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Productive day on a new small mountain stream

By Troutnut on July 25th, 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

 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
A nice redband rainbow. From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
A nice redband rainbow.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
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.
The road that used to follow the creek used to pass through what's now the air alongside that cutbank.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
View from the access point. From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
View from the access point.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
First fish of the day From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
First fish of the day
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
There used to be a well-maintained road running up this creek. Now, not so much. From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
There used to be a well-maintained road running up this creek. Now, not so much.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
A pretty decent rainbow for a creek this size. From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
A pretty decent rainbow for a creek this size.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
Massive logjam in the canyon. From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Massive logjam in the canyon.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
Upper end of the canyon, leading to a longer, low-gradient, gravelly stretch. From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Upper end of the canyon, leading to a longer, low-gradient, gravelly stretch.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
One of the last fish of the night, a bit blurry, but with too pretty a throat to pass up. 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.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
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.
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.
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1

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.  In this picture: True Fly Family Chironomidae (Midges). 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.

In this picture: True Fly Family Chironomidae (Midges).
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
Thousands of midges swarming over a sunny pool.  In this picture: True Fly Family Chironomidae (Midges). From Mystery Creek # 249 in Washington.
Thousands of midges swarming over a sunny pool.

In this picture: True Fly Family Chironomidae (Midges).
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
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.  In this picture: Stonefly Species Calineuria californica (Golden Stone). 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.

In this picture: Stonefly Species Calineuria californica (Golden Stone).
Date TakenJul 25, 2019
Date AddedJul 26, 2019
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1

Closeup insects by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington

Female Calineuria californica (Golden Stone) Stonefly AdultFemale Calineuria californica (Golden Stone) Stonefly Adult View 17 PicturesI caught this female in the vegetation on a trail about 50 feet above the stream. The coloration on its head differs from that of a male I collected recently on a nearby river, and from another female I collected on the same river. But it still keys out confidently to Calineuria, and californica is the only species of that genus in the area.
Collected July 25, 2019 from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 26, 2019
Rhyacophila vocala (Green Sedge) Caddisfly LarvaRhyacophila vocala (Green Sedge) Caddisfly Larva View 11 PicturesThis specimen is very tentatively placed in Rhyacophila vocala, but see the caveats given by Dave Ruiter in its identification: "There are two species (hyalinata and vocala) currently within the group and this looks closest to R. vocala. It is likely, however, there are several undescribed species in the group and this is one of those."
Collected July 25, 2019 from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 26, 2019
Drunella coloradensis (Small Western Green Drake) Mayfly NymphDrunella coloradensis (Small Western Green Drake) Mayfly Nymph View 11 PicturesThis one nicely illustrates the variation in coloration within an single Ephemerellid species in a single stream, when compared to its lighter, banded counterpart.
Collected July 25, 2019 from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 26, 2019
Male Paraleptophlebia sculleni Mayfly SpinnerMale Paraleptophlebia sculleni  Mayfly Spinner View 13 PicturesThis specimen (and a few others I collected but didn't photograph) appear to represent the first finding of Paraleptophlebia sculleni outside the Oregon Cascades, although it is not a monumental leap from there to the Washington Cascades. The key characteristics are fairly clear.
Collected July 25, 2019 from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 26, 2019
Dixa True Fly LarvaDixa  True Fly Larva View 10 Pictures
Collected July 25, 2019 from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 27, 2019
Rhyacophila (Green Sedges) Caddisfly LarvaRhyacophila (Green Sedges) Caddisfly Larva View 7 PicturesDave Ruiter identified this specimen as part of the Rhyacophila betteni group, but with over 20 species it's difficult to narrow down beyond that.
Collected July 25, 2019 from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 26, 2019
Psocodea Insect AdultPsocodea  Insect Adult View 4 PicturesI collected this one by sweeping through leaves in vegetation near the stream, and I kept it thinking (in the fading light) that it might be one of the tiniest caddisflies. It is not.
Collected July 25, 2019 from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 26, 2019
Drunella coloradensis (Small Western Green Drake) Mayfly NymphDrunella coloradensis (Small Western Green Drake) Mayfly Nymph View 4 PicturesThis one nicely illustrates the variation in coloration within an single Ephemerellid species in a single stream, when compared to its darker, more uniform counterpart.
Collected July 25, 2019 from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 26, 2019
Chironomidae (Midges) Midge LarvaChironomidae (Midges) True Fly Larva View 8 PicturesThese larvae were all over the submerged rocks in a small mountain stream in the Washington Cascades, tightly adhering to the rocks in their flat, half-disk-shaped cases.
Collected July 25, 2019 from Mystery Creek #249 in Washington
Added to Troutnut.com by Troutnut on July 27, 2019

Most recent comments on this post (latest on top)

TroutnutJuly 29th, 2019, 4:09 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2541
I use a 7'6" Orvis Superfine 4-weight.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
StickstringJuly 29th, 2019, 6:50 am
Kalispell MT

Posts: 7
What a great looking day! Do you mind me asking what Rod weight and length you use on those small waters?

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