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Long awaited Hex fly hatch is on!
Jun 19, 2021 10:19:27   #
fishyaker Loc: NW Michigan (Lower Peninsula)
 
The anticipation and time for periodic adrenaline rushes has arrived for the 2021 mayfly hatch! For roughly a 3 week period in our region of Michigan we are able to enjoy the pursuit of large trout (mostly browns) after dark during the esteemed giant mayfly hatch (hexagenia limbata). Catching them on a dry fly is a supreme thrill that is hard to beat.

We catch the same trout year after year for about a decade, until natural mortality takes it's toll on the biggest fish and they are replaced by the upcoming small fry's. It probably sounds silly, but we are so fanatical and reverent about these trout that many of them are given names to go along with their streamside physical addresses where they live by daytime in their logjam lairs. "Old Jake", "Fat Sally" and "Big Mike" are among them....just to name a few.

Last night I managed to spend a productive hour and landed 3 healthy specimens stretching the ruler at 18", 20" and 22" inches in length. Kind of funny how they were all in even numbers. Last season most of the trout I caught were "odd" numbers in length. The best bite, and this is typical, was between 10:30 pm and 11:30 pm. After that you never know what will happen with a lingering hatch or "spinner fall". Many of the trout will feed all night long, and if you are willing to spend the night standing in the river next to them, you will be handsomely rewarded for your stealthy efforts.

Actually, the last fish of the evening did not come on a dry fly, but instead was taken on a dirty yellow 3" long Zoo Cougar pattern fished like a mouse on the surface. It was the 18 incher, and it started to feed very sporadically during the waning minutes of the blanket hatch and was not sipping from a predictable feeding lane. It was appearing all over the place and that made it very hard to predict where to cast the fly next in order to get ahead of the stationing (remember, it is pitch dark out!). The randomness of the rises, and multiple minutes between rises left me no choice but to sleuth the waters like a fish detective. Starting with a deliberately short cast using the floating streamer, I twitched the Cougar back towards me in a series of timed pauses...no take. Second cast...same thing...no take. Third cast...OK...now for what I think will be the sweet spot...twitch..pause...twitch..pause...SMASH, BOIL and SLAM! Fish on...gotcha!

What a night...left the river with a big smile and a contented heart.

Stopped to chat with a fellow fisherman upstream that was working a stubborn fish and we exchanged ideas and well wishes for the balance of the night for those who chose to stick around. There was a pretty decent crowd of fisherman out last night, and it was great to hear reel drags zinging in the cool of the evening air.
dry fly fishing during the Michigan mayfly hatch June 2021
dry fly fishing during the Michigan mayfly hatch J...

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Jun 19, 2021 14:08:00   #
flyguy Loc: So. Padre Island, TX. 1 & 2, & S.E. MN. 3-12
 
fishyaker wrote:
The anticipation and time for periodic adrenaline rushes has arrived for the 2021 mayfly hatch! For roughly a 3 week period in our region of Michigan we are able to enjoy the pursuit of large trout (mostly browns) after dark during the esteemed giant mayfly hatch (hexagenia limbata). Catching them on a dry fly is a supreme thrill that is hard to beat.

We catch the same trout year after year for about a decade, until natural mortality takes it's toll on the biggest fish and they are replaced by the upcoming small fry's. It probably sounds silly, but we are so fanatical and reverent about these trout that many of them are given names to go along with their streamside physical addresses where they live by daytime in their logjam lairs. "Old Jake", "Fat Sally" and "Big Mike" are among them....just to name a few.

Last night I managed to spend a productive hour and landed 3 healthy specimens stretching the ruler at 18", 20" and 22" inches in length. Kind of funny how they were all in even numbers. Last season most of the trout I caught were "odd" numbers in length. The best bite, and this is typical, was between 10:30 pm and 11:30 pm. After that you never know what will happen with a lingering hatch or "spinner fall". Many of the trout will feed all night long, and if you are willing to spend the night standing in the river next to them, you will be handsomely rewarded for your stealthy efforts.

Actually, the last fish of the evening did not come on a dry fly, but instead was taken on a dirty yellow 3" long Zoo Cougar pattern fished like a mouse on the surface. It was the 18 incher, and it started to feed very sporadically during the waning minutes of the blanket hatch and was not sipping from a predictable feeding lane. It was appearing all over the place and that made it very hard to predict where to cast the fly next in order to get ahead of the stationing (remember, it is pitch dark out!). The randomness of the rises, and multiple minutes between rises left me no choice but to sleuth the waters like a fish detective. Starting with a deliberately short cast using the floating streamer, I twitched the Cougar back towards me in a series of timed pauses...no take. Second cast...same thing...no take. Third cast...OK...now for what I think will be the sweet spot...twitch..pause...twitch..pause...SMASH, BOIL and SLAM! Fish on...gotcha!

What a night...left the river with a big smile and a contented heart.

Stopped to chat with a fellow fisherman upstream that was working a stubborn fish and we exchanged ideas and well wishes for the balance of the night for those who chose to stick around. There was a pretty decent crowd of fisherman out last night, and it was great to hear reel drags zinging in the cool of the evening air.
The anticipation and time for periodic adrenaline ... (show quote)


HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Jun 20, 2021 13:23:02   #
agatemaggot Loc: iowa
 
Great night, Mayflies trigger the Summer peak !

