Yesterday afternoon I went up to a vantage point here the River can be visualized 10 miles in both upstream and down, looking for clear water after 2+” of rain.
The River was linear ‘chocolate milk’ for as far as 10 X 50 binocs could see. I felt a bug land on my arm. Experience teaches the wisdom of looking before you swat. The bug was a mayfly, a.k.a. shadfly, river fly…or hexagenia.
Experience also teaches when a shadfly lands on your arm @ 1700 hrs., 500′ above the River bottom that a whale of a hatch is about to come off. Last night was one of those nights when the hex hatch could be seen on radar.
Shadflies only live 24 hours. This morning about 7 gazillion carcasses are floating on current seams easing downstream, attracting every fish species with the ability to scarf a mouthful down.
Combine a mountain of shadflies with a linear fountain of ‘chocolate milk’ and you get a shadfly shake that no fish can resist. There are only two presentations with a hook conventional wisdom says will work under these conditions: willocat or a Pop-R topwater lure with hooks removed and a large hex fly imitation trailing behind the rear tie-eye on 40 lb. mono.
You still have the competition of 7 gazillion copies of the real thing to contend with…but the Pop-R makes fish think the commotion must mean there are some juicier bugs and come to investigate. Honestly, I don’t know what fish think…but thoughts tend to go elsewhere after about the 3rd walleye slurps in a hex fly behind a bass popper.
One more tip from the old guide…there is a bucketful of river fly carcasses beneath some light poles at the boat ramp. Two cups of carcasses blended into a jar of Sonny’s Super Sticky is a wickedly effective bait for channel cat. Applying just a dab behind each ear is a truly effective way to establish social distancing, while assuring prompt service for any purchase you are making.
The River is predicted to rise just over a foot in the next couple days, down from a projection almost 2′. The chocolate milk will pass, the bug carcasses will float away and the action on the Immortal River should be headed back towards ‘crazy good’ levels by early next week.