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Pteronarcys californica

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

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Productive day on a new small mountain stream

Productive day on a new small mountain stream

By Troutnut on July 25th, 2019
Thursday (July 25th), I took a tolerably short drive out of Seattle to a little-known stream on the east slope of the Cascades. The fishing was slow at first during midday in the pocket water of the broad, rocky channel, but as I worked my way upstream valley tightened up into a canyon with shallower bedrock (meaning a lot more water flowing on the surface and less through the gravel) and deep pools created by large boulders.

The combination of depth, shade, and the advancing hour improved the action, and I caught a few dozen rainbows, westslope cutthroat, and coastal cutthroat trout as I moved up through the canyon. There were a surprising number of 9- to 12-inchers for a creek small enough that I "wet waded" without getting my feet wet until they got hot and I wanted to cool down.

Toward the top of the canyon I reached a barrier waterfall around 8 feet high.

I could have crossed the creek below it and scrambled up the boulders to keep fishing, but it was getting late and I wanted to see what looked on Google Earth like some very different water above the canyon. So I climbed up a steep slope of loose dirt to the height of the treetops, where the road/trail wound along above the canyon, and I dropped back to the river just past the canyon. Here it was a completely different stream, meandering and low-gradient with small gravel, ankle-deep riffles and inviting little pools at each bend.

Despite the skinny water, it was hard to drop a fly anywhere without a trout smashing it. I caught a few dozen more in just an hour or two, all westslope cutthroat. Apparently the falls in the canyon were an impassible barrier that blocked the other species. I called it quits when the fishing was still hot, because I wanted light to walk out and collect some bugs.

There wasn't a lot of insect activity to get the fish rising, although in the evening there were sporadic rises in most pools. The few adult bugs I nabbed were collected on the trail above the river. Collecting nymphs with my kicknet before leaving was very productive, as I found good specimens of for uncommon species that weren't yet represented on this site (or at least not by my closeups). Among others, these included exquisitely colored nymphs of Attelella delantala:

The distinctive Drunella pelosa, which has only been collected a few times in Washington:

And a male spinner of Paraleptophlebia sculleni. This species has only previously been reported from Oregon, but I'm fairly confident in the ID from both the pictures and putting a few specimens under the dissecting microscope.

Photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington

On-stream insect photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington

Closeup insects by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington

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