30 Nov 2011 / Stream Running
26 Nov 2011 / Fly Tying
Biot Comparadun: #16 BWO
- Hook: #16 Dry Fly
- Thread: Olive UTC 70
- Tail: Dun Microfibbets
- Wing: Dun Deer Hair
- Body: Olive Turkey Biot
- Thorax: BWO Dubbing
- Head: Olive UTC Thread
Critical Thoughts: The wing is too long on some of the flies I tied, tails as well. The wing should sit more at a 45 degree angle to the rear and should maybe be a bit further towards the hook barb than in this example. Color is a decent match but the photos here do not do color any justice. I tied half with a lighter olive dubbing for the thorax and half darker. All in all I’ll venture to say they will bring a trout to surface and are a bit better option than what I currently have in my dry fly box, with that said more in a #18 and #20 are needed.
22 Nov 2011 / Tailing Carp
In late May I was invited to fish the Big C. with two guys who clearly know what there doing. I hooked into a decent number of carp under some pretty nasty circumstances, enjoyed the trip thoroughly and learned a few things along the way. This video demonstrates two of them well, if your going to hook a ~15lb carp in a mine field of debris make sure you don’t give him enough line to hang you. What you can’t see in this video is the backwater slosh that is outside the frame, this fish tried as hard as he could to get there, to break me off. I couldn’t get him to turn into the open water and was thus forced to wear that fish down in a couple minutes. Second lesson, flex the entire rod or risk breaking it. Watching it again I’m pretty surprised it didn’t break, that 8wt looks like my 3wt when I’m tugging on a snag. I look pretty green in this video but I learned alot from this trip. John Montana is credited with taking the video, a good guy who put Wendy B. and I on fish for several days, who let me botch a net job that his little girl could have handled without thinking. Man, can’t wait to get into something like this again.
20 Nov 2011 / Stream Running
Fished another Sunday in Iowa, since Liz and I ended up purchasing a year license it only made sense we would use them as much as possible while the weather holds out. Arrival time: ~12:15pm, Departure Time: ~5:30pm. Airtemp was in the low fifties, the wind was calmer out of the WSW at ~10mph. The creek was a bit off on arrival but clean enough for me to spot trout hanging on redds. Trout were sipping something small on arrival, likely midge but with the recent Baetis seen Liz opted for a #18 BWO, second cast in and she was making it look easy. We hung around attempting to take a couple more on a dry fly before moving upstream but nothing was having the larger flies. I switched flies up a couple times, took a couple small Browns on a #18 Bead Head Baetis nymph I tied up for situations like this. The creek, full of weeds, full of spooky trout who bolt for cover when they see a larger or heavier nymph hit the surface are sometimes best presented something very small despite the difficulty detecting a strike. I lost three or four easily to late hooksets. I also fished the “safety” of the #16 Pink Squirrel for a while and took a handful of fish ranging from 10-13inches. Something about the fact that the trout just can’t help but hit that thing makes me want to fish it less, like it’s laced with some kind of trout chum they can smell from a mile away.
Upstream scoping the riffles I watched one trout rise, then another and another. Shortly after a #18 BWO flew past, I dropped the nymph instantly and swapped to the #18 BWO pattern again. I watched the riffle for another ten minutes, four different trout in four locations rose but they didn’t lite up the way I was hoping they would. There would be no major BWO hatch for us. Thinking I could pull a couple out I made close to two dozen casts with only one botched hookset on a 6inch Brown to show for it. We moved upstream and I looked at my flies and put on one of a couple dozen newly tied #8 Sprinkle Me Baby’s. Something about fishing this fly, I have so much confidence in it and my ability to fish it well that it just made sense. Trust Your Gut.
Working the later portion of the afternoon I was roll casting to deeper faster water, swapping a split shot for none and back again, working the weed lines and the dark spaces between them, the BNT were coming to hand quickly. I managed over a dozen in the first hour with a few misses between. They smack this fly so damn fast sometimes it’s hard to set the hook and make it stick. We got upstream to find a couple nasty deep looking pools, faster current feeding the far side. My gut… my gut was telling me to hit each with a down and across approach letting my fly sink then rise at a steady rate as the line tightened up. The second pool gave up the reason why I trust my gut, a nice 18inch Brown. He hit deep and I didn’t know what I was in for until he gave me a big flying leap from below, this was the Iowa Brown I’d been looking for these last few trips.
Upstream all of a hundred yards and I see one of the biggest, gnarliest beaver dam’s I’ve come across in my Driftless career. Standing close to five feet tall just pouring trout water from a weak portion in the center. We hiked upstream and spied dark deep trout water but few fish. I was concerned that their might not be much around but if there was something it might make the last fish look puny. I dropped a couple bombs in the creek but saw nary a flash, my gut was telling me to move on. A guy can spend all day casting into the darkness and get nowhere, I’m guilty of it from time to time but the day was growing short and with it the light so we moved on. Out of the beaver dam and into one of the sexiest pieces of trout water I’ve seen in Iowa. I was concerned that after the beaver dam it would be kaput, pitiful creek, I was dead wrong. I tossed a fly down under a boulder offering some excellent habitat for any trout and landed two smaller browns that proved there were fish above the beaver dam. This was motivation to keep going, Liz was doing her own thing, figuring her cast out and working a streamer, I was content to dissect the creek for the spots I knew would hold fish.
