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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 Skwala (Perlodidae) (Large Springfly) Stonefly Nymph from the Yakima River in Washington
This Skwala nymph still has a couple months left to go before hatching, but it's still a good representative of its species, which was extremely abundant in my sample for a stonefly of this size. It's obvious why the Yakima is known for its Skwala hatch.
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.

Browny
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Posts: 3
Browny on Nov 6, 2006November 6th, 2006, 7:57 am EST
During an online fishing tournament no less!!

http://www.anglingmasters.com/index.asp?sec=297&too=2009&eve=7&id=84
Upnorth2
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Upnorth2 on Nov 7, 2006November 7th, 2006, 9:05 am EST
Cannot be counted was not killed. Nice fish though.
Upnorth2
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Upnorth2 on Nov 10, 2006November 10th, 2006, 1:46 pm EST
I have a suspicion here that this fish is splake by just looking at some of the markings on it. First caught at this time of year when splake are spawning and look at the front fins, splake no doubt. The lake in question has splake and lake trout I believe as well. It does have some lake trout markings also.
The fish is no doubt a stocked fish as well and would not fall under the wild fish catergory. The tail is missing some brook trout markings such as vermiculations on the back and tail and the absence of blue halos.

The best way to tell is of course DNA but a look at the pyloric caeca in the stomach cavity is just as good.
Right now I am leaning towards splake. The coaster I caught of 7 pounds 9 ounces was also determined to be a brook trout by the pyloric caeca in the stomach. That's one reason why I kept it.

Brook trout should have 23 to 55 pyloric caeca, Lake Trout 93 to 208, Splake 65 to 85.

Nice fish however.

GONZO
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Nov 11, 2006November 11th, 2006, 4:52 am EST
Upnorth2-

Thanks for sharing these thought-provoking observations. You obviously looked at the photo more closely than I did, even though my skeptical nature was aroused by the "world record" banner. I suppose that even back-crosses between splake and brook trout might produce such a fish (F2-splake X brook, or F3-[splake X brook] X brook). Due to the variability inherent in such crosses, I wonder if even the pyloric caeca count would be definitive. I guess we'll never know in this case.

Your big coaster is even more fascinating--congratulations! I certainly hope that this indicates a brighter future for the amazing ad-fluvial "brookies" that once produced the true world record. Are you seeing other signs that a recovery is underway?
Troutnut
Troutnut's profile picture
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Nov 11, 2006November 11th, 2006, 6:26 am EST
"Splake" was the first thing that came to mind for me too, though I don't know enough to say for sure. It's a beautiful fish either way.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Upnorth2
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Upnorth2 on Nov 11, 2006November 11th, 2006, 8:55 am EST
I do not like bursting bubbles but there is a lot of talk about the current record not being what it is also. Without DNA, which might still be around I understand, it is also suspect to being something else besides a coaster or Lake Superior Brook Trout. That's what my Canadian friends are saying now. I'm checking into some information on windgos for size and such. There's a lot of chatter about it right now.It's always possible that windgo followed the larger populations of coasters in when they spawned in Canada.

I did a lot of photos of the Tobins at the Iron River Hatchery of both males and females and compared to this photo you'd really wonder about the Tobins. Very deep purple cast to the males and slightly less on the females.

My fish had a tag and I took the disgestive system out and saved it. I later got with someone on it all of this. It's all documented. I knew it had to have the right count to put it into the brook trout category. That's one reason why I kept it. It was caught after the spawn so it's colored differently that what people think when they think a brook trout. Enough qualified people have seen it so it is what it is. There was a fish that came into Ashland once about the end of November that was supposed to be bigger but it was in spawning colors and it was far too late for a coaster to have that coloring in the Lake.

There was a fish caught close to 9-pounds the same year but I do not if they went to this length. Not seen it either. They can trick you.

A friend in Michigan has caught coasters and this year I did another mature fish. It was spawning time and it was released. I would say there is a slight, slight recovery happening but it has to include habitat work and these blocked waterways here. Culverts are simply a bad problem. I can find them but in my opinion they have always been around to some degree, since it's now proven that brook trout do use the Lake as well as the stocked Canadian stock. We just do not have the big populations and supporting continuum of habitat.

