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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.

Dorsal view of a Setvena wahkeena (Perlodidae) (Wahkeena Springfly) Stonefly Nymph from Mystery Creek #199 in Washington
As far as I can tell, this species has only previously been reported from one site in Oregon along the Columbia gorge. However, the key characteristics are fairly unmistakable in all except for one minor detail:
— 4 small yellow spots on frons visible in photos
— Narrow occipital spinule row curves forward (but doesn’t quite meet on stem of ecdysial suture, as it's supposed to in this species)
— Short spinules on anterior margin of front legs
— Short rposterior row of blunt spinules on abdominal tergae, rather than elongated spinules dorsally
I caught several of these mature nymphs in the fishless, tiny headwaters of a creek high in the Wenatchee Mountains.
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.

GldstrmSam
GldstrmSam's profile picture
Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
GldstrmSam on Jan 20, 2012January 20th, 2012, 8:46 am EST
Has anybody here fly fished for Sheefish/inconnu? If so I would like a list of fly for them.

Thanks,
Sam
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
Entoman
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Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Jan 20, 2012January 20th, 2012, 12:36 pm EST
Yes, back in the 70's we had reasonable success on the Kobuk using Whistler derivatives in white & red to simulate the big Daredevil spoons they went GaGa over.:) I'm sure things have changed substantially in the intervening years and hopefully somebody with more recent experience will comment, but I can witness that they do take flies. Back then, they were just starting to be promoted and I have no idea who first coined the phrase "freshwater tarpon", but in reality, they're really giant whitefish. And I mean giant! In those years you could catch 20 lb. and larger fish until your arms fell off. All you'd have to do was wade out and swing a spoon in front of them and you'd have a fish on every cast until you spooked the school. Then we'd load up and fly off to find more. Sometimes you had to work hard to get them to take a fly, though. We landed several that would probably have gone to 40 lbs. or more. We'd fly over the river to locate the schools (which were clearly visible from the air) and then land to go fish them. Talk about interesting flying.:)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
GldstrmSam
GldstrmSam's profile picture
Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
GldstrmSam on Jan 20, 2012January 20th, 2012, 4:06 pm EST
Thanks a lot!! I could probably tie some flies from red and white calf tail. I might also tie some using blue calf tail to match a Daredevil spoon that I have. what size where the hooks?
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
Entoman
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Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Jan 20, 2012January 20th, 2012, 7:30 pm EST
3/0 saltwater hooks. Not by choice though, as these were the only large hooks I had in my kit that first season. The only reason they were even there is because by sheer luck they hadn't been removed after a February in Baja.:) Since outsized traditional salmon hooks weren't sold over the counter in those days in CA fly shops, I never changed them out. Today I would prefer to use steelhead/salmon hooks. As to materials I used bucktail in those days, but today I'd lean to lots of marabou or rabbit fur strips for increased action. They seemed to be much more attracted to the wobble & fluttering of a spoon and I was never fully satisfied with the big hair wing flies we were using.

Though to my knowledge I'm one of the first to ever cast a fly to them (unless somebody out there can make that claim prior to '75) I haven't kept track of advances made (if any) in the pursuit of this fish. Even so, if I were planning a trip for this Summer I would experiment with many of the over-sized spey influenced steelhead flies. I've had a lot of success with them in BC, and the Sheefish is a salmonid after all.:) One pattern I wouldn't be without is a selection of Trailer Trashes, probably in pale blue & purple as well as red & white.

It is my understanding that the fish are now running substantially smaller, only averaging 10 lbs. or so. If I were you, I'd also have some spey or leech types in smaller sizes, say 2's and 4's. I bet a prawn type fly in 1/0, say the General Practitioner, would also be worth trying.

