Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Morning Coffee- Hex Edition

Tying Big Ugly with some morning coffee
Uuuuuurrrrgggghhhh!!! Yawn, stretch, scratch, repeat. . . is it Monday already? How many have I missed? I know, I've missed a bunch, but hey-

It's Hex season! 

So let's have some much needed coffee.

You might be getting tired of  hearing about the Hex hatch if you don't live here, and you might really be tired of hearing about it if you live here and haven't been able to fish it.

Me, I made the decision I wasn't going to miss it, and thus have lost something like a weeks sleep chasing the big bugs and bigger fish every night. I've had some fantastic floats with my friends Chris Reister and Jon Odykirk on the Au Sable, and some good walk-in trips on other rivers with other friends. I've managed to land 4 fish in the 18-19" range and several smaller fish, but the big one still eludes me. Several fish in the 20" range have been landed by the guys I'm fishing with so we've had some fantastic fishing. I want to thank Chris and Jon for inviting me along and letting me experience the fishing that the Au Sable is justifiably famous for. My thanks to Alex Cerveniak, Ethan Winchester, Tom Hazelton, and Zach Ginop for sharing the river and their knowledge and making each outing that much more fun and interesting. The hatch is winding down on the Au Sable now, but the rivers where I live are just getting going, so it could be an interesting week.

Alex waiting on the hatch

I did have one golden opportunity. I was fishing locally with Zach Ginop the other night. We've been getting sparse and brief Hex hatches right after it goes dark. No blanket spinner falls, but just enough to bring the big fish out to investigate. Two big fish had begun feeding above us and we were trying to make our way up to them when a small fish fed twenty feet above us. I jokingly laid a cast out but instead of the small fish a big head smacked the surface. As soon as I set the hook it took off upstream with half my line.
a good Hex fish

To give you some perspective I was using my 8 weight rod that I use for steelhead and salmon, and 6 feet of straight 12 pound line for a leader. I land big fish on this rod and reel all the time. This fish took half my fly line before I knew what was happening. Still I'm thinking "Hey, it's a big brown, how much damage can it do?" I knew I needed to turn this fish and reeled down hard, putting as much pressure as I knew my leader could take, but it didn't work. Instead the fish took off on an even faster run, taking the rest of my fly line and some of the backing as well.

I turned and looked at Zach and said "I guess we're going to have to go after this one."

I started moving, but this fish went nuts one more time and the leader failed at the perfection loop. Keep in mind that this all happened in the space of 15 seconds or less, that I thought I was casting to a dink, and that even big browns will typically stay in the area you hooked them and you'll just have to duke it out with them.

Zach waiting on the hatch

I did learn some valuable lessons- always be ready for anything. That monster brown could come at any time. A fish like this, even if it was a super-hot fish, had to weigh between 10 and 15 pounds. My biggest brown ever was 28" and about 9 pounds and this rig handled him quite nicely. Next time my line takes off like that you can be sure I'll be following at a dead run. It's time to start landing those fish instead of telling tales of the "one that got away".

Lesson two- don't use straight line for a leader. I went out and bought some 20 and 17 pound mono and hand tied some custom Hex/mousing leaders. If the perfection loop is the weak spot in your leader, in a 20 pound butt section it should still be strong enough not to fail, and with blood knots joining the other sections this set-up should be bullet proof.

a nice solo fish, if not the big fish of the night

One of the highlights of fishing the Au Sable this last week was finally getting to stop into the famous Gate's Au Sable Lodge. Imagine my surprise and delight to walk in and see two friendly familiar faces- Joyce Kelley and Alan Haxton. They both volunteer at the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo each spring and regularly read this blog. We had a nice conversation, comparing notes and sharing fish stories. (My tip- if there's no bugs and no fish rising switch to a mouse. That's how I got my 18" brown the night before.) They were good enough to introduce me to proprietor Josh Greenberg who helped me solve the riddle that involves fish hitting emergers and not our flies in the evening. My thanks to Josh.

I love this one. It says so little. . .

Josh posts regular fishing reports that are not only informative, but very creatively written and entertaining to read, so make sure you check them out on a regular basis, especially before you make your pilgrimage to the Au Sable.

What can you look forward to here at FR?

Stickers!! That's right, I've succumbed to peer pressure and will very shortly have FR stickers for you to paper your car, boat, computer or any other flattish surface that pleases you. Shirts are also in the offing. I should have the stickers within the next couple weeks and I'll probably give away a small pile of them to mark the occasion. If you're a blogger or other entity with stickers I'd be happy to do an exchange.

I also am working on my review of the Sage Pike rod and line. If you are thinking of getting this rig- don't hesitate, it works as advertised, but I'll get the review up soon.

I'm working on a couple of creative pieces, but I may see if I can get them published or put one up on MidCurrent. I'm also pecking slowly away at my book, but now I'm just hoping to be finished in the fall. It will have a lot of material from this blog, edited and re-written of course, but I'm also writing some new content so it has some original material.

Well, I've gone on long enough with my tales of woe and success, people, places, big bugs and big fish. I'll try to run a July 4 fishing forecast on Tuesday so you know what to expect.

Let's get after it.

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