expects good fishing to last until July and anglers shouldn’t get too excited when you start to see cicadas. “You have to give it a few weeks. The best fishing is when (cicadas) mate and start to die. “
He stresses that you should fish near heavily forested areas with slower bodies of water that will allow cicadas to float longer than faster currents. “The longer they are able to float, the more likely the fish are to find them”, he said.
Insects have been hiding beneath the surface since 2004, feeding on the sap of plant roots, according to Michael J. Raupp, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Maryland, in an interview with USA TODAY.
Once they are ripe, the “Large brood” will emerge in 15 states where they will spend two to four weeks in late May and early June “Courting, mating, stealing, driving people crazy, being devoured by everything,” including humans like Raupp.
Adult cicadas will lay their eggs in trees, and the eggs will hatch 4-6 weeks later in more than a dozen states. The offspring will return underground until 2038. They will also make a lot of noise. According to Raupp, cicadas can emit sounds between 80 and 100 decibels, which is equivalent to a low-flying plane or a lawn mower.
Periodic cicadas emerge in huge groups called broods. Twelve broods of cicadas emerge every seven years and three broods every 13 years, Raupp said.
Two broods appear to have disappeared, including brood XI, which was last seen in Connecticut in 1954. Almost every year somewhere in the country, a periodic brood will emerge.