I got to a riffle with a bunch of overhanging branches, took one look and knew there had to be something tasty laying in wait. The first cast was too far up the riffle and got stuck on a rock, my fly came back covered in creek sludge. After a quick clean up I made a second attempt and planted my fly on the smallest of the overhanging branches, the sun was going down and I didn’t see it until it was too late. Something was on my side, my SMB popped off the branch instantly. My gut said one more… it was right again. By now I’m thinking, damn I should be telling Liz where to put her fly but I didn’t want to stand over her shoulder being overbearing. I landed the brown and sent him back to the creek with just enough daylight to work upstream another couple hundred feet. The sun was gone, the sky was lighting up with pink and orange colors. I saw one last spot that just screamed for a fly, first cast and a fat, I mean gutty fat holdover Rainbow came out. The picture doesn’t do the gut justice but damn I was taken back a bit. By this point the ground was looking black, I left the headlamp somewhere not in my gear and we were forced to hike over a mile back as the very last of the light left us.
- Watched a Bald Eagle fly overhead at less than a hundred yards.
- Observed a noticeable change in the creek vegetation above and below the beaver dam.
- Spent fifteen minutes chasing down an evening Caddisfly.
- Watched over a dozen deer silouetted by the sky chase through a herd of cattle down a bluff side.
12 Nov 2011 / Everything Else...
To be used as a general guide for the Driftless Area fishing vehicle.
I spent my first couple years driving a gas guzzling Ford F-150 to the creek, it did the job and was in some cases ideal. Fishing til dark, making camp quickly, crashing in the bed of the truck under the protection of the topper so I could wake early and fish another day through. In other aspects that vehicle was very impractical bordering on almost immoral. Poor gas mileage is a deal breaker, period. I’m taking this moment to pay respects to the new Driftless Fishing Ride that will soon (getting a new radiator) carry me to the creek countless times and continue it’s gloried past. This ride came care of a good friend and has seen it’s share of steep grade gravel roads, carried many a full creel back home and always been reliable. For me the fishing ride must contain a handful of attributes, others are ideal but not deal breakers. Things like good gas mileage make driving over an hour and passing up incredible water along the way to get to someplace less often visited more tolerable and acceptable in my mind. Bumper stickers, worn like badges of honor let those around you get a glimpse of what your all about. The DFR is another piece of gear that gets dirty, scratched, maybe a bit abused but ultimately loved and well used, not like most people’s cell phone, replaced in two years when something more fashionable comes along. No, the DFR is your best friend, it takes you to the land of relaxation, clean air, quiet, nature and perhaps above all (but not really)…trout.
Required Driftless Fishing Ride Attributes:
- Over 100k miles (less issue with driving on gravel roads/general damage from driving to the creek)
- Trunk loaded at all times with necessary fishing gear for the current season
- Road and MN Trout Stream Maps present at all times
- Must get MPR radio stations
- All flies that meet a George must be lodged in the ceiling for posterity’s sake
- Must be reliable but if I got stuck on a MN Trout stream it wouldn’t ruin my day much
Ideal Driftless Fishing Ride Attributes:
- Is a Subaru (perhaps the next one)
- Has AWD (perhaps the next one)
- Coffee maker mounted in the center console
- Possesses a Mounted Rod Holder
- Current State Parks Pass mounted in the lower right corner of the windshield
- Plastered with Good Things/Trout/Fly Fishing Bumper Stickers
- Has enough room to sleep in
- Has enough room to gear up inside if it’s ~5degrees outside
08 Nov 2011 / Stream Running
Liz and I hit Iowa on Saturday and came across a spectacular emergence of fall Baetis. We parked the car at ~12noon and observed consistent rising almost immediately. The creek was running clear and maybe just a hair low, the air temp was in the low 50′s but a strong sustained wind of 20+mph was felt the entire time we were on the water. Despite the wind we opted to take advantage of the rising trout and put on dry flies knowing full well that casting a tiny dry in high winds can be a potential recipe for disaster. On a whim I stuck on a #12 Stimulator simply because it happened to be right at my fingertips, the second cast produced a ~13inch brown that sipped my fly. Convinced that as long as we could battle the wind, dry flies would be the best way to fish the afternoon. Several #18 BWO’s were seen drifting from the riffles many of which became trout lunch before they could take flight.
