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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.

Case view of a Pycnopsyche guttifera (Limnephilidae) (Great Autumn Brown Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
It's only barely visible in one of my pictures, but I confirmed under the microscope that this one has a prosternal horn and the antennae are mid-way between the eyes and front of the head capsule.

I'm calling this one Pycnopsyche, but it's a bit perplexing. It seems to key definitively to at least Couplet 8 of the Key to Genera of Limnephilidae Larvae. That narrows it down to three genera, and the case seems wrong for the other two. The case looks right for Pycnopsyche, and it fits one of the key characteristics: "Abdominal sternum II without chloride epithelium and abdominal segment IX with only single seta on each side of dorsal sclerite." However, the characteristic "metanotal sa1 sclerites not fused, although often contiguous" does not seem to fit well. Those sclerites sure look fused to me, although I can make out a thin groove in the touching halves in the anterior half under the microscope. Perhaps this is a regional variation.

The only species of Pycnopsyche documented in Washington state is Pycnopsyche guttifera, and the colors and markings around the head of this specimen seem to match very well a specimen of that species from Massachusetts on Bugguide. So I am placing it in that species for now.

Whatever species this is, I photographed another specimen of seemingly the same species from the same spot a couple months later.
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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PSUturf91
Central PA

Posts: 9
PSUturf91 on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 7:10 am EDT
Hello all,

I am new to the forum. I caught a very unique looking brown trout last night out of a central PA stream and was wondering if any of you guys have seen anything like it. It doesn't have the traditional brown trout spots, but rather striped almost like the markings of a tiger musky. If any of you guys could inform me on how to post some pictures pleas let me know how! Thanks

https://goo.gl/photos/nhFwGzCidtuscRem8

I think if you copy and past the above link it will take you to the picture. please let me know.

Ben
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 8:23 am EDT
Hello,

It appears to be a large tiger trout. A cross breed between a brown and brook trout. Typically they are very rare to appear in the wild but many states breed and stock them. How long was that fish? Someone more knowledgeable than me might be able to tell you if a tiger trout is the result of a male brown trout fertilizing the eggs of a female brook trout or vice versa.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
PSUturf91
Central PA

Posts: 9
PSUturf91 on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 8:28 am EDT
This fish was 18 1/2 inches. Certainly is a beautiful fish. I'm considering getting a replica mount done.
Millcreek
Healdsburg, CA

Posts: 344
Millcreek on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 10:36 am EDT
Ben,

I agree with Matt that it's probably a tiger trout. They're sterile for the most part and produced by taking brown trout eggs and fertilizing them with brook trout milt.
"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"
-Albert Einstein
Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 10:38 am EDT
I'm about 99% sure this is NOT a tiger trout. Unless stocked tigers look way different than naturally occurring tigers. The markings on this just look like slightly less circular brown trout markings. Interesting, and pretty!
PSUturf91
Central PA

Posts: 9
PSUturf91 on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 11:38 am EDT
Most people on another forum that I have asked the same question are convinced that it is simply a stocked brown. I have caught many stocked brown, and never have any of them looked like this. Im not saying that it is not a stocked fish, but im still not convinced that it is common markings.
Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 12:10 pm EDT
Most people on another forum that I have asked the same question are convinced that it is simply a stocked brown. I have caught many stocked brown, and never have any of them looked like this. Im not saying that it is not a stocked fish, but im still not convinced that it is common markings.

I agree it is not common that the spots on brown trout are that shape, but I still believe it is a brown.
PSUturf91
Central PA

Posts: 9
PSUturf91 on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 12:16 pm EDT
do you believe it is possible that this is a wild brown? i initially thought wild because of how clean the fins are, and the vibrant colors. But many are claiming the fins and body proportion are not representative of a wild fish.

https://goo.gl/photos/uTmBkjv5xgHa9tV96

this pic shows the fins a little better
Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 12:36 pm EDT
Your second pic has me second guessing tiger or not. Certainly doesn't look like the wild tigers in my area, but after Googling a bit, doesn't look to far off from some pictures.

Not sure wild vs stocked. The tail would be the only thing that may make me think stocked, but I'm not really claiming to be able to tell unless the fins are all jacked up.
PSUturf91
Central PA

Posts: 9
PSUturf91 on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 12:41 pm EDT
It seems to be a unique fish to me, but now i am unsure. I was initially considering getting a repro but now with all this differing opinion im not sure if this fish is as special as i origionally thought...
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 4:24 pm EDT
Kyle,

Unless stocked tigers look way different than naturally occurring tigers.


How do you know the tiger trout in your area are "wild" and not stocked?? Wild tiger trout, at least from what I've been told and read, are extremely rare to find anywhere let alone to find them in measureable numbers like your comment suggests.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 4:29 pm EDT
It's probably not a tiger trout at all but just a regular brown trout with some genetic aberration that gives it the markings that is has. I've got a picture of a brown trout from the Missouri river in Montana that looks not at all like most of the other brown trout I catch in that river. So I guess in every population of trout there could very well be a alteration of the genes of the fish just as human children often are afflicted with a birth defect.

Probably a stocked tiger trout;



Wild brown trout with markings similar to your trout;


Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
PSUturf91
Central PA

Posts: 9
PSUturf91 on Jun 23, 2016June 23rd, 2016, 4:38 pm EDT
Wow! those are some awesome fish!
RleeP
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 4:45 am EDT
>>Kyle,

Unless stocked tigers look way different than naturally occurring tigers.



