Mega Hatch Success

When the Hatch of the Century Happens, Use These 6 Tips To Stand Out Amongst The Crowd.

Have you ever been in the middle of a mega hatch? You know the one. Where the water opens up and belches out more bugs than you have ever seen in your entire life? You know – the hatch that you’ve been anxiously awaiting for weeks, months, or even years. If you’ve ever found yourself in the midst of a mega hatch, you know all too well — sometimes, too much of a good thing can cause madness, confusion, and frustration. Some days we go out there and pound on them. Others, not so much. No sense in talking about solutions of those glory days. Those are easy. How about when we can’t solve the riddle that seems so obvious? Read ahead to learn some of the tricks and tactics I’ve used throughout the years to get my bug to stand out when the hatch of the century is on. 

The Common Story
First off, during any kind of a hatch, if you can identify what the fish are eating, you may have a leg up. So you tie on the cripple pattern of choice and drift it into the rising trout. A perfect drift. And another. And yet another. A bug every square inch on the surface and no interest at all from those damn trout. Why? What? How? Why not my bug?

How Do I Outsmart Mega Hatch Trout?
Mega Hatch fish can get way too smart for me. I live and guide on Montana’s Missouri River and I find myself in these situations more often than I would like. The ideas below are just a few that can work, no slam dunks, but some methods I’ve found success in when the going gets tough.

  1. Offer the Not So Obvious: Imagine you attended a dinner buffet at your cousin’s wedding. At that buffet, they had 99 pounds of roast beef and one pound of ham along with a smattering of other salads and offerings. A few small dessert items, some jello salad, and so on. While you would certainly get some roast beef, you would also try your best to get a taste of that good ‘ol ham too. Wouldn’t you? I know I would. I think fish behave the same way. If you/they are inundated by PMD spinners on the surface of the water, the trout will generally eat a few. Sometimes a ton of them. More often than not, we generally assume because the PMD spinner is the most abundant bug around, the trout have to eat them the most frequently. Definitely not always the case. Not at all. Sometimes the fish are keying in on something totally different. My first try beyond the obvious, is to present something completely different. If the PMD spinner is the most present, I’ll tie on a caddis of some sort. How about a generic Adams? Something to tempt that fish away from the common insect. It certainly can work.
  2. Go Bigger or Smaller: If the fish aren’t eating that size 16 PMD spinner, try a size 14, or even size 12 spinner. That can shock the fish into a take. Go the other route and toss something smaller at them. Dive right down to the size 20 spinner. It can work. You gotta try.
  3. Same Bug, Different Stage: If the spinner is the present bug, a blanket of them, dig into your PMD box and search.
  4. Sink It:  Don’t grease the next one. Tie it off behind a fly you can see and let that trailing fly sink. Lot’s of trout have been caught on sunken dry flies. The fly sitting in the surface film, or just below can really bring big rewards.
  5. Make the First Cast Count: Truly, that’s my solution to every situation. I guess my point is, just because there’s a blanket of bugs doesn’t mean you can afford a sloppy presentation. Show the fly to the fish in the best light possible on your first shot — always. While this stip is listed as number five, it’s the most effective on the list.
  6. Go Nuts:  Tie on a fly that can take the fish out of their trance, something like an ant, or that ugly bug in the corner of your box that you thought you’d never use. Now is the time to tie that thing on. How about trying a cripple. How about an emerger. Put that Transitional Dunback on. Sometimes, if you go sideways, you can be rewarded. Don’t assume that the primary is the bug of choice for those rising trout you are staring down.

The sheer volume of any mega hatch that you have either planned on fishing or you have just happened on to can be daunting Don’t let yourself be hung out to dry if it is too much of a good thing. Tackle it. Cast efficiently. Make good drifts. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box.