Hexagenia Limbata. It may sound like some obscure medical term, but the Hex or Michigan Caddis is a large mayfly and for those flyfishers in the know, it means the possibility of catching the largest brown trout of the year on dry flies. The Hex is a mammoth mayfly and the spinner can be over 2 inches long including its tail. Living in streams and lakes in the upper Midwest, it’s a burrowing insect with a two-year lifecycle. Most of that two years is spent under the water in the river’s bottom muck. When it’s time to mate, the nymph wiggles out of the muck, swims to the surface, and emerges from the water to take flight. In the air, the emerger finds a tree or rock, attaches itself, again wiggles out of its skin, and becomes a spinner. Spinners fly through the air, find a mate, and return to the water to lay eggs. Thus, the cycle repeats. But the flyfisher knows that when the insect first emerges from the water and again when it lays its eggs, the trout feast on the surface of the stream. And this means dry fly fishing. We take a hook and tie on fur, and feathers, and yarn, and tinsel and we create flies that float on the water imitating the bugs on the surface that, hopefully, a trout will eat.
Unlike most mayflies, the Hex hatch (as the bugs emerging from and returning to the water are called) occurs in the dark. The Hex hatch begins in mid-June and goes through mid-July with no precise starting or ending date. They emerge in very few areas of the river. The biggest trout, many over 20 inches long, will swim miles to these precise locations to gorge on the bugs. The Hex start their nightly ritual just after dark, usually around 11:00pm and it lasts for but a couple hours. Of course, it’s dark, very dark and lights chase off the fish. We wait in the darkness. Usually fishing alone. Star light allows us to look up and see the swarms. Thousands and thousands of Hexagenia Limbata flying in the air and patiently we wait for the bugs to mate and fall back to the river where trout are ready to gorge themselves. We wade in the river, many times waist deep and listen for the slurp of a brown trout sucking up dinner from the river’s surface and cast our line, in the darkness to the where we heard the sound. Hopefully, we hear another slurp where we just cast our fly and we set the hook by drawing back on the fly rod driving the hook into the fishes’ mouth. If the line goes tight and begins pulling back, we have a fish on the line. But usually, we feel the fly moving through the water with only the river’s surface film providing friction. No fish. We listen again in the darkness. We’ll do this until we look up into the starlight and no longer see thousands of bugs maybe just a few bats, the slurping sounds have stopped. It’s time to go home and to sleep.
Darkness has a profound impact on our psyche. Generations ago we existed each night in the darkness, waiting for dawn, and fearing what the night might bring. Predators would enter our camp or cave or lair. Predators, that unlike us, have vision in the dark. And we feared for our survival. Those with the quickest reactions had a chance to survive, those that didn’t wake to the advance of a predator had no second chance. They were not able to pass along their genes. We are the offspring of those with the fastest reactions and we inherited their abilities. Ingrained in all of us is an innate fear of the dark and only with effort are we able to overcome that innate fear. At night, in the dark, alone our instinct comes alive. Each rustling of the grass is a bear, or a cougar, or wolf. Sounds heard at night are just somehow louder and more ominous. For me, fishing alone at night took some getting used to. When I was younger, I thought it was just me that feared the darkness, but it is all of our kind. Humans fear what they cannot see. Of course, the reality is fishing at night is no more dangerous than fishing while its light. The sounds in the forest are birds and racoons and deer and mink. Nothing to fear. Sure, we can trip and fall or loose our way in the woods, but these hazards also exist during daylight. Our minds play tricks in the dark.
For the last several months, the world has faced a threat to our health and to our safety and to our finances. I am not qualified to speak of the threat to our health, we know its real and we all need to take appropriate precautions to keep ourselves safe. I can, however, speak regarding our finances. Our shared instinct is to react quickly to the unknown. Psychologists refer to this as “fight or flight”. This instinct worked well for our ancestors and, in many ways, works well for us today. Unfortunately, it does not work well for our finances. Investments require patience and consistency to best achieve our goals, long-term. If you find yourself out of work, we are happy to talk, to review your planning and assist in reviewing your current situation, outline your financial recovery and assist you in moving back on track long-term. Most clients are not out of work. We are always here to discuss and to review your investments and your planning. Just remember that all things must pass, things will return to normalcy, and as George told us, “Beware of Darkness.”
As always, we thank you for your business and for your continued trust.
Jack P. Cannata