Any hex yet? In short…barely. A few. The better question: will this warm-up trigger them? Yes. A lot. It’ll be near 90 this weekend. It’s after June 15. So, there will be hex. Start the coffee. Buy fresh batteries. Check the bug spray. Double check the headlamps. Tie some flies. It’s almost not quite just about kinda already sorta the start of hex season.
I’ve been fishing the river that is (cool, isos, drakes, stones) and then, after dark, searching for the river that will be (hex, shucks, muck). Each river section finds itself in a separate state of affairs. The South Branch is post-drakes, peak-Isos, great yellow stones, and on the cusp of hex. The mainstream, like Mio, is peak drakes, nice spinnerfalls, and a wonderful three-hour sulphur hatch yesterday morning. The North Branch has Isos, but also the first of the summer olives. All are at low to average water flows — the South Branch being the lowest — and, at times, frothy with rising trout. The cooler nights continue to produce great early evening fishing. Often by dark, the river has gone quiet.
But that means opportunities for dry fly trout like this:
Then the reports of hex started rolling in. Saw a few. A dozen. One. At the light at the gas station. In leaf-like piles outside a cousin’s lake house. And so on. The water temperature is in the high 50s. Too cold. But it’s clear that the big bugs are ready. Just add heat.
In the meantime, anglers have been enjoying long overlapping hatches of Yellow Stones (sizes 12-16), Sulphurs (16-18), Isonychia, March Browns, Brown Drakes and corresponding spinner falls…often all before dark. The last two nights I’ve been out have been typical, with a number of the trout rising being 8-12 inches, and several of those being brook trout. On Sunday night, Colin and I worked two much larger trout that began rising right before dark to the many Isonychia duns that emerged. The next night, Denny and I didn’t have such opportunity; but without moving hooked and landed plenty of trout, including a little missile that leapt about six feet sideways…all while waiting for the “good fishing” to start.
Be kind out there to your fellow angler, and remember that the only thing that benefits from raised hackles are dry flies. The big moon will allow for easy navigation, but cause the trout to be extra careful. It’ll be one beautiful night after another. And the pain of the no-see-ums, so plaintive when the fish aren’t rising, disappears once they do.
In the many hours between hex events, you’ll find better than average fishing with sulphurs (if anything, the sulphur hatch is getting STRONGER) yellow stones, thrashers, big golden stones, and, most important of all, the Isonychia, which is also increasing in predictability and strength. This time of year, it’s also worth prospecting with big dry flies, including skunks, yarn skunks, and a variety of foam flies. The trout have spent the last two months rising, and now, more than any other time of the year, the trout are ready and willing to rise the surface. Even the big ones.
Enjoy the height of the season. Stop in for smoked prime rib and to visit our weekend-long Father’s Day Sale. We’ll be selling raffle tickets for a Sweetgrass Rod as well, the proceeds to benefit our fight against a DEQ permit for a fish farm on the headwaters of the Au Sable.
One last chance, offer ends June 19:
Bring in any old unbroken serviceable rod, and take 20% off any made-in-USA Orvis rod. Better yet, your old rods are donated to TU youth camps and other youth organizations that offer fly-fishing activities. That’s awesome! May 13 – June 19. No fine print.
The Fish Farm Fight Flotilla:
Not only does this raise money for Anglers, you also can get a guide during times when there are otherwise no guides available. Cigars and dinner included. Fun guaranteed! Click here for more info.