Header image
Enter a name
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.

Case view of a Pycnopsyche guttifera (Limnephilidae) (Great Autumn Brown Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
It's only barely visible in one of my pictures, but I confirmed under the microscope that this one has a prosternal horn and the antennae are mid-way between the eyes and front of the head capsule.

I'm calling this one Pycnopsyche, but it's a bit perplexing. It seems to key definitively to at least Couplet 8 of the Key to Genera of Limnephilidae Larvae. That narrows it down to three genera, and the case seems wrong for the other two. The case looks right for Pycnopsyche, and it fits one of the key characteristics: "Abdominal sternum II without chloride epithelium and abdominal segment IX with only single seta on each side of dorsal sclerite." However, the characteristic "metanotal sa1 sclerites not fused, although often contiguous" does not seem to fit well. Those sclerites sure look fused to me, although I can make out a thin groove in the touching halves in the anterior half under the microscope. Perhaps this is a regional variation.

The only species of Pycnopsyche documented in Washington state is Pycnopsyche guttifera, and the colors and markings around the head of this specimen seem to match very well a specimen of that species from Massachusetts on Bugguide. So I am placing it in that species for now.

Whatever species this is, I photographed another specimen of seemingly the same species from the same spot a couple months later.
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.


Posts: 115
Trtklr on Apr 26, 2009April 26th, 2009, 9:50 am EDT
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
Marquette, MI

Posts: 33
UPTroutBum on Apr 26, 2009April 26th, 2009, 2:45 pm EDT
Ya definitely easier to use bait fishing rivers when they are high, Im from the Upper Peninsula and didn't make it out yesterday either, we had gotten 10 inches of snow monday and it all melted late in the week, along with a rainstorm friday night. The steelhead rivers around here were packed as well. Lotta summer left to fish.
" The true fisherman approaches the first day of fishing season with
all the sense of wonder and awe of a child approaching Christmas." John Voelker
Flatstick96's profile picture
Posts: 127
Flatstick96 on Apr 27, 2009April 27th, 2009, 8:56 am EDT
I like fishing when the water is up, as long as it's coloration isn't too dark.

Under the conditions you described (water up, but not off-color) I'd definitely be out. I don't know whether the fish gravitate toward the big, deep pools or not, but I can say that under the described conditions, I've caught fish in damned near every kind of lie you can think of. In high water I've caught many fish in places that, under normal conditions, wouldn't even be underwater.

I remember one time getting to Spring Creek (in State College) on a day when the water was high, but the color was still good - nobody else around, just me. I remember this day well because I was super eager that day to try out a fly that had taken me FOREVER to tie (I tied it at Shawn's house, and I bet he remembers that day too - I was SOOOOO frustrated at how the fly turned out). Still, as bad as the fly was (in my mind) I wanted to try it out anyway. As I looked at the not-so-normal high water conditions I thought "Hmmm...if I try this fly and don't catch anything, I'll never know if the futility was the result of the crappy fly or because of the water conditions, so I better try some 'proven' flies here first".

I tied on a tandem of "proven" flies, and started catching fish right away; after about 6 fish in 10-15 minutes I figured it was time to tie on my ugly fly and give it a whirl.

As I worked my way up a familiar section of stream, I saw a nice eddy behind a rock (the rock was totally submerged, but you could see the disruption in the surface where the water flowed over the top of it, so the tip of the rock was ALMOST out of the water); I thought "Man, that looks like a good lie, but I don't remember that rock being there", then it hit me - under "normal" water conditions, that rock was almost totally out of the water, with barely a trickle of water going past it - that was why that spot looked so strange to me on that particular day. Anyhow, I caught four fish from that eddy.

Later that day I caught the largest stream fish that I've ever actually brought to hand (and I caught it on the ugly fly, imagine that); when I finally did get him to hand I was about 150 yards downstream from where I'd hooked him - when I hooked him he got into the current, got by me, and kept streaking downstream, and I just started chasing him, with my reel singing like crazy - it was awesome. The whole time I was worried I was going to take a tumble and fill my waders because the water was REALLY flowing, but I somehow managed to keep my feet under me the whole time. Later that summer when Shawn and I were fishing that stretch I tried to show him where that fish was sitting when I hooked him, but I couldn't really, because under normal conditions that particular lie was almost nonexistent.

Moral of the story: get out there - you never know what might happen.
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Apr 27, 2009April 27th, 2009, 1:25 pm EDT
Try swinging wooly buggers and nymphing with bigger than usual flies. A big fuzzy cigar shaped and unribbed hare's ear, called a Walt's Worm around here, almost always produces for me in higher water. It can be tied on a streamer hook, with or without a bead, and dead drifted on the bottom. I've also seen guys do well on San Juan worms in high water. Fish the edges more, and seams near the edges. If the water has a little color even better; it really emboldens the fish.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Flatstick96's profile picture
Posts: 127
Flatstick96 on Apr 29, 2009April 29th, 2009, 10:45 am EDT
At least you were out there. What I wouldn't give to be somewhere right now where I could go trout fishing at the drop of a hat...

Quick Reply

Related Discussions

Last Reply
May 1, 2009
by Flatstick96
Feb 12, 2007
by Sirhoops23
May 21, 2015
by Troutnut
Troutnut.com is copyright © 2004-2024 (email Jason). privacy policy