The terrestrial hum of a hot summerís day has always been something I have found synonymous with the babble of a mountain stream. To sit and listen to the bush and watch the river flow past is one of lifeís great pleasures. But every six or seven years we experience the noise shattering emergence of Cicadas.
Sometimes they gather in their thousands and the drumming of the males is so loud that it hurts. The peace and serenity of a day on the stream is shattered; for example our Green Grocer is one of the loudest of all the worldís 2000 odd Cicadas. It can produce a noise so loud that it is very close to the pain barrier, at over 120 decibels. Our scientists tell us that that this high pitched drumming helps keep away the birds and other predators.
We have over 220 species here in Australia and the most common in our trout regions are as pictured above. Our scientists tell us that they know little about our species and would concur that not all of our species are in fact listed. They do say that our Cicadas range in wing size from 20mm to 150mm. Even so, during my photographic excursions I have found what I believe to be the smallest yet. Check out what this size 16 female midge is standing on.
L to R: Yellow Monday, Masked Devil, Green Grocer and Black Redeye. The fifth Cicada in this shot is a small , black and orange species that has been somewhat common up on the Goulburn.
It should be noted that all of the species mentioned in this article were in fact collected around the outlet gates.
During the heat of the day large numbers of these bugs can be seen flying
around from tree to tree and in doing so many actually fall onto the water
and can be seen floundering in the surface film. As you can imagine, they
donít last long before some big brute of a fish sucks one down. Just
before Christmas a friend of mine, Don Wilson, actually took a picture of
three trout circling a struggling cicada on the Pondage side of the gates.
I also spoke to another angler up on the walkway at the gates and he had
collected a handful of cicadas and was throwing them into the river below.
They only drifted a short distance before they were engulfed by some
impressively sized trout.
It should be noted that this area below the Pondage gates is now permanently closed to angling for some two hundred metres down stream and there are now some very large fines for anglers caught fishing in there.
Back in the 1980s when this water was open to fishing, Paul Pavich used to target the large trout that came up to feed on the cicadas and believe me, he caught some very large trout; the best went 12 pounds in the old scale. The flies that Paul used in the beginning were a Woolly Bugger, followed by a version of a Zonker and it was this fly that Paul caught his twelve pound brute on.
Over this summer (2008) we have seen an explosion of cicadas in the hills around Eildon and I would suspect many other regions would have had the same experience.
The outlet gates on the Pondage at Eildon seem to attract unusual amounts of Cicada.
Paulís Redeye Cicada - as
designed by Paul Pavich
Hook: Mustad R74
Tag: Red/orange Deer Hair or yellow/orange dubbing
Body: Black Deer Hair
Eyes: Red glass beads
Wing: Black hen feathers treated with flex cement or natural Cicada wings stuck to back of body with Supaglue.
Paul found that one of the big problems using the Zonker or Woolly Bugger was trying to keep them up near the surface. So being the innovative tyer he is, Paul developed a couple of patterns that are still highly effective. They are as follows:
Note: Cicada wings can be found around the base of large gum trees. When the insect dies it naturally drops to the ground and within a very short period of time the bodies are consumed by ants, leaving the wings to rot.