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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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Jmd123 has attached these 8 pictures. The message is below.
First of the evening, on a White Wulff
Another fat one on a Brown Drake
Hey, largemouth like mayflies too!!
Last and biggest of the night, on a #6 Hex pattern
The flies that worked
Wildflowers, of course!  Poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is just starting to bloom
Last but not least!  My daughter Jasmina was visiting last weekend, though she didn't go fishing with me...that's the mouth of the Au Sable in the background
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 9:50 am EDT
With our nice stable weather and reasonably high temperatures, I figured the Hex was getting near. Yesterday as I was getting ready for a class field trip (bass pond at Clark's Marsh) I saw big mayflies on the steps of our local campus (Huron Shores). So I headed out to Cooke to do some dry fly fishing for those big, blocky smallmouth. About 5 minutes after getting out on the water a smallmouth hit, fought for about a minute, and threw the hook on a #2 all-chartreuse hairwing streamer fly. I moved slightly further downstream (it's more like a river than a lake in this location), having seen a few rises, and put on a #12 White Wulff, having seen some white mayflies that looked like Light Cahills. Missed the first strike, then boated two nice smallies, 17" and 15". By this point I started seeing a LOT of Brown Drakes floating past me and a LOT of feeding fish all around me, so on went a Brown Drake pattern in size 6 like last time...two more nice smallmouth, one of 18 1/2", and a largemouth of about 16", who was feeding very close to shore and jumped several times trying to throw the hook. Well, the mayflies just kept coming after it started to get dark, and they started looking more yellow than brown, so I switched to a Hex pattern in size 6 and got one more fish, a 19" smallie that is only 1/2" shy of my personal record. My wrist was getting sore holding on to these brutes!

Our summer hatch season has begun, and it can only get better from here on out! Too bad the big flies don't hatch on any of my local trout waters, but the Rifle gets a killer Light Cahill hatch that gets the water boiling pretty good!

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Adirman's profile picture
Monticello, NY

Posts: 479
Adirman on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 2:37 pm EDT
Nice! I love flyfishing for Bass in the Summer, nice fish, thanks for the pics :)
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 2:51 pm EDT
Wow! Nice fish! On the 3 wt, Jonathon?
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 4:01 pm EDT
No, Kyle, I must admit that I used my 9' 5wt to reach out for more distance and to propel bigger streamers. Two years ago I managed to boat an 18-incher on the little 3, honestly now I don't know how I did that! (I even landed a 19.5" on it once...insane!) These guys just pulled like hell and I'm not sure little 3 would stand up to the strain...still not bad considering most folks go after bass with a 7 or 8 weight, and most folks wouldn't think of fishing mayflies for rising bass either! Gotta love smallies, hit dry flies just like trout and fight even harder.

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 5:42 pm EDT
Awesome smallmouth on the dry fly. Congratulations. I'm envious!
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Partsman's profile picture
bancroft michigan

Posts: 321
Partsman on Jun 27, 2016June 27th, 2016, 4:13 pm EDT
Just got back from Arizona, love your pics, fish and wonderful daughter. My daughter and granddaughter flew out there with my wife and myself. Sort of a family reunion, and I must admit as I get older my family means so much more to me than anything. Hopefully I will be up fishing on Thursday.
TimCat's profile picture
Alanson, MI

Posts: 121
TimCat on Jun 27, 2016June 27th, 2016, 4:57 pm EDT
Smallies on the surface rival any fish. My first experience with them on the fly was last year on the Huron River. I Was fishing sliders and streamers but I've never had a "match the hatch" experience. Nice
"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather not catch anything on flies" - Bob Lawless
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Jul 3, 2016July 3rd, 2016, 7:40 am EDT
Awesome fishing Jonathon! Congrats1

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May 18, 2011
by Jmd123
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