Hex time on ol’ man river

Hex time on ol’ man river

It is Independence Day! Boat ramps were jammed by 8 a.m. I grabbed the dog and headed for a close one to observe the spectacle, but more important, to see if we had a major hex hatch overnight. Here on the River hexegenia are commonly called mayflies, shad flies or River flies.

They only live for 24 hours, with the hatch coming off around dusk on a sultry summer evening about July 4. The conditions are perfect for this to happen tonite. But the major hatch could come off in a day or two. 10-14 days after that there will be another major, then maybe a smaller one or two into August.

There is true majesty in this event. I can remember a snowplow being used to clear them from the Savanna-Sabula bridge when I was a kid. I’ve seen them hang so heavy on trees that major limbs broke off.  The hatch on Independence Day 2014 was a real beauty, creating a bow echo on radar similar to one a major tornado might make.

A couple of times I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the River as a major hatch was coming off.  It was like being in a heavy anti-gravity snowstorm. Awesome. Beautiful. Humbling.

But the real dose of humility comes when trying to catch fish after a hatch. With so much food in the water, fish aren’t eager to eat anything else.

Ironically, the best fishin’ is usually where the hatch is heaviest–confluences with tributaries and moving water close to marshy habitat.

The most efficient weapon is a large floating hex fly imitation on a #4 weight flyrod.The hex hatch and those times when bluegills are on the beds are the only times my use of a wand like that is marginally productive.

A 1/16 oz. marabou jig suspended 6″ below a pencil float will catch fish. So will a clear Chug Bug with the rear treble replaced by a short dropper line of 80 lb. test mono and a hex or similar streamer fly.

It is possible to catch a half-dozen different species on as many casts when a heavy hatch is on the water. I’ve caught walleyes on dry flies and a flyrod during these conditions.

The bite is far from easy when there is so much food in the water. Something a little different–like a fly behind a topwater lure– is usually the best option.

Happy Independence Day America! May Old Glory forever fly FREE! God Bless the U.S.A. !



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