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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.

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.

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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.

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

Updates from July 29, 2017

Updates from July 28, 2017

Another obscure little Cutthroat stream

By Troutnut on July 23rd, 2017
Following Saturday's success chasing my first Westslope Cutthroat, my goal for Sunday was to find some closer to home. Once again ignoring the regional fishing guidebooks and chasing after half a sentence from an old technical report and some promising squiggles on Google Maps, we found another nice stream tumbling down out of the mountains. Again, there were willing trout in every pool.

My Google Maps sleuthing was a bit off, though. I chose my location based on the presence of some longer, slower, larger pools than were visible in most of the creek. Those turned out to be nearly empty, save for a few fingerlings. The best fish were in the more frequent plunge pools formed by the stream's abundant boulders. Interesting lesson learned.

Photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #200 and Mystery Creek #199 in Washington

In search of Westslope Cutthroat Trout

By Troutnut on July 22nd, 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

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