I live in northern MI. Everyone thinks the hex are mostly done. The truth is, they’re not. Well, maybe as of today they are. But even last night there were hex on the water, bringing out a few big feeders who are somehow still not stuffed...or at least still not sick of eating the bloody things.
This year has definitely been an exception. I've been hexing for almost exactly two months. My wife is running out of patience and may be looking for a boyfriend. A few nights ago she told me she “feels like she doesn't even know me anymore.” I've now accepted that most of my days will be a daze, eyelids drooping, slurring words. I work in a sales job and make my own hours, so our finances are fucked...employer is running out of patience….long story short, it’s been awesome. This is what I live for. Luckily for my sanity and that of those around me the hex comes to an eventual end.
I met a guy on the river last night. There’s something special about stumbling upon a complete stranger at midnight, in the middle of nowhere, headlamps off, chasing a mutual dream. Apparently his wife is also questioning the sanity of her former self, who would choose to marry a fly fishing addict. He said his wife feels like he "doesn't want to spend time with her", which makes me wonder a few things...would I rather spend the night fly fishing than with my wife? Of course, my statistical probability of getting laid factors into that equation, but I don’t think it holds the most weight. In fact, I think I’ve noticed that whether or not I think conditions are right for the hex has more to do with whether or not I choose to stay home, or to hit the river. Does that make me a fish chaser? At least for the hex season, I think it does.
In all honestly, the hex hatch encompasses everything I love about fly fishing and everything I hate at the same time. With large amounts of large fish come larger amounts of people seeking the fish over 20 inches. I’m in the same boat, I understand, I’m just in a different river. Don’t get me wrong. I love our famous rivers here in northern Michigan. I just don’t love the crowds. Not because they’re made up of assholes, quite the contrary. In fact, I’ve found almost everyone I’ve met on a river or on the bank to be wonderful company. It’s my problem really, not anyone else's. Whenever I feel the slightest bit competitive about a stretch of river the more my fishing experience mirrors that of a football game and less like what it really is. “That would have been my fish, he crowded me, he’s trashing the river, spooking the fish, watching my casting form, judging my capability” add infinitum.
Most of all, the hex has made me question why I truly fish. See, like most, I tell myself I do it for conflicting reasons: to seek solace, to seek companionship, to be one with the wild, the rivers, to just get out of the house. But I fish the hex like I’m bat shit crazy. I’ve “temporarily” taken up smoking again. I even snub the teen sized fish in fear of scaring away the monstrosity that may be lurking nearby in wait. I refuse to wet a line and search on the off chance of lining the 25 incher that just might be “waiting to feed.” Since when did I become this pompous douche bag? Since hex, that's when! When will I stop? When the hex stop coming off and not a cast sooner. I’ve learned to accept it. It’s the one time of year I really go crazy for those big fish. Yes I mouse and yes I throw streamers, but i’m happy to catch anything the rest of the year no matter the size. The hex brings out the best and the worst in me. In all reality, I think it brings out me.