30 Apr 2009 / Fly Tying
Not much to report, recent rains have done little to muddy water or raise flows much. Fished the Grey Caddis hatch again, observed two of the same caddis but one in a size 16 and one about a 20-22. I’m curious if they are two of the same variety of caddis but two different sub-varieties that would have similar hatching time/characteristics but produce one small and one larger caddis. It was nice to look over at Liz while fishing, she landed two smaller trout after I fished the hatch.
Liz decided to come fishing with me Friday after she finished work. I rigged a spinner rod for her and I went light expecting to toss a few streamers and not much else. Liz is very allergic to poison Ivy and so we try to fish in locations that don’t contain any. We hit one of my usual haunts, get that, I’ve been doing this long enough for me to start saying that. I rigged Liz with a rooster tail and set her loose on fish, the last time I did this I ended up losing the fish count 2:1. We saw them think about taking it time and time again, she missed a strike or two but no fish. I rigged an olive wooly bugger but before I could get it wet I saw rising fish, watching I switched up. Nothing.
We moved on. I had a plan to stop at two points but somehow Liz managed to get me to swing through a different part of the stream and what came as a result will never be forgotten. We pulled over to trout, rising, launching. The Grey Caddis were on, full on. I’ve seen hatching flies before but nothing like this. The flies were thick, I know it gets thicker for some hatches but for what I’ve seen this was the thickest I’ve encountered, crawling on my legs, in my hair. I had no problem with it but Liz was unimpressed. I franticly re-rigged my dry fly and set to work. Liz began taking video and pictures for me as I started swinging. I would call the feeling, hatch jitters. I’m new to this and got excited, this honestly resulted in several crappy casts and a few lost flies. In the interim I landed over 16 trout, most were small between 6-10inches but a few larger were had. The action was so consistent that Liz even tried the fly rod again, seeing me pick a trout up almost every cast must have motivated her. Unfortunately, I was unable to help her get a trout on the fly.
After fishing the hatch for forty minutes the action slowed to a crawl. I figured I had put the fish down, but these fish were so taken with the hatch they seemed like they couldn’t have been put down. Looking back I think it may have just been a lull in the hatch, we saw less caddis hatching during this time. As we waited and watched Liz and I sat and laughed at the frantic state I had been in. Watching the trout swim and strike your fly almost every time it lands in front of your fly line is awesome, this time is spent landing fish rather than casting. I haven’t been in this situation before and it took me off guard, I fumbled and lost probably half of the fish I could have seen but I learned to relax and just before we were going to get in the truck to go they started up again. She actually told me to “rig up”, thats sexy man. I caught a few more before looming thunder clouds kicked us off the water. We left the rising trout and all the caddis behind to weather the storm.
We made it home and re-seeded our back yard and watched the rain come down, something that was bitter sweet. I wanted rain for the water level around here but at the same time I wanted one more chance at that hatch. I somehow managed to get clearance to head back the next day with the dog, Liz and Mike in tow. They kept the dog occupied and I managed to hit the same hatch again, this time it was much smaller, not sure if it was temp/weather related or if it was just that most had already hatched. Water conditions were good, clean and clear despite the rain. I had to work harder today, the fish weren’t as eager to smack anything that hit the surface. I managed to land several smaller trout, the larger ones must have been staying out of the surface game, probably related to amount of food with regard to calories spent to get that dinner. I picked up close to a dozen more and smiled, two days of tossing tiny light dry flies. Somehow I was given a special early birthday present.
This video is symbolic of that frantic, heart pounding rush that I felt when I realized what I was in the middle of. The quality isn’t the best but I think it serves its purpose and sure gives me a smile watching it. Note: What looks like blurry snow near the end of the video is the swarm surrounding us on the rocks. Thanks to Liz for filming in awe as I worked the fly rod to have one of my best days on the water. Damn I am lucky as hell.
23 Apr 2009 / Fly Tying
A while back Whiskey Creek got me hooked on scanning for cheap but very effective fly tying materials. This has led me to continue posting about two materials that combine to help make two awesome flies that I expect to slay trout with. The first material might be hard to come by for a few of us, those of us lucky enough to have a woman willing to put up with us might have a shot at getting this excellent material, that is if we haven’t pissed them off by fishing recently. It turns out that some bra’s and tank-tops women purchase contain almost two feet of a semi-clear scud back like material, this is used in the item to hang it up on a coat hanger. The ones I’ve found are wider in diameter than the 1/8in scud back I’ve purchased, also it only comes in clear. Now, if you’ve found this on your wife or girlfriend’s undergarment please, I emplore you, ASK! I don’t want to be responsible for a bunch of dead fly fisherman due to their urgent need for this material. I’ve recently been using it on scud and caddis patterns tied on a size 14 hook with great results.
