Readers’ wildlife photos

I’m happy to report that Stephen Barnard is back with a spate of pictures—of fishing. Stephen’s notes are indented:

During the seemingly endless pandemic I’ve been doing little more than fly fishing and farm chores, and photographing fish. All these are rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The exceptions are mayflies: a Callibaetis dun and a comparision of an artificial fly and a natural Trico spinner. Anglers refer to newly emerged adult mayflies as a “duns”, and to the spent insects that fall into the water after mating and egg-laying as “spinners”.  One photo is of a oddly colored trout that I’ve been seeing for at least three years, and that I’ve caught three times. I used to think it had an abnormally dark head, but after bringing it to hand I realized it had an abnormally light body, but only on one side.

JAC: A very realistic fly!

When I pointed out that I liked the second photo best, with the fish’s head above the water, Stephen replied:

That’s what they do when they take tricos on the surface. There are so many mayflies that they kind of sweep their heads around to take as many insects as possible. Here’s another photo of a fish eating a callibaetis dun.




  1. Posted August 4, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Wow, Stephen: Beautiful series of photos!

  2. Greg Z.
    Posted August 4, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Great photos, and those trout can be frustratingly picky.

  3. John Dentinger
    Posted August 4, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    “A very realistic fly!” Ok, here’s my fly story: back when I was still trout fishing, I fished a catch-and-release stream called Spring Creek, where the fish were very wary. I was lucky to catch a fish every couple of trips–until I saw another angler catching fish almost every cast. I asked him what he was using, and he showed me a ‘Spring Creek Caddis Fly,’ which was simply 2 turns of brown chenille on a hook.
    So the ‘fly’ was an exact match for a fish food kibble, and since all the fish were stocked, it was dy-no-mite! After that I stopped fishing there since it wasn’t very challenging.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted August 4, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      I had a similar experience while fishing some private water in North Carolina, where automated feeders are used. My guide put on a brown “sucker egg” that looked suspiciously like a piece of Purina Trout Chow, and I immediately caught a large rainbow in a bathtub-sized pool. I called the fly a Purina Caddis and it became a running joke among my angler friends.

      There’s no stocking here. All fish (rainbows, browns, and the occasional brook trout) are wild, but not native. The creek on my place is highly productive and spring-fed — a paradise for dry-fly fishing. There may be three or four simultaneous different “hatches”, with the fish keying on just one and ignoring the others.

      • Posted August 4, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Purina Caddis™, love it!!

        Really does sound like a paradise! 🙂

    • john avise
      Posted August 4, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      I love the cognomen “Fly”,
      So let me explain why:
      There’s a perfect conjunction
      ‘Twixt form and function…
      For this lovely Dipteran guy.

      • john avise
        Posted August 4, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        My last line should have been “for thie lovely Ephemopteran guy”. Anyway, beautiful photos!

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted August 4, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

          Diptera (midges in angler terminology) are also important trout prey, but I take your point. 🙂

  4. Posted August 4, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Great stuff! I really like just gazing at the play of light ripples in water.

    Perhaps the two-tone trout is a leucistic mosaic? It could use a name in any case.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 4, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Must be the great thing about your spread there in Idaho, Stephen: a river runs through it. (Or a trout stream, anyway.)

    • Posted August 4, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink


    • Posted August 4, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      In a tangentially related point, I have been enjoying the books about wildfires written by John N. Maclean (e.g. The Esperanza Fire).

  6. Posted August 4, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    “ I’ve been doing little more than fly fishing and farm chores, and photographing fish.“

    It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

    Wonderful trout photos.

  7. john avise
    Posted August 4, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Let’s hear it for the Trout,
    Whose praises we should shout.
    And Salmon too,
    Because the two…
    Are cousins without doubt.

  8. rickflick
    Posted August 4, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Very nice set!

  9. Mark R.
    Posted August 4, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for these great photos. I’ve missed the Barnard RWPs.

    Do you tie your own flies or purchase them? I used to love tying Atlantic salmon flies as a teenager because they were so detailed and colorful. I’ve done a lot more fly tying than fishing…a pity since fly fishing is more fun. Helps to have a trout river on your property. 😉

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted August 4, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      I used to tie trout flies, but the vision in my left eye is extremely poor (due to histoplasmosis and several laser surgeries), so I have no close-up stereo vision and it’s too difficult. I still tie larger saltwater flies.

      If you tied salmon flies you should definitely read “The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century” by kirk Wallace Johnson.

      • Mark R.
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:03 am | Permalink

        I’ll check out that book. Thanks. Thing is, I had an uncle who gifted a lifetime’s worth of fly-fishing kit to my dad. He had polar bear hair in every important hue, not to mention real jungle cock feathers, and a well-preserved golden pheasant…the entire bird sans anything but skin and feathers. Plus everything else in a proper fly tier’s toolbox. So I had all the ingredients for arcane “recipes”. Apparently, Polar bear hair is exceedingly buoyant and ideal for dry flies. I’m happy we don’t actually kill Polar bears for any reason, but it’s still an interesting fly fishing fact. Like golf, fly fishing creates obsession.

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:24 am | Permalink

          Believe me, you will like that book.

          Tying traditional salmon flies isn’t about fishing. It used to be, but hasn’t been for a long time. No one fishes with them. The very idea is absurd. It’s illegal to traffic in polar bear hair, and probably also for some of the other materials in your dad’s kit.

  10. Posted August 4, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Wow! These are fabulous, Stephen.
    It’s a wonder it wasn’t three-strikes-and-you’re-out for that thrice-caught trout! It IS a nice curiosity though with the odd coloring.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted August 4, 2020 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      I felt little bad about catching it the third time. I wasn’t targeting it. It’s a pretty large fish, 19″, and it’s healthy and vigorous — a advertisement for catch-and-release fishing.

  11. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 4, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Typical fishing photos are what anglers call “grip-and-grins” or “hero shots”. I have plenty of those, but they’re pretty boring and, frankly, self-regarding, so I’m trying for something different. It’s also the case that I’m usually fishing alone.

  12. DutchA
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Lovely pictures!

    That ‘fly’ reminds me of Harun Yahya. (-:

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