Hex vs. Drake

When Bear Andrews first asked me to go with him to Labrador, he enticed me with descriptions of the big “Hex” fly hatches and spectacular rises by monster Brookies. It worked. I couldn’t wait to see that. Brook Trout have always been my favorite trout and a chance to catch a true leviathan was too much… I HAD to go.

Well, the hatches materialized and so did the Brookies. Bear wasn’t pulling my leg. Labrador turned out to be everything he said it was. At one point, I was crouched down in the boat with my camera lens focused on a big Hex just a couple of feet away. Fish were rising all around us, but I wanted a photo to commemorate the occasion. I was waiting for a big Brookie to come along and snatch up that fly right in front of my camera. I don’t remember how long I waited but it was several minutes.

Meanwhile, those trout were still rising and I was getting antsy. Finally I couldn’t take it any more. As soon as I stood up a huge Brook Trout rose right in front of me and that Hex I was watching disappeared. 

The “Hex” fly of Labrador is a fly they call the Green Drake. It’s actually a close relative of Hexagenia limbata, or what fishermen in Michigan call the “Michigan Mayfly”. It’s considered the to be the filet mignon of trout flies by most trout. Fishing the Hex hatch in Michigan is one of the major highlights of our fishing season. This is when the big boys come out of the woodwork to play… especially at dark.

The photo accompanying this story is a Green Drake or Hex fly. I like the photo because my wedding ring had turned upside down and the image of a mayfly matching the one on my hand can be seen. No… I didn’t plan it that way. Just a happy accident. One of my best friends made our wedding rings for my wife and I, and since I’m a fanatic fly fisherman, and so is my friend, I naturally asked for a Hex fly on it. My wife chose a Dragonfly for hers. At the end of our wedding ceremony my wife and I walked beneath a row of crossed fly rods held by my fly fishing buddies. It’s my favorite photo from our wedding. Our minister understood, he’s a fisherman too.

Oh by the way… the crossed fly rods was my wife’s idea! She’s a keeper.

Minipi Guides Report – July 2014

July month, it seems, was a continuation of June month with bad weather including rain and wind keeping water levels consistently high. A couple of days saw wind speeds of 60km (37 miles) per hour making fishing a real challenge.

A huge brown drake hatch at Big Hairy on July 14 was just that, hairy! making it almost impossible for fishermen to entice trout to artificial patterns because of an abundance of available natural ones. Frustrating experiences like this often meant landings were limited to two or three fish at best. Duncan Lewis, a long-time angler at Minipi confirmed that he’s seen a hatch similar to this one several years ago at Little Minipi.

Green drakes, which for the most part is an evening hatch, popped up at Lover Boy Cove, Lily Pads, Man-a-war and West Bay. Those morsels no doubt brought brookies to the surface! According to Lee Wulff in an article written in 1969, he clearly states that those fish are conditioned to eating mayflies, giving them a football appearance. The landings during this time picked up tremendously.

This hatch acted as a somewhat silver lining as properly presented dries served as a skullduggery in fooling those squaretails to their artificial drakes, stimulators, and Wulff pattern; flies of choice which seemed to work fine for those mayflies.

Fly-outs to Little Minipi and Minipi meant a substantial increase in July landings with the river fishing at little Minipi producing 3-5 pounders with 6-7 pounders a common occurrence. Access to the Penalty Box at Minipi, after a slight drop in water levels, turned out to be a great asset.

Like last year, fishing at Halfway Outlet has been fairly good, but access to the Foam Pool has been hampered by a slow runoff – making for treacherous walking over those rocks.

With August month upon us the brookies coloration is changing to its typical crimson look, suggesting that spawning is not far away. This means only one thing: you should include bombers, muddlers, and mice in your arsenal.