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The Hex Hatch

by Brent Borcherdt
Schmidt Outfitters

The hex hatch is the most fabled and sought-out hatches of all Michigan's insect hatches. Anglers from far and wide will soon arrive in northern Michigan to stand on the bank of their favorite fishing hole and stare up into the sky in hopes that the bugs will come. We do this for good reason--the largest fish in the rivers feed on the surface and show themselves to us. Large browns will feed vigorously on hex bugs, and this allows us to target them while their guard is down.

The hex hatch is usually a nighttime occurrence. The first bugs may appear in the air around 9:30, with numbers building as darkness nears. When the bugs hit the water, it does not take the fish long to notice and start feeding. If you have put yourself in the right spot and Mother Nature cooperates, it could be your chance at a fish of a lifetime.

There are many factors that lead to a good night of hex fishing, some you can't control, but many you can. By keeping these tips in mind you will have a much better chance at connecting with a trophy. The hatch will always start in a warmer section of a river first and will move to cooler stretches as the hex season progresses. These bugs are burrowing mayflies and live in a habitat that has slower water with muck or marl areas, not fast, rocky bottoms. Do your homework during the day. Scout out your location that you want to fish, take some practice casts, and see how your fly acts in the currents. Also take mental notes of trees around you and other things that could affect you in the dark. Make sure that you have a few different patterns; some fish get wise, so if one pattern is not working, try another. Once the hatch is going, try to only use your headlamp when you have to and never shine it towards the fish (unless you are netting it.) If you do have a feeding fish, try to pattern his feeding; trout may feed every four to twenty seconds, but take notice and try to have your fly on the water when you think he will feed again.

There are many more things to say about the hatch and fishing, but this is just an article and not a book on hex fishing, so the last few things are the most important things to remember. Keep trying! It is not one of the most rewarding ways to catch a fish because it is easy. Stay SAFE! Things can happen in the dark when you are not paying attention. And take your camera--you have to get a photo!

We look forward to seeing all of you during your adventures this summer. Remember, the fly shop will have all the equipment, flies, and information to help your evening go well. Our guides are available to take you out and share our indepth knowledge and tactics for this great time of year. Good luck! 



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