Anticipation… It’s Making Me Wait!

I’ve been checking for mayflies at the Rez every other day or so.  No bueno.  Actually, I have seen a few in the grass, just a handful, which seems weird.  In the grass, not in the trees.  They flew up out the grass after swatting the high grass with a stick.   Very few mayflies, literally only a handful or two. I am hoping that those few flies means the Hexapocalypse is on its way, but it’s hard to know.   What I’ve read about Hexagenia  Bilineata is that the bugs swarm during hot, muggy, overcast weather.  The first hatch at the Rez last year was about this time, the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend and I’m writing this on the Friday before.

The photo below of husks in a cypress branch is some evidence of mayfly action, but it is only very light.


I have seen some of the “locals” (below) hanging out as though they too are waiting on the flies, probably expecting they’ll bring dinner.  Not sure what they’re expecting dinner to consist of but I hope it’s not me.



The water is about a foot and a half lower than last year.  I’m hoping the low water doesn’t affect the pending hatch.  Again, hard to know.  Our mayfly expert will be off for the next few weeks so I’m sure we will see some photos of fantastic catches if and when they do arrive.   But I’m anxious.  I want to post photos of my own incredible catches. 🙂

I read an article that suggested “the darker the night the better the chances”, for a hatch.  Well I’m not much on generalities.  Last year’s first mayfly hatch that I experienced was on May 24, 2018, and the moon was at 77%.   Tonight the moon is 75 % and waning with the new moon occurring on June 3.   Of course, I’m thinking an overcast night could still produce a pretty dark night at 75%.  Overcast, muggy conditions seem to be part of the equation too so I’m thinking the date plus the darkness, regardless of overcast or moon conditions, plus hot, muggy, still weather will produce a major hatch in the next few days.


Until then, we wait.  I guess the hatch will happen when it happens and even then, there has to have been enough flies on the water for a long enough period of time that the fish can find them and congregate.  So there’s no guarantees, even when there’s a swarm.  The reservoir is 53,000 acres and without the fish congregating on the flies or their beds, the best patterns in the world would not catch many fish.

To use my waiting time wisely I’ve been trying to perfect the color and look of the mid-Mississippi flies, which according to a scientific study done on the Rez, are Hexagenia Bilineata.  The ones I have observed are not always the same color.  This photo (below) of duns from last year show them as grey and dull hanging in the trees.  You can tell they are duns because the wings are opaque and not very shiny.   The ginger colored thorax seems to be consistent between duns and spinners, but the abdomen color is most often a root beer.


I am not an entomologist but I think the photo below is of a spinner or sexually mature adult (imago).  My reasons for thinking that are, the wings are transparent, the general look is shiny and the eyes are the large eyes of an adult.

Barnett mayfly

The photo below is of a dun, I think, but it’s the brownish, root beer version which seems to be the most prevalent.  Maybe it’s a color change that occurs the longer they hang on the vegetation?   I “dun”no.


So as I anticipate the hatch I’ve been trying to find a suitable pattern.  I have tried tying extended body, comparaduns, origami wings and all kinds of made-up versions.  Usually it is the wings that I hate the look of in the finished product, but I can’t get extended bodies to look right either.

I settled on an upside down version using wood duck flank for tail, moose mane to get  the root beer color of the body, a ginger hackle and Wally Wings out of wood duck.   Of course Wally Wings and the upside down idea belong to tyers before me, but the combination of colors is an approximation of the “Magnolia Mayfly” or “Maggie May”.




I like the “Maggie May”, but I suspect one would go through quite a few flies on a 100 bream day, due to the Wally Wings being so fragile.  So I’ve also stocked up on white, foam poppers which will take a beating and they’re good about drawing strikes from the bass marauders that blow through the feeding bream.   I really only tie the mayfly imitations for fun and for some odd reason, they don’t seem to be as productive as the white poppers anyway.  I also have Elk Hair Caddis flies, because they imitate a cripple well.  For subsurface I have a hodge-podge of bilineata imitations, killer bees, and soft hackles.

maggie may

The hatch we wait for is Hex
Tiny bugs that look like T-Rex
For a splat on a windshield we’re waiting,
For the event with such a high rating, 
The only thing better is sex!





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