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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.

Lateral view of a Onocosmoecus (Limnephilidae) (Great Late-Summer Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen keys pretty easily to Onocosmoecus, and it closely resembles a specimen from Alaska which caddis expert Dave Ruiter recognized as this genus. As with that specimen, the only species in the genus documented in this area is Onocosmoecus unicolor, but Dave suggested for that specimen that there might be multiple not-yet-distinguished species under the unicolor umbrella and it would be best to stick with the genus-level ID. I'm doing the same for this one.
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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Martinlf has attached these 14 pictures to this report. The message is below.
Here we are before the trip at the botannical garden in Phoenix.
Smallmouth on a wooly bugger caught from a kayak on Fool Hollow Lake.
Apache trout caught at the Fool Hollow boat landing on a wooly bugger.
Fishing the upper reaches of the Little Colorado
Montazuma Castle.
Cliff dwellings at Walnut Creek.
West Fork of the Black River.  After a 3 mile hike in, some of which was vertical, we arrived at this small beautiful stream.  It was full of wild brown trout.
An upper meadow on the West Fork of the Black River.
A West Fork of the Black Brown.
After spending the day fishing about two miles of the West Fork, we stopped for a photo, and then started the three mile hike out of the canyon.  To say the hike back wasn't easy would be a bit of understatement.  At the elevation it was hard to catch our breath at times.  Then we had to cook dinner back at camp and crawl into our sleeping bags in 42 degree weather with the wind howling.  I won't forget that day anytime soon, not would I trade it for anything.  We slept pretty well, except for a few times waking up gasping for oxygen in the thinner air, or pulling the sleeping bag over our heads to warm back up.
Then the lap of luxury.  An old desert motel, with a real bed!  And a shower.
Our final fishing, up the the dam above Lee's Ferry, with guide Jeff English.  If you go there, go with Jeff, get to the landing at 6:45, and fish on Sunday.  The Lee's Ferry Anglers website will give you a sense of why to do this.  Jeff is a superb guide, a bit of a curmudgeon, who really knows his stuff.  If anyone can put you onto big fish there, Jeff can.
Jeff estimated this one at 19"; I had another take me downriver fast.  After I followed it as far down as the shore would let me, it popped the 6X like thread.
A grand finale to the trip.

Report at a Glance

General RegionArizona
Specific LocationAll Over
Dates FishedMay 18-May 24
Time of DaySunrise to Sundown
Fish CaughtLargemouth, Smallmouth, Bluegill, Apache Trout, Browns, and Rainbows
Conditions & HatchesThe temps varied from the low 40's to the upper 80's depending on elevation. We camped at 9,000 feet on Big Lake and it was chilly. No hatched besides midges at Lee's Ferry.

Details and Discussion

PaulRoberts
PaulRoberts's profile picture
Colorado

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Sep 24, 2016September 24th, 2016, 5:58 am EDT
Wow! Nice. Guess I'd missed this one. What a great trip, Louis.

To say the hike back wasn't easy would be a bit of understatement. At the elevation it was hard to catch our breath at times. Then we had to cook dinner back at camp and crawl into our sleeping bags in 42 degree weather with the wind howling. I won't forget that day anytime soon, not would I trade it for anything.

This is when you know you are ALIVE!
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Sep 26, 2016September 26th, 2016, 9:00 am EDT
Spence, see the last few photos. We ate at the restaurant at the Lee's Ferry Fly shop. It was amazing. And booked our guide, who knew his stuff, there as well.


So. Louis. Tell me about it...Where I was standing the water looked very un-trout-like, but your photo shows clear water...Was I not far enough upstream or what?

In one of my pics you can see drift boats on the river?

I do remember you posting these and that you may have been out that way.

At the time I stopped at that fly shop I had no clue there was a place to eat there. I saw it later back at home in their brochure I had picked up. We actually stopped at a super-market near the Monument Valley and Lisa made us sandwiches we ate in the car...In the damn desert! :) We could of had a nicer meal had we known.

Just got back from a Fall Warbler seminar down in Ohio at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory...One day of lectures and talks and the next day we walked the famous boardwalk at Magee Marsh. Great looks at birds.

I added the Cape May Warbler to the life list, and back at the BSBO headquarters sat with a bunch of other birders and watched a rare Harris Sparrow at the feeder there, another "Lifer"!

Have you ever read Ken Kaufman's, "Kingbird Highway"? He's a famous authority on birds and we did Magee together. My friend that talked me into going, and Kaufman, and I are all the same age. "Kingbird Highway" is a great road book and explains a Big Year he did in 1973 by hitchhiking across North America...We swapped hiking stories...Mine were of the 1973 attempt to hitchhike from Seattle to Detroit, and he of his big year...

We all agreed that there must of been something in the air in the early 70's that turned late teens into gypsies...Maybe in my later years, with these big trips away from home, I'm trying to rekindle a connection to the curiosity I had as a youth...If only I had directed it in a more serious manner I might be a little further on down the road...

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Sep 26, 2016September 26th, 2016, 8:22 pm EDT
Spence, see the Glen Canyon dam photos. It was clear there, with lots of wild rainbows. They were very picky, though. It appears you were much farther downstream. I haven't read Kingbird Highway, another one to add to my list.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Crepuscular
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Sep 28, 2016September 28th, 2016, 4:01 am EDT
So Spence when will your Big Year be? I have to go back and watch that movie again. very funny.
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Dec 26, 2016December 26th, 2016, 1:39 am EST
Bumped up for Ed.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell

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