Cicada Madness by Dave Zielinski

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Cicada Madness


Dave Zielinski


Cicadas are large, loud insects that spend their nymphal stages underground until they crawl out, climb a tree trunk, and emerge as winged insects. The adult insects emerge on a 1-year (annual) and 13- or 17-year (periodical) cadence. Yearly emergences are consistent and plentiful in certain places East to West and become a dependable “hatch.” Species from carp and smallmouth bass on eastern rivers to trout on fabled waters such as Utah’s Green River or Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek grow fat on this annual feast.

But the feeding frenzy kicks into high in most years when a brood of periodical cicadas emerge in their predictable range. These insects have been underground for 13 or 17 years (identified by different brood names) and emerge en masse in mind-boggling numbers. Many of them take to trees along highways or deep in the woods where their call is deafening, and animals from birds to snakes to turkeys feed voraciously on them. Millions of cicadas also emerge at the bases of the trees and bushes that line streams and lakes, and they fall into the water so regularly that fish become attuned to them. Even fish that are not designed to feed on the surface, such as carp, catfish and freshwater drum, contort their bodies to take part in this daily buffet, which lasts for about a month. Anglers can follow this hatch and fish cicadas for almost two months and, if they understand which broods are hatching where, can fish cicadas almost every year.

This is the first book dedicated to the patterns, techniques, and, most important, the science of locating the best hatches of these insects.




Dave Zielinski has fished periodical and annual cicada emergences for decades on waterways in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. He has been featured in a film and several podcasts on fly fishing, cicadas, and wooden boats. In addition to his day job, he owns Down Home Boat Works, an online business for wooden boat designs, plans, and finished boats for fly fishing. He contributed to Drift Boats & River Dories: Their History, Design, Construction, and Use by Roger L. Fletcher. He lives in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania.