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Funny article on the Michigan Hex Hatch

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WALHALLA -- Almost joined a cult here lately.



Didn't want to. Fought it, in fact.


But I still nearly got sucked in anyway.


It's my own fault, I guess. I'd been dallying with cult members for some time. It was only natural they'd try to recruit me.


I mean, they'd tried in the past. But I'd always resisted, believing, from own experiences, that what they were selling me was mostly hooey.


Not that they didn't believe it. Oh, no. I believe that they believe. But that doesn't mean it isn't mostly hooey, either.


And it's not that they're suspicious characters. They're mostly pretty upstanding sorts, regular guys -- many of whom have regular jobs -- that you'd likely run into at the bar or the ball game or some place like that. Except when they get caught up in the cult rituals. That's when they change. They turn into bleary-eyed, semi-zombies, suffering the after effects of their late-night worship services.


Still, I let a couple of them persuade me to give it another look. And so I wound up, one warm late June evening, in a drift boat on the Pere Marquette River with Steve Fraley, a long-time cult member. We sat in his rig for hours, eating a sandwich, drinking a beer, waiting, waiting, waiting, for the magic. And when it began, shortly after dark, I got caught up in the ritual, casting a big bug at the sound of a feeding splash until, after an hour or so, I tied into a fish.


It was a nice trout. Not a giant. But when I'd finally subdued it, we figured it to be a good 17 inches, and -- what do you call that dimension from the belly to the dorsal fin on a fish, height? -- tall, to boot. Nicest fish I'd caught on a dry fly all year.


So, somewhat intrigued, I was a little further downstream several nights later with another cult member, Frank Fraquelli, a "trout bum and proud of it," wading. And again, just after dark, I cast at a nearby splash and the fish took it -- like a largemouth clobbering a Pop-R -- and when I set the hook, it took off like an old Dodge Hemi and popped that 12-pound leader as though it were no more than an idea.


"That was a good fish," I said to Fraquelli.


"I think that was a better fish than you even think it was," said Fraquelli, who allowed that he'd caught a steelhead from the same hole a night earlier.


So a couple nights later, back with Fraquelli, this time a little upstream, and maybe 30 minutes into it, it happened. I became one with a big, brawny trout that churned the surface for about five seconds and then was gone.


I returned a couple of nights later, in the same place, and as soon as it got dark, I caught a fish, a 10-incher, and though I heard one or two more slurping flies in the vicinity of my offering, that was it.


And that was it for me, too. I could feel the power of the cult, exerting itself on me. I had to stop, right then, cold turkey, or risk the kind of brainwashing that would place me forever under its spell.


Ah, but I learned.


I learned that this cult is not all hooey. You can go out on a Michigan trout stream on a dark summer night when the Hexes are hatching and, if the planets are properly aligned and the gods are smiling upon you, actually hook into the kind of trout on a dry fly that you'd only heard about before.


But it's not just about that. It's about starry skies and hooting owls and howling coyotes and fluttering bats and thousands of fireflies and the frogs that give you a start by leaping into the stream from the tall grass under your feet and spiderwebs that caress your face as you duck under a tree limb in the dark.


It's about glow-in-the-dark fly lines -- they are the slickest thing this side of Bill Clinton -- and mosquito dope and Molson Canadians and meeting a guy in the parking lot that you don't know from Adam but with whom you have a bond that many simply wouldn't understand.


And there's still just enough hooey to keep you from signing on full time.


At least for this year. Next year, I may not be so lucky.


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I've been on the PM during the Hatch and I must say it's an experience every flyfisherman should have. It can get on you though where that's all your thinking about during the summer

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