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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives

Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.

Dorsal view of a Glossosoma (Glossosomatidae) (Little Brown Short-horned Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
I caught this tiny larva without a case, but it seems to key pretty clearly to to Glossosomatidae. From there, the lack of sclerites on the mesonotum points to either Glossosoma or Anagapetus. Although it's difficult to see in a 2D image from the microscope, it's pretty clear in the live 3D view that the pronotum is only excised about 1/3 of its length to accommodate the forecoxa, not 2/3, which points to Glossosoma at Couplet 5 of the Key to Genera of Glossosomatidae Larvae.
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 24th, 2019
Thursday (July 25th), I took a tolerably short drive out of Seattle to a little-known stream on the east slope of the Cascades. The fishing was slow at first during midday in the pocket water of the broad, rocky channel, but as I worked my way upstream valley tightened up into a canyon with shallower bedrock (meaning a lot more water flowing on the surface and less through the gravel) and deep pools created by large boulders.

The combination of depth, shade, and the advancing hour improved the action, and I caught a few dozen rainbows, westslope cutthroat, and coastal cutthroat trout as I moved up through the canyon. There were a surprising number of 9- to 12-inchers for a creek small enough that I "wet waded" without getting my feet wet until they got hot and I wanted to cool down.

Toward the top of the canyon I reached a barrier waterfall around 8 feet high.

I could have crossed the creek below it and scrambled up the boulders to keep fishing, but it was getting late and I wanted to see what looked on Google Earth like some very different water above the canyon. So I climbed up a steep slope of loose dirt to the height of the treetops, where the road/trail wound along above the canyon, and I dropped back to the river just past the canyon. Here it was a completely different stream, meandering and low-gradient with small gravel, ankle-deep riffles and inviting little pools at each bend.

Despite the skinny water, it was hard to drop a fly anywhere without a trout smashing it. I caught a few dozen more in just an hour or two, all westslope cutthroat. Apparently the falls in the canyon were an impassible barrier that blocked the other species. I called it quits when the fishing was still hot, because I wanted light to walk out and collect some bugs.

There wasn't a lot of insect activity to get the fish rising, although in the evening there were sporadic rises in most pools. The few adult bugs I nabbed were collected on the trail above the river. Collecting nymphs with my kicknet before leaving was very productive, as I found good specimens of for uncommon species that weren't yet represented on this site (or at least not by my closeups). Among others, these included exquisitely colored nymphs of Attelella delantala:

The distinctive Drunella pelosa, which has only been collected a few times in Washington:

And a male spinner of Paraleptophlebia sculleni. This species has only previously been reported from Oregon, but I'm fairly confident in the ID from both the pictures and putting a few specimens under the dissecting microscope.

Photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington

Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
There used to be a well-maintained road running up this creek. Now, not so much.

From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
One of the last fish of the night, a bit blurry, but with too pretty a throat to pass up.
The road that used to follow the creek used to pass through what's now the air alongside that cutbank.

From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
A nice redband rainbow.
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Upper end of the canyon, leading to a longer, low-gradient, gravelly stretch.

From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Massive logjam in the canyon.

From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
View from the access point.

From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
A pretty decent rainbow for a creek this size.
Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
First fish of the day
Below this pool, I caught a mixture of rainbows, westslope cutthroats, and a few apparent coastal cutthroats. Above it (and a canyon full of similar but not quite so extreme drops), there were only westslope cutthroat.

From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington

On-stream insect photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington

Cases made by larvae of some sort of Chironomid midge, which I photographed with my bug kit back in the studio.

From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
This Calineuria californica female was captured and placed in "bug jail," but was released when I saw it was loaded with eggs and about to drop them, and I could tell it was the same specis (albeit different gender) I photographed a few days ago.

From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington
Thousands of midges swarming over a sunny pool.

From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington

Closeup insects by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington

Comments / replies

Kalispell MT

Posts: 14
Stickstring on Jul 29, 2019July 29th, 2019, 2:50 am EDT
What a great looking day! Do you mind me asking what Rod weight and length you use on those small waters?
Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jul 29, 2019July 29th, 2019, 12:09 pm EDT
I use a 7'6" Orvis Superfine 4-weight.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist

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