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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

Lateral view of a Female Sweltsa borealis (Chloroperlidae) (Boreal Sallfly) Stonefly Adult from Harris Creek in Washington
I was not fishing, but happened to be at an unrelated social event on a hill above this tiny creek (which I never even saw) when this stonefly flew by me. I assume it came from there. Some key characteristics are tricky to follow, but process of elimination ultimately led me to Sweltsa borealis. It is reassuringly similar to this specimen posted by Bob Newell years ago. It is also so strikingly similar to this nymph from the same river system that I'm comfortable identifying that nymph from this adult. I was especially pleased with the closeup photo of four mites parasitizing this one.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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A little quick bug collecting in the Cascades during runoff

By Troutnut on June 2nd, 2022
I was in the area of the Icicle River on June 3, so I toured the scenery and admired the power of the river ripping down through the mountains as snowmelt peaks in the high country. I wanted to try some new photography gadgets, so I collected a few nymphs from the river and a tiny, probably fishless tributary called Chatter Creek. It took a long time just to find somewhere I could safely step onto gravel in the river to sample, and the creek that is probably ankle-deep most times was waist deep.

Photos by Troutnut from the Icicle River and Chatter Creek in Washington

The Icicle River in Washington
The Icicle River in Washington
The river was absolutely ripping with runoff. I wasn't fishing, just trying to collect bugs, and even for that it took a lot of searching to find a safe place to step into the water.

From the Icicle River in Washington
I thought it would be interesting to see what bugs turn up in a kick net sample from this probably-fishless little tributary of the Icicle River. This creek is probably an ankle-deep trickle for most of the summer, but with snowmelt it was waist deep in places and I had to watch my step.

From Chatter Creek in Washington

Closeup insects by Troutnut from the Icicle River and Chatter Creek in Washington

First trout of 2022

By Troutnut on May 30th, 2022
It's been a busy winter and spring with work, and runoff makes fishing in the central Cascades less appealing until the water comes down and warms up later in the year. However, I was itching to feel the first trout of the year on the end of my line, so I briefly visited a nearby lowland creek to play with a few eager little rainbows and collect some bugs.

Photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #295 in Washington

The Mystery Creek # 295 in Washington
The Mystery Creek # 295 in Washington
I caught a little rainbow on a dry exactly where you'd expect.

From the Mystery Creek # 295 in Washington
This was by far the best-looking pool on the reach I fished, but surprisingly I didn't see any sign of a fish despite trying for quite a while. They must have just been holding somewhere I couldn't present a fly, maybe under the deep, brushy cut bank.

From the Mystery Creek # 295 in Washington
The Mystery Creek # 295 in Washington
First trout of 2022!

Closeup insects by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #295 in Washington

Lateral view of a Male Epeorus longimanus (Heptageniidae) (Slate Brown Dun) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #295 in Washington
Identification of this one was as follows. Body 9 mm, wing 11 mm.
Both Epeorus albertae and Epeorus dulciana should have a conspicuously darkened humeral crossvein in the forewing. This one doesn't.
The foretarsal claws are dissimilar (one sharp, one blunt), which also rules out the Epeorus albertae group.
The dark macula on the forefemora rules out Epeorus deceptivus, which is also supposed to be a little bit smaller.
Both Epeorus grandis and Epeorus permagnus should be much, much larger.
Of the species known to be present in Washington, this leaves only Epeorus longimanus, which is exactly the right size. The key to male spinners in Traver (1935) describes distinctive markings that are visible (although more faintly) in this dun: “Black posterior margins of tergites do not extend laterally to pleural fold, but an oblique black line form this margin cuts across poster-lateral triangle to pleural fold.”
Artistic view of a Male Isoperla fulva (Perlodidae) (Yellow Sally) Stonefly Adult from Mystery Creek #295 in Washington
Family-level ID following Merritt, Cummins, & Berg 5th Edition:
1. Thoracic gill remnants absent
2. Arms of mesosternal Y-ridge approach posterior end of furcal pits
3. Submental gill remnants short, obscure, or absent
4. Male. Note that sternum 9 (the long, dark, last segment) appears to be the 8th if you count from the front in the ventral view, because the first segment is not easily visible ventrally.
5. Male abdominal tergum 10 not divided posteriorly; Paraprocts modified as hooks.
6. Male abdominal tergum 10 simple without notches or other prominent processes. This one was tricky, because at first glance it looks like the hooks arise from tergum 10, but in fact they're coming from the paraprocts underneath. There's a medial groove on tergum 10 that could be seen as a "notch" too, but it seems by "notch" the key is referring to a notch in the margin.
7. Abdominal sternum 8 with a conspicuous lobe and sternum 7 without such a lobe.
This leads to Isoperla.
Among Isoperla species known in Washington, most species are ruled out by different shapes of the vesicle (the rounded posterior bump on sternum 8). Isoperla pinta is ruled out by the lack of a region of stout spinules on tergum 9. The remaining options (without knowing how to properly dissect and image the aedeagus) are Isoperla fulva, Isoperla marmorata, Isoperla tilasqua, and Isoperla gravitans, the latter of which is too large. The other three are all at least slim possibilities, but several described characteristics seem to best match Isoperla fulva, which is also mentioned as the most common western Isoperla.

