Notes of Interest:
- Adult Winter Stones and Midge on Arrival (~11am)
- BWO’s at ~12:30-1pm as the Water Temp Rose to 49 Degrees
- Despite Higher Water Temps Minimal Rising Trout
- Saw Four Deer When I Usually See None
- Found 3 Deer Carcasses, One Way Too Fresh To Show Here
- Attempted Bug Photo’s with Reference Tape in mm, worth the effort, will continue this practice.
- Flies that worked: #20 Zebra Midge and a #18 Pheasant Tail Nymph
- New Water Today With a Nice Trail, Google Earth Estimates 2.4 Miles Travelled One Way
Tags: Baetis, Bugs, BWO, Midge, The Winona Fly Factory, Trout Fishing, Winter Fishing, Winter Stone Fly
edit: JP at Roughfisher.com made me realize that the proper picture for this day belongs with the White Sucker that snagged my Marabou Leech, thanks JP.
Tags: Fly Fishing, Midge Fly, The Winona Fly Factory, Trout Fishing, Winter Fishing
Parked 10am. 1/3 of a mile hike in some fluffy deep snow to get to the water then another mile upstream and the entire distance back out again. A total of close to 4,050 yards according to Google Earth. 40 football fields in 3-4 feet of snow. Reminds me of the crawling through sh*t line in Shawshank Redemption.
Along the way we happened upon many sights, a pair of hawks flying above with a screeching mouse in tow for example. The hike in was slow, through some serious snow with nothing more than an animal trail over an old set of truck tracks from months ago to aid us. This would be worth it though. I expected to find warm gin clear trout water and that is in fact what I found. First water temp more than a mile downstream of two major springs held a temp of 46 degrees at ~10:30am.
Midge were already peppering the snow more than twenty feet from the stream when we began fishing. We nymphed, myself a #14 Pink Patrick with a #20 Beadhead Midge Larva. Simple, standard and effective patterns. The sun waited until late in the day to show itself, the photo’s reflect that aspect of the day well. We fished old H.I. work as we travelled to the source of this stream. We each managed a few takes on the way in but
water levels were down considerably through the section we fished. I wonder if the massive amount of instream growth this stream supports in the summer that shrinks in the winter might have something to do with it. The more instream vegetation, the more stuff to fill up the channel, thus making the stream look as if it has more water in it. Anyways just a side thought. We fished to source, hiked half the distance back out and fished up again.
At 1pm as we hiked downstream the midge began doing it, literally in the snow they would link up and the larger of the two would basically tow the other around in the snow. Interesting. We saw thousands of midge through the course of the day, with an initial water temp of 46 degrees and the fact that so many were already crawling around several feet from the stream I have to think a majority had hatched before we arrived, maybe before we woke to start the day. At 1:25pm I saw the first one float towards me.
I had to stop for a second and really look to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was, as soon as I was sure I was diving in close to my waist to catch a few WINTER BWO’s? Yep. We watched as a good couple dozen emerged on the run I was fishing, float downstream and take off. Very cool, good day for bugs. Now to find a few trout.
We did eventually find a willing pod of fish that readily took a #20 Miracle Nymph like it was candy but it took nearly the entire day to find it and after swapping fish for an hour we were frozen and ready to head home. Heath had a nicer +16in fish on but as the net came out it spooked and bolted forcing a limp line and an empty net. I managed a few browns as well, typical winter fishing. It isn’t easy and sometimes you’ve got to work pretty hard to see your line tighten up but it
makes those days in the spring and summer when it jumps upon a strike that much better. With frozen feet and smiles we hiked the last leg out quickly. It was 4:30pm. Potentially a top 10 day for 2010 and it’s not even March yet.
Notes: So we found Midge had already been hatching before we arrived, and BWO’s hatching as the water temp got up to 47-48 degrees at 1:30pm. The Miracle Nymph worked wonders today while the Pink Patrick did nothing and could have been split shot for all the trout cared, actually I think I’ve had trout more readily strike my splitshot than they did the Pink fly today. Sometimes this thing can whack fifty trout, others it is a curse and is best left in the box. I learned this lesson today and will not forget it. Especially when the rocks showed about a million tiny nymphs, I was determined to feed them something twice as big and pink. I would have been better served fishing a WD-40 or a PT with the Miracle Nymph trailing. The BWO nymphs that were hatching were a yellow/cream color and were very apparent, I’m surprised and a little disappointed I didn’t take any pictures of them. Finally at the source of the stream we found a dead deer that was something’s dinner, when we hiked to a second spring we found a second carcass that had also been well fed on. I wonder if something large isn’t dragging them down into that valley, interesting… I apologize for the quantity of images but it was a day of things to see. Check the slideshow out on fullscreen.
Tags: Brown Trout, Fly Fishing, Hiking, Snowshoeing, The Driftless Area, The Winona Fly Factory, Trout Stream, Winter Fishing
Sporty Girl Foam can be purchased at just about every Claire’s in the country and with just about every mall in our nation having one of these stores this material should be fairly easy for you to find. It costs a few bucks a roll and comes in a few nice colors (Pink, Orange, Yellow and Black) along with a few useless ones but the black that is more of a charcoal matches the Grey Caddis fly and is useful for midge bodies and perhaps even Trico bodies. I like this material because it doesn’t hold water,
aides in flotation and is easy to use. So here is a simple tutorial for tying a simple fly that could be the most important fly in your box come April if you live around here.
