Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

July 11, 2014

Bob Gwizdz: A love/hate relationship with the Hex hatch

LUZERNE — The fish took my fly with a loud splash in the darkness, not much more than about four or five rod lengths from Chris Lessway’s drift boat. When I shot the rod tip skyward, we were one.

It was a good fish, putting a nice bend in the 7-weight fly rod, I worked quickly to pick up the slack line and get the fish on the reel, but as soon as I did — before I even put any pressure on it — it came unbuttoned.

Rats. So that’s how it’s going to be, eh?

I have a love/hate relationship with the Hex hatch, which seems like just about every other Michigan fly fisherman’s favorite time of year. It is certainly when the big fish come out — when the big bugs come out — but I have had less success converting that hatch into big fish than just about anyone I’ve ever talked to.

I’d done everything right — good drift, directly over a feeding fish, which took the fly on about my third cast, solid hook-set. Still ...

“Sometimes they just pop off,” Lessway said.

Sometimes I think I’m just hexed. When it comes to the Hex (as in Hexagenia limbata, the giant mayfly) hatch, it’s always something.

This was my second night on the Au Sable River fishing the Hex hatch this year. A couple of nights earlier, I’d met up with Tom Goniea, a fisheries biologist at the Department of Natural Resources, who told me he’d had good bugs the previous night. There was every reason to believe it was going to happen — it had been a hot, muggy day, the kind that screams: “Hatch.” And as we sat on the riverside, waiting for darkness, the Isonychias were in the air.

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