Still too early for decent fishing

By Troutnut on May 21st, 2022
On May 22, I went up to the South Fork of the Snoqualmie to poke around. The river was still too high and cold from snowmelt to be much good.

Photos by Troutnut from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington

The South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington
The South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington
The South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington
The South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington

Closeup insects by Troutnut from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington

Lateral view of a Empididae True Fly Adult from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington
I'm not fully confident in the ID on this one. I couldn't see for sure that there are two equal pads under the tarsal claws instead of three, but it seems that way. The antennae are 4-segmented, although I'm not sure if the last segment counts as a "segment" rather than a style@ or arista sticking off the third segment. It has three ocelli. The key characteristics generally point to Empididae except "Vein R4+5 usually branched." That vein certainly isn't branched in this specimen, but the key does say "usually."
Lateral view of a Male Cinygmula uniformis (Heptageniidae) Mayfly Spinner from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington
The identification of this specimen is not positive because some of the key characteristics conflict. The uniform amber tint of the wings and the rusty-colored mid-ventral markings on some of the abdominal sternites point to Cinygmula uniformis, but I could not locate the small ventral subapical spines on the penes that are supposed to also diagnose that species (the ones visible in the pictures aren't the ones I'm talking about). If I prioritize that characteristics, this would probably be Cinygmula mimus, but then the wing and sternite shading/markings are wrong.
Lateral view of a Chironomidae (Midge) True Fly Adult from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington
This extremely tiny fly was puzzling to identify. I collected it from a sparse mating swarm just above the surface of the river. It just doesn't have the "look" I'm used to seeing in Chironomids, but the key characteristics in Merritt, Cummins, & Berg point that way.

-Maxillary palp apparently with 4 segments, antenna with 6
-I can't see any ocelli and wing venation doesn't seem to match Axymyiidae
-Costa definitely ends at or near apex of the wing (pictured)
-Obvious characteristics and wing venation rule out a few other things
-Simuliidae seems like a possibility due to the broad wings, but bugguide says they're supposed to have more antennal segments (eleven, though a different source says some have ten, at least in the Southern Hemisphere).
-Postnotum with median longitudinal groove (pictured) rules out Ceratopogonidae

So my guess is some kind of chironomid from a genus that doesn't have the classic midge look. There are some like that.

Proceeds from a hiking trip

By Troutnut on May 13th, 2022
I went for a hike along the South Fork with my wife and dog, then threw on my waders at the parking lot to collect some nymphs before heading home.

Closeup insects by Troutnut from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington

Updates from May 11, 2022

References

  • Zloty, J and Pritchard, G. 1997. Larvae and adults of Ameletus mayflies (Ephemeroptera: Ameletidae) from Alberta. Canadian Entomologist 129: 251-289.
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