The Sporty Grey Caddis:
- Hook: #18 Dry Fly
- Thread: Black 70 Deiner
- Body: Black Sporty Girl Foam
- Rib: Tying Thread
- Wing/Head: Grey Deer Hair
Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: Dry Flies, Fly Tying, Sporty Girl Foam, Sporty Grey Caddis, The Winona Fly Factory
Left the house at 9am and drove for 27 minutes. It doesn’t happen often but the weather forecast changed from 30 degrees with a 50% chance of snow with NO SUN the night before to 27 degrees and mostly sunny when I checked this morning. Sweet. Took off with hot coffee and nymph boxes ready, no real plan per-se just decided to let the road take me where I needed to go.
The first turn in town nailed the destination down, snowshoes were needed. Just over a half an hour later I was pulling up to a minimum maintenance road that had seen a bit of traffic but only by deer, a few other animals and cross-country skiers. I hiked in just over a half mile to find myself staring at steaming water. I’ve fished this spot before but only in the summer when the forest is thick and grows taller than man, seeing it now bare and frozen gave it new dimension.
I took my time upon first approach, rigged my rod out of sight of the stream, approached slowly and on my knees to the waters edge. My options were limited as I had chosen not to wade today so I had my side of the bank and it happened to contain the least desirable casting locations, I tried a few options but nothing felt right. I could have sat around trying to figure out that hole but the sun was shining and I felt like moving around. I hiked for another half mile before settling on a spot I’ve fished a few times before. Deeper nymphing this time with spooky trout, spookier than the last time I
was here for sure but that might be attributed to the fact that last time I was here the water was ever so slightly stained, later in the afternoon as just a bit of the melt begins some spots “tea” up a bit. This morning as I approached cautiously I kicked four decent sized trout down to the depths, clearer water than last time. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: Brown Trout, Fly Fishing, Pink Patrick, The Winona Fly Factory, Winter Trout Fishing
To take a trout with one of these. I picture it going down something like this… After a good long day of fishing the Driftless Area during spring/summer I will migrate towards home, along the way I will make a mental note of any and all areas I know to hold larger trout. I’ll pull up right as the sun is setting behind the bluffs, rig up and head to the spot. I’ll get there earlier than needed but that’s the kind of guy I am. I’ll scope the situation out, put myself in the right spot and wait until the light fades. When the time is right I’ll plop one of these guys near the head of a pool, throw in a big upstream mend to counter the pull of the strong current. I’ll let it drift a bit maybe half way through the pool, then I’ll twitch one of these furry beasts to my feet hoping for the opportunity to take a Driftless Area trout on a mouse. This should pose a decent challenge, I’m sure I’ll let you know how it goes but first it’s got to warm up a bit around here.
Tags: Fly Fishing, Morrish Mouse, Mouse Pattern, The Driftless Area, The Winona Fly Factory, Trout Fishing
I’ve got a long list of things that need my attention and from the beginning this blog/journal/whatever you call it was supposed to be a semi-organized/semi-scientific approach to the Southeast Minnesota/Driftless Area. I have organized some of the better
photo’s of the natural insects seen on our streams and included a bit of hatch information for the ones I managed to stumble across. This is an incomplete and on going effort that I hope will grow over the years, it can be found here.
Look for more from the Winona Fly Factory with the coming year and the season changes it holds. With the updated and organized photo galleries I will be able to quickly add and compile images that will help myself and hopefully others tie the flies that make the Driftless Area what it is all about. The hatch information presented is based on a combination of first hand experiences, information from other local anglers who truly know this place and entomology texts I’ve read. If you have anything to add or if I made a mistake please feel free to contact me at: email@example.com
Tags: Caddisfly, Entomology, Insects, Mayfly, Stonefly, The Naturals
Fished for a few hours targeting the high air temp. Doing double duty I hit a local stretch that holds a particular significance for me, I approached this water for the first time shortly after I began fly fishing for trout in June of 2008. The previous August most of the area was affected by severe flooding and this stretch was forever changed, I wish I could have seen it before the floods but as it happens I viewed this stretch for the first time after it had been ripped up pretty bad.
Although there are plenty of trout hanging around these parts I worry about their ability to migrate up and downstream, this place is littered with deep holes and long wide slow sections that are separated by long very shallow sections that are often no more than a few inches deep. Steep cut banks that show the power of flowing water stretch for much of this part of the stream.
I spent most of my time dealing with ice shelves, catching a few flies on the lip as I raised my rod. I found that there was much more veg in the stream than I was expecting to find this time of year. I rigged to go deep with a #14 Brassie and trailing #20 Midge Larva and found myself catching all kinds of greenery but no trout. I didn’t stick around long and moved to a few other spots with similar results, I did manage a consolation prize on a dead drifted #8 Bead Head Woolly Bugger but at the cost of several flies, oh well. I headed home shortly after.
Caught up with one Heath Sershen, a local trout addict and friend of mine. This day has been seen before and will be seen again, maybe even this year. The two of us drive for a while, get out of the car, shiver for a while, rig our rods and begin the game of pick your fish. From above we perch spying the trout, watching them feed on the midges emerging.
Today we watched several larger trout surfacing, Heath picked off the first decent sized fish with a #20 Miracle Nymph. I worked a #20 Black Midge Emerger and after a while I managed a couple of fatty 14in Rainbows. The fun and challenge here is that we chose our target, we could have caught any number of smaller trout that were feeding downstream of the larger few but the challenge presented was of too great a temptation, we both agreed that landing only a few of the larger fish was well worth the effort.
All in all it was a good weekend and the trout itch has been fully scratched allowing me to continue the week free of urges to stand out in the freezing cold. Look for more of the same in the coming weeks, try to find yourself on stream during the warmest part of the day, rig to deep nymph in most situations and watch for that golden opportunity to toss a #20 Midge to rising trout lips.
Tags: Fly Fishing, Heath Sershen, Rainbow Trout, The Winona Fly Factory, Winter Trout Season