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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.

Bcvizina
Northern Michigan

Posts: 30
Bcvizina on Feb 4, 2011February 4th, 2011, 12:04 am EST
I thought the fish species life list was an interesting topic, and led me to think about the wildlife I've seen while fly-fishing.

Last summer, I was wading on the downstream side of a log that went across the entire surface of the river. When I heard something splash over the log, I thought it was one of my fishing buddies who had been upstream. It happened to be a whitetail fawn from spring. It continued to make it's way down the narrow stream while he looked at me as he swam by.

Also, I was fishing on an inland warm-water lake when a loon popped up less than 5 feet from my canoe. Once it noticed I was there, it just dove back under and was miles away by the next time I saw him.

... I remember reading in a book somewhere about a whitetail adult and two fawns playing in a watering hole during broad daylight. I think stories like that are cool.

Brent
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Feb 4, 2011February 4th, 2011, 2:53 am EST
Brent, I once had two different species of turtles poke at my creel (which happened to be holding a 12" brown at the time) while flyfishing on the Maple River back in '88. One was a painted turtle and the other was a Blanding's turtle. I also once saw a big snapper in the Huron River in Ann Arbor, which just hunkered down and pretended to be a rock. And on the San Marcos River (TX) in 2005 I had a snapper run into my leg! He just bumped into me, sat there for a few seconds, and then moved on downstream...also saw a good-sized water snake out there one night, though one local Texan thought it was a "water moccasin" - every snake in the water is a "water moccasin" to some people, though it looked more like a diamondbacked water snake to me.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
RleeP
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Feb 4, 2011February 4th, 2011, 5:11 am EST
12-13 years ago, we canoed/portaged into Quetico Prov. Park in Ontario, adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. In terms of fishing, it was a crappy trip. They had an unseasonably warm May and the smallmouth (our primary quarry) went on the beds early. Then, the last week of the month just before went up, the bottom fell out of the thermometer and they had several inches of snow. We arrived on the front end of a 4 day NW blow after the frontal passage and it never got over 50 degrees until our 2nd to last day there. The fish went into this stunned state that is pretty common with this sort of weather and we had a hard time catching much of anything but northerns about the size and shape of a decent axe handle.

We were camped on an island (keeps the bear problems down some) on Fran Lake in the southeast corner of the park and had just finished a supper of nuts, other gunky coagulates falling under the broad spectrum of "granola" and berries (we had figured on fish, but they were few and far between up to that point). My buddy went down to the shore and yelled for me to come down and have a look. There were Hex duns all over the place and they were just getting started. Pretty soon, we saw the first rise rings and knew the bass were on them. So, we grabbed the rods, scampered down to the canoe and pushed off. There were bass working everywhere and we soon each had a good one on. Then we looked over at a small indentation, a mini-bay along the near shoreline less than a quarter mile away from us and saw that the cow moose and her two calves we had seen there were still standing in the shallows. We were drifting in that general direction and I wondered aloud how much berth we should give Mama Moose. We were within about 200 yards or so of her at that point. We thought we were fine. But we weren't. Next thing we knew, here she came, hell bent for election right at us, swimming hard. Don't let anybody tell you that a moose can't make time in the water. For the next 45 seconds or so, she was gaining on us even with both my buddy and me paddling full out.

Than, point proven, she suddenly stopped and turned and went back to the calves.

We passed up a lot of risers the rest of the evening making sure we were at least 300 or more yards from her.
Troutnut
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Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Feb 4, 2011February 4th, 2011, 10:08 am EST
I'd like to give you a cool Alaska bear story, but all my AK bear stories are this: "I saw the bear from a good distance and I left without incident." Then again, maybe I don't want to have a good one.

I do have one from Wisconsin, not a close call but an interesting experience. I was floating the Brule in a canoe with my mom, and we heard this hideous, tortured screaming coming from somewhere up ahead on the river. As we drifted closer we saw some patches of black in the bushes, and then some brown, and some red...

Turns out it was a black bear cub slowly killing a little spotted whitetail deer fawn. Both of them would have been calendar-cover-cute if they weren't drenched in blood from one dismembering the other... it was like watching a teddy bear ax-murder Bambi. Seeing such a grisly scene play out between two adorable baby animals gave me sort of a satisfying sense that nature plays by her own rules, and doesn't give a rip what humans find cute. Predator eats prey, aesthetics be damned.

Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Feb 4, 2011February 4th, 2011, 6:07 pm EST
Not a fly fishing story here, but one akin to Jason's story...I'm up here at the University of Michigan Biological station right now, for the annual cross-country ski weekend. One summer the folks here at "Bug Camp" adopted a "pet" chipmunk, and fed the little fella some scraps from dinner. He (or she) got used to the feeding and would show up every night waiting to be fed. Well, one night here was Little Chippie, getting fed his (or her) snacks, and right in front of everybody a weasel sneaks up and NAILS IT, killing it and hauling it off to eat it. Well, of course, everybody was so upset! A professor told me, "Everyone is up here to study the course of nature, and then it happens in front of them and they are so pissed!"

Nature doesn't have any qualms about cruelty, it's EAT OR BE EATEN. That's why browns eat brookies, and pike eat them all...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Feb 4, 2011February 4th, 2011, 6:15 pm EST
OK, while I'm at it, another river story...

Again this is not strictly fly fishing, but it was while I was floating the Au Sable River to INTERVIEW fisherman (creel census data for the MI DNR), so perhaps it counts after all...

We are floating a trout-fishing stretch of the Au Sable, and we hear a great blue heron squawking it's head off. BRAAAAACK BRAAAAACK BRAAAACK...We come around a bend and see the heron standing there, and a bald eagle flying away with a fish in it's talons...either the bald eagle was fishing in the heron's territory and pissed off the heron, or the bald eagle STOLE the fish FROM the heron...That's our National Bird for ya! Maybe Ben Franklin was right and we should have picked the Turkey instead...

;oD

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

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