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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.

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.

Report at a Glance

General RegionMidwest
Specific LocationMarceline City Lake
Dates FishedJune 1983
Fish CaughtGreen Sunfish, Largemouth Bass
Conditions & HatchesWeather was warm and sunny.

Details and Discussion

Site Editor
Hayward, Wisconsin

Posts: 7
Dneuswanger on May 31, 2007May 31st, 2007, 9:38 am EDT
Jason Neuswanger (a.k.a. the "Troutnut") had his first fishing experience with me, his father, when he was 2 1/2 years old. I rigged up an 8-foot St.Croix 7-weight fly rod to function as a cane pole, with about 8 feet of monofilament line and a tiny black rubber jig fished ~18 inches beneath a small bobber (replaced these days with self-tied nymphs fished in conjunction with strike indicators). Our primary quarry were the big green sunfish that lived among the rocks along the dam of Marceline City Lake, a new 176-acre water supply lake in north central Missouri that I once managed as a fishery biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. A reporter from the Marceline Press was on hand to document opening day fishing activities on this new lake, and he thought it would be cute to photograph a two-year-old catching fish.

About the time the reporter got set up, Jason's bobber went under, and he torqued the fly rod like he was setting the hook on a 30-pound Chinook salmon. An 8-inch green sunfish came sailing 20 feet through the air and smacked the poor fellow in the side of the head! (Jason got his picture in the paper anyway.) We caught a bunch of sunfish that day, but mostly we chased frogs and otherwise doinked around the water's edge looking at bugs and doing whatever else a two-year-old thought was fun.

We also caught and kept several small, emaciated largemouth bass that had been stocked illegally before there were any predators to control numbers. (Anglers were being encouraged to keep bass under 12 inches long in order to establish balance in the developing fish community.)
As Jason and I were leaving the lake with a bucket full of big sunfish and skinny bass, we ran into Carl Rude -- Conservation Agent (game warden) Supervisor for the North Central District. Carl was an intimidating man with an intimidating name; but he was my friend, and I knew he had a heart of gold. He jovially approached Jason, peered into his bucket of fish, acted impressed, and asked, "What ya got there young fella?" Jason did not hesitate. He looked WAY up at Carl, and in all sincerity he proudly proclaimed, "Walleye!"

Carl looked at me with eyes wide open, desperately trying to control himself, but he couldn't do it. He burst out laughing. And I'm not sure what tickled him most--the fact that the fishery biologist's own son couldn't identify a fish correctly, or the fact that the fishery biologist's bass were so skinny that they LOOKED like walleyes to an innocent, honest two-year-old! I endured endless rounds of humiliation from Carl and the other agents on hand that day, but it now makes for some fond memories. A word to the wise though... ask for a second opinion on those bug IDs from Jason! (Just kidding, son, you're a better entomologist than I'll ever be.)

MORAL OF THE STORY: Take a kid fishing. You just never know where it may lead.

Dave Neuswanger
a.k.a. the Troutnut's Dad
Retired Fisheries Supervisor, Wisconsin DNR
Taxon's profile picture
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1311
Taxon on May 31, 2007May 31st, 2007, 10:03 am EDT
Wonderfully delightful story, Dave. I especially appreciate understanding the genesis of the insect IDs.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on May 31, 2007May 31st, 2007, 10:20 am EDT
Until today I had no idea that my first fish actually smacked a reporter in the face. I need to put that on my resume.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Jun 5, 2007June 5th, 2007, 9:31 am EDT
Very cool story, Dave. You're a better father than I.


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