Here’s a lovely scene I came across today in the Driftless. Wisconsin is a rich and fertile place.
I passed the field above on my way back to work after visiting Todd Opsal at On the Creek Fly Shop in Cross Plains. I wanted to get a second opinion on mousing and the Hex hatch from Todd. On the Creek is closed on Mondays, so I went to Fontana Sports and talked with Craig Amacker, Fontana’s Fly Fishing expert. Craig pointed me toward the mouse flies and then told me the Hex hatch was starting up. So I bought a few Hex flies too.
Stephen Rose and I got out to the creek at around 8:15 with visions of 6lb trout in our eyes. There was a lot of feeding going on, but no Hex (more like midges) and no monster fish. We fished until about can’t-see-anymore O’clock and headed home, having caught two ten-inch fish on small dries. It beats a skunking, but didn’t come close to meeting our aspirations.
So I went to Cross Plains and sought out Todd, and I asked him what to do. We were taking the right approach, but the Hex hatch isn’t really “on” yet, they’re just starting to come out here and there. He suggested going out early in the morning and tossing a Hex spinner (a Hex with its wings laying down on the water). If fish hit it that morning, you know there was a decent hatch the night before. He also said many anglers claim that if the hatch isn’t off by 10pm it isn’t happening. But Todd tells a story of a night he spent on the creek when the hatch finally came off at 1am. Goes to show Mother Nature has her own agenda. Finally, the spot we fished last night is a bit too rocky in the stream bed for Hex to really thrive. Hex bugs like a firm clay bottom. They burrow into the clay to come of age, so finding sections with this firm, slippery clay is a must for Hex success.
With an upgrade in Hex knowledge I hope to get myself in the right place at the right time sometime this season. I can still see that six-pound Brown slamming my Hex pattern and giving me a nice ride.