Thursday, June 27, 2013

Season of the Hex

It's late June, and in Northern Michigan that can mean only one thing- the Hex are upon us. Tonight I will have fished 7 of the last 8 nights. On Sunday night I got off the river so late that I could only drive home, take a shower, make some coffee and go to work. Needless to say it was a terrible day.

The fishing has been fantastic.

A great Hex fish caught by Odie.

The Hex hatch is an annual event anticipated by Michigan anglers for good reason- it's a big bug that attracts big fish. Fish over twenty inches are common. Lifetime fish are caught at this time of year. Fish that would never rise to lesser flies move out into shallow water and feed with abandon. It is the steroidal essence of fly fishing.

Alex Cerveniak with his best trout on a fly- ever.

There is some alchemy to this hatch. They don't just show up on time and tap their watches. They generally start after June 15, though you'll see some early bugs on the lakes. They also start on the local lakes about ten days before they do on the river, so if they started on Crooked Lake June tenth it should be good on the river on the 20th. If there's a chill in the air don't go. You need calm, warm, humid evenings. If a dry front blows through and drops the humidity, don't go. Ideally? 82 degrees by day and humid, with storms building in from the west, but still, calm winds. Dark of the moon is best.

Hex generally do not hatch or spinner fall until dusk. If you've picked the right evening look out- as soon as the light fades big bugs will flit in and out of your consciousness, and the air will thrum to the sound of a thousand wings. Fish will come out of the woodwork, fish you never knew existed in your river, fish that will give you nightmares. The fish of your dreams.

We've been dealing with the Super Moon here during our Hex hatch which has made fishing tough. I have not once witnessed that all out melee of every fish in the river making the water boil, but the fish that have been feeding are epic, the biggest in the river. The flip side is that the fish are super selective, and if you park your drift boat too close or make a bad cast and line them you'll put them down instantly.

The hatch this year has been epic, and yet so far the fish are good but not exceptional. I've caught four fish in the 18 inch range but none over 20". Last year I only fished the Hex hatch once, but my one fish was 24.5 inches.
my big fish from last year.

We're having a normal year this year, meaning that everyone thinks the hatch is late. Historically the hatch should just be starting. As a kid I fished the Hex all the way into August. It was a solid July hatch. That seemed to end after the record drought of 1988. I think we lost some biodiversity then. Regardless, the Hex hatch is a great time of year, your one chance to catch a giant brown trout on a bonafide dry fly.

I'm headed out to catch mine.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Weekend Forecast

Is it true? It’s June? Shoot, the dry fly season, just begun, is half over, can you believe it? Not if you count tricos of course- they’re too small. I’m hearing reports of drakes already which leads me to. . .

The Fly Fishing Report

drake fish

I’m hearing reports of Drakes already. But seriously here’s the report, good for all of Northern Michigan north of M-72. The water is still high but dropping slowly and the rivers are in prime condition. The rains  have finally tapered off a bit and we've entered into some nice spring-like weather. We had a heavy snow pack and a late spring which turned wet, and thus the rivers are all still high. This is excellent news for the rivers and fish, tougher news for the fisherman, who will find wading marginal.  Cold fronts continue to blow through on a regular basis but look for conditions, hatches and the bite to build and improve. Sulfurs, BWO’s, mahoganies, and Iso’s are still the ticket. I’m hearing reports of drakes already, and had some good drake action on Tuesday.

Could it be? First Hex of the season.

I went mushrooming last weekend which leads me to. . .

The Mushroom Report

The morel mushrooms are nearly done. It has been another tough season, if better than last year by a long shot. I’m nearing the 20 pound mark for my spring take, well off my average, but still enough ‘shrooms to put a smile on my face and make my palate do pirouettes. I cooked some morel chowder  and I must say it was mighty fine. If you’re coming north to pick just know that the blacks are done, the whites have peaked, and only the grays are left. Look for them now if in fact you know where to find them. I’d be willing to bet that the Duck Lake Fire burn area in the UP is producing  a bumper crop right now.

What Else Is Hot

Bluegills are starting to look up. Look for brightly colored emergent weeds and throw white foam spiders, large caddis or brown drakes. The bass bite is HOT, especially for smallmouth. Crayfish and baitfish patterns are de rigueur, but this is the time for top water, so make the most of it. Pike action is tapering off, though I’m hearing rumors of musky, which will be good for a few more weeks. Want a bonafide tip? Fish the sand flats at White Goose Bay on Burt Lake for big walleyes, browns and steelhead. Use an electric motor or a flats boat and push-pole and sneak up on them fish. Send me pics and a thank you. A bottle of Gentleman Jack would do just as well.

don't forget about these guys

Bug Report

Come prepared!! For some reason the ticks are epic this year. Having spent a life in the outdoors I've removed a total of 2 ticks from my clothing until this year. This year I've removed 20 and had to remove two from my skin. Double ICK. Bring DEET spray and use it, try to leave waders and outer layers outside and do a thorough check once a day.

The mosquitoes are nearing biblical proportions this year due to all high water we have had. I sprayed down the other night and had them trying to bite me inside my nostrils! My solution is to wear a raincoat and spray my hat and remaining exposed skin. What's good for mosquitoes is also good for trout, so don't let the bugs discourage you, just be warned and take the necessary steps.