Western Washington Stillwater Caddis Flies

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Entomology' started by ceviche, May 26, 2008.

  1. I noticed on one of the Rattlesnake posts that there were some people using caddis pupa patterns there. This surprised me, as I've only on rare occasion seen caddis flies on a Western Washington lake. Rattlesnake is the only lake where I've seen any caddis on multiple occasions. These, I think, were Longhorned Case Makers (Leptoceridae). They resembled grannoms in superficial appearance and were about #16 in size. Only once have I seen what might have been an adult Northern Case Maker (Limnephilidae). This one was ginger in color and observed at a Puget Sound lowland lake. This one may have been around #14 in size, maybe as large as #12.

    What I'm wondering is whether others have seen stillwater caddis in any substantial numbers in Western Washington stillwaters. If you have, do you know which caddis they were, what color, what size, and when did you see them?

    Also, what patterns have people been using when fishing the imitations?

    --Dave E.
  2. I will say this about RS -- caddis pupa patterns do work, but not all too well right now...with that said...

    I will note at Rattlesnake that ya'll leave way too early. Stick around for some late night fun. The biguns take the hare's ears nymphs beginning a few hours before the onset, and continue taking them during and after the hatch. Callibaetis nymphs are killer before the hatch, and callibaetis cripples just rock. Callibaetis in tan, very small right now at Rattlesnake. Pulling buggers all day is fine, but come 3pm switch it over and stay longer than 7pm if you can...
  3. I've seen people mistake adult alderflys with adult caddisflys on wetside lakes. of course that doesn't explain the caddis wetfly patterns success. I'd venture a guess that people hammering trout on cased caddis patterns are hammering trout because stocker fish are stupid more than the "matching the hatch" factor. I've never seen a blanket caddis hatch on any westside stillwater. Of course, that doesn't mean they don't exist.
  4. Well, I proved myself wrong today about the presence of westside caddis. I saw a good number of Longhorned Case Maker adult caddis at Martha Lake. These were collected in smallish clustered "mating" swarms near the bank. You can tell them, aside from their color (black) by their vertical bobbing "dancing" flight pattern. My first sighting of a mating swarm was by the boat launch. Later on, I noticed more spread out at various locations along the shoreline.

    According to Jim Schollmeyer's Hatch Guide For Lakes, these Black Dancers crawl out of the water to emerge during the cool of the early morning. Because of this, emerger patterns will not work. If trout are feeding on this caddis, diving, egg-laying adults or adults blown onto the water. The sense I get from Schollmeyer's book is that these caddis are probably more of an early morning option. Of course, you can always give a wind-blown adult pattern a try during the day. In this case, targeting rising trout would make sense--especially if a given trout seems to be territorial, versus cruising.

    Unfortunately, the water temperature was in the low 60's, and the only trout rising were planters. Fishing was very slow. The best fish I caught was a rather large perch. At first I thought it was a large brown. Needless to say, I was pissed-off disappointed when I saw what was at the end of my line. Did I catch any trout? :beathead:bawling: no. I guess today was more about fishing than catching. The only person who redeemed himself was my friend, Brad. He C&R'd a cutty that was about 15". My only redemption was that he caught it on a fly that I tied for him. Whatever...

    Tight Lines!
    --Dave E.
  5. Dave,
    Our westside lakes (some to most) do support a good population of caddis. You nailed the genus for the most part. They will hatch both morning and evening depending on water and weather conditions. I've noticed when our daytime highs hit 65 degrees or so that's when the caddis start emerging on a regular basis. One lake I frequent locally has a early season hatch (april/may) of tan caddis sz. 14, they're pretty thick for a few weeks then disappear. Round about early summer, brings pretty good dry fly action on caddis close to the shore of an evening on many of the smaller lakes. There's a small, dark grey pattern I use that's pretty effective. I think it's a mother's day caddis imitation.
  6. I caught a nice bow on an Ehc dry on pass lake the other night. I have also had some awesome takes on heart lake with the same dry near the lilypads the last two weeks. there is nothing like a dry fly take.:thumb:
  7. Enlightening! It seems, as you noted, the caddis I saw is more of a early morning/evening (sunrise/sunset?) match the hatch affair. Size #14 to #12 seems about right. Crawling pupae/larva and adult patterns worked near the shore would be the ticket for the Longhorned Case Makers. Thanks for the significant details. Stuff like this moves stillwater angling forward for the rest of us. You Da Man!

    --Dave E.
  8. I will go out on a limb and say most if not all westside lakes have good populations of caddis, I've found cased caddis in every stillwater I've ever scooped samples from usually 2 or 3 types not that this means the fish are feeding on them prior to emergence but I would guess that fish being fish will eat caddis in just about anyway they find them. I know of a number of lakes that have good emergences but its very hit and miss I've only been lucky enough a few times to be present when they are coming off in large numbers. I would guess that unless you could fish a lake every day the chances of being there at the right time are very slim.
  9. Pardon my bold-facing your words, but you make a good point. It would take a lifetime for an individual to figure it out. However, I really believe that, with enough in-putting of shared knowledge and experience, we could all crack this nut.

    So far, we have determined that we do have Longhorned Case Makers in at least one lowland Puget Sound lake. We also have the same at Rattlesnake Lake. Early morning and/or evening by the shoreline is the place to concentrate fishing with crawling-type and adult imitation patterns. Trout will focus on food sources that are on the move. Mid-60's degree temperatures kick the stillwater caddis into action.

