Turks Turantula fly pattern
Durk's Streamside Hex
Author with first fish
Hex hatch with clouds of hex swarming in mid August
Well if you thought Hex fishing was long gone, you should have been with the Fly Rod and Gun crew, John Vincent from Flymart Flyshop (now closed), Huron River guide Dirk Fischbach and myself Monday evening, August 19th, 2002 as we ventured down to Michigan's Huron River for some smallmouth bass action.?
John Vincent, Jerry and Steve Kunnath of Fly Rod and Gun decided they would shoot a video show on the subject. We all met at a local spot yesterday around 4 PM. We packed up the gear in my truck and head for Ann Arbor, Michigan. This was a short drive but traffic is always tough in the afternoon. As we talked about the prospect of catching and releasing huron river smallies on dry flies, there was an air of excitement.
We would be meeting up with Dirk at one of his favorite local access points. After a little trouble locating the spot, we arrived on time, about 1 hour later. This section of the Huron runs literally through Ann Arbor, Michigan.
We had taken the opportunity to read a few chapters, in Dirk's book. Once there we jumped into our waders and rigged up our fly rods. We all would be fishing five weight rods since the activity was on the surface and we would be casting #4 - #6 size HEX spinners. I elected for a 6 weight rod, as I had forgotten to bring John Vincent's sage rod with me and had to hand over my R.L. Winston 8'9 LT 5 weight to him, as punishment. He smiled and told me this was his favorite rod anyway. I rigged up a BL5 6 weight with DT line and a 7 foot leader.
Dirk arrived welcomed us to his neck of the woods and we all introduced ourselves. He took few minutes to discuss the area we would working and recommendations on tippet size and flies. Dirk said that pre-hatch, a hopper dropper rig or a Turks Tarantula would be a good bet and good possibly get the attention of willing river smallmouth.
With none in my fly box, I opted for a hex nymph that I had tied a few of for the big Hex hatches on the Au Sable. They had not seen any action as I had missed the hatch up north which was really spotty anyway. Dirk thought they would be a good choice here as well. He and I discussed the hatch a little and he told us that the Hex hatch on the Huron was very predictable. Unlike that famous one up north. This Hex hatch had been going for about three weeks and was still going stong Dirk said. He also mentioned that they had gotten quite a bit of rain the night before and was little concerned about the water clarity.
A short walk through the woods to the river, relieved him and us. The water had a tea stain and looked great. Jerry shot the intro to the show and we headed up the river to some nice runs. On the way up, there were a few rises that caught our attention. We stopped just short of an area we would be fishing and went streamside.
Dirk whipped out a vise and proceeded to tie up a local Hex spinner imitation right at the bank. Jerry shot the sequence on camera. It only took Dirk around a minute and a half to crank out a nice Hex fly. We then took positions on the river and started working our wares on the water. This turned out to be the quiet time before the storm.
We hooked and landed a couple of Rock Bass or Red Eyes, as I like to call them. This little fish are voracious. Jerry mentioned that If they were five feet long, they would eat us. Sometimes these little bass will take flies as large as they are. We all laughed and I thought about the hatch that was to be.It was slow so I went a little deeper by switching to a wire weighted, leather crayfish I had tied for the occasion. It is my little insurance policy fly. You know the one that you always fall back to when things are a little slow. Well just like a good insurance policy, the crayfish imitation worked and I landed the first smallie on the river.
The fish was only about 9 inches, but you could not have told him that, as het raced around in the current of the river giving me quite a smile. I quickly landed the little brute and marveled at the dark olive color this fish had. They are a lot darker then the Smallmouth I hook on Lake St. Clair and have great color variations for camouflage. The fish looked very healthy and was quickly released. We pinch our barbs down so the hook removal is fast an painless for the fish. It even helps when you get hooked accidently, which is something I painfully learned a long time ago.
The Dirk noticed the first telltale signs of a hex hatch and we all quickly switched over to hex spinners. Dirk suggested working the fly downstream since getting a good hook set is much easier than working the it upstream. When you fish them upstream you need to let the fish "turn on the fly" or you will just see a splash and get nothing in return. Dirk told us to slow down our strikes, since the smallmouth take the fly a little differently then a trout. I slowed down my reflexes and as a result, was able to consistently nail them. John Vincent had a fish on quickly as I surveyed the scene down river. Rises started to appear all around us and Dirk would start calling out targets around you if you missed the rise. The action really started to go nuts as all the fish in the river seemed to completely focus on the surface. Waiting for the next bug to float down their
This was a classic hatch, with just clouds of mayflies above us and duns floating down the river as they dried their wings. Everyone was on fish now and was I was just giggling as a result. We had two and three hookups at a time. Most of the fish ranged from about 8 to 12 inches. Dirk had mentioned that the smaller fish would be active first and we should start to look for targets. We took his advice and presented the hex to larger rises and better big fish holding areas. I landed one about 14 inches that did not want to come and visit me. That fish finally succumbed and was held up and released quickly. Lot's of woo-hoo's and other comments ensued as we nailed literally fish after fish. I have to say that this was some of the best "hex" fishing I ever had in Michigan.
The hex hatch started to slow down a bit when white drakes or ephoron's started a dance of there own. The fish quickly changed their focus to them as a result and most of the crew switched over to an appropriate pattern. Steve and I were upstream and still had a decent hex hatch going on, so we stayed with the Hex spinners and kept nailing fish. The white fly gang was doing well too. You really have to pay attention to what is going on to stay in the groove. Dirk talked us through the hatch and really demonstrated his local knowledge.
We fished until about an hour after dark working different sections of the river. The smallies sometimes turn on and just turn off like a thumb snap and that's what started happening now. While we did not get into any really big river smallies this evening, the fishing was just fantastic. Lots of great shots and a wonderful experience. Who would have thought that you could be "hex" fishing in late August. We headed back to the truck and marveled at the evening. Dirk was a great host and I would recommend anyone interested to give him a call.
We said our good-byes and headed back for home. Jerry and John watched the resulting video footage in the back of the truck and said it was just great. In the meantime I will be busy tying up a few more Hex flies to present to the fish later this week. Thanks to John, Jerry, Steve and Dirk for the wonderful time.Other Resources
Durk has a Movie on his web site you can watch filmed by Michigan-Out-Of-Doors. Check it out here
Ray owns Schmdit Outfitters, a Michigan fly fishing shop on the Manistee River.