"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
GldstrmSam
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Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
GldstrmSam on Jan 21, 2012January 21st, 2012, 5:35 pm EST
Thanks a lot Entoman. I haven't seen a Trailer Trash. Do you have a photo of one?
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Jan 21, 2012January 21st, 2012, 9:14 pm EST
http://www.deschutesangler.com/Flies/Steelhead+Deep+Sunk+Flies/Morrish's+Trailer+Trash.html

Click on this and scroll down to look at the variations. The "baitfish" color gives the best view of the construction.
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Troutnut
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Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jan 21, 2012January 21st, 2012, 9:23 pm EST
Are you planning a trip to sheefish water Sam, or trying them around Fairbanks? I know there are a few around town, in the Chatanika and at the mouth of the Chena, but they're awfully rare and I can't imagine targeting them. You could have fun catching pike while trying, though.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Doublespey
Posts: 61
Doublespey on Jan 22, 2012January 22nd, 2012, 3:57 am EST
Freshwater tarpon right? ..least they are called that. Just wish they'd migrate a little farther south down the coast.
GldstrmSam
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Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
GldstrmSam on Jan 23, 2012January 23rd, 2012, 8:13 am EST
I was thinking about going to the Chena river. If I do catch pike instead then I still won't complain, it will just make the rare sheefish more special when I do catch them.
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Jan 23, 2012January 23rd, 2012, 11:34 am EST
G-Sam -

Jason can address this much better than me, but I believe that pike and sheefish hold in different kinds of water. I don't remember sheefish mixing much with other species, either. On the Kobuk for example, when you would find them holding in a run, it was pretty much them. I don't mean to throw cold water on your plans, but it seems to me that going after sheefish is a pretty dedicated thing and will probably preclude many hookups with pike - vice versa as well. The odds don't sound good. Kinda like wanting to shoot ducks by going pheasant hunting in the hope that one might fly by? :)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
JOHNW
JOHNW's profile picture
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
JOHNW on Jan 23, 2012January 23rd, 2012, 11:35 am EST
Sam,
What about the mylar type "spoon flies" the saltwater guys are using for Red Fish. I imagine those along with an intermediate or full sink line might do the trick for you.
Just a thought.
JW
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
Troutnut
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Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jan 23, 2012January 23rd, 2012, 1:34 pm EST
I was thinking about going to the Chena river. If I do catch pike instead then I still won't complain, it will just make the rare sheefish more special when I do catch them.


Just don't go into it expecting to catch sheefish. You can have some fun down there catching pike and burbot, although it may be difficult on the fly and I haven't tried that. I just know the fish are around, and I've met a couple people who've caught a sheefish down there in the past. So it's possible, but it's extremely rare. You might throw a spinning rod with some cut bait for burbot and have that sit on the bottom while you're fly casting for pike / sheefish... that's the best bet for action in that spot I think.

Jason can address this much better than me, but I believe that pike and sheefish hold in different kinds of water. I don't remember sheefish mixing much with other species, either.


I don't know for sure, but I don't think that applies so much around here. You were in sheefish heaven up there on the Kobuk, and there's nowhere else like that in Alaska, especially around Fairbanks. Here, sheefish are incredibly rare animals, and people just catch them once in a while when fishing for something else. The only places I've heard of that attract them somewhat are the big river mouths where somewhat clear tributaries drain into the chocolate milk turbidity of the big glacial rivers like the Tanana. Even then, they're rare... you're just looking for a needle in a slightly smaller haystack.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
GldstrmSam
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Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
GldstrmSam on Jan 24, 2012January 24th, 2012, 9:13 am EST
I do understand that this would be very hard. That is all part of the challenge.

Don't even apologize Entoman. It is better for me to go into this knowing the truth about this subject than to go into this expecting a lot of big fish.

Jason I like your idea for fishing for pike/sheefish and burbot.
I did actually do that same thing for trout in a lake. I would throw in my worm then go down the shore a little ways and throw in my fly. The only problem was that the moment I would throw in my fly, a fish would start nibbling on the worm, so then I would have to set down my fly rod and go down the shore....I stopped doing that after awhile and only used my fly rod.
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Jan 24, 2012January 24th, 2012, 8:21 pm EST
Excellent idea, JW!

Good luck, G-Sam - thanks for the understanding. Let us know how it goes!
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
GldstrmSam
GldstrmSam's profile picture
Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
GldstrmSam on Jan 24, 2012January 24th, 2012, 8:47 pm EST
I sure will. Thanks for all of your help!!

Sam
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
Entoman
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Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Jan 24, 2012January 24th, 2012, 8:51 pm EST
You're very welcome.
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman

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