    I think we all are onto something. ptyd

    --Dave E.
  10. Dave-

    (19) families and (71) genera of caddisflies are known to be present in Washington. Of those, the (17) genera known to inhabit stillwater are:

    Agraylea (Salt and Pepper Microcaddis)
    Agrypnia (Great Dive-Bomber Sedge)
    Banksiola (Traveller Sedge)
    Clistoronia (Early Summer Lake Sedge)
    Helicopsyche (Speckled Peter)
    Hydropsyche (Spotted Sedge)
    Hydroptila (Vari-Colored Microcaddis)
    Lenarchus (Dark Brown Still-Water Sedge)
    Limnephilus (Summer Flier Sedge)
    Mystacides (Black Dancer)
    Ochrotrichia (Somber Microcaddis)
    Oecetis (Long-Horn Sedge)
    Onocosmoecus (Great Late-Summer Sedge)
    Phryganea (Rush Sedge)
    Platycentropus (Chocolate and Cream Sedge)
    Polycentropus (Brown Checkered Summer Sedge)
    Ptilostomis (Giant Rusty Sedge)

    A few of these genera may not be present in any W. Washington stillwater. However, I believe most could be found in (at least) some W. Washington stillwaters, although rarely in great number.
  11. Taxon,

    Cripes! I really need to spend more time at your entomology website. I'm shocked that I forgot to think of that resource.

  12. I experience a daily hatch from now thru late summer of small dark grey caddis on my waters. I'm no bug expert but I believe they are the Black Dancers due to their evening mating ritual. The fish do watch for them of an evening and come close to shore between sundown and dark to feed on them. A size 16 peacock EHC will do the trick most of the time. I like to use peacock herl dyed black for the body and grey deer for the wing.

    Because of the back and forth spring weather we've been having, the fish aren't into their summer evening routine just yet but they will be soon I'm sure. If you are out on the water late in the day/evening, watch for splashy rises and/or surface action near the shore. When the water is still (flat) the fish can actually see the insects dancing close to the water and it's for sure to draw their interest. I've watched this countless times on summer evenings. Many of our lowland lakes have regular hatches of seasonal insects especially during the warm weather months. It behoves the fisherman if he/she can, to visit the water regularly during a time of day convenient to them to observe what takes place and when. Knowing the insect activity of your home water (as much as is practical within our work schedules & home lives) will go a long way in understanding feeding behaviour and make us much better fisherman. The knowledge one gains by studying our home waters (waters we frequently fish), will travel with you and work on waters you visit away from home during the same season.
  13. iagree

    That is very well said. I really couldn't agree more. Every lake is different and as you alluded, staying atune to these often miniscule, but significant happenings can really give the angler a big edge come summer time in the late evenings when some of the largest fish will come up off the bottom and sumbit themselves to your dry.
  14. I totally agree with that.

    That brings up a question. How would one naturally present a stillwater cased caddis?
  15. Bass fishing this week I was going down a bank on my local pond and saw some fish breaking surface way back under an over hanging Alder. Went over to check it out and there was the most intense cloud of Caddis back under the over hang. Looked and there were a school of BG's eating em. Very cool !!!
  16. Good subject. I have been having a little luck using a soft-hackled wet with a red body lately. I've been using a few turns of badger hackle and tied swept back on a plain red-dubbed body. I don't know if they have been taking it for a caddis pupa or what, but it's been working when other things have been slow. Beats me. Size 10-14.

    You guys might want to get in on a new fly swap that Fly Punk is trying to put together. I'm thinking about it. He's doing an October Caddis swap.
  17. BJG,
    In the stillwater environment, the caddis in their cases live right on the bottom of lakes and ponds. They move about very slowly in their cases made up of the different debris found on the lake floor. For this reason, and the fact that trout aren't usually bottom feeders, cased caddis aren't available to trout. This is a good thing because the caddis protected and camo'd in it's case needs time to mature into pupal form and prepare for emergence. Trout in stillwaters find caddis available most of the time in pupal form (during emergence) and in the adult form (winged). Like other aquatic born winged insects, after mating, females will return to the water to lay their eggs. It is at this time when they are most vulnerable to feeding trout.

    So to answer your question, stillwater fisherman don't usually imitate the "cased" (larva) form. Instead we'll find greater success imitating the pupal and adult forms since these are the opportunities the trout recognize most.

    For stream fishermen, cased caddis are available to trout and trout feed on them regularly from mid summer into fall (body of water specific). There are several popular imitations that work well. Two that come to mind I've had great success with are the "Muskrat nymph" and "Peeking Caddis".

    Great question, I hope this helps.

  18. I haven't really ever tried to fish a cased pattern in stillwater but in one of the books I've read they suggest slowly working it along the bottom leaving a trail in the mud, I'm not so sure how well this would work. I have witnessed floating cased caddis stirred up by the wind knocked free from whatever they were crawling on at one of the lakes I fish and I went so far as to tie a few patterns for that condition but have not ever really tried them but its a thought that might work.
  19. I bonked a 15" hatchery swag from a local lowland OP lake the last time I went there, and it had several cased caddis in its stomach. Cases were made from pebbles, and looked the same as the ones we find in streams here. Good sized, about an inch long. The lake is an impoundment of a small creek. I figure, all of the lakes that are impoundments on the wet side probably have these caddis that are the familiar "periwinkles" we used for bait when we were kids, and that were in the creeks before the dams went in.
    I have also found smaller caddis larvae in the same lake, with skinny cases made from waterlogged evergreen needles and small pieces of twigs.
    This lake gets a good Alder Fly hatch, too.

    The trout in this lake must feed off the bottom much of the time. Of course, at times there is lots of surface feeding going on. I have found at least one of either crayfish claws, snails, or cased caddis in the stomachs of most of the trout I have bonked in that lake. I have bonked about one hatchery trout per trip from this lake, sometimes 2, and usually ones with torn up mouths or some other injury. I always examine the stomach contents.

  20. Do you remember the color of the larvae of both of the caddis flies you describe here?

    --Dave E.

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