April 17th, 2011: The Harvest

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The day of the official opener I fished a creek that put up fewer but perhaps larger trout. This day was not about large fish, it was simply a trip to my favorite isle of the super market. I expected to find at least one other angler hanging out tempting their dinner as well but to my surprise I had the creek to myself. I even waited until the best part of the day with regards to the weather. I rolled up just before 1pm, geared up and made a short hike downstream. I enjoyed the sun, tried to avoid making any casts during the wind gusts and slowly fished each dark looking spot along the creek. I picked this particular creek because it offers a large quantity of smaller to medium sized brown trout. I only took fish that taped between 10 and 11 inches, everything else above and below went back to the stream. I fished a two fly rig consisting of a #8 Black Hairball and a trailing #16 Black Thin Nymph, both consistently took trout at a 1:1 ratio. I harvested three fish and then began to get a bit more picky for the last two. Just a reminder here, in S.E. Minnesota once you have knocked that fifth trout you are no longer allowed to wet a line, you have to be finished. I fished upstream noticing the occasional mayfly here and there but no rising trout, some smaller #18 Baetis were [singlepic id=2536 w=320 h=240 float=left]coming off and a couple larger #14 Hendricksons were emerging as well. I saw two, literally two caddisflies over the course of the afternoon. I tried a #14 Dark Hendrickson pattern despite the lack of rising trout and managed one five inch brown, shortly after I went back to the Hairball/Thin Nymph rig.

I fished until it was getting close to dinner time then sat on a single run and took the last two fish I needed to round out my limit. Responsible harvest is what I practice. That may mean different things to different people and that is fine as long as you can sleep at night. I’m proud to bring home food, especially when I know the amount of resources involved just getting me to the creek. I harvest Brown trout ranging from 10-11inches when they are in abundance and I plan to have fish for dinner. Fresh fish… so fresh I just took it from the creek. Rainbows are fair game as they do not reproduce naturally here in any abundance and are stocked for the purpose of maintaining a put and take fishery. I spare the brookies no matter the size, they are just too cool and too few for me to harvest them, I can easily find browns I would rather eat. Not every location is going to meet my requirements for harvest which is why I take note of locations that perhaps put up larger numbers of smaller trout and choose those locations for harvest, to thin the herd a bit to allow some to grow larger. My rules for harvest are just that, my rules for me, they work for me and I can enjoy the act without any ethical issues. Each one of these trout were grilled and served for dinner that evening, they tasted great and nothing went to waste, in fact even the remnants will feed my pine trees over the next few weeks.

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8 Comments:

  1. I think those are sound rules. I haven’t been a ‘catch and fillet’ fisherman in my brief years of fly fishing, but plan on doing much the same as you this season. We have plenty of streams in SE Minn and Western WI with abundant populations of browns that could probably use a little thinning out.

    Curious…do you have to bonk the poor trout in the skull to kill it quickly? I think that is my only hesitation…

    Paul

  2. That is how I was shown to put the fish down quickly so it doesn’t suffer. Bonk it once or twice right above/behind the eyes a bit then carry out the task of cleaning them.

  3. Sound thoughts on harvesting. Some fly fisherman get in a C&R rut. We need to refocus on harvesting some smaller trout from some of our streams from time to time. Here in MN, most of our slot regulation streams are good candidates for harvesting some small (less than 12″) fish.

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Mine run along similar lines. I hadn’t considered the no Brookies only Browns distinction, but it makes sense. Kudos to you for taking pride in your catch.

  5. I agree JRS, slot streams are prime candidates for taking those smaller fish and it would probably serve those creeks well if a bit more harvest were practiced.

    Thanks Nic.

  6. Hello,
    Found you website recently and I love it. I’ve been fly fishing in the Winona area since I was a kid. It’s fascinating to find out how similar your entomological findings parallel my own.
    You look familiar. Maybe we went to high school together? I’d love talk fishing sometime. Carl Meine

  7. Carl, I’m glad you like the site it has evolved over the course of the last few years, as have I and my angling. Doubtful we went to school togather as I attended high school in a suburb just outside of Minneapolis, I did attend Winona State University so perhaps there, anyways thanks for taking the time to let me know you like what I’ve got going on here.

    We should perhaps discuss bugs sometime if you’ve been fishing here since you were a kid. I’m sure alot of knowledge gained over the years. Take care.

  8. Good harvest. I agree with JRS re C&R rut: stay out of it. Thoughtful, selective harvest of fish is a good thing. Glad you brought home a heavy creel.

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