Feb. 11th, 2011: Ice Fishing

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  • Arrival Air Temp: 12degrees Departure: ~18
  • Onstream Arrival: 11:15am Departure: 2:30pm
  • ~10mph Winds from the SW
  • Zero Midge Activity, No Risers
  • Ice Shelving Created Issues
  • ~15 Brown Trout Landed
  • #12 Hairball (Both Black & Tan)

We arrived onstream later than planned but the weather hadn’t warmed like it was supposed to and even at 11am it was pretty chilly with a decent breeze coming from the SW. Fingers were pretty cold the first hour or so. We spied the creek and almost drove to a backup location but already geared up and not wanting to waste over an hour we opted just to play the hand we were delt. The previous weeks cold temperatures allowed this section of creek to freeze up quite a bit. Most slow sections were completley froze over and the spots that were open had significant shelving complicating any drift to be had. I opted for a smaller #12 Hairball (Black) on a shorter ~8ft leader thinking it would be a bit easier to manage with the ice shelves.

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We fished only a couple of spots but managed more fish than I was expecting given the shelving and temperature combined with no midge activity. The trout were hunkered low but several did end up chasing down our flies as we lifted them out to cast. I lost atleast two nice fish as a result of this, perhaps bringing my fly up too early. Strikes from the larger fish were subtle and harder to detect, pretty typical for these conditions. Smaller <12in trout were fairly aggressive smacking my #12 Hairball pretty consistently. The ice shelving caused me to lose atleast one fish and maybe another due to a poor hookset as a result of my line getting caught on a bit of ice.  Before we left Sershen spied a bait container left in the snow with the left over contents strewn about. A few things about this bothered me, 1st the trash, don’t leave your trash here. 2nd, this is an artificials only section of creek, bait is not [singlepic id=2278 w=380 h=300 float=right]allowed. 3rd, this is the 3rd time in the last six months I’ve seen this in the same location. On top of that, why not just throw the worms leftover in for the trout? I called the Winona County DNR Conservation Officer when I got back to my truck to inform him of the infraction. Winona County has only one officer to monitor all our streams and our half of the Mississippi. Due to use alone the Mississippi will always get more of his attention so I try to let him know what’s going on when I can. It was pretty apparent this had occurred recently as the snow had yet to hide the evidence.

All in all it was a good day in the Driftless area, the sun eventually peeked out for a bit but didn’t hang around for long. The 30 degree airtemp we were hoping for did not materialize even after we had left the creek. Warmer weather is coming this next week, could be good, it could be bad. If night time air temps stay above freezing I could see the average stream water temp dropping as the snow melts. This will put fish down, midge will cease to hatch and the fishing could get more difficult. The trade off? It may get rid of a fair amount of snowpack which is needed around the state as well in this area. Hope for the best and that melt issues are minimized.

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6 Comments:

  1. The colour on that last Brown came out very legitimately. i am surprised at this creek and the number of fishable sections that have resulted post 07. I have spent heaps of time on this creek and am very happy to see it fishing as well as it is with all of the challenges that it has overcome to remain natural, wild, and free.
    Boo to the littering bait angler. Don’t et me wrong, I fish bait regularly. In fact I am guilty of putting an entire container of nightcrawlers on one hook whilst attempting to catch a five foot long bottom feeder. With that I am always careful to pack out what I pack in.
    I must admit that I am a bit scared to fish bait for trout in the winter as for some reason my master’s educated brain just cannot wrap my head around the law. This page says http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/trout_streams/winter.html
    Winter stream trout fishing season
    January 1 – March 31
    Catch-and-release of all trout.
    All hooks must be barbless.
    Live bait may be used.
    Angling allowed only in posted sections. (See maps below.)
    Does that mean that I can fish minnows and leeches for trout in the winter in any winter posted trout stream even if it says artificial only?
    I bet chub tail would would wreck some of those browns we have been finding in the back country this season.
    Regardless – Here’s to many more seasons on that wonderfully historic Possugm Creek and thanks for sharing the great photos.

  2. Awesome catch. I wound up with 5 between 10 and 12 inches using the same #16 gray-olive/orange scud, but I think I should have done better given the numbers of trout I spied. Several times I noticed them bolting downstream past me as I cast upstream to some pods. I guess I need to improve my casting and approach. Saw lots of those little black stones and many midges in flight. Noticed the water temp had dropped since the last visit to 34 from almost 40. Melting snow? Plain old cold down there lately?

    Around lunch, took a little scouting venture to the Whitewater and noticed a lot of ice floes moving downstream and crashing into others. Made for interesting listening.

  3. Dude, you seriously get after it. Those fish are truly fantastic specimens and must be doubly rewarding to catch in the winter. You sent me for a loop with the “ice fishing” title, but I honestly can’t believe your finding fish in that type of weather. Nice work as always.

    Ben

  4. I really enjoy your site. I visit it several times per week and always find something of interest. I was wondering if you posted all of your fly recipes on your website or only a select few? Thanks – keep up your good work.

  5. Thanks guys.

    Cabinfever, Thanks for the thought. I don’t post all my patterns. I get to a new one every now and then though.

  6. After contacting the DNR I was told that the winter season allows for Bait Angling on all winter designated trout water. This is my mistake but was not disputed when I contacted the Conservation Officer. I am posting this so the correction is out there. I still think I could have done without the littering the bait container.

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