How do you know the tiger trout in your area are "wild" and not stocked?? Wild tiger trout, at least from what I've been told and read, are extremely rare to find anywhere let alone to find them in measureable numbers like your comment suggests.>>

Kyle, if I remember correctly, lives in and fishes Minnesota/Wisconsin. I don't know much about Minnesota's trout management program, but in Wisconsin beginning around 2000 or so, there was a major push to establish/re-establish (you'll get an argument from some folks based on what they believe the historic range of the brook trout to have been...) brookies in streams that already had strong wild brown trout populations. They did this for the most part with feral fingerlings (wild brood stock fish spawned in the hatchery environment). This didn't work in some places, but in others, the brookies took hold and were self-sustaining within a few years. With abundant browns already in place, one of the results of this effort was a significant increase in the number of wild tiger trout. They still were far from common, but in 15 years of fishing there, I saw the number of wild tigers I caught go from none in 2000-2004 to an average of 3 or so a season by the time we left in 2015. This is still well less than a quarter of one percent of the total number of trout I'd get in an average season, but it is a lot more than I ever got in PA, where in about 30 years of tromping the sorts of streams with the highest potential for wild tigers (smaller freestones with fairly robust pops of both wild brooks and browns), I caught a total of 2.

How did I know they were wild fish? 1) Generally, they were small, in the 6-10" range and 2) WI-DNR stocks very little of its trout water with catchable adult fish, less than 10% if memory serves. Most of what they do stock conventionally are marginal urban/suburban streams. There is pretty much no need to stock elsewhere.

So, I don't find it at all unusual that living and fishing where he does, Kyle has a level of experience with wild tiger trout that supports his comments..
Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 7:07 am EDT
Kyle,

Unless stocked tigers look way different than naturally occurring tigers.


How do you know the tiger trout in your area are "wild" and not stocked?? Wild tiger trout, at least from what I've been told and read, are extremely rare to find anywhere let alone to find them in measureable numbers like your comment suggests.


As far as in know, neither Wisconsin nor Minnesota stock tiger trout. I guess that is why I call them wild with confidence. I also don't think they would ever start stocking them with the big push for brookies in my area. As rleep said, there has been a big increase in tiger trout in the last several years. I watched a buddy catch one two weekends ago, and have another buddy who caught a wild 17" tiger earlier this year. On top of those, I have heard about 4-6 other tigers being caught. Anywhere with a healthy brookie population has reasonable chances of producing one.
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 5:46 pm EDT
Hello PSUturf91,

I catch fish like that brown every year when I go to Montana for two weeks. The tiger trout was only my 3rd of that species in over fifty years of fly fishing. So they may be somewhat more common in other places in the USA but not in the NY/PA rivers and streams I frequent.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 5:51 pm EDT
RleeP wrote;

there was a major push to establish/re-establish (you'll get an argument from some folks based on what they believe the historic range of the brook trout to have been...) brookies in streams that already had strong wild brown trout populations.


If that is what the state wanted to do then they should of used rotenone to kill all those non native brown trout and done it the right way. Totally wipe out the fish populations in the streams they wanted to re-claim with wild brook trout.

I'm sure the fisheries biologists knew that there was a potential for wild tiger trout progeny appearing in waters with a self sustaining wild brown trout population and then adding wild brook trout stock. Since they had to know that then I assume they weren't really serious in saying they wanted to establish pure wild brook tout back into those water ways.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
PSUturf91
Central PA

Posts: 9
PSUturf91 on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 7:23 pm EDT
So I spoke with a PA fish biologist today. He was confident that the fish i caught was a hatchery raised pure brown trout. He said the "connected spots" are very characteristic in stocked browns in PA. He produced several pictures of both first year and hold over stocked trout that indeed display these connected spots. However, every picture he sent me had spots connecting creating horizontal stripes where as the fish I caught had stripes running vertically. I am inclined to take what a fish biologist says as fact, but a part of me still says this could be a unique wild fish, or even tiger trout. Perhaps only because i want it to be haha!
RleeP
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Jun 24, 2016June 24th, 2016, 8:28 pm EDT
>>If that is what the state wanted to do then they should of used rotenone to kill all those non native brown trout and done it the right way. Totally wipe out the fish populations in the streams they wanted to re-claim with wild brook trout.

I'm sure the fisheries biologists knew that there was a potential for wild tiger trout progeny appearing in waters with a self sustaining wild brown trout population and then adding wild brook trout stock. Since they had to know that then I assume they weren't really serious in saying they wanted to establish pure wild brook tout back into those water ways.>>

Say what? Nobody here, so far as I know, has suggested that Wisconsin's goal in this effort was to re-populate their streams exclusively with brook trout and I have no idea how you got the idea that they were. I would imagine they were aiming (with a few exceptions..) to introduce the brookies and allow each species to find its own level of sympatry with the other. Nature has its own ways of sorting this stuff out and usually, it allows both species to remain and thrive within the limits of their specific habitat and water quality needs.

Steps25
Steps25's profile picture
Connecticut

Posts: 31
Steps25 on Jun 25, 2016June 25th, 2016, 11:19 am EDT
I had a similar looking fish recently and asked at the local fly shop. Most had the same opinion. In my area the Browns can look very different based on hatchery/ genetics. They do stock tigers too. The Browns can lack dots & lines were more horizontal, the tiger lines are very wavy, as folks posted above.

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