Coasters are interesting. They are finding now that native and stocked coasters do share the Lake and run in and out of it. There are some slight differences betweeen them according to the Michigan researchers I talk to from time to time. It's really all habitat. They are finding that the 10-12 inch stock fish do not make it as long as the smaller fish when stocked. I think the long-term will have results but the competition between salmon, steelhead and social acceptance might limit them in the future.

Anyway it's still a nice catch. It was near the end of its life span so it would have been nice to keep it.

Hcrawfish
Posts: 11
Hcrawfish on Nov 14, 2006November 14th, 2006, 5:57 am EST
I thought splake right away as well. I caught a couple big spawning splake this fall, and watched countless others and it looks exactly the same. To the eye they can look exactly the same as a brook trout, the colorations are amazingly similar. The orange pointed tail was the first thing I recognized as splakeish. I've spent a lot of time anylizing photos, and the tails I've always noticed to be different between the two. I'm sure it's not always the case, but it's a good first place to look. And obviously Upnorth2 went into more detail about some of the other things that don't add up.
Upnorth2
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Upnorth2 on Nov 14, 2006November 14th, 2006, 9:27 am EST
Easy to get splake right now in the Bay. They need rain to come in but the river mouths......should be lots of fish. I'd still think that not all the salmon have not run yet either unless this snow put enough moisture in the rivers to get them going. Totally different from last year.

Two other things. The head should be shorter and the lateral line should have an abrupt curve to it. This one does not. Not unusual to have big big trout loose some coloration, mostly the pink colors depending upon if they are just brook trout. The Tobins I mentioned are very purple and are easy to tell that they are sure not splake.

Nice fish anyway. Cook's world record looks like a splake in photos and the same argument was shot down again lately. That same week Cook caught his another 14-pound fish came out of the same river. Cook sent the skins in to several places and they confirmed that it was a natural brook trout.


One day left here.......for rivers.
Hcrawfish
Posts: 11
Hcrawfish on Nov 15, 2006November 15th, 2006, 4:01 am EST
Yeah salmon are still hanging out at the mouths and bigger holes of the rivers. I'm sure with some rain or snow melt you'd see some fresh one's coming in as well. There were a lot of splake being caught of the mouths in september and october. Haven't seen any fall steelies yet. Need some moisture. Never seen things this dry. When I was last up fishing Lake Superior looked like the ocean on low tide. You could walk way out on the wet sand. Very crazy. As you mentioned the head is also a noticeable feature that is different in the two species. Which was the first thing that made me think the 9lb. coaster that was caught the other year was actually a splake. It had an huge head, just like a lake trout. Upnorth2, if you ever get a chance to stop by outdoorallure, check out the photo and tell me what you think. It's not a great photo, but you can still see the shape of the fish. I think it was 28.5 inches, 8lb. 15oz. to be exact.
Upnorth2
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Upnorth2 on Nov 15, 2006November 15th, 2006, 5:14 am EST
Have not been in. I fish lake runs at night a lot and they are usually closed or days Tuesday to get away from the crowds. Next time up, I'll stop in and take a look. What I posted is about it. I understand that fish was mounted and I suppose no one took the digestive system out of it either. It's the best thing to DNA I understand. If it does not have a short head, then its no doubt a splake.

I took the one out my fish when I got back here. If it's got any spawning colors, the fish was not a coaster. They spawn about the first two weeks of September. Lake Superior Brook Trout have different colors once they stay out in the Lake.

I did good but I'd say it's going to be late runs this year. I've seen salmon come in late December.
Hcrawfish
Posts: 11
Hcrawfish on Nov 16, 2006November 16th, 2006, 4:45 am EST
I think it was caught March so it didn't have any spawning colors, but I wasn't aware that coasters spawned that early. From the dnr sources I've talked too, coasters usaully were not running until November, although resident brook trout of course do spawn mainley in september. It was mounted and of course now it looks more like a brookie, but even the guy who caught it thought it was a splake until he was told differently. The DNA was not checked as far as I know, and the fish didn't have a tag, so I would say it is pretty unlikely that it's a brook trout.