The second material comes as a result of my cats. I get fur for free which one would think would be enough but no, the need for materials that shine, twist, and dub has driven me to steal their toys. If you can find these they come in packages of 6 usually and come in different colors, I’ve found the light pink and green useful for scud and caddis patterns. I should note that this material isn’t that dub freindly but fight it and it performs the task. Using these two materials plus alittle mono for a rib and some antron dubbing to help the rest of the body I tied two Kitty Kat patterns.
21 Apr 2009 / Fly Tying
”The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.” Christopher McCandless
I decided to give a go at tying some carp flies. I’m hoping the way I tied these combined with the hook style (Mustad 37160) will make for a less snaggy hook when sunk to those plush carp lips. It took a while to get used to tying this upside down but I sunk it in the tub and because I added weight to the bottom the fly it turns when dropped even with mono tied to it.
18 Apr 2009 / Tailing Carp
The plan for this outing was to experience something new, the invitation came and the opportunity arose to learn, study and hunt. This time not for trout but something different…the carp. I hooked up with with Wendy Berrell Friday morning in the mid-early am, grabbed coffee and were off. A few things to note right away, this trip was drastically different from my usual routes. We drove rather than hiked, we fished in populated areas often with others (not a bad thing), saw more trash than I’d ever seen while fishing (a bad thing)…humans, and fought harder than I’d ever done before to land fish. I used an 8wt rather than my usual 4wt. Funny how I use a rod thats just one or two wt. over what it should for trout in my area and I did the same for the carp but I was greatful to borrow a rig to fish with for the time I had. I will be changing the rod situation, that will involve a 3wt and 6-7 wt. I will be doing this again.
So we started fishing and almost immediately I was onto carp. This is was my first time attempting to catch this species on a fly rod and it has it’s own unique twists. The way carp feed, the approach, the casts and the flies are all similar but different. I made my first attempt to carp on the banks of a river. I could see the fish, they were less than ten feet from the bank. We stood high above on the bank and tried to sight fish carp without snagging or spooking them, funny how fast there bulbous asses can scoot when motivated. My 1st was snagged, in the upper fin while trying to drift a fly basically straight into the target zone, within 6 inches of the vacuum hose (the carp snout). The second was all fair right in the mouth, hard fight even on an 8wt and I was getting into it right away.
We moved after presenting flies to several carp, the timing was good but we were searching for bigger tailers, actively feeding carp. These fish can be seen with their tails high peaking out from below. Finding sight fishable carp feeding like this is ideal, one can present the fly and attempt to observe notable changes in behavior to cue the hook set. We might have seen more of this but this is still early in the season and the carp need more time to warm before consistently activly feeding so we moved from location to location in search.
We stopped at several dams along the way and I had a blast blind nymphing for carp. In the space of three hours Wendy and I got onto several carp, one after another. A few were hooked foul and when this was observed I deliberately tried to get the carp off the line but after learning the depth and the needed weight to sink the flies to the carp I was consistently catching carp, and loosing flies (bummer). We caught not only carp but several species, including an 8lb Walley, I watched this fish run Wendy around the bridge pylons before he landed it. At one point, in the sun with two very taught fly lines, we were both waist deep in carp. Casting the 8wt was very different, gave my arm a hell of a work out, that and the constant carp action running me all over the place. After hours in the sun the action cooled down and we moved on with the search for sight fishable tailers.
Finding many, many carp but few actively feeding, we got some grub and headed for camp. We decided ahead of time to camp at a location near water on the way home to save time in the morning. Camping lite we pitched the tent (incase of potential rain), made a fire from the scraps around us in the dark and fell asleep under the stars. Waking early we hit more carp water before heading home. Wendy was spot on taking two morning tailers, including the Bertha of the trip, at 15lbs this was the fish we were looking for. We moved to one last location to try blind nymphing another dam.
