Header image
Enter a name
Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Report at a Glance

General RegionMissouri Ozarks
Specific Locationupper Current River
Dates FishedJan 29/ 2011
Time of DayDawn to dusk
Fish Caughta bit over a dozen, even mix of rainbows and browns
Conditions & HatchesWarmest day in three weeks. High 43 degrees and sunny, low right around freezing. About 5" of snow on the ground to start the day, but only about 3" by the end. Pretty decent caddis hatch as well as midges

Details and Discussion

Motrout's profile picture
Posts: 319
Motrout on Jan 29, 2011January 29th, 2011, 3:00 pm EST
This is my last winter here in Missouri, so I've been doing a fair bit of fishing. The Current River is a spring creek, and wintertime can actually be one of the best times to fish it. On warm, sunny winter days, you can often find a spotty caddis hatch, and almost surely some midges to get the fish looking up, so I couldn't resist.

I decided to get up real early and get to the river right at dawn. I know an early start isn't necessary in the winter, but I just sort of felt like making a whole day out of it. There were of course no bugs on the water that early, so I started with a #20 Pheasant Tail nymph. The first three hours or so until about nine o'clock were really slow. I got two fish on the Pheasant tail, one rainbow and one brown. Both were in the 10 to 11 inch range.

Then about 9:30 or so, the air temp nudged into the upper 30s and I started to see bugs. The fishing started to pick up on my nymph, and by about 11 O'clock there were just enough caddis on the water to get a few fish rising. But just a few... I really had to target specific fish instead of just fishing the water, as there were still many more fish taking nymphs and pupae and various other under water fare than dries. I didn't get my first fish on a dry fly until noon, a 12 inch brown on a #16 Elk Hair Caddis. It isn't often you get to take fish on decent sized dry flies at this time of year, so I got a real kick out of that. By about 1:30 or so, the air temperature hit 40 and things really kicked into gear. It still wasn't a very heavy hatch, but there were plenty of heads up by this point for it to be pretty good sport, and the catching was pretty darn good for awhile. It started to taper of about 3:30 and it was really getting slow by 4. After that, I switched back the the nymph and got a few more, but it was pretty much over. Still a great day on the water-that's the good thing about spring creeks, that you can find some good dry fly fishing in the winter when the conditions are right. That is one thing I will miss about Missouri fishing.
The stream was really low and clear, and the water temperature was right around 44 degrees. I was fishing about 3 miles downriver from the headwater springs.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Feb 1, 2011February 1st, 2011, 4:25 am EST
MO, glad to hear somebody is catching trout at this time of the year. Up here in Oscoda, it's too damned cold to do anything but cross-country skiing. I now live within walking distance of steelhead fishing but I haven't even thought about it, it's so cold that line guides will just ice right up and make fly fishing just plain miserable if not impossible. Plus, we keep getting more snow...I am thinking of investing in some snow shoes so I can reach the river in case the temps reach into the low thirties one of these days, probably wishful thinking...

Keep nailing 'em and send us some pictures to warm our souls up here in The Land of Ice and Snow!

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Feb 3, 2011February 3rd, 2011, 4:17 am EST
Way to go MO (soon to be MT)! You can do the catching for us.

Jonathan, did you say cold??? And snowshoes???

Not to try an one-up here, but it was 20below(F) here the last couple nights -not the usual thing here. Here's what I've been doing:

Do like the locals -Snowshoes on snowshoes.
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Feb 3, 2011February 3rd, 2011, 5:03 am EST
Some tying material there, Paul?

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Feb 4, 2011February 4th, 2011, 7:58 am EST
Yes. I like mountain cottontail the best. It's a dun color that makes great mayfly wings/legs. MC's have longer foot hair than other cottontails which is a plus. This fly, a Drunella pattern for mountain water, uses MC foot hair for wings, legs, and dubbing.

Quick Reply

Related Discussions

Last Reply
Feb 17, 2015
by Kschaefer3
Mar 26, 2009
by West
Troutnut.com is copyright © 2004-2024 (email Jason). privacy policy