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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.

Dorsal view of a Limnephilidae (Giant Sedges) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen resembled several others of around the same size and perhaps the same species, which were pretty common in my February sample from the upper Yakima. Unfortunately, I misplaced the specimen before I could get it under a microscope for a definitive ID.
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.
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Pryal74
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Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
Pryal74 on Feb 24, 2012February 24th, 2012, 10:56 pm EST
Has anyone been out doing any winter Steelheading? It's just starting to get good right now. Once the temp goes over 40 it only gets better, as long as the rivers or streams don't get blown out. It was brutally cold yesterday, but the last few trips I have been landing them consistently. The CFS is quite low on open rivers right now, which doesn't seem to have much effect on the Steelhead. However, I have not heard of, or hooked up with many lake-run Brown Trout, which are usually quite prevalent this time of year. Finding Steelhead hasn't been too much of a problem, thankfully. This is my biggest of 2012 so far, a 9 pound hen with great coloration.
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Feb 26, 2012February 26th, 2012, 6:17 am EST
James, you the MAN! That's an absolutely gorgeous fish. I have not been out for steelhead lately - I still haven't repaired my leaky waders! Instead, I have been ice fishing, something I haven't done in a while. Mostly perch so far, but a few days ago I took a 2-mile-plus hike, over hills to boot, into a little 7-acre lake stocked with rainbows. I hooked four, iced three, and brought one home for dinner to join the five perch already in the freezer. Not fly fishing, but hey, I'll have to drag my kayak back in there in the spring and hit it with dries, like at [REDFACTED] Pond.

No action on the brownies, huh? Maybe they can't handle the shallow water - steelhead can go up into some pretty skinny creeks to spawn, as like last spring when I found an 18-incher stuck on his belly in about 1" of water...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Pryal74
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Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
Pryal74 on Feb 26, 2012February 26th, 2012, 6:01 pm EST
Jonathon,
Thanks. Still leaking huh? It's been awfully cold, but it keeps showing signs of spring popping up here and there. We froze again today. Weather.com said 31 for the high but I doubt it was 20. It was all high winds, snow and cold! My friend and fellow Northwoods fly fisherman Ryan landed the biggest lake-run Brown Trout I have ever seen in person today. It was only in about 16 inches of water laying there. Yeah, the browns have been staying in pools in the lower section mostly. It must be due to low CFS (that's my guess anyhow.)

Glad to see you're outdoors though having some fun. Those ponds sound pretty interesting. When it warms up and you fix those waders keep me posted if you head out there. I see they have been just starting to find decent numbers of steelies trickling into the rivers by you.
FisherOfMen
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NY

Posts: 115
FisherOfMen on Feb 28, 2012February 28th, 2012, 10:27 am EST
Nice Steelie! I've been trying to talk my dad into stopping at the Salmon River on our way back from Syracuse this weekend but I don't think it's going to work out:( -Probably for the best anyway, I've heard those steelhead are pretty tough to catch, and as of my first few months of fly fishing last season I'm not so hot at the catching part... But I love the fishing part!


That is one BIG fish!
"Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught." -Author Unknown

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. -Edmund Burke
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Feb 28, 2012February 28th, 2012, 1:02 pm EST
WOW, that's a brown trout and a half! I thought it was a salmon until I read the post...of course, what would a salmon be doing in a stream in
February?

Yeah, I do need to see if I can get the waders water-tight again here eventually. You know, a few years ago I tied up a fly right around Christmas time that I called "Jonathon's Jingle Bells", because it had four (count 'em, FOUR) sets of bead chain pairs, two silver and two gold. The rest of the fly was bright green and red with gold highlights, too. Looked like a Christmas tree! And the only fish I got on it - I lost both of them that I tied, they sank pretty well as you can imagine - was a 13-inch brown, on a bright sunny Saturday right before Christmas...I have been thinking about this fly lately and I should tie some up for steelies this spring...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Pryal74
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Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
Pryal74 on Feb 28, 2012February 28th, 2012, 8:35 pm EST
@fisherofmen, thanks. Yes, steelhead seem to have some mystique about them. They are elusive and known for getting off the end of your line. I have had 2 of them already this year over ten pounds find their way off my line. One was after a good 20+ minute fight. It can make you rethink your approach on fly fishing and get you questioning your ability and shake your confidence! If you get out there, and hook a big one, you will in fact yourself, be hooked. It's a rush to land a giant steelhead.

@Johnathon, Jingle bells huh? Sounds like an interesting tie. I actually started tying a lot myself. Working on stocking my inventory for this year. I hope you get out there and find some big boys. A swimming hex pattern work REALLY well in the spring on the swing. I have a feeling we will have an early spring this year with not too much run off. If so... we are going to have another incredible spring. I hope you get out more when the trout really start moving in.
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Mar 1, 2012March 1st, 2012, 12:07 pm EST
A swimming Hex pattern, huh? I've got an old Hex nymph pattern stashed in the back of my mind I haven't played with in a while...might just have to whip (finish) some off here sometime soon! Thanks for the suggestion, sir!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Pryal74
Pryal74's profile picture
Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
Pryal74 on Mar 12, 2012March 12th, 2012, 1:41 pm EDT
@ Jmd123 I bumped into a man who is a part of an organization I joined yesterday. He had some incredible hex patterns he tied, I was stunned and amazed by the details and different ways he tied them. He also uses them quite often for Steelhead. I have a difficult time finding a pattern I think is completely accurate on the web. Let me know if you happen to find a good pattern please.
Wbranch
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York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Mar 12, 2012March 12th, 2012, 2:39 pm EDT
I would love to have seen that brown in the early fall, now it looks all beat up from spawning.

I'm leaving for the Lake Erie streams at 2:00 a.m. for dropbacks and maybe some fresh fish down near the lake. It is a 5+ hour drive for me so I'll get there at 7:00 check into the motel, grab a Burger King breakfast sandwich and head off to the stream.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.

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