I’ve been out a couple days now, the spring run off is affecting creeks in every area of the Driftless Area. My advice (experienced Driftless Anglers may choose to disregard my thoughts here) is take time off in a week or so and go fishing, this weekend we are set to get rain which will likely help finish the snow off but will turn already heavily stained water to chocolate again. If you are determined to go fishing (and I don’t blame you) look for those smaller creeks with shorter watersheds that typically run gin clear, move towards the headwater areas or areas of high spring concentrations. These locations will still be stained but more likely to be fishable. Another word of advice, take a water temp, better yet… take two or more. Temp the creek on arrival and an hour in. If the temp drops a degree and the fish show signs of slowing take off or risk blowing your afternoon fishing to shut down trout. If the water temp climbs a degree or more you should see sustained fish activity and possibly an increase. Get out earlier in the morning, fish a streamer, watch for BWO’s and again pay attention to that water temp, your looking for ~48 degrees for BWO’s to hatch. If the creek begins to turn chocolate on you… take off and spend your time doing something more productive.
On another note, I implore those of you who frequent our trout water to be good stewards of the resource. The MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) manages feedlots and the associated run off. If you see an over abundance of manure run-off do the trout stream a favor and report it. Call the County MPCA office or the DNR and speak up, I know sometimes it can seem like a helpless battle but if those who love the stream don’t fight for it the problem will only continue. The same goes for set-backs and buffer strips. Consider the fact that the MPCA allows 4,000 gallons of manure to be spread on an acre of farm land. Well, when spring comes late and farmers have filled their manure storage facilities they become eager to spread their abundance on snow covered frozen ground. It’s legal to spread it…as soon as it turns to run-off and enters the creeks it becomes illegal. Note these sites and call someone, email, map it on Google Earth and put it in the correct hands. I have it on good authority that many gallons of manure run-off hit one of my favorite creeks in the last week as a direct result of this situation. It didn’t result in a fish kill this time but the long term implications on the invertebrate life are not being considered and without a stable food supply the trout we love will suffer.
Good luck this spring, get outside and go fishing.