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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives

Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.

Dorsal view of a Amphizoa (Amphizoidae) Beetle Larva from Sears Creek in Washington
This is the first of it's family I've seen, collected from a tiny, fishless stream in the Cascades. The three species of this genus all live in the Northwest and are predators that primarily eat stonefly nymphs Merritt R.W., Cummins, K.W., and Berg, M.B. (2019).
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.

Mpls, MN

Posts: 113
Ericd on Jul 14, 2009July 14th, 2009, 4:55 pm EDT
My fishing buddy and I fish differently, but catch about the same size and numbers. He finds the closest pool and stays there, for the most part and usually fishes from the bank. I tend to travel far up or down and fish from the middle on my knees, where possible. There's something to be said about finding a hole and "learning" it, but I think there's also something to be said about the "stalking" of the stream, whether it's walking right in the stream or fighting your way through the brush on the bank. I have to admit that I don't hide my presence as well as he, but it is true that we catch about the same, aside from the last trip where my largest was 8" and his was 12." What are your thoughts?
Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jul 14, 2009July 14th, 2009, 5:19 pm EDT
Depends on the stream and how much time I have. I often fished 1 to 3 miles of river on some semi-remote Wisconsin streams, but in the Catskills you usually go half a mile at most between access points on the main public water, so walking isn't really a way to escape the crowds and find fresh fish. I work single pools a lot harder on the West Branch of the Delaware than on the Brule.

Alaska is a whole different ballgame, without a lot of middle ground: most fishing is either miles from the road, or right next to it.

Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Mpls, MN

Posts: 113
Ericd on Jul 15, 2009July 15th, 2009, 3:13 am EDT
That makes perfect sense Jason. So far I've been a pretty provincial fisherman as far as the states are concerned.
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Jul 15, 2009July 15th, 2009, 12:39 pm EDT
All I know is that a precious small percentage of anglers will walk more than 5 minutes to get to a fishing spot, so if you're willing to do so, you can usually fish undisturbed.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
JOHNW's profile picture
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
JOHNW on Jul 16, 2009July 16th, 2009, 11:36 am EDT
For me it all depends on where the other people are and what the fish are doing. I have had days where the fish were rising right by the road where I parked and I spent the entire day within 50' of my car (yes I will follow the axiom "don't leave fish to find fish").
However I have also had days where I covered 3-4 miles of stream to find active fish.
The most ironic trip I ever had was on Slough Creek. A group of us hiked in to the Meadows. Not being in great shape I called the hike quits at the first meadow and fished there for the day. My companions wanting "less pressured water" elected to go the additional two miles and fish the second meadow. They encountered 8-10 other anglers while I encountered just 3, two of which had wings and feathers. We caught similar numbers and quality of fish.

In the end it really depends on my mood on a given day.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
CaseyP's profile picture
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
CaseyP on Jul 16, 2009July 16th, 2009, 2:42 pm EDT
being exploratory by nature, i'll wander quite a ways looking for a likely hole to spend a lot of time on. my favorite fishing places are usually a half mile or more--and this is in PA. but if i'm with other anglers, i'll always fish the parking lot pool first--no one else ever does, and i often get a bite. if not, then, well, it's that pool next the parking lot, right?
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jul 22, 2009July 22nd, 2009, 3:09 pm EDT
When I am stream fishing, I usually work a regular stretch of maybe 1/4 - 1/2 miles. I find that provides plenty of different holes and other types of habitat to fish, yet it's a small enough area to cover in 2-3 hours and to get to know over successive nights. For example, I fished maybe two or three different sections of the Maple River (Emmet County, norther lower Michigan), two sections of the Rifle River plus one adjacent tributary (Ogemaw Co., MI), and generally a single stretch of the Huron River in Ann Arbor (for smallmouth) - OK, that last because it was right across the street from my apartment and I like quick and easy access. I don't spend a lot of time beating one pool or spot to death - if a fish is going to hit, ten to twenty or so casts is enough for it to do so. I personally feel that I have more success by getting to know all of the good lies and hot spots in these short stretches than to try to fish the entire river and not knowing nearly as much. Once you find a good section of fish-holding water, where you know you have a shot at potentially dozens of fish, getting to know how exactly to drift or strip your fly over the same holes or past the same logs will get you more fish than just guessing at good-looking habitat that you've never fished before. At least, it works that way for me...

I also fish dry flies upstream for trout, then either float a dry ahead of me or swing a streamer as I am wading back downstream to the car. In the Huron for smallies, I strictly throw streamers downstream until I see some surface feeding activity, then I will switch to an appropriate dry fly to throw at particular fish. This worked on a 13-inch smallie last Thursday when I saw him feed a couple of times while some little white caddisflies that were bouncing around, when I switched out my chartreuse woolly bugger for a white #14 elk hair caddis...and he gave me one hell of a fight on my 8.5' 5-wt!

Just my two cents, from a guy who's been playing this game for about 24 years now.

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Ditch's profile picture
Fuquay-Varina NC

Posts: 36
Ditch on Jun 28, 2010June 28th, 2010, 7:36 am EDT
my favorite spot is about a mile past the parking on the creek feeding local lake brookies always fish up the creek and am about wiped out when i get to the honey hole. I fished a diffrent creek this weekend and spoted a great trout in the close pool about the time he showed interest the pool was invaded by Mexico and i had 20 kids jumping around.

there is something to be said about going a little further from the car...
There are no bad fishing days.
Motrout's profile picture
Posts: 319
Motrout on Jun 28, 2010June 28th, 2010, 4:38 pm EDT
Around here, it's generally best to get a ways from the road before you begin fishing. The "bridge pools" are usually cleaned out by bait fisherman a few weeks after stocking. Even if the fish are there, they are more likely to take something like a Powerbait or a glo-bug than a real fly. In other words, its just not much fun.

But if you're willing to walk a couple of miles on many of our streams, you'll find honest to goodness wild-living trout that don't see many flies at all. So the further I get away from the car, the better.

But then once I find good water, be that 1/2 mile, 1 mile, or 3 miles from the road, I'll usually stay in one good spot until I figure it out. It's better to learn one productive spot really well than to learn the entire stretch a little bit.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jun 29, 2010June 29th, 2010, 5:53 pm EDT
Motrout, you gotta come up here sometime. I just found a little honey of a creek less than an hour away from me where I had heard rumors of large browns. There was nobody in sight, even right off the road, and this stream was actually TAKEN OFF the Designated Trout Stream list here in Michigan! Two broken off Woolly Buggers later, I think the rumors might just be true...whatever they were, they were BIG!!

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

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