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

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

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.
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Oldredbarn has attached these 3 pictures. The message is below.
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Aug 30, 2010August 30th, 2010, 3:23 am EDT
Maybe catch some football on the tube, 60 Minutes, the Emmys? Well a couple Michigan Trout Nuts decided to cross over to the other side and became Bass-Nuts for an evening.

Spence (Oldredbarn) & Jon (jmd123) decided, dispite the 90+ air temps, to haunt Spencer's Pool again...

We actually caught little during the day except the bikini hatch, but I keep waiting, ever the bug optimist, for my Iso's to show and I must be rushing them because they were no where to be seen. Again!

I normally would feel embarrassed, taking someone to a spot after bragging about it and I look bad because the bugs refuse to show, twice, except when it comes to "pounding them up" Mr.D has what one can only call "new-to-the-pool-luck"...

That fish he is holding measured out at 18"! I must say, short of the fella who's girlfriend just said she wants to kick-it-up-a-notch, I haven't seen a more happier guy that Jon last evening in awhile!

When I was a young boy in the 60's I lived a block away from some cousins and we played street hockey together, rode the same bus to school etc. I practically lived at their place. One year an uncle sent them boxing gloves for Christmas and we predictably pounded each other silly. When someone would get hurt the others would beg him not to tell aunt Gwen and it usually worked.

My uncle was a Wayne County Sheriff and after the 67 riots here in Detroit decided to hang it up and bought an 80 acre place west of Cadillac MI. Once when I was visiting there us kids were back in the woods on a big hill with a tire swing and my cousin Arlie slipped off right at the peak of the swing sending him airbourne. He actually bounced up when he landed in a full run towards the house.

I ran after him, since we both were on the swing at the same time, and weren't supposed to be...When I caught up to him I realized it was serious and we were going to have to face the music because he was having a conversation with Jesus...You know, "Jesus help me, help me, help me, Jesus!" He ended up spending the night in hospital with a dislocated elbow or shoulder...

I tell this story as a prelude to Jon's big fish...Stay with me here. It will all come together. We had settled down for a break and I had some cashews and some water and there were still no bugs...We had seen a couple rises at least which had given us a little hope but it was now dark out and I was about to have to admit I was wrong again.

Jon gets up and said I'll fish here a bit and then we can head back. I said something like, "Ok Jon. Let's see you put on a clinic." He fished a little in front of me and then headed upstream a bit...I then hear him say something like, "Oh my God! Oh my God, Spence...It's big...Oh my God, Spence"....etc Well I've heard these types of conversations with deities before and decided, "Hell! I better get up from here and see what he's in to." Well the above mantra when on until he finally landed him which took some time...It was interspersed with "Oh shit! There he goes again! Oh my god! Don't get too close Spence" etc, etc...

He started talking about photos etc and I was laughing in the dark and replied, "Jon...You better land him first fella..."

Well there he is...The one picture I really wanted to take was as he was releasing him because he was a really pretty fish...Great coloration with darker green markings on it's back and flared gill covers etc...A real adult fish...After he swam away I reached out my hand and got back the "I love you man!" that really only works for me in moments like these.

Nice fish, Jon! A real Spencer's Pool Brusier!


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Aug 30, 2010August 30th, 2010, 4:44 am EDT
Another great story. Was Jon using his killer bass fly?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Aug 30, 2010August 30th, 2010, 5:51 am EDT

The infamous KBF is banished to the streamer box once the sun gets below the tree line or anywhere within shouting distance of "The Pool"...:) Spencer's rules.

I want you to imagine this spot. There is a nice pool glass smooth slow current and a sharp bend in the river at the end of this and then another nice slick below the bend a city block or two long. The outside bend is rip-rap cobble...It would be sacrilege to muck this run up with hardware. I want you to know that I'm leaving out here the IMHO part on purpose...This is Spencer's Pool :)

I have been visiting this spot since 1991. When there are bugs it is a dry fly guys dream...During those times you have targets and it's great...I have been waiting for the Iso's to show and so far not-so-good! I am easing Jon in to this :) because I don't want to stress him too bad when fish like the one he landed start rising all around him...It can be hard on the heart! :)

I have walked away from here on some nights rung out and grinning ear to ear. I have seen big boys absolutely tear up the pool with monster leaps and their splashes throwing water everywhere...I am amused by the local bass inteligensia because they don't seem to like this bit of water and I have had only a few folks over those years here...At first it was the U of M fisheries guy and a DNR fellow that had both set it up originally as no-kill 20+ years ago.


He was actually using a White Wulff...I think.


PS I forgot to say that it was actually supposed to go the other way...I was supposed to catch the largest fish of the night and Jon was supposed to take my picture because I'm wear my "Made in Detroit" tee-shirt and we wanted to "represent" :)...I think they say.
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
SlateDrake9 on Aug 30, 2010August 30th, 2010, 6:49 am EDT
I went scouting for trout in a river I wasn't sure if they held over or not this summer. Ended up watching 30 or so trout activly feed on size 20 flying ants in 68 degree water, along with a huge snapping turtle and a beaver swimming back and forth through the upper end of the pool. Got up this AM and went and caught some of them, all browns between 12-15 inches, on the said ant.
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Aug 30, 2010August 30th, 2010, 10:21 am EDT
It was a size 12 White Wulff, guys, just FYI. This has been a favorite fly of mine for over 20 years (I was buying them before I started tying my own), in fact this was the same fly I used back in June during my half-hour six-trout feeding frenzy on the Maple. It has always worked for me, yet I am still amazed that a bass THAT BIG would go for a little dinky dry fly! We did notice that when Spence turned on his light we could see "white flies" (Ephoron leukon??)dancing all over the water, yet after I netted and released that fish the flies seemed to be GONE, like we had a 10-minute hatch or something!

This fish hit HARD - I was just literally floating my fly out unseen in the darkness, no idea exactly where it was, and then there was a small explosion in the water right out in front of me and something on the end of my line that felt like a bucking bronco. Spence did not mention that I was using my Cabelas 7 1/2' 3-weight (Three Forks, a $50 fly rod!), same rod I landed a 19.5" smallie on off my friends' dock two weeks ago, so it took me some time to wear this fish out (Spence later criticized me for taking too long to land it, fair enough). Let me tell you, it brought back lots of memories of my early Hex-hatching days at the U of MI Bio Station up on the Maple - blind casting out into the darkness, explosive takes, large fish thrashing around out in the dark...And, I'm starting to think of that rod as my "lucky smallmouth rod".

Yep, I stole Spence's "honker" that he was hoping to catch so I could take a picture of HIM. Oh well, next time, buddy...although, come to think of it, that's the second time in a row that I've outfished Spence in HIS favorite hole...I had better let him catch the big one next time or he might not want me out there anymore...


P.S. Spence, no worries about my heart, it's healthy as a horse (or maybe a 4-pound smallie?)...remember, Sir, I am no stranger to wild nights on rivers - I cut my fly fishing teeth on northern Michigan Hex hatches after dark!!
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Aug 30, 2010August 30th, 2010, 10:23 am EDT
P.P.S. If you enlarge the photo to full size, you can see the #12 White Wulff stuck in the corner of the fish's mouth. It was in there so well I ended up cutting the line so as not to keep the fish out of the water too long trying to get my fly back - I have more and can tie more still...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Motrout's profile picture
Posts: 319
Motrout on Aug 30, 2010August 30th, 2010, 1:47 pm EDT
Nice smallies! Looks like you've found a good spot there.

What did I do Sunday night.... Nothing that fun, but I did get in a little dry fly fishing for bluegill.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach

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