Hexagenia Hassles   4 comments

Last night I did a little in-the-field empirical data gathering regarding that wonderful winged creature called the Hexagenia Limbata. I think the whole affair put a hex on my lumbago, but it was kind of a cool experience.

I’ll set the scene.

I motorcycled 30 minutes west to a “top secret” spot on Black Earth Creek. I arrived creekside at about 8:25. To my delight there weren’t any other anglers around. The wind was light, the sun was setting behind the trees, and I was eagerly anticipating some epic action.

After parking myself along the creek I noticed a few fish rising. I cast to them using some smaller caddis patterns, emergers, even nymphs, but no luck.

At around 9:30 the water began to come alive. There were tiny little rise forms all over, and very subtle “popping” sounds, almost like someone had thrown a Rice Crispie into the water here and there.


Tiny Riseforms on Black Earth Creek

Tiny Riseforms on Black Earth Creek



The fish started to come alive, but it wasn’t a frenzy. I tied on a #14 caddis pattern and had a few swipes at it, but didn’t connect. It’s tough to sight fish in the dark.

I waited some more, listening to the bullfrogs call out to one another. The moon was up, the mosquitoes were few, and the sounds of the night were all around.


Waiting for something to happen...

Waiting for something to happen…


Then another flurry of activity. It was now about 9:45. This time I thought for sure the hex hatch was beginning. Slowly at first, then with more regularity, there were “things” happening. Just what those things were I couldn’t tell. I had a nice view of the water with the moon reflecting off it’s surface, and I could see bugs skating along on the film like tiny motorboats seen from an airplane. But I wasn’t spotting the beautiful sails of those Hex bugs. I was expecting a swarm of hex flies carpeting the water and the sky, but it didn’t happen.


A few bugs on BEC

A little motorboat bug on BEC


I took some flash pics and upon reviewing them today, I believe there may have been a few Hex flies in the mix, but for the most part it was a mixed bag. See for yourself.


Some Bugs hatching after dark on BEC

Some Bugs hatching after dark on BEC


Is that a Hex?

Is that a Hex?


Fly away!

Fly away!


Caddis on BEC

Caddis on BEC


After this hatch stopped popping, things quieted down. I sat until about 10:30, decided to go home, then convinced myself that maybe the Hex would still emerge. But they didn’t. There’s something about sitting out in nature well into the night. You hear sounds you don’t hear during the day. Like crunching grass and Bullfrogs. And very large fish eating things off the surface of the creek.

Do you know how a little fish sounds when it slams a bug off the surface of the water? It sounds small. Quick. Sharp.

A big fish sounds large. The sounds of it splashing takes up more space in the spectrum of audible wavelengths. The sound of it on the surface is bracketed on either end by the sound of it rising and returning to the depths.

I heard this sound last night, but only once or twice. Big fish only rise when it’s worthwhile. It startled me and then left me longing to hear it again.

I hope to return some night to see the Hex hatching out of the mud, to see those little-but-big sails drifting along on the water, to see the frenzy that occurs when the fish realize it’s time to eat. And maybe to catch a few of those big fish who’ll surely come out to play.




4 responses to “Hexagenia Hassles

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  1. Dude that is some really cool shit.

    Nice post. This is the kind of thing worth doing on this blog space. Love it.

    • Yep, I’m glad I went out even if it felt a little crazy. That’s sort of the idea of fly fishing. It’s a crazy way to catch fish. I thought I’d have a lot more casting mishaps in the dark, but I didn’t get tangled up and I didn’t lose any flies.

      Getting comfortable in nature at night really opens up a lot of things you just can’t see during the day. I kind of liked it.

  2. Excellent! You have to read “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”. I’m sure it’s in the library. Get some sleep.


    Margaret Anderson

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