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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Salmonflies
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Lateral view of a Onocosmoecus (Limnephilidae) (Great Late-Summer Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen keys pretty easily to Onocosmoecus, and it closely resembles a specimen from Alaska which caddis expert Dave Ruiter recognized as this genus. As with that specimen, the only species in the genus documented in this area is Onocosmoecus unicolor, but Dave suggested for that specimen that there might be multiple not-yet-distinguished species under the unicolor umbrella and it would be best to stick with the genus-level ID. I'm doing the same for 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.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Small-stream brook trout in Alaska? Not exactly...

Small-stream brook trout in Alaska? Not exactly...


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By Troutnut on July 10th, 2012
Amidst the hundreds of little grayling streams scattered through interior Alaska, there are a handful places to find a welcome bit of variety: dwarf dolly varden. These guys don't migrate around chasing the nutritious salmon runs, but instead stay in small streams at a correspondingly small size. I had never found one of these gems (and hadn't looked very hard) until the other day. I had great fun with my soft, short 4-weight, placing a foam beetle in some challenging places in hopes of enticing an 8-inch fish.

Photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #170 in Alaska

I always knew the mottled pattern on the backs of char was excellent camouflage, but I never quite appreciated how perfectly they can match the light tones of a riffly river until I took this picture.
Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska
Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska
Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska
Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska
Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska

Underwater photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #170 in Alaska

This was the biggest dwarf dolly varden of the day, a mature male about 8.5-9" long, quite a bruiser for the creek he was in.  He's the prettiest fish I've caught in a while.

This fish is also pictured in this picture and this one.

From Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska
Same male dwarf dolly as in this picture and this one.

From Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska
Closeup of the pectoral fin of this dwarf dolly varden.

From Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska
You can see the dwarf dolly I caught in this pool, hanging out after being released, just up/left from the center of the picture.  You can't really tell it's a fish here, though.

From Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska
Dwarf dolly varden

From Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska
Same male dwarf dolly as in this picture and this one.

From Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska

On-stream insect photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #170 in Alaska

Shed exoskeleton from what was very likely an Ephemerella aurivillii nymph that emerged on this rock.

From Mystery Creek # 170 in Alaska

Comments / replies

GONZO
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Jul 14, 2012July 14th, 2012, 3:57 pm EDT
Beautiful pictures, Jason! It's easy to see how the dollies in this little creek would go a long way toward satisfying a "brookie" craving.
Shawnny3
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Jul 14, 2012July 14th, 2012, 4:51 pm EDT
Great gallery, Jason. In some of the images, I think the light in the water is more beautiful than the fish (although the fin closeup is maybe my favorite pic). I was wondering how you captured the fish images. I see the line in at least one of them, but were all of these taken while they were still on the line? Sometimes after releasing a fish they will sit long enough at my boot to take some good pics if I had a camera, but I don't know that I've ever knowingly approached a fish that I haven't caught closely enough to take a good photo without spooking it from its lie. Have you ever taken photos of undisturbed fish holding in the water?

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
GldstrmSam
GldstrmSam's profile picture
Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
GldstrmSam on Jul 14, 2012July 14th, 2012, 11:24 pm EDT
You have just started to get me itchy for some exploration. Not necessarily to go search out this creek, but to go find some hidden world of my own.

Great photos,

Samuel
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
PaulRoberts
PaulRoberts's profile picture
Colorado

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Jul 15, 2012July 15th, 2012, 8:38 am EDT
Wonderful. Those creeks look just like a little stream just a mile below me.
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jul 15, 2012July 15th, 2012, 9:28 am EDT
Small fish in small streams are underappreciated. Most people want big fish in their pictures, but holding these small jewels of nature in your hand is often more than enough. The closest trout stream to me is a small stream with mostly small fish, but every once in while a much bigger one comes up that compared to the others looks just huge, like the 13" rainbow I caught last week. But there is something so special about these small, brightly colored fish...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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