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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.

Dorsal view of a Holocentropus (Polycentropodidae) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This one seems to tentatively key to Holocentropus, although I can't make out the anal spines in Couplet 7 of the Key to Genera of Polycentropodidae Larvae nor the dark bands in Couplet 4 of the Key to Genera of Polycentropodidae Larvae, making me wonder if I went wrong somewhere in keying it out. I don't see where that could have happened, though. It might also be that it's a very immature larva and doesn't possess all the identifying characteristics in the key yet. If Holocentropus is correct, then Holocentropus flavus and Holocentropus interruptus are the two likely possibilities based on range, but I was not able to find a description of their larvae.
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.

Putting on the miles from West Yellowstone

Putting on the miles from West Yellowstone

By Troutnut on June 30th, 2019
We began July 1st with plans to fish a lesser-known river that produced well for me last year in the low water of August. Although the scenery was great, we found the river high and off-color due to an unknown combination of snowmelt runoff and rainfall from recent thunderstorms. We still plied the known good water with streamers for an hour or so, but gave up after I had no strikes and my friend missed one.

Wanting to make the most of the drive out there, we drove to try a new spring-fed tributary. Some PMDs and green "yellow sallies" (Chloroperlid stoneflies) were emerging sporadically, but nothing to really get fish rising. However, the water was so clear we could spot the fish anyway -- brook trout on the large side (mostly nine to twelve inches), huddled mostly in small schools in the bottoms of pools. They were skittish and mostly unwilling to rise for dry flies under the bright midday sun, but well-place nymphs brought several fish to hand as we worked our way upstream to the end of the good-looking water.

With much of the day still remaining after that, we drove to the Madison, bought some flies at the Slide Inn, and headed down to the Eight Mile Ford access near Ennis to try our luck. We hoped, on a tip, to find some salmonflies in the area, but there was no sign of them except one solitary shuck on a rock. Instead, there were caddisflies by the thousands in clouds swarming around every tree, truck, and other prominent object up and down the banks. There was a good mix of mayflies, too--mostly Ephemerella. I collected a box full of bugs to photograph for the website before we even set foot in the water.

Maybe all those caddisflies filled the fish up when they were emerging, or maybe we just didn't have imitation dialed in, but we were unable to catch anything that evening. Nothing was rising, and nothing we did with nymphs, streamers, or soft-hackles drew more than the occasional bump of a maybe-strike. It was hard not to have a good time, however, based on the scenery alone as warm evening light painted the Madison Range and scattered storm clouds added great drama to the view.

Photos by Troutnut from the Madison River, Mystery Creek #237, and Mystery Creek #244 in Montana

The Madison River in Montana
The Madison River in Montana
The Madison River in Montana
Mystery Creek # 237 in Montana
The Madison River in Montana
Mystery Creek # 237 in Montana
The Madison River in Montana
The Madison River in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 237 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana
Mystery Creek # 244 in Montana

On-stream insect photos by Troutnut from the Madison River in Montana

We arrived at the parking lot on the Madison to find clouds of caddisflies swarming around everything, including every tree and vehicle in the parking lot.

From the Madison River in Montana
Looking back across the Madison at a cloud of caddisflies swarming over the bank about 50 yards away, backlit by the sun.

From the Madison River in Montana

Closeup insects by Troutnut from the Madison River in Montana

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