In most circles, nobody wants a “Hex” to befall them. But in fly fishing, there is no greater natural phenomenon, and nothing more wished for, than to have thousands of Hexes–Hexagenia mayflies, that is–falling from the sky, bouncing off your head, and dropping in the river you are fishing.
It is, indeed, the mother of all hatches. Better than salmonflies on a western river, or a blanket caddis hatch, or swarms of tricos, or anything else, at least in my opinion. Because the Hex is such a big bug, and the trout instinctively know it.
When the Hex hatch happens, it’s the kind of thing that makes your jaw drop. You can fish the same river all year, and catch 12-inchers until you are blue in the face, and you are absolutely sure that nothing very large swims in the runs you routinely visit. But when the big bugs drop (usually at dusk or in the dead of night), all those old, long brown trout that usually make a living off of eating other fish and leeches way down deep amongst the cover of woody deadfall thickets just cannot help themselves. The have to come up and take a peek. Take a sip off the surface. It’s insane. It’ll freak you out.
But the window is small. And conditions must be just so. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all.
In most years, I make a point to head back to the home waters in Michigan to be there and fish at the family cabin, just in case.
This year, I had too much going on. Couldn’t make it. I whiffed. Now, most likely, the Hexagenia window has closed for another year.
But I still need a Hex fix. Please, please tell me if you saw it, and what you caught. You won’t hurt my feelings.