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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.

Dorsal view of a Grammotaulius betteni (Limnephilidae) (Northern Caddisfly) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This is a striking caddis larva with an interesting color pattern on the head. Here are some characteristics I was able to see under the microscope, but could not easily expose for a picture:
- The prosternal horn is present.
- The mandible is clearly toothed, not formed into a uniform scraper blade.
- The seems to be only 2 major setae on the ventral edge of the hind femur.
- Chloride epithelia seem to be absent from the dorsal side of any abdominal segments.
Based on these characteristics and the ones more easily visible from the pictures, this seems to be Grammotaulius. The key's description of the case is spot-on: "Case cylindrical, made of longitudinally arranged sedge or similar leaves," as is the description of the markings on the head, "Dorsum of head light brownish yellow with numerous discrete, small, dark spots." The spot pattern on the head is a very good match to figure 19.312 of Merritt R.W., Cummins, K.W., and Berg, M.B. (2019). The species ID is based on Grammotaulius betteni being the only species of this genus known in Washington state.
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.

By Troutnut on May 22nd, 2011
I had always wondered about the little mountain streams feeding into the Delta River along the Richardson Highway on the north side of the Alaska Range, but this is the first time I explored one of them. The topo maps show that they wind back into steep-walled canyons a short distance upstream from the road, and the scenery there did not disappoint.

It was a great trip until my dog found a porcupine!

Photos by Troutnut from Gunnysack Creek, the Delta River, and Bear Creek in Alaska

Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
The Delta River in Alaska
A quartz boulder embedded in some schist... doesn't it look like a nose? Or maybe a blobfish.

From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Bear Creek in Alaska
The Delta River in Alaska
The Delta River in Alaska
I think this is one of my most interesting portraits of my dog Taiga, although you have to look close to see her!

From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Taiga looks pretty happy here for a dog with several porcupine quills hanging from her chin.

From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Purple mountain saxifrage.

From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Purple mountain saxifrage.

From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Bear Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
A little bit of glacier hangs along a shady wall in this high canyon in the Alaska Range.

From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Purple mountain saxifrage.

From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Purple mountain saxifrage.

From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
The Delta River in Alaska
I was surprised to find green leaves & flowers on these plants, which were hanging off a rock wall, high up in the mountains where nothing else is really budding yet.  This is purple mountain saxifrage, one of the most cold-tolerant plants there is.

From Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska
Gunnysack Creek in Alaska

Comments / replies

Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on May 24, 2011May 24th, 2011, 10:29 pm EDT
Man, that IS some scenery! WOW! And you got some wildflowers already? I guess spring is finding it's way up there after all! Must be some seriously hardy stuff!! Yeah, those saxifrages are some hard-core boreal plants.

Funny thing about dogs & porcupines, it doesn't seem to be a big deal for them, probably gets us more upset than they do!

Any fishies in those streams or are they too high up and too sterile?

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Troutnut
Troutnut's profile picture
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on May 24, 2011May 24th, 2011, 11:25 pm EDT
I was really impressed with the saxifrages. There were hardly any buds on the trees, let alone leaves, up at that altitude. You can see everything still looks like spring hasn't started. Yet there the saxifrages are, green and blooming!

There are probably some little grayling in these streams, but I'm not 100% sure. The habitat is there, but some of the waterfalls on this one might prevent upstream passage, and I doubt they can overwinter above the falls. The streams frequently become really turbid with glacial runoff, although I haven't quite figured out when that happens; it seems like one day one will be turbid while the next is crystal clear, and a couple weeks later it's the opposite. This one starts at a glacier and should be pretty consistently turbid, and this is actually the clearest I've ever seen it.

The attractions on this stream are the scenery and the gold. I brought my gold pan along and found a little bit of flour gold, but nothing too exciting. It's a fun thing to do for lovers of small streams in Alaska, where there's not much to fish for in the really small streams except for little grayling. Nobody really goes fishing for little (6-10") grayling, because you can go to one of the bigger streams and still get away from the crowds, and still catch fish almost constantly, only they're much nicer.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on May 25, 2011May 25th, 2011, 10:07 am EDT
Having never caught a grayling of any size I would be tempted, but it sounds like you are quite spoiled with fisheries up there. Gold too, huh? That sounds like a nice little bonus, even if you don't find enough to make it worth anything significant. Sounds like my luck with morels here in my new surroundings - I have found a single one twice now, looked around the area for a good half hour and found no more! One each only makes for a tiny appetizer...and I never seem to find them when I am actually looking for them, I always just stumble across them by accident!

Nevertheless, that is some truly beautiful country you've got up there. Thanks for sharing the photos with us!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jesse
Jesse's profile picture
Posts: 378
Jesse on May 25, 2011May 25th, 2011, 12:15 pm EDT
Beautiful!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
http://www.filingoflyfishing.com

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