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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 Setvena wahkeena (Perlodidae) (Wahkeena Springfly) Stonefly Nymph from Mystery Creek #199 in Washington
As far as I can tell, this species has only previously been reported from one site in Oregon along the Columbia gorge. However, the key characteristics are fairly unmistakable in all except for one minor detail:
— 4 small yellow spots on frons visible in photos
— Narrow occipital spinule row curves forward (but doesn’t quite meet on stem of ecdysial suture, as it's supposed to in this species)
— Short spinules on anterior margin of front legs
— Short rposterior row of blunt spinules on abdominal tergae, rather than elongated spinules dorsally
I caught several of these mature nymphs in the fishless, tiny headwaters of a creek high in the Wenatchee Mountains.
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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Report at a Glance

General RegionMissouri Ozarks
Specific LocationMeramec River
Dates Fished6/18
Time of Daymorning to mid-afternoon
Fish Caughtbrown trout, smallmouth bass, longear sunfish
Conditions & Hatches-warm to downright hot (90ish degrees at midday)
-water temp in 60s below spring branch, much warmer above
-If there was anything hatching, it wasn't enough to interest the trout

Details and Discussion

Motrout's profile picture
Posts: 319
Motrout on Jun 20, 2014June 20th, 2014, 8:25 am EDT
This will be a bit of a bland report, and regrettably, without pictures. I forgot the camera.

Wednesday (6-18) I was able to make it to what I'll call an interesting stretch of the Meramec River. The Meramec, as a whole, is a smallmouth bass stream, and a good one too. It's right up there with the Jacks Fork, Gasconade, other ozark streams on the smallie fishing pantheon.

But about 30 miles downstream from its headwaters, Maramec Spring Branch dumps in. The spring branch is awfully pretty, but as a trout fishery, is not a place you want to find yourself. It's stocked heavily, put and take, more crowds than you can handle and still come away sane. You might fish there in the winter, but in the summer crowds, for my sake it might as well be a nuclear fallout zone.

But it creates an interesting fishery on the Meramec River (yes, the spelling of the spring branch and the river are different, for some reason unknown to anyone I've ever asked.) Just above the spring, it's a lazy, meandering smallmouth stream, warm and comfortable to wet-wade in at this time of the year. The spring branch changes its character. It more than doubles the size and it picks up pace. You're now fishing deep pools and quick riffles for brown and rainbow trout, at least for a few miles.

I got to the river a little too late for my liking (about 9 AM.) I parked along Maramec Spring Branch, and walked its 3/4 mile length until it joined the river. It was full of trout, but equally full of anglers. I never felt the slightest temptation to stop off and fish.

Finally, I made it to the junction pool with the main river. Naturally, this is where you're faced with a decision. Upstream for smallmouth bass, or downstream for trout? I decided to start by moving upstream. The water just upstream from the junction is classic "frog water", not worth your time unless you like spotted bass and gar (and in the clear water, I made out plenty of both as I walked past.) Soon I came to one of my favorite smallmouth runs. A slab where an old bridge used to be created some rocky pocket water, with some nice eddies that always hold fish. Just below, it tailed out into a quick run, and finally, an aqua-marine colored pool.

In the pocket water, I took my first few fish with ease. Not smallmouth though. These were longear sunfish, the beautiful "brook trout of the Ozarks" as I call them. Really, those were the only fish I caught all day that I wish I could have posted some pictures of, even though they were the smallest by far.

Soon, I made my way to where the choppy water went over a ledge, brown gravel color fading to blue as it quickly gained depth. I took a down and across cast, and was rewarded with my first good catch of the day, a hefty 14 inch smallmouth bass. As I worked my way further down into the pool, it was more of the same, with a couple largemouth and spotted bass mixing in where it finally tailed out and got downright slow.

I truly love smallmouth fishing, but the itch to hook into a few trout eventually took over. I made my way down to the junction pool, and immediately took a nice brown. Not big, mind you, a 12-13 incher that fought just like the smallmouth upstream. But the trout fishing has been a bit of a basket case on this river the past few years, so any holdover brown that had clearly been in the river a year or two is a victory.

I don't really have much more to say. It was downhill from there, a few small browns hooked below, before the fishing dropped off where a warm tributary dumped in its turbid flows a ways downstream. It was far from a spectacular day of angling, but sometimes a little bit of variety is all you can ask for. Whatever else we have, the Ozarks have plenty of that.

"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 Jun 21, 2014June 21st, 2014, 5:07 pm EDT
MO, that sounds like a nice day of fishing! I think catching a variety is fun and more interesting. I like getting a mix on the trout streams I fish, sometimes on the Pine you can get brookies, browns, and rainbows in the same trip (though not on the Rifle as the mainstem gets too warm for brookies).

I also love longear sunfish, they sure are pretty! Caught lots of them in Texas and Missouri. In Texas, there were redbreasted sunfish in the San Marcos and other rivers, and if there is a most trout-like sunfish, this species is it! Bright orange and blue in color, more slender than other sunfish species with a longer tail, grow to 10 inches or more, and feed on caddisflies at sundown just like trout! They like Woolly Buggers and other streamers equally well. I actually never made it to the Guadalupe River for trout fishing, because the San Marcos was right in town! And had plenty of bass, other sunfish species, and even a cichlid called locally the Rio Grande perch (everything in TX with a spiny dorsal that is not a bass they call a "perch"). Got 'em all on the fly rod! Even hooked and lost a pretty good-sized spotted gar in there one night...


P.S. I know a few of your waters from the time I lived and fished there, and they don't come much prettier!
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Motrout's profile picture
Posts: 319
Motrout on Jun 21, 2014June 21st, 2014, 7:25 pm EDT
The Texas hill country is an area I need to fish sometime......sounds like some interesting fly fishing in a place where not too many fly fisherman would think to go.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach

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