Stomping around in the dark looking for the biggest mayflies we have in Alberta can be a bit crazy. Spring creek browns are quite cautious unless the hexagenia (brown and green drakes too) start to pop and then its seems like every brown is out gulping down these gigantic bugs. The water temperature where we were fly fishing was not a concern on this part of a Central Alberta creek . Lots of shade and two spring creeks emptying into the main creek kept the water reasonably cool.
Karen and I have not chased the hex hatch together. We decided to give it a go and it was a blast. We knocked on a few doors to get permission to walk across some land. Now to find the hatch and hungry browns. The first stretch of water we explored was tough going. Stepping into holes, sweating like crazy and sliding down steep banks and crawling up other banks, makes you wonder why you do this? We found some smaller browns eating caddis but where were the hexagenia and the big browns.
About 10 pm we started to see a few hexagenia floating down. We also decided to abandon where we were fishing and hit another stretch of water. The moon was starting to peek over the horizon as we settled into a new stretch of water.
We walked around a corner and out of the corner of my eye I saw a big yap come out of the water and greedily gulp down a hex. As we looked up the stretch of water we were on, we could see 5 risers and they all looked large.
Well as you can imagine, we were excited. The next two hours was amazing. A carpet hatch developed but the best fly fishing was just as the hatch started. Imagine having a 20 plus inch brown feeding 6 feet from you because they were not missing these big meals.
Remember it is dark and we are dealing with steep banks, tall grass and tight quarters. Casting is rarely conventional.
When your fly splats the water, you have no idea where your fly is. You hear a slurp and you set the hook. Nope it was not my imposter. Eventually we got hook ups. Then the teamwork begins. Netting the fish after ensuring these fish do not get to the roots and grass that seems to be everywhere requires a bit of luck and aggressively fighting the fish. We used 3x tippet, why not, it is dark!
All the browns we caught were in great shape. They were all landed quickly.
The action ended well after midnight. The water was strewn with spent hexagenia. The browns must have had a full stomach after the hatch was over.
Karen and I stumbled back to the car. The mosquitoes chewed on us and we had a few scrapes from stomping around in the dark.
Was it worth it?