A Hex Hatch/Spinner Fall Fishing Trip in Michigan
I spent the last couple days aggressively attacking fish in northern MI on the Pere Marquette river. The Hexagenia hatch has begun and fishing is starting to get good. This is the first year in at least 5 I have been able to hit this hatch, because normally I am back in Idaho by this time of year. If you don’t know what the hex hatch is or why it is awesome you can read about it here. It is quite an event that really is one of the few things that get me excited and extremely happy.
The flies have been showing up at about 10:15 pm and fishing has been good until 3-4 AM. By 2 or 3 only the largest fish in the river are still feeding, so that’s when things get good. My friend Mike Batcke and I floated a short section of river the first day in a small 12 foot drift boat that worked out very well. We didn’t have any tragic events take place which are so common while fishing after dark so that was a bonus. Another huge bonus is the extremely large brown trout I was fortunate enough to hook. I didn’t measure it, but it was right around 24-25 inches probably. Mike also landed a good fish in the 20″ range.
It was difficult to get the fish to key in on our flies with so many natural spinners floating on the water. Every seam and edge that held fish, also had a steady stream of flies floating down. In order to get the attention of these trout I resorted to a size 1 stimulator pattern, which did catch their eye and was the fly I managed to hook most fish on.
The second day of the trip I waded solo in an extremely deep and murky section of river. Even during the day I couldn’t see the bottom in most areas, so needless to say I did a lot of swimming. I made it across the river in one spot where I only had to swim about 10 feet. It was quite embarrassing actually, because I crossed right in front of 2 boats full of people who watched the entire episode; I was soaked long before I ever even casted a fly..
I found 2 nice fish feeding on the inside of a bend, they were the only fish I would have a chance at that entire night and I managed to hook and lose both of them. You can see one of them in this hex fishing video here. The were only 2-3 feet from the bank and there was a maple tree hanging right over all of our heads. I couldn’t really cast, I could only dangle my flies and follow with my rod tip. The main problem on one of the fish was my less than perfect hookset because of the trees.
After I started getting chilly I decided it was probably a good time to figure out how I as going to get back over the deep fast river. I was fortunate to have a boat full of friends float by at 12am that took me back over the river to get to my car.
I considered it a success not because I hooked and lost 2 fish, but because I only had 2 ticks on me when I got home. I expected many more after wading through the tall grass. Perhaps all of my swimming trips rinsed them off before they could reach any exposed skin.