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.

Horseheads, NY

Posts: 4
Jlively on Jun 29, 2011June 29th, 2011, 5:33 pm EDT
Here in the southern tier of New York State the trout season is going down as one of the worst in recent memory due to the greatly reduced mayfly and caddis hatches being experienced. This is reported for streams in Chemung, Tioga, and Steuben County in NY as well as in Pine Creek in northcentral PA. (The Delaware system seems to be more or less 'normal'.)

What are the common causes of this? We had record precipitation in April and May, but no real heavy, scouring floods. Could that impact the hatches?

What are others seeing in the rest of the mid-Atlantic states? In Michigan? An off-year there also?
JOHNW's profile picture
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
JOHNW on Jun 29, 2011June 29th, 2011, 6:03 pm EDT
I question the assertion that the hatches were off. I would wager that the bugs were present and did their thing. However with the volume of water the fish were not as inclined to spend the extra energy moving up in the water colum and fighting the current. While I don't frequent the areas you mention I can speak for what I observered here in the central and southern portios of the state.
While the dry fly fishing was less than stellar the over # of fish seemed pretty typical and the fish, especially in non stocked streams, seemed a litlle fatter and a lot fiestier. Of course that is purely my subjective take on the matter.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
Konchu's profile picture
Site Editor

Posts: 498
Konchu on Jun 29, 2011June 29th, 2011, 6:34 pm EDT
When we have heavy or steady precip, the hatches and aquatic insect populations, in general, seem to be sparser, but I think they're just more spread out in space and time, with the numbers equal to, or greater than, drier years. The stream behind my house is an example. I'm seeing Paraleptophlebia and Acentrella spp hatching now that usually finish up in late May, but I have not seen high numbers this year at all. When the water levels drop and current slows, the hatches seem to try and beat the deteriorating conditions (likely due to warmer conditions speeding their physiologies); otherwise, the species cohorts seem to be more spread out and even somewhat asynchronous.
Horseheads, NY

Posts: 4
Jlively on Jun 30, 2011June 30th, 2011, 2:51 am EDT
I suppose it could be partly perception vs. reality, in that anglers didn't see hatches because we weren't fishing, due to the high water. But the (few) times the creeks came down to fishable levels, the hatches just haven't been there.
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Jun 30, 2011June 30th, 2011, 5:30 am EDT
What Konchu said.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Flatstick96's profile picture
Posts: 127
Flatstick96 on Jun 30, 2011June 30th, 2011, 9:21 am EDT
Unlike many on this site, I know essentially nothing about bugs (the entomology side of fly fishing just isn't something I've ever really focused on). So, if this is a stupid question, cut me some slack. :-)

I grew up in central NY and fished the streams in that area a lot for a number of years - now I only get up there once per year, always in the summer. Last summer when I was there, the streams were, across the board, CONSIDERABLY lower and warmer than I'd ever seen them in my life - it was surreal how absolutely horrible the stream conditions were.

My question: what impact, if any, would the brutal drought conditions of last summer have on the insects this year?
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Jun 30, 2011June 30th, 2011, 9:37 am EDT
OK, here are a layman's thoughts. I'll leave it to the experts to add more informed analyses. It would seem that hatches on any one stream are affected by a number of variables including water quality (affected by weather, nearby development, pollution, plant growth, and many other factors); other weather related concerns such as temperature, water level, water speed, etc.; predation (which can vary depending on predator populations); available food sources, etc. While one might determine the overall effect of drought, any increase or decrease in a hatch might be equally or more due to another variable. I would venture to guess that only a carefully controlled study could give relatively accurate and objective analyses.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jun 30, 2011June 30th, 2011, 1:45 pm EDT
Here in Michigan back in May, I was out on the Pine River in high, off-color water conditions due to a LOT of spring rain and snowmelt from several heavy snowfalls this past winter. There was a heavy Hendrickson/Red Quill hatch going on in spite of water conditions, and absolutely NO fish were feeding on them. So, the hatch was right on time as far as the season goes, but the fishing wasn't happening because of the high and muddy water.

Just my 2 cents...

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

Posts: 498
Konchu on Jun 30, 2011June 30th, 2011, 3:29 pm EDT
I'd probably expect lower numbers following a drought, especially in smaller streams. Less difference the bigger you get. Of course, I could be full of it. I did not really think this through, just my gut response.
Keystoner's profile picture
Eugene, OR - formerly Eastern PA

Posts: 145
Keystoner on Jul 17, 2011July 17th, 2011, 6:39 pm EDT
Early in March, and into June I had also heard talk of hatches being "off" on the streams of Eastern PA due to the massive ammount of rain we experienced there, and the prolonged period of time that so many of our streams had spent in flood stage. Don't know if that's worth a damn, it's just what I heard.

Personally, I didn't pay any of this much heed. My general opinion being, "they're in there, they must be eating something." Just a matter of dialing in just what that is. Pretty much, just like any other day.

Just another 2 cents. With all the 2 cents' we should be just about at a dollar!! Right??
"Out into the cool of the evening, strolls the Pretender. He knows that all his hopes and dreams, begin and end there." -JB
Jesse's profile picture
Posts: 378
Jesse on Jul 18, 2011July 18th, 2011, 6:16 pm EDT
Every year just like every day on the water is different. Bugs hatch in different weather conditions that we sometimes expect and other times are rather surprised. Due the strange weather year bugs and their life cycles are obviously going to be skewed. Yeah their might not be as many hatching, but oh well that doesn't mean that its not going to pick up! Just recently ive witnessed great hatches in the middle of the day with blue bird skies and trout sipping all over. The next day and days following ive witnessed ZERO activity on overcast days and no surfacing fish. Haha just strange and unpredictable but hey, i guess humans can't control everything in the world (thank God)!!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.

Quick Reply

Related Discussions

Last Reply
May 17, 2009
May 27, 2011
by PaulRoberts
Jul 28, 2014
by Gus
Aug 28, 2006
by Troutnut
Troutnut.com is copyright © 2004-2024 (email Jason). privacy policy