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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.
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Crepuscular
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Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Sep 11, 2013September 11th, 2013, 4:42 pm EDT
These things have been around for a month now. The fish seem to recognize.

Troutnut
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Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Sep 12, 2013September 12th, 2013, 8:13 am EDT
Nice photo!
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Sep 12, 2013September 12th, 2013, 2:23 pm EDT
Nice photo!

EDIT
Thanks. I'd call that H. atrocaudata but it seems too light. Any thoughts? Collected last Sunday. It's gotta be limbata right? But it's September. These streams are gonna drive me to drink...
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Sep 12, 2013September 12th, 2013, 11:10 pm EDT
Hi Eric,

You didn't mention its size, but assuming it's much smaller than the limbata drakes you see earlier in the Summer, I'd go with atrocaudata. You're right about it being too pale for most descriptions but there are more forms of the species in this genus than you can shake a stick at.:) A lot of them look pretty different and it wouldn't surprise me that atro could have a pale form.

From what I can make out, it seems to lack the two toned eyes of limbata and the way the abdominal maculation (ventral & dorsal) line up is pretty interesting. Looks almost ringed... Most (but not all) limbata specimens lack these types of ventral markings and even if they do have them, I don't remember them lining up this well. I believe this pattern may be more common with atro - at least the ones I've seen photographed.
"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
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Sep 16, 2013September 16th, 2013, 6:10 am EDT
Thanks Kurt I showed this female to another person who is very familar with this mayfly and the stream where I collected it and he agrees with you and me (I guess that's what I said) that it's H. atrocaudata
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Sep 16, 2013September 16th, 2013, 12:38 pm EDT
Yeah, this genus drives me crazy more than any other. Well, many of the baetid genera are just as bad, I suppose.:) The problem is most of the characters formally used to field differentiate them haven't proved as helpful as once hoped. Body color & size, abdominal maculation, hatch timing, and banding along the outer edge of the hind wing are far from dependable for determining between the two. Entomologists have wrestled over even curated specimens! I guess I'm going by the eyes...

I've collected them from the end of May to as late as mid October, depending on location. They often look entirely different. Some are really big (40 mm range), some are half as big. Some are light, some are darker. Some have banded hind wings, some don't. Their tergal maculation is all over the map and none of them have been a really close match to any of the Spieth diagrams. Even so, I've been assured we only have limbata (prev. californica) out here, so my local critters don't cause ID frustration. The problem with your specimens is you live in Hex Central (too many species).:) As you mentioned, this particular specimen being female doesn't make it easier either!:)

BTW - have you ever seen these smaller pale Hexes this late before?
"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
Lastchance
Portage, PA

Posts: 437
Lastchance on Sep 16, 2013September 16th, 2013, 3:10 pm EDT
Yep, it looks like a mayfly to me, too! You embarrass me with all that genius talk.
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Sep 16, 2013September 16th, 2013, 4:50 pm EDT
BTW - have you ever seen these smaller pale Hexes this late before?


Oh yeah. Every year at this time there are a lot of them. They usually start about the same time as the white fly. And last well into September. The males are darker ill try and get a decent photo of one of the boys.
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Sep 16, 2013September 16th, 2013, 11:28 pm EDT
Look forward to it. A good look at the privates should clear up any confusion... Hopefully! :)

Bruce - You're a piiece of work.
"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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