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Jun 20, 2021 14:37:39   #
Chas304 Loc: New Jersey
 
Awesome! I can’t see my dry fly in the daylight sometimes, I don’t know how you guys do it at night!

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Jun 20, 2021 16:19:41   #
fishyaker Loc: NW Michigan (Lower Peninsula)
 
Honestly, I think there is a modest amount of skill involved, and a HUGE amount of just plain good luck. Last night I was out and only targeted one single finicky fish. He feeds in the same spot all the time, but last night the hatch was very sparse and it was only sipping a fly once in about every 5 minutes. The more often they get caught and released, the harder they are to continue catching as the season progresses. I have not caught this particular fish for 2 years now, and I am hoping that he has reached the 26" mark by now, which for this river would be a trophy sized brown.

To get into a prime casting location in the river to reach this particular trout one must enter the water from a point about 100 yards downstream, cross to the other bank without leaving the stream, and then wade upstream against a fairly strong current to get up slightly ahead of the feeding station. As I slowly approached the fish the feeding intervals began to get farther apart...and my fear was that he would stop altogether so I stopped at a point downstream and to his port side...about 20' away. It had been about 7 minutes since the last rise. This was a "bad angle" for a good hook up, but I went ahead and flicked my pattern ahead of the last known rise rings as I memorized them from a shoreline tree position in the shimmer of an overcast partial moon. He took immediately, and the water boiled upwards in a frothy plume without a solid hook up. I would put the blame primarily on my own carelessness, but the position I was standing in, with the current, did not help matters any! Still my fault...should have kept moving upstream another 30 feet!

Sometimes the fish just plain "misses" the fly and your bug was never really inside of the mouth anyways...hard to tell in the dark! I plan to return this evening to go after that lone fish, as long as the approaching weather systems allow me an hour tonight!

Frankly, while I do prefer to fish in daylight, fishing at night has it's unique challenges and I would speculate that is really what drives folks that fish after dark.
now and then a few trout kept for the dinner table!
now and then a few trout kept for the dinner table...
this 22 incher was released to grow and spawn
this 22 incher was released to grow and spawn...

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Jun 20, 2021 23:08:57   #
lipsticker Loc: Hartford Wisconsin
 
Nice work Fish, If you call that work. Haven't done any stream fishing sense leaving Wyoming 35 years ago. I might just have to get back into it. Never was very good with a fly rod per say. Instead we would rig a small spinning reel on them and cast small inline spinners.

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Jun 20, 2021 23:08:57   #
lipsticker Loc: Hartford Wisconsin
 
Nice work Fish, If you call that work. Haven't done any stream fishing sense leaving Wyoming 35 years ago. I might just have to get back into it. Never was very good with a fly rod per say. Instead we would rig a small spinning reel on them and cast small inline spinners.

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Jun 21, 2021 21:01:49   #
fishyaker Loc: NW Michigan (Lower Peninsula)
 
I hear that the "Driftless Area", located a few hours West of you, is a lot of fun to fish in terms of fishing in streams and fly casting for trout. Might be worth considering?! Of course you can fly cast for just about anything, depending on the environment, but starting with a basic approach.... trout, bass and panfish always tend to be cooperative!

Although my posts tend to lean towards fly fishing, I also enjoy many other approaches to fishing for a variety of species. Deep water trolling/jigging from boats or kayaks - usually salmon, lake trout and whitefish, shallow water cast/troll for bass, walleye, pike, panfish and other warm water species as well as wading streams or shorelines for whatever is in the mood to eat. All of these other approaches involve "lure hardware"...no flies except for running them behind dodgers and similar rotating devices (Spin Doctor's and Hoochie Mama's).

I grew up with a misconception that fly fishing was reserved for folks with an enormous talent for flicking a line with a fly on the end, and that it was an unattainable method to become proficient at for an average guy like me. In my mid teens I discovered that I was "wrong", and that with a little practice and watching people do it that it was really not that hard at all. Ultimately, I discovered that it was just one more "way" of enjoying the sport and hobby of fishing. I think of it as playing a game ("fishing") where you can use a whole bunch of different equipment and procedures to suit your plans for each and every outing, and not be limited to only one method.

My suggestion would be to give it a try again sometime and see how it goes!

So far this season I have focused all my attention to fly casting in streams and kayak fishing in our local waterways with hardware tackle. It has been a lot of fun, but I have finally lit a fire under myself to get the boat on the water and get out deep for the big stuff (salmon, lake trout). Shame on me...as only today did I take the tarp off our boat, put the battery in, set up the downriggers and get ready for yet one more diversion of going out via a boat! I plan to change the engine oil and outdrive fluid tomorrow and she'll be ready for the season...which is just about half over! Yikes! So much fishing to be done...and so little time!

Great chatting with you via this web site! Best regards to you and your fishing buddies as you continue to ply the waters of Lake Michigan! Closing with a couple of inspirational snapshots from the recent past!
Summer king salmon in East Bay - Lake Michigan (Traverse City) USA
Summer king salmon in East Bay - Lake Michigan (Tr...
Getting ready for a morning salmon troll via kayak in West Bay - Lake Michigan (Traverse City) USA
Getting ready for a morning salmon troll via kayak...
Sunset - awaiting the final bite of the evening - which rod will pop before the sun reaches the waterline?!
Sunset - awaiting the final bite of the evening - ...
Afternoon lake trout in West Bay - a quick and easy limit catch on this outing!
Afternoon lake trout in West Bay - a quick and eas...

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