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What is Troutnut.com?
Fly anglers live for the "hatches" when trout erupt in a feeding frenzy over the mass emergence aquatic insects from the river's surface. In these moments, trout can become so focused on one specific type of prey that they will pursue only a skillful imitation. Anglers who study aquatic insects to meet this challenge find that they're as captivating as the fish themselves. Every species has its own story, its own personality. We cross paths with these characters at the climax of a perennial drama of life and death, and--as with any great drama or sport--every play means so much more when we know the players inside and out. It's not just about catching fish. It's about knowing the stream and loving everything in it.

Troutnut.com's aquatic insect encyclopedia is a guide to these players and their stories. Read about the behavior of each species and view thousands of closeup photos, or join the fly fishing forum to meet other devotees of the world's healthiest addiction. You can learn the basics of mayflies, caddisflies, or stoneflies. Or dive into the details of storied species like the Hendrickson hatch and the Hex hatch.

Latest updates

The blog posts below describe every update ever added to Troutnut.com by myself (Troutnut) and other contributors, along with occasional other thoughts and stories from my adventures in fishing, hunting, research, and travel in Alaska and beyond.

Quick evening trip to the mountains

By Troutnut on October 3rd, 2017
After work last night I drove up to the Taylor River, a tributary of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie. I was just in the mood for the aesthetics of this place, and it didn't disappoint. The largest of the several wild coastal cutthroat I caught was less than 8" long, and most were around 6".

I'm glad I enjoy catching small trout in big places.

Photos by Troutnut from the Taylor River in Washington

Fun float down the Yakima

By Troutnut on October 1st, 2017
I drove out from the gloomy rain of the Seattle area this morning to float the Yakima River in the rain shadow of the Cascades. The weather in the lower Canyon reach (from mile 20 to Red's Fly Shop) was beautiful, although a bit windy for casting.

I floated solo in my packraft, which isn't really a good craft for anchoring and fishing, so the plan was just to use the boat to move between spots to get out and wade. At this water level (1500 CFS at Umtanum, fairly low), there still aren't a lot of great spots for that, at least not compared to the total amount of water fishable from a drift boat. I can see why those are so popular on this river. Still, I found a few decent spots.

Insect activity was quiet. I saw one October Caddis flying around and a handful of other things, but the only numerous insects were Baetids of some sort (I didn't catch any), and they weren't especially thick. They did intersect with one of the better spots I stopped, though, and my first cast with a size 18 parachute BWO hooked a nice rainbow, around 18". I fought it for a few minutes and was beginning to tire it out, just about ready to pull the landing net off my back, when I got a little bit too aggressive against its bulldogging and it bent out the little hook and got away. I fished a cast's length downstream for half an hour or so, then tried that spot again, and to amazement I hooked a fish of the same size, in the same spot, on the same fly. It's possible there was more than one nice fish right there, but I'm more inclined to guess this was the same fish hitting again. I've never had a big trout give me a second chance so quickly. I've done it with naive little grayling in Alaska, but this was a first, if indeed that's what happened.

After that, surface activity really died down for the rest of the day. I spent (Spent: The wing position of many aquatic insects when they fall on the water after mating. The wings of both sides lay flat on the water. The word may be used to describe insects with their wings in that position, as well as the position itself.) some time swinging a small olive Sculpzilla, on which I missed too many strikes throughout the day. Some might have been small trout that only nipped the tail, but a couple fish were solidly on the line for a few seconds before dropping it. I think my ten years throwing dry flies to grayling dulled my other technique a bit. Finally I managed a solid hookup in a deep riffle and won a great fight with a 20" rainbow that kept dodging the net, trying to run between my feet, and other crafty tricks.

Mule deer, quail, and other wildlife complemented the golden canyon scenery to make this trip really enjoyable, even though the fishing was slow at times.

Photos by Troutnut from the Yakima River in Washington

Finally got an October Caddis

By Troutnut on September 29th, 2017
I've been itching to photograph one of these for years and had an unexpected opportunity tonight when this one flew into a house full of aquatic scientists. It's the first insect I've collected for this site by chasing it around a kitchen with a tupperware container.

