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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.

Lateral view of a Psychodidae True Fly Larva from Mystery Creek #308 in Washington
This wild-looking little thing completely puzzled me. At first I was thinking beetle or month larva, until I got a look at the pictures on the computer screen. I made a couple of incorrect guesses before entomologist Greg Courtney pointed me in the right direction with Psychodidae. He suggested a possible genus of Thornburghiella, but could not rule out some other members of the tribe Pericomini.
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.

By Troutnut on July 21st, 2017
Since moving to Washington in April, I've had a few chances to escape the crowds of the Seattle area and explore east of the Cascades, but one of my longtime goals -- to finally catch my first unambiguous, bonafide, beautiful Westslope Cutthroat -- had eluded me due to high water from spring snowmelt or fishing streams dominated by other trout. This weekend I went fishing and camping with my wife Lena & dog Taiga to check out a couple possible trout fishing spots.

Saturday, we dove into a labyrinth of forest roads, creeping along precipitous cliffs and changing one severely flat tire before arriving at a tiny stream in a high-altitude meadow. Having no previous information on this stream besides an old scientific report documenting the existence of the species, I was delighted to find one of the best small-stream fly fishing experiences I've had. There were fat, colorful Westslope Cutthroat in every likely-looking pool, and a few were pushing 10-11 inches, giants for the size of the water.

Photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #199 and the Yakima River in Washington

This pool held two pretty westslope cutthroats

From Mystery Creek # 199 in Washington
My first westslope cutthroat!
The Yakima River in Washington
My biggest fish of the day, a beautiful westslope cutthroat trout.
My first westslope cuttthroat, up close
Small stream fly fishing at its finest

From Mystery Creek # 199 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 199 in Washington
My wife Lena fishing a nice mountain meadow

From Mystery Creek # 199 in Washington
Yakima River from WA highway 10 near Teanaway, with rafters floating down.

From the Yakima River in Washington
Mystery Creek # 199 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 199 in Washington
Lena caught her nice one here

From Mystery Creek # 199 in Washington
My wife Lena's best fish of the day

Comments / replies

Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jul 24, 2017July 24th, 2017, 2:37 pm EDT
Love those little creeks, Jason! "Brookies of the West..." Hey, nice wildflowers too! I also like the wind farm.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Martinlf
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Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Jul 25, 2017July 25th, 2017, 7:26 am EDT
Gorgeous, Jason. Thanks!
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Creno
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 302
Creno on Jul 25, 2017July 25th, 2017, 10:46 am EDT
Did I miss an update? What took you to Seattle? Pretty big city for Alaska folk :-)
Troutnut
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Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jul 26, 2017July 26th, 2017, 6:36 am EDT
Creno, I guess I never did a proper update post, but yeah I moved to the Seattle area for a new, hopefully long-term job with a small fisheries research company working on Columbia basin salmon & steelhead.

I'm living far enough out of town that interesting natural areas aren't too far away. Plus I've got the upper Columbia, Puget Sound, and Olympic peninsula all within 2-3 hours' drive, which was about the minimum drive time to go anywhere really cool from Fairbanks (with 1-2 exceptions) anyway.

The traffic is driving me crazy, though.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jul 26, 2017July 26th, 2017, 10:29 am EDT
Ah yes, the Pacific Northwest...many memories. BIG trees, lots of mosses, ferns, and lichens...and pretty little coastal cutthroats! Oh, and don't forget the rough-skinned newts, Pacific giant salamanders, red-sided garter snakes...and slugs everywhere! It's a very lush, green, wet place...and if you need snow, just drive up into the Cascades.

I lived in Coos Bay, OR for a year, '92 - '93, right near the bay and a mile inland from the Pacific. Used to fall asleep listening to the crashing of the surf off in the distance...and I had a great job doing field biology, collecting aquatic insects, electroshocking fish, measuring trees, ID-ing plant species, hiking up little coastal creeks or mountain-biking old logging roads (many of which we had to brush out with machetes) to get to more remote parts of our Research Reserve to save time (2-hour walk vs. 1-hour ride).

I'm a bit envious, Jason. It's a very nice part of the world. But, I'm pretty happy here too - the only thing we don't have is mountains, and our "ocean" is Lake Huron! One of my friends has a t-shirt that says:

TAWAS BAY - No Salt - No Sharks - No Problem

Enjoy and keep posting the photos, including other flora & fauna!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Creno
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 302
Creno on Jul 27, 2017July 27th, 2017, 5:25 pm EDT
Jason - That is nice country all around there (having spent alot of time with the caddis/country in Mt. Rainier area and Whatcom and Okanogan Counties) although I don't think I would want to commute. When I was in Denver I lived close to work and appreciated the short commute twice a day day in return for the hour to get out of town when I could. Big cities have alot to offer in their own way.

However, I have a good friend here from Alaska and I know he is struggling with "all" our 36,000 people :-) I think he is too old to adapt - I suspect you will make it OK. If you get to southern OR be sure to check in.
Troutnut
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Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jul 27, 2017July 27th, 2017, 6:03 pm EDT
If you get to southern OR be sure to check in.


Will do!

Without traffic, I'm about half an hour from work, and half an hour from the nearest trout steams wild enough to have cougar tracks on the sandbars. I've been doing a lot of evening after-work fishing at places up to an hour and a half away, though it's maddening if I don't leave at the right time and that drive stretches to three hours of crawling along in traffic. I'm slowly learning to be more strategic about my travel.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Wbranch
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York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jul 29, 2017July 29th, 2017, 6:52 am EDT
Jason, I just have to ask why do you and your wife wear chest waders when it is likely there is no water much deeper than your knees. To ward off mosquitoes perhaps? Protection from vipers?
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Troutnut
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Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jul 29, 2017July 29th, 2017, 7:24 am EDT
Just convenience. We don't really have good gear for wet wading, we don't have hip waders, and didn't really know what depths to expect when exploring new spots. I tend to just wear chest waders for almost everything, out of habit.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Wbranch
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York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Jul 29, 2017July 29th, 2017, 8:16 am EDT
Okay, I have a pair of waist highs for streams I know are no deeper than 2' -4'. I too wear my chest waders most of the time but I fish big water 90% of the time. I wet wade the Missouri in the day time and don waders for the evening fishing. As soon as the sun goes down it gets darn chilly at 6000 feet above sea level.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Jmd123
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Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jul 31, 2017July 31st, 2017, 10:05 am EDT
It's definitely wet-wading time around here. I was out two weeks ago on the Rifle and I felt like I was on a spirit quest in a sweat lodge...wondered when I was gonna start hallucinating or something. The waders will be taking a rest for a couple of months, at least.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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