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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.'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 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.

Chasing an unusual trout on the Olympic Peninsula

By Troutnut on July 27th, 2018
Lake Crescent, Washington has been geologically isolated for a long enough time that it hosts two endemic (Endemic: where found; native to; belonging exclusively to or confined to a particular place) trout strains, the Crescenti Cutthroat and the Beardslee Rainbow. The lake's only significant inlet, Barnes Creek, has a small population of cutbows that seem to be mostly cutthroat but have mixed with the local rainbows:

I had a day to spend in the area (July 27th) and hiked way upstream in pursuit of these special fish. The trailhead was more crowded than anywhere I've ever gone to fish, thanks to this:

That's Marymere Falls, on a little tributary of Barnes Creek. Beyond the spur trail leading to the falls, another trail follows Barnes Creek. It's clearly well-traveled, but I didn't see another person on it, in stark contrast to the throngs of tourists coming and going from the waterfall.

Apart from the uniqueness of the fish, the fishing--or at least the catching--was nothing special. I caught about 1/4 as many fish as I usually do on a well-populated stream of this size. Even the most inviting pools only held 1-2 fish, and some incredibly promising water produced no strikes at all. The going was rough, with slick boulders, banks lined with devil's club, huge logs to belly-crawl under, logjams to monkey through, and various other obstacles. A trail parallels the creek providing easy access to certain sections, but it also climbs high onto the hillsides in places where the creek flows through steep canyons, making exiting the creek at one's chosen time impossible in places.

Between the tricky access and slow action, I decided not to designate this one as a hidden "Mystery Creek," because I just don't think it will appeal to enough people to cause any harm, and any mention of the unique trout would give away the creek anyway. But seems like a fragile fishery, so I would encourage anyone who visits to catch & release.

The scenery, at least, was as good as it gets deep in the forest:

Photos by Troutnut from the Elwha River and Barnes Creek in Washington

Middle Fork Snoqualmie after work

By Troutnut on July 17th, 2018

I'm enjoying having such scenery like this within range of a quick after-work fishing trip here in Washington. I caught a whopper for this river at 11" long, but 6-8" was the norm.

Photos by Troutnut from the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington

A big day on small streams

By Troutnut on July 8th, 2018
I drove Saturday night to my starting point for Sunday, so I was on the water fishing the Little Naches River as soon as the sun woke me up, around 7:30 am. In these small mountain streams, at this time of year, being up early doesn't seem to do much good. I started out in a canyon reach with some deep, very fish-looking pools, many of which showed no sign of fish. I clamored along the boulders and picked up a couple whopping 6-inchers, then finally a feisty 12-inch rainbow on a nymph, then more fishless pools. When I did find fish here and there, they were mostly on the small size (meaning 6" rather than 8"), and the water felt a bit too big for most of them, like in the forks of the Snoqualmie closer to home.

The character of the stream was charming, though. In covering a lot of ground quickly and peering into crystal clear pools, I was just thinking it reminded me in some ways of fishing New Zealand, where a river like this in the backcountry might hold a 22-inch brown every few pools instead of a 6-inch rainbow. I was just thinking of a grim description of the creek -- "New Zealand fish numbers, Washington fish size" -- when the water exploded beneath my feet. If my chest waders hadn't come with suspenders, I would have jumped right out of them. A fish around 27 inches shot out of a shadow in the calm shallows and into a deeper pool upstream. I didn't get much of a view, but I'm guessing it was a rare summer steelhead. That kept me more alert for the rest of the day.

I didn't see any other big fish, but the warming water boosted the pace of the action. Every pool that looked fishy now had fish, although they were mostly 5-inch rainbows or Chinook parr colliding with each other in their race to my fly. I ate lunch on a perch high above the river, from which I watched a mule deer doe and small buck cross. A little later, a stunning yellow and red Western Tanager flitted among the douglas-firs on the bank. As the creek wound back toward the road, the shrill call of dirtbikes drowned out the sounds of the wild. I eagerly await the invention of virtual-reality games that let them immersively make loud engine noises and even sniff exhaust from the comfort of their living rooms, leaving nature for those who wish to experience it.

After walking a few miles back to my car, I drove some distance to another small stream that proved to be a gem. It ran through a wide (for its size) valley flanked by steep canyon walls, occasionally butting up against the ragged black cliffs and scouring deep pools. The fish were mostly native rainbows, fat and larger than on the Little Naches, and each pool seemed to hold a single large (for its size) Westslope Cutthroat, around 10-12". This one was the star of the trip:

These great pools were fewer and farther between than I would have liked, separated by long stretches of shallow pocket water. Every little pocket held a little trout. Google Earth shows some very hard-to-reach places on this stream with more big pools, so this stream now lingers in my mind with more mystique than most. I'll be back.

On this day, though, I had a long drive home and more fishing to do on the way. Backtracking through the woods out of the mystery creek, I drove back west through Chinook Pass and stopped briefly in the evening at Huckleberry Creek, which flows out of unglaciated highlands on a northern finger of Mount Ranier. I should have guessed that a creek draining the highest mountain around might recover from snowmelt later than the rest, but I didn't. It was crystal clear, but high and cold. Few pools flowed slow enough to hold feeding fish, and in the ones that did, nothing bit.

Photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #211, Huckleberry Creek, and the Little Naches River in Washington

On-stream insect photos by Troutnut from the Little Naches River and Mystery Creek #211 in Washington

In this picture: Insect Family Formicidae (Ants). From the Little Naches River in Washington.
Date TakenJul 8, 2018
Date AddedJul 9, 2018
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
In this picture: Mayfly Species Drunella grandis (Western Green Drake). From Mystery Creek # 211 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 8, 2018
Date AddedJul 9, 2018
CameraNIKON 1 AW1

Evening exploring small streams

By Troutnut on July 7th, 2018
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.) an early part of this past Saturday day fly tying, researching spots, and preparing for a camping trip, then drove 2 1/2 hours to the South Fork Manastash Creek to give this small stream a try.

It was enjoyable, and most of the trouty-looking pools held a small trout or two, but it wasn't enough of a standout to hide behind the "Mystery Creek" designation. The fish and last fish of the day were nonnative Brook Trout around 8.5-9"; the rest were all Westslope Cutthroat.

Photos by Troutnut from the South Fork Manastash Creek in Washington

Evening on the South Fork Snoqualmie

By Troutnut on July 6th, 2018
I made a quick trip Friday after work to the mountains, hoping to teach a friend how to fly fish. The South Fork Snoqualmie looked inviting, and we drove to a set of pools that were full of eager fish around this time last year. Unfortunately, they seemed almost empty this time. I missed a couple hits, and my friend will have to wait until next time to catch his first trout. After he had to leave, I explored a new stretch of the river and found a few willing fish, including the first two Westslope Cutthroat I've caught on the west slope of the Cascades. (They're named for a different west slope.)

Photos by Troutnut from the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Washington


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