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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.

Dorsal view of a Grammotaulius betteni (Limnephilidae) (Northern Caddisfly) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This is a striking caddis larva with an interesting color pattern on the head. Here are some characteristics I was able to see under the microscope, but could not easily expose for a picture:
- The prosternal horn is present.
- The mandible is clearly toothed, not formed into a uniform scraper blade.
- The seems to be only 2 major setae on the ventral edge of the hind femur.
- Chloride epithelia seem to be absent from the dorsal side of any abdominal segments.
Based on these characteristics and the ones more easily visible from the pictures, this seems to be Grammotaulius. The key's description of the case is spot-on: "Case cylindrical, made of longitudinally arranged sedge or similar leaves," as is the description of the markings on the head, "Dorsum of head light brownish yellow with numerous discrete, small, dark spots." The spot pattern on the head is a very good match to figure 19.312 of Merritt R.W., Cummins, K.W., and Berg, M.B. (2019). The species ID is based on Grammotaulius betteni being the only species of this genus known in Washington state.
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.

State College, PA

Posts: 103
Smallstream on Aug 23, 2007August 23rd, 2007, 4:55 pm EDT
I was just wondering what the biggest trout you guys have caught in small mountain streams The perameters are that the stream has to be freestone and no more than 8-10 feet across at its widest point, plus the fish cant be a dumb stockie, because that doesnt count. I was fishing a small mountain stream that I fish regurlarly and I went up to a pool to spook the fish on purpose to see what was in there and I dont think I am exaggerating and I saw two browns that might have hit the 20 inch mark. I watched as the fish raced for cover upon seeing me. I also know exactly where a 13-14 inch brookie hangs out but I cannot seem to cast without spooking him back to cover. I think the larger brookies are the most wary fish out there. This gets me to thinking that this might be a normal occurrence and large trophy fish do indeed live in small "infertile" mountain streams. In fact, all my posts so far on this site that have pictures with them are this stream that I am talking about. So you can see that it is pretty small and plus the fish commision does not stock it. So far this one is my best from this stream. Im thinking this guy hits the 14 inch mark, right? Sorry for the long post but I am obsessed with small streams.


Posts: 59
Davez on Aug 24, 2007August 24th, 2007, 1:41 am EDT
Thats an easy and answer and a tough one. i have fished a trib to a mountain RIVER and taken a 21" brown, but i suppose that doesn't count by your rules...

But I know of several small brookie streams where 12" brookies hang out. got one 13" this past spring.

or, what about a beaver dammed mountian stream? Ive caught numerous cutts in CO in a beaver pond that was full of 8-15" cutts.

or....white mountains in arizona...the little colorado river is nothign more than a freestrone stream 10 feet wide. ive caught 20" browns and 14" apache trout there...

State College, PA

Posts: 103
Smallstream on Aug 24, 2007August 24th, 2007, 4:07 am EDT
whoops, I guess I forgot to take into account out west. I bet its a normal occurrence out there.

Posts: 1
Mikehealy17 on Aug 24, 2007August 24th, 2007, 4:54 am EDT
Caught a 14" brookie on July 4th up by Statton mountain in a stream that fits the criteria. One of those times that I never would have expected to catch ANYTHING. It was right about noon-time, and pretty hot out....I walked upstream and saw a pretty fishy pool....two casts into the riffles coming into the pool with a red elk hair caddis, and WHACK! Couldn't believe it....I just figured that I was taking my rod and gear fro a walk, never expected to catch anything...but wow, biggest brookie I have ever caught. Kept fishing for about 2 hours after, and had zero luck. Strange, but it certainly made my summer this year.
Mike Healy
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Aug 24, 2007August 24th, 2007, 5:10 am EDT
Welcome, Mike - it's amazing how one fish can make an otherwise forgettable day memorable.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
State College, PA

Posts: 103
Smallstream on Aug 24, 2007August 24th, 2007, 8:41 am EDT
That must have been a pretty cool experience, a true trophy fish, I have never actually hooked a brookie that big. the fight must have been tremendous!
CaseyP's profile picture
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
CaseyP on Aug 24, 2007August 24th, 2007, 3:10 pm EDT
Montana has some gorgeous small streams, which is why i go there. was told that this certain bitty stream had some very large trout, but was skeptical. landed an 18" beauty out of the riffle at the head of a pool you could have covered with the living room rug. whaddayano! i sure yelped when i saw it; wish you'd seen the smile on the guy who took us there. all the other trout we caught were between 8" and 10".

felt pretty clever about the whole thing since it was so dry and the water clear and the fish spooky.

caught my smallest ever trout in VT yesterday; gorgeous little brookie about 4 inches long. his baby brother took a good 5 or six swipes at the caddis but just couldn't manage it. water clear as air and thin as tissue.

"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
Posts: 1
AS350BA on Jul 5, 2009July 5th, 2009, 6:15 am EDT
I sure this does not count but cresent creek in Alaska that does not get more than 15ft wide I saw a bow that was between 35" and 40". He was there for days in a deep pool. He would just move out of the way of anything you tried to show him. They follow the king spawn up the small creek. The biggest fish I have caught out of there is a 22" dolly.
Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jul 5, 2009July 5th, 2009, 9:21 am EDT
Wow, you guys have tangled with some nice small-stream fish. My largest fish from such a stream is nothing special, probably about a 13" brown, but I don't really aim for size in a stream like that.

Actually, if we can count Alaska, I've caught grayling up to 15" in what I would consider to be a true small stream, although it's more than 8 to 10 feet across. 8 to 10 feet is a really small stream. This one narrows to that range often enough, but has quite a few pools and runs that get up to 15-20 feet across.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist

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