Liz needing to work on her backcast and dry fly presentation took the challenge of the wind in stride and opted to fish a #14 Adams at first. We chose that fly simply because it was a bit bigger and easier for her to see, it became painfully obvious after a dozen or more good presentations that the trout were not having the larger dry flies. We followed the dry fly creed and downsized the fly and went darker with a #18 BWO’s I tied in my fishing infancy. Most of the #18 BWO’s in my dry fly box looked pitiful and would not pass any sort of test, however, I did manage to find a couple that were worthy of placing in front of trout and it became clear after only a few presentations that the trout would accept these imitations.
Many of the rises we observed were in slower slackwater areas that posed a greater challenge with respect to dry fly presentation, we scanned the creek as we hiked upstream looking for a section of faster broken water with trout steadily rising to concentrate on. As we hiked I looked for specimens to document when I bent down near a small patch of water cress. When I knelt down became clear that we had arrived at the tail end of the hatch, looking at a one square foot section of watercress just downstream from a riffle I observed over fifty male and female Baetis duns sitting in the safety of the cress. The trout continued to rise and I sent Liz upstream to fish while I hung back to document as many Baetis mayflies as I could.
Moving upstream I saw exactly the spot I was looking for. After watching a faster broken run for a couple minutes I witnessed several rises in multiple spots, off to both sides of the seam, in the tail end of the run as well as splashy excited rises coming from the head of the run in the fastest water. I knew if she could get her fly up far enough without spooking the trout they would crush her imitation. I sat back and observed, she almost got hung up in a tree but working a side arm cast we avoided the first challenge. The second issue became the largest to overcome, the 20+mph wind. Despite her best efforts to produce a decent backcast the wind would blow hard and rather than allow a tight loop to form used to propel her line forward the wind caused the line to blow back at her taking all the energy out of line and rod. She kept getting her fly blown into her rod, tangled on the tip or at the fly line/leader connection. Frustration was mounting. I continued to assist her any way I could, often just untangling her line quickly so she could attempt another cast. After ~30minutes she hadn’t gotten a decent cast and thus presentation to the trout, she was stubborn and determined to sit there as long as the trout were rising. A few minutes later a colorful brown rose for her fly but a lack of line management failed to produce a good hookset and the trout was “quick-released”.
Her frustration continued and mine was building, I knew if we could just get one trout to hand she would relax and things would move along more smoothly. It took another ten minutes of trying and one more poor hookset before she nailed the first of a handful of nicer sized browns with the #18 BWO. After the first came to hand the second, third and fourth followed steady suit, all the while I sat back and sipped my coffee. We continued fishing to those rising trout until she had moved up the entire length of the run and either caught or put down every trout showing it’s face. Frustration turned into accomplishment, working a small dry fly in the strong wind was a good test of reslove. It should also be noted that even a 6inch fish would have been enjoyed but she managed to take two trout over 13inches with one pushing 14 and a half. I watched as it rose quickly thinking it was smaller than it actually was, not until it lept from the creek and came down with a deep smack did I have any idea it was as nice a fish as it was.
By this point the BWO’s had run their course, the trout ceased rising and we moved upstream. I stuck on a #8 Hairball and we proceeded to search close to a mile of new uncharted trout water. We never lingered long at any one spot but made a cast to almost every place that looked worthy of attention. I picked up a dozen browns and two rainbows within the first quarter mile of creek. We observed a dogger chase down my fly only to spook near the surface before it committed. We fished upstream until ~5:30pm then turned to hike out, I made a handful of casts as we did so but felt the day was a resounding success and as such I was content to enjoy another beautiful fall sunset rather than continue tempting trout.
07 Nov 2011 / Stream Running
04 Nov 2011 / Stream Running
Another Sunday run south of the border. Crappy weather, my girl handled it very well. Windy, rainy, cold, the 1.5hrs of sunlight was welcome but left us for more clouds and rain in the later afternoon. Fished from ~12noon till ~6pm, first creek was a new spot. It was beaver town, slow backed up water that looked so damn good but held few fish and those that were seen were closer to 6inches rather than 16. Second creek was a bit turbid from cattle activity, the trout were in full spawn, redds everywhere. I watched a couple brown’s spawn for ~30minutes while Liz was working a group of trout upstream. Very cool to watch them so vulnerable up in the riffles, half exposed in some cases. I watched and took note of a brookie that swam up a riffle to root up a bed of cobble with which to lay her eggs in, sweet. Liz is coming along well, she has spent more time fly fishing than I have but that time was spent years ago when she would fish with her father, she is quickly falling back into the swing of things. Rounded out the day watching her take over a half dozen RBT and BNT roll casting a lightly weighted #12 Black Hairball (no indicator) on a long stretch of slow moving water that would give any fly angler a difficult time.
- Viewed the Upper Iowa River from a most excellent perch.
- Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout slim covered my hands by the day’s end.
- Watched Liz crush a brown working a #18 BWO Dry fly.
- Liz fished nymphs without the aid of an Indicator and did very well.
- Many more Brook trout caught this day.
- #18-20 BWO’s seen hatching in small quantities at ~2:30pm.
- Liz had a BNT Dogger on the line but got off before it could be landed.