Closeup insects by Troutnut from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington

Female Dicosmoecus gilvipes (October Caddis) Caddisfly AdultFemale Dicosmoecus gilvipes (October Caddis) Caddisfly Adult View 16 PicturesI've been hoping to add a really good October Caddis to the photo collection here for years, but so far I had struck out on finding them on the river. Tonight, this one flew into the kitchen during a pizza party at a house along the river, and was quickly pointed out -- one of the perks of hanging out with other aquatic biologists! Maybe next year I can finally get a salmonfly on taco night or something.
Collected September 29, 2017 from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on September 29, 2017

Chasing Golden Trout high in the Cascades

By Troutnut on September 3rd, 2017
I just posted a report on my Labor Day weekend fishing adventure, trying to add a Golden Trout to my life list. Physically, this was the hardest thing I've ever done by far, and it was the only adventure that's ever left me committed to never doing anything remotely like it ever again. But I did encounter some interesting fish -- read the Golden Trout trip report to see how that went.

On-stream insect photos by Troutnut from Upper Lake in Washington

Callibaetis spinner on an alpine lake in Washington's Cascades, the one referred to by the alias of Upper Lake in my Golden Trout trip report.  In this picture: Mayfly Genus Callibaetis (Speckled Duns). From Upper Lake in Washington.
Callibaetis spinner on an alpine lake in Washington's Cascades, the one referred to by the alias of Upper Lake in my Golden Trout trip report.

In this picture: Mayfly Genus Callibaetis (Speckled Duns).
LocationUpper Lake
Date TakenSep 3, 2017
Date AddedSep 5, 2017
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1

A surprise partial skunking on a little mountain stream

By Troutnut on July 31st, 2017
I had some nice fishing for pretty little westslope cutts the other night, but first I got mysteriously skunked on a couple stretches of the same stream that should have been really good. I don't mind a couple hours of "fishing instead of catching," but it is an interesting puzzle to be solved. I asked the locals on the Washington Flyfishing Forum, so I'll just quote what I wrote there:

I had an interesting experience yesterday evening (July 31st) fishing a very small stream on the east slope of the Cascades above 3,000 feet. When I was there for the first time eight days earlier, I was catching a pretty little westslope cutt (or five) in every likely-looking pool and pocket. Yesterday, fishing adjacent reaches at the exact same time of day, under similar weather conditions, I saw no sign of any trout. Not so much as a fingerling nipped at my fly, and no shadows darted away when I waded into a pool.

I'm new to this area and cutthroat fishing, but I've fished a lot of small streams elsewhere, and they've always been really consistent unless there's some obvious weather or seasonal reason why the fishing would change. To have a piece of water that was teeming with fish a week ago seem totally empty now was really surprising. At first I thought maybe I had gone in too far upstream above some impassible barrier, so I went back down to where I left off catching fish last week, and there was still no sign of fish in several pools that should have been full of them.

Finally, I guessed maybe the fish were making some spawning-related movements even farther into the headwaters, although that seemed unlikely. I should still have seen some immature fish scattered throughout the lower reaches. Nevertheless, I drove up even higher to try another reach, and the stream was back to normal: eager, beautiful fish everywhere I expected them. Fishing was great until dark.

I don't think the fish I caught all moved up from the reaches where I got skunked, because there are just too many barriers to migration at this water level. Temperature doesn't seem to fit as an explanation, either, because the water was plenty cool in this shady headwater throughout both trips. Hatches also don't seem to explain it; they're rarely important in streams of this character, and only tiny midges were abundant.

So I'm kind of out of ideas and wondering if anyone experienced with these fish and small Cascades streams has an explanation for the odd shift in action. Of course, I'm not complaining about briefly not catching fish -- but solving the mystery of some unusual pattern is part of the fun.


Just to follow up on a couple of the ideas that were suggested over there:

- I started fishing right around 5 pm on both days, and the water temperature was cool enough I don't think there was a need to wait for dusk before the fish would become active.

- This stream is far enough off the beaten path that it's very unlikely any angler went before me through either reach where I got skunked, and almost certain that didn't happen in both reaches.

Photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #200 in Washington

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