I caught several small fish of varied species all trip and this morning saw a bullhead, perch, whitebass (I think), and a large mouth bass. Wendy caught a few more but I hadn’t felt the pull I was looking for, thats what it is, more of a pull, they pull back once the line goes tight rather than with a trout that tugs on a streamer, I was looking for one last fish before the trip was over. It came, standing in the spill way of the dam, once hooked the fish ran, and then ran some more, more than I’d ever felt before. Wicked, damn wicked. I held tight, tried to give him breathing room but not let him man-handle me, I for some reason knew we were close to the time we wanted to leave and with the watch on my chest pack I noticed the time, 10:55. The time of the hook up. In and out, left, right. 11:05. Pull. Hard. 11:15. I just played and at this point I was getting worked, with an 8wt. I started really leaning into this fish. 11:30 We saw the fish, it looked big, it should have, and then the pop. Slack line and a scale on a hook, his momento for me to remember him by. Must have been a foul hooked fish but it sure seemed close to his mouth. I would have really liked to land that fish but I know there will be more sight fished carp in my future.
I learned alot from this trip. I know I like the challenge of taking tailers. I know I don’t appreciate the locations as much but it has its place and time. Interesting how this happened over the trout opener, made me stop and think about the tag line under the title at the top “Learning to Fly Fish in S.E. MN” this is me being true to that. This summer there are many plans in the works to take warm water species as well as trout. Thanks to WB for the company, guidance, flies, gear, dinner Friday night (made it up with breakfast), and being a like minded person.
Fished during the afternoon, had a few hours to take from work and decided the sun had to win. I fished spots that I fished last June when I began fly fishing seriously. I drove from spot to spot just checking things out making a few casts here and there. Today the sun made it so nice I didn’t even put waders on, I just fished from the bank in jeans and a t-shirt. Eventually I migrated to a spot I’ve been dying to see since the winter regs have loosened their grip on my fishing locations. I did put on the waders for a bit but had I brought the water shoes I’ve been wanting to try I probably would have wet waded across the few spots it was needed.
I pulled a nice brown, probably 16″, he jumped a few times, landed with a thud and when I got him to the banks he was so…thick. The thickest trout I’ve caught, that was cool but knowing I have many to catch I put him back right away and got to it. I picked off a few more before heading in. I fished for two hours and didn’t pick a single bug. I’ve been fishing the leech alot as of late, I guess just using it in different circumstances but I feel like I need to be working on my nymphing.
15 Apr 2009 / Everything Else...
Hit the water for two short but sweet hours this morning after I dropped Liz off from work. This stream has a very different personality than the previous stream I hit the last two times I went out. I love meeting water and figuring out all the angles. What am I finding in the water? Substrates? Macros? I look at everything and take mental notes and lots of pictures. I took the water temp on arrival, alittle higher than expected. I threw the leech on knowing I would have to have some good casts to land a fish here, this place was again crystal clear due to lack of rain.
I made some good casts with the marabou leech and took a nice fat brown. Made a few more and got strikes but couldn’t land two fish I had on, one of which I think was a brookie. I took bug samples finding this creek to have alot more mayfly nymphs of a variety I’m not 100% sure on at the moment. I will be researching and determining the species later. I made another run at it with the leech but time was running out and obligations working on the yard and garden were calling.
Making this a quick report due to two factors, 1 same stream from last report and 2 lack of time. I hit the stream at 9am and went through my ritual. I assessed the water temp and stream situation, the lack of rain here is keeping water levels low and crystal clear. I fished the leech almost all day but today was more about covering ground than fishing. I wanted to see as much of this place as I could.
I fished as I went and picked up browns as I enjoyed the warm sun, I think fishing the leech has improved my casting. I ate lunch in the sun on a rock watching trout take what I believe were baetis nymphs from the drift. At noon the fish were active with water temps around 47 and the BWO’s were coming soon.
I saw geological features that I didn’t know Minnesota had and saw beautiful fish as I went. Made it as far as I thought was good for the day and took a moment to take everything in, something about being in a place far away from others, far from cell phone reception. Interesting how something so peaceful can be almost freighting when you realize your so far from others.
- What is it?
- Is it native?
- Are the dots on its face/body/fins a disease?
- Why did I find them only in one section of stream?
My only opinion of these fish is they are a pain in the ass. Every time I get a strike and set the hook a little chub comes flying at me. It makes getting hit up less exciting I guess.
The baetis came at around 1:15pm due to warmer air temp. It lasted until 3pm but I had a difficult time finding rising fish and I wasn’t spooking them. I fished a dry for a while and got no where but I still had a great day. I love this. Never did take a brookie but had another excellent day. Note: I do not take this time for granted, it is precious little and I look twice at everything so I remember it tomorrow.