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

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

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.

Troutnut
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Bellevue, WA

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Troutnut on Sep 17, 2006September 17th, 2006, 1:13 pm EDT
I found myself doing that today, I think. I was exploring some very promising water, where there were rumors of trout in the past, but I saw neither rise nor refusal. And I presented the fly well over many prime spots.

It seems like a couple times a year I'm in that situation -- following a hunch or a rumor about some obscure piece of water nobody seems to fish. Sometimes it pans out. Usually it's a bust. Today was a bust.

How often do the rest of you try that? And have you found some gems that way?
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Taxon
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Plano, TX

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Taxon on Sep 17, 2006September 17th, 2006, 9:38 pm EDT
Jason-

I fished really hard this morning on a branch of a local river, which I know holds lots of trout. No only did I catch nothing, but I didn't see a single riseform, nor even get a refusal. Given the potential for this also happening to others, I'm don't think one can reasonably conclude the river or stream is barren, just because no trout are seen on one occasion while fly fishing. On the other hand, if electro-shocking were to yield the same result, ....
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
Troutnut
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Troutnut on Sep 18, 2006September 18th, 2006, 7:04 am EDT
Yeah, you're right. I've had that happen on streams with trout, too.

This was a good day to fish, at the right time of day, and the water was perfect: deep enough to hold fish, shallow enough for a dry, easy to get the perfect drift, and narrow enough to cover thoroughly with a few casts. The banks are bedrock ledges, so it's easy to fish in sneakers without getting wet and there's plenty of backcast room. If there were trout it would really be too good to be true.

I wouldn't put my "no trout" declaration in a scientific journal, but it's enough that I'll direct my future efforts to different streams.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
GONZO
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"Bear Swamp," PA

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GONZO on Sep 18, 2006September 18th, 2006, 11:52 am EDT
Jason, your comment about "bedrock ledges" triggered something. Streams with extensive bedrock ledges are notorious for providing scarce habitat for trout and the insects on which they feed. I can think of several streams in your area where you can wander through a mile or so of these ledges without spooking a single fish. However, if you can locate pockets or pools where silt, gravel, and woody debris can accumulate without being subject to flushing by seasonal spates, you may discover where all the trout are hiding.

I vividly remember spending a weary, sweat-soaked day on one of your local tribs. After tramping through endless ledges without so much as a look at anything remotely trouty (a few small suckers were the only fish I saw), I came upon a small waterfall. Below it was a modest, gravel-bottomed hole with some tree limbs sticking out of it. It was thick with wild rainbows. As is often the case when so many fish are concentrated in one spot, they were competitive. After catching a few, I decided to see if I could deliver the fly and then remove it before one of them would nail it. This was more difficult than you might think!

Troutnut
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Troutnut on Sep 18, 2006September 18th, 2006, 2:42 pm EDT
Neat Gonzo -- I didn't realize you had fished around here.

Lots of the Ithaca area streams seem to have that character you described, including the one I explored this evening. I raised one trout in a couple hundred yards of stream, much of which is narrow enough to step across without getting wet. I stopped at the top of a waterfall below which I caught a few good trout last week. At the other (upstream) end of the stretch I fished there's a really nice deep, slow ledge pool with a small waterfall at the head. It holds dozens of wild trout up to at least 13".

I didn't catch any of the trout, but that's another story.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Shawnny3
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Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Oct 6, 2006October 6th, 2006, 12:39 am EDT
Hey, Jason, just saw this thread. I think I may have fished more obscure water around Ithaca than anyone else (with many experiences like the one you guys have mentioned). I had a friend when I was still in Ithaca who used to love to drive to new places, so he and I would just get out a topo map and drive to every farm pond or trickle within a 1/2-hour of town. If you email me and let me know which streams you're talking about, I might be able to let you know what our experiences were on it. Ithaca is a weird place to fish - lots of cool eclectic spots to try to fish, and only slightly fewer cool eclectic spots without any fish.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com

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