Fishing MI's Au Sable Hex hatch

#1
Living in MI I consider the Au Sable my home water. I have been fortunate to fish MT and ID on more than a few trips and that is how I found this forum which I enjoy.

June is an amazing time here in MI. It brings out some of the largest mayflies which can cause the biggest trout in the river to come out to feed. Just the thought of catching one of the big boys of the river on a dry fly can put a "hex" on you ;-) I timed a week long trip to Grayling MI for the 2nd week of June to try and fish the brown drakes. Due to the very warm and early summer the brown drakes were just finishing...I was somewhat bummed. But alas, that meant the Hex was right around the corner. I fished the south branch and main stream throughout the week catching many brooks and browns up to 12". Nothing great but still enjoyable fishing. I had a few days of rain which also put a damper on some of the fishing. The Thur. weather forcast was looking ideal. I went to Gates Fly Shop just East of Grayling to see if I could get in on a float to do some evening fishing and try to time the Hex hatch (which is night fishing with dry flies). Fortunately they did have a guide available who was up for the task. Some of the prime Hex water is bigger water, very difficult to wade making the choice for a float/guide very tempting. It would bes my first guided trip and decided to seize the day.

We started the float around 2pm and covered some beautifull water. I caught many fish up to about 13" or so, but these were just to fill the day until things got serious. We set up in some ideal water around 9:30pm just listening...for the big boys to feed. Action was slow, as the Hex hatch was just getting under way and the fish weren't really keying in on them yet. But, we found/heard one solid fish feeding on the edge of the river downstream. He carefully worked the riverboat downstream of the fish by about 30 feet. Heard him feed again and got within about 10 feet of the side of him and just downstream. Now its A little after 11pm. Casting dry flies at night is something I have done before (almost a mandatory obligation from MI) so I wasn't completely thrown in the dark...

After about 10 casts I heard him feed again. I instinctively lifted my rod quickly and there was a big bend in my 6wt. Line immediatedly screamed off the reel. I tightened up the drag a little ( benefit of haveing a 6ft 8lb leader) and after several strong runs I ended up landing the largest trout of my life. A 22" brown, on a hex dry, at 11:30 at night. What a experience. I had caught several decent fish on the big MI mayflies but all pailed in comparison.

Here are a few pictures.

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#6
Thanks guys, I couldn't stop smiling for a good 24 hours lol. Although the flash about blinded me after being in the dark for 2 hours haha.

Should have another solid trip report soon. Going to the Winder River Mountains in early August for a week :)
 

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
#8
I enjoyed reading the report and the photos were great. Well done. What a fish. It looks almost as big in girth as it is in length.