The opening of all streams to Catch and Release angling in Southeast Minnesota arrived last Friday. I made it out to a couple local spots I’ve been wanting to see since the season closed last October. Plans were subject to change at a moments notice and they did, a couple of times in fact. Some general notes for the day: fished the SMB #’s 6 and 8 in colors Brown and Black all day long from 7:30am to 7:30pm without hesitation, trout crushed this fly all day long. I wanted to find hatching Beatis and spend some of the day nymphing or tossing dry flies but if you want to catch trout, don’t argue with them. No hatching bugs were found and I was content to put the SMB in every fishy, dark looking piece of water I could effectively cast to. This approach, the one, two, three drift and move on resulted in many fish taken keeping the action high and my rod bent a majority of the day. Even the very head of shallow riffles got a pass, if I had to I would drop the SMB down through a riffle on the swing which resulted in a handful of hook-ups. Water clarity ranged from slightly off to gin-clear between the four streams I saw, every one very-fishable.
Sandy Bottom Creek: 7:30am-10am
This particular creek holds significance for me, I spent many hours in my fly fishing infancy on this water and I’ve seen it change over the last couple years. On the 1st things were looking decent, fish were active and a slow dead drifted SMB resulted in several fish approaching 14inches and another dozen or more under, nothing smaller than the 10inch fish that began the morning. Rivers, streams and creeks are all sediment transporters, that is their function and Sandy Bottom Creek is no different. I was surprised to see the amount of sediment collected on the stretch I fished, large islands of sand formed seemingly overnight and will likely disappear or change during the next high water event, something I enjoy seeing, the progression of nature. The trout are still here despite the change the creek has undergone. One particularly striking change occurred in one of the largest holes I know about, prior to this visit I would have estimated the hole to be some 20feet wide, 35feet long and atleast 6feet deep, mammoth for this area. Now a channel is forming and the hole that once was is gone, filled in with sand. It’s easier to fish now but maybe not as jaw dropping. Consider this: 20ftX35ftX6ft=4200ft³ which equals ~156 cubic yards of sand to fill the hole, my estimation is that half of it has been filled in by close to 78cubic yards of sediment. One thing to note with the sand, go slow, be careful, alot of those sandy areas will sink you to your knees if your not cautious.
The Driftless Grab-Bag: 11am-3:45pm
After finishing the morning on Sandy Bottom Creek I planned to fish another watershed near by but en-route my phone rang with Sershen at the other end wondering what my plans were. We discussed our options and chose a different creek a bit further out of the way, a crap shoot. Disappointment followed as we arrived to find gin clear water but the stream was a small, shallow, sandy bottom mess with few trout, rather than linger we hit a close by system that I hadn’t seen before. We fished the second location for a couple hours hoping to find hatching BWO’s after initial riffle inspections showed alot of Baetis hanging around but as the afternoon would have it none were to be found. Fish on this creek were again aggressively taking the #8 Brown SMB I had been fishing all morning. We progressed upstream until the creek diminished to a trickle and the prospects of finding water holding trout went with it. We busted ass back to the car to make a run for one last spot before our time was up. Back to Sandy Bottom Creek, I knew the water and knew it would fish well through the afternoon. The SMB continued to slay fish as I managed to hook into another handful of Browns pushing the 14inch mark, again with the slow dead drifted presentation close to the bottom, so close that I managed a white sucker on the SMB in the afternoon, by 3:45pm it was time to take off. I was satisfied with the conclusion of the day, many trout to hand, good day seeing some new water, what more could I ask for? Little did I know that I would get in just a bit more time with the water before the end of the day.
Log Creek: 5:45pm-7:30pm
After arriving home and getting dinner set I was informed that Liz had plans to goto a movie with a friend. I saw an opportunity to hit the creek I had planned to fish earlier in the day before Sershen called and flipped my plans around. I took off after slamming my dinner down, thinking that I had a solid hour maybe a bit more with the water before dark. I fished the same #8 Brown SMB for the majority of this run but lost it to a snag resulting in the #8 Black SMB being put into action. Again very aggressive fish smacking the SMB on the dead drift, all in all I must have landed close to thirty fish in the hour and a half I was fishing. The vast majority were 6-8inches in length with a couple pushing the 12inch mark but what they may have lacked in size they made up with bright red tails, yellow fins and beautiful markings, some streams just put off more colorful fish, this is one of those creeks. I fished upstream until the light faded, I dropped my glasses and fished until it was almost too dark to hike out without a head lamp. Brown trout hit the SMB at every turn. Last fish of the day was a chunkier brown pushing 13inches, the best I had gotten this creek to give up. All in all I landed well over 50 trout between the four creeks.