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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.
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10.4 lb. 30" laker from Lake Huron, in less than 20 feet of water
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on May 3, 2015May 3rd, 2015, 7:54 pm EDT
Well, I got a little bonus when the boss took me out trolling off the mouth of the Au Sable on Friday night...

This fish was taken in less than 20 feet of water, may have been as shallow as 9 or 10 feet, on a spoon that was about 5" long and had a pearlescent sheen against a black-and-white background, trolled under bead-chain sinkers. It is currently residing in my freezer in four pieces...

So, the question...how to take this bad boy on a fly rod???

I'm thinking 8- to 10-weight outfit with sink-tip or full-sinking line, maybe a some weight added at the leader, and then big 4-6" streamers cast out, sunk for a while, and then stripped irregularly back to the boat. And HANG ON, this fat boy fought HARD!

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

Posts: 398
RleeP on May 5, 2015May 5th, 2015, 1:17 pm EDT
Really nice fish, Jonathon...

I'd say do everything you suggest, but leave the full sinking line at home.

I'd use a sink-tip and wait until about a week after the ice goes out next Spring (not what you probably wanted to hear). Then move in where the water is only 8-10 feet deep and try it there.

I've landed two (I think its only two..) lakers on a fly rod. Actually, I got them on a full floating line in about 6' of water on size 1/0 6XL Grizzly King streamer with about five BB shot in front of it. They were much smaller than your fish, the biggest might have pushed 5 lb. I got them out of a lake in the NW Corner of Algonquin PP, north of Toronto many years ago. It was early May and no more than 10 days or so after the ice went out.

They were excellent eating. They are in the top tier of the best eating fresh water fish. I think a smaller Lake Trout is on a par with crappie and only slightly behind perch and walleye for eating. That's pretty exclusive territory...
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on May 6, 2015May 6th, 2015, 3:48 pm EDT
Good catch Jonathan.

As to tackle it has everything to do with where they are -how deep. I've fished full sink with leadcore heads for stripers and blues about 20ft down although I'm not sure how deep my flies actually were. Takes some time still to get flies down that deep. Best to hit lakers (and others) when they are shallow -in the spring and fall.
RMlytle's profile picture

Posts: 40
RMlytle on May 11, 2015May 11th, 2015, 1:08 pm EDT
Check this out, hope it helps some:
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on May 11, 2015May 11th, 2015, 1:27 pm EDT
Jonathon...You are doing a darn site better than this old angler so far this season! I floated the Saturday of opening day with a couple friends. We were on the mainstream of the Au Sable. Floated for 8 hours and caught one 9" Rainbow! Between three of us!

If that wasn't bad enough, the two of us that had gone fish less had to hear about it throughout dinner how this 9" fish was 900% bigger than anything anyone else in the boat had caught...:) My friend put it this way, "I caught the first fish, the last fish, the largest, and the smallest...So that's four fish to your two's zero!" Ouch! :)

The fishing up near Grayling has been difficult. Has some folks ringing their hands.

I spent a few days this past week guiding newbies around up there at my fishing club's new members outing at Wa Wa Sum Lodge owned by MSU. I fished the North Branch with two of the new members from Twin Bridge down to the DNR Access site. One of the two fish that rose to my fly took me by surprise to the point that as I set the hook I sent the poor little dink airborne! A little over anxious...You think?! :)

I wish things had been just a little more encouraging for the new members.

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on May 12, 2015May 12th, 2015, 6:41 pm EDT
I got lucky Spence, my boss (of Affiliated Researchers, http://affiliatedresearchers.com/) called me spontaneously on a Friday afternoon and said they were getting salmon and lakers off the mouth. We trolled for a good two hours before this fish finally hit on what was to be our last pass of the river mouth. There were lots of boats on the water and lots of guys casting on the piers but this was the only fish we saw caught the entire night. Took me FOREVER to get him up to the top to see what was on, our gear could have potentially caught walleye and/or salmon as well, felt like I was fighting an anchor with fins. We finally got him in sight and Rollin goes chasing him around the boat with the net, missed 3 or 4 times before we finally got him in the boat! Quite the rush!!

Yes, I have friends at Nordic Sports in Tawas (http://www.n-sport.com/ - sorry to plug for friends but one I have worked with for 16 years and the other I've shopped for about as long!) who do salmonids in shallow waters in Tawas Bay in the spring and fall, including apparently some Atlantic salmon and big lake-run browns. I suppose I should equip myself with some modern cold-weather clothing and go out with the kayak for them, after all I do have an 8-weight outfit and some really big flies (6/0 musky hooks from Orvis) that I tied for fun a few years ago. This particular night we were out was really beautiful, you could have easily taken a kayak out on the lake and just drift and cast...hard to cover as much water as trolling, especially with two or more lines in the water, but then again my boss says he always nails the fish right off the north pier...drift, cast, paddle back, drift, cast, paddle back...I haven't done this kind of fishing yet, I should give it a try, walleye move in and out of the river too...

Thanks for all of the kind comments from you guys. I've had some health issues lately and haven't been out as much as usual, but as soon as I'm better I owe my favorite spots a good pounding. From what I hear from Spence I may not have missed much yet. We FINALLY got a good several days of rain - hooray, no forest fires reaching my pine-surrounded house!! - and with what a dry winter and spring we have had I suppose my local streams need a good "cleaning out" and spring flush to get things going. Not to mention morels!!

Will send more reports as I recover and get to my spots...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on May 13, 2015May 13th, 2015, 11:43 am EDT
Hey Jon,

When lake trout move into the shallows, they are excellent gamefish for fly anglers. They love streamers! Next time your buddy takes you, try trolling one on a sinking fly line and hold on. If you find a concentration of them and if he's willing to anchor the boat, it's possible to have one of the best experiences of your angling life casting to them. In Alaska and Maine, I've had tremendous days with multiple fish over 10 lbs. On a 7 or 8 wt rod they are a handful. :)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Partsman's profile picture
bancroft michigan

Posts: 321
Partsman on May 17, 2015May 17th, 2015, 5:58 am EDT
Jonathon, I hope you are doing well and will be able to get out soon. I was up last Tuesday and while that little river is low and clear I still had a pretty good day. A stonefly nymph seemed to be the ticket. Take care and be well, Mike.

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