Hexagenia mayflies are seldom seen, but talked about nonetheless. Large (2") and bright yellow, it is no wonder that they seek out the twilight to rise from their burrows and fly vertically into the evening. They are prime forage for aquatic and airborne predators. I saw rainbows, nighthawks and a large bat species feeding on them simultaneously. Had it been an hour earlier and these mayflies would never have survived the oslaught. They seek out muddy bottoms of alpine lakes and take at least two years to develop; as nymphs they are large- size 4 or 2's. As adult emergers, ridiculous. Check out my photos.
My oldest son & I spent two nights on Lost Lake, Mt. Hood Wilderness, trying to time the evening hatch and finding the window of opportunity quite narrow, to say the least. The hatch took off between 9:00 and 9:20pm both nights, leaving us scratching our heads and wondering whether we had missed something. But no, that was it. How ephemeral, how mayflyish.
The good news is that such alpine lakes harbor decent trout fishing during the other hours, as well as ample opportunity to enjoy the amenities of the lake for swimming and general carousing.
Sometimes, quite rarely, the stars align and fate hands you an undeniable gift. That has happened to me from time to time in life, and nowhere more conspicuously does it happen then while fishing. That is probably a result of your senses being attuned through hours of concentration to your surroundings, coupled with the knowledge that things can always end badly- so when they work out, when the hoped for actually materializes, we sit back with pride, knowing all the while that the world gave us a gift over which we had very little control. Sure, feel pride, but deep down realize that nothing needed to turn out this way, and be thankful to the unseen hand.
This is a circular way of saying that I had an experience with one fly you just do not hear about. I am a believer that there is nothing new under the sun. That is borne out by watching cable television at any hour of the day; if you can think it, then it has already happened. Nonetheless, if any of you have heard of this one before, I am all ears. It happened when I fished Long Island, Bahamas, the last two hours of the last of six days of fishing, sun starting its low angled sloping into the horizon line. The trip already having met our expectations, this was just another day of magic. We returned to the ocean flats, anchoring in an azure channel, hoping to land some jacks. As I rigged my twelve weight, I tied on an 80 lb shock tippet and a chartreuse cuda fly to do some deep dredging on the swing. Looking across the channel I was struck by a sudden surface commotion as a school of large fish, moving quickly, porpoised and disappeared. This happened several times; their backs barely breaking the surface, but by their length I thought they were some type of small shark. After several casts, one struck and I was amazed to feel a bonefish on the other end of the line, and not a small bone, but a 7 lber. Colin Cartwright, our guide and the fishing camp owner (Cartwright's Bonefishing Lodge) said he had seen this behavior, albeit rarely and usually by larger class fish, who see to come to the channel to feed on small fish.
By now the clock was running out and we made one more move before the end of the day, to the large confluence of channels where we had see and heard large tarpon sucking in air on several previous visits. On my third cast, without changing the fly, I let it sink into the blue and began my retrieve. The take was solid and I knew immediately it was a nice fish and was thankful it was on my Twelve weight with my heavy Abel reel and plenty of backing. Looking forty yards off, I watched the line rising as the fish broke for the surface, and there it was! The tarpon you see with Dan's hand in its mouth. Two fish, one fly- but a bonefish AND a tarpon? Anyone heard that one before?