Changing the topic slightly, I was wondering what's your take on splake reproduction. Do you think that some splake possibly reproduce in the wild? And are they a threat to coasters? I read some articles about coasters that claim splake are a bigger threat then the dnr gives credit to. I'm aware that splake reproduction in the wild has never been documented, but I also relize that there probabley hasn't been much research done in that area either. Just some questions that are slightly on topic, so I'll look foward to anybodies replies on the subject.
Upnorth2
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Upnorth2 on Nov 16, 2006November 16th, 2006, 5:07 am EST
I think I've read about two or three different versions on when coasters spawn now. Not sure if Wisconsin has enough data on that yet. In Canada they start fishing for them about the end of August. They are not hard to find in the spring since they and the resident brook trout use the Lake anyway. That's been proven in the latest Michigan research. I've just not seen anyone looking for them during some good times in the spring. I think one of first references to coasters LS Brook Trout) spawning was in G Creek in September when a run of salmon came in. They color up and stage like the other fish up here. There's still more to be learned.

Well it's going to be a matter of what is socially acceptable. Not sure what the offical version is right now but it's going to be considered a lot on public acceptance. Someone writes an article and it's just another article. The work they are doing is pretty good right now. Some people might not want to give up the salmon and splake. Splake would be easy to get rid off, just do not stock any or phase them out. There have always been brook trout in Lake Superior, but in much smaller numbers than the historic levels. So some degree resident brook trout used the Lake. I've seen enough photos from experienced fishermen who caught them and never made a big deal about it. Most of them are gone but they sure could tell you what splake was and a brook trout. I think just about anyone who has lived up here and actively fished the Lake will tell you about the same.

About all they had to do was look at the stomach cavity that's better than the physical description. Not sure how all of it happened. But there were released fish from a federal study that were not tagged also. That could be one of them. I doubt anyone is going to make a big deal out if it since it's not a record or anything. I won't get involved in it too much.


I'll be maybe up in one stream this coming week just to check things out to see if some LS did come in later than normal but the way the Lake is everything is coming in late the last few years. Who knows sometimes?
Browny
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Posts: 3
Browny on Nov 21, 2006November 21st, 2006, 6:14 am EST
"something else besides a coaster or Lake Superior Brook Trout."

This fish was caught in a Manitoba stocked pond that is approximately 1/2 kilometer wide and maybe 1 1/2 kilometers long. It's tiny. Another picture has surfaced of the fish which is a closer view and also clarifying that the tail is not forked. Here is a link to another huge discussion over this fish as well as the new leaked photo.

http://www.iceshanty.com/ice_fishing/index.php?topic=38422.0

GONZO
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Nov 21, 2006November 21st, 2006, 6:59 am EST
Thanks for the additional info Browny. I believe the line you quoted was referring to questions about the 1916 Nipigon R. record. No matter, though. Even though the species debate may be unresolvable, it is an absolutely stunning fish, and I certainly can't fault the angler for releasing it. In such a small lake, perhaps the fish will be caught again, and we'll have an answer.
Upnorth2
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Upnorth2 on Nov 21, 2006November 21st, 2006, 11:59 am EST
Thanks Browny.

I've got some Canadian friends still talking about. I'll take a look. Take a look at Cook's world record fish and you'll see a slightly forked tail, could be the work on the mount. In fact, many claimed it was a splake until the right people looked at the fish.

Good chance it could be caught again. Hopefully they will keep. It would be near the end of its life. I could not find the leaked photo but by also looking at the lateral line in the low-resolution photo it does not appear to have that abrupt curve to it.
Upnorth2
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Upnorth2 on Nov 21, 2006November 21st, 2006, 1:46 pm EST
If it's the new photo from in post #46 (Angling Masters.com) it's brook trout without a question. The tail is just pinched from handling and the way it is laid out on the measuring scale. Photos sure can change the looks of fish.

Great brook trout.
Browny
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Posts: 3
Browny on Nov 24, 2006November 24th, 2006, 7:42 am EST
Yep thats the pic I'm referring to, it has settled the big debate on many forums lol.
Upnorth2
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Upnorth2 on Nov 24, 2006November 24th, 2006, 7:53 am EST
Does it for me and glad it came out. Holding the fish sure made a person question it. Light and the distance of the camera no doubt colored the fish differently. Everything checks out for a brook trout. Always good to have a couple of photos and they did it right with the scale and closer shot.

Is it offical as the unoffical record?
Hcrawfish
Posts: 11
Hcrawfish on Nov 24, 2006November 24th, 2006, 10:02 am EST
yeah looks like a completley different fish.
Hcrawfish
Posts: 11
Hcrawfish on Nov 24, 2006November 24th, 2006, 10:22 am EST
It's supprising how much different the girth looks in the two photos. I really don't know why he released it though, after taking all the photos and measurments, 90% chance the fish is already dead anyways.

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