Feb. 21st, 2011: The Cold

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It’s back. After a week long thaw that woke most of Southeast Minnesota from winter hibernation and got everyone outside to enjoy the 50°F air temp the cold has returned. I just have to remember to layer well, stay out of the creek as much as possible and don’t drop your gloves in the stream. I failed to meet two of these three winter requirements on the 21st. I wore waders knowing I wanted to be able to cross the creek without issue, this was do-able but honestly not the best choice. ~4 hours of fishing and my feet were frozen. I also failed to keep my glove (just the left one) dry when landing a smaller brown about ~2 hours in, I shook my glove off to preserve the trout’s slime coat (I basically threw it into the creek not knowing) when the guy fishing with me hooked it in a plunge pool downstream. Had he not been fishing and had my glove not acted like a sluggish thick brown trout I wouldn’t have a pair as I write this. Note: next time remember not to throw your gear in the creek when it’s ~25°F out.

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I met this guy at ~11am for a couple hours of mid-afternoon trouting. I showed up a few minutes late and he had already gotten into trout by the time I was geared and ready to go. We hiked downstream roughly a mile to work a few nicer spots heading back upstream to the vehicles.  The wind was whipping from the NE at ~15mph pretty steadily throughout the afternoon. We kept our backs to it as much as possible but it still complicated matters.

Cam’s Olive Jig just crushed trout through-out the afternoon. Every second cast he was setting the hook, the wind hampered that a bit and he lost a few between landing close to 2 dozen in the few hours we fished. Normally this creek like many around the region runs gin clear especially in the winter months but for some reason it was running a bit murky. The blowing wind helped obscure the water surface perhaps helping us avoid spooking the trout. The combination of the two made this a numbers day, we each landed quite a few fish. I fished a #8 Hairball (black) the entire day. I did so mainly due to the wind, I know I can chuck this slightly heavier fly with an added splitshot alot further into the wind without knotting my rig up than I can say tossing a two fly nymph rig with smaller flies. It just happened that the trout were really into the slightly larger food offering and minimal flash of this fly.

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Cam continued hooking into and landing fish from just about every spot his jig was cast. I have to admit it was enjoyable learning a bit more about the tactics of a spin angler, the method of jig fishing for trout in our area and how the spin angler deals with different obstacles. It also gave me a chance to maybe observe and reproduce certain aspects of spin angling with my fly rod. Along with learning a bit about what a spinning rig can do I also learned what it cannot do, it cannot drift a fly along a sheer rock wall unless you are casting straight upstream. The jig once cast can only be retrived in a straight line to some extent. I’m sure Cam could let the jig sink and allow the current to pull it from place to place then retrieve but for the most part I saw a straight line between the location of the cast and the angler. These are just observations not meant to discount or discredit any aspect of spin angling, just observing what I [singlepic id=2325 w=300 h=220 float=left]haven’t really experienced. Cam set the hook on a couple trout sending them flying, basically when a year old trout hits a jig it becomes air-born for a few seconds. Looking at the size of Cam’s jig compared to the size of the predator I could only think of something I read a while back, that by the time a brown trout gets to 10inches it must begin consuming food items one inch or longer to survive and make it past 12inches in length. If your ever questioning tossing a larger fly think about that fact and remember this photo.

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We worked back upstream to finish the afternoon out. By this point my left hand was fairly cold, the glove that went swimming was frozen solid in my pocket and my left foot was getting cold. I had hooked into and landed a few decent sized trout, all very healthy, thick well fed brown trout. We were looking to get into some larger brookies but none were had though several times the bright colors on the browns looked pink at times making us question the fish until it was closer. Near the end of the afternoon I dead drifted my #8 Hairball down a deep run and with one strong strike followed by a nice flying leap I had the fish of the day on the line. A beautiful kype jawed male looking somewhere between maybe 16-17inches. He ran me around a bit and bent my rod nicely before coming to hand. We finished the day fishing to a big hole in the wind, we each landed a couple more and parted ways. My foot was really cold and the wind was refusing to let up even alittle, although I could have stayed out longer I took off for home smelling of big ugly brown trout. Awesome.

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7 Comments:

  1. Awesome brown trout– seems the hairball has been kicking arse. good stuff.

    cheers

  2. Gorgeous looking browns. I’m always surprised about the beautiful fish you are pulling out of the icy streams. Congrats and keep it up.

    Ben

  3. Nice trout as usual…I am debating coming down that way on the weekend. Your pics tell me yes….

    Paul

  4. Thanks guys.

    Brian, the hairball has been doing rather well. Fishes well this time of year and easy to tie. I’m going to have to sit down and tie more up soon though, I’ve lost a few as of late.

    Ben, this particular stream has always held really nice looking fish, not just size but also markings. I’m kind of surprised we didn’t see a single Brookie. Just another month or so of the cold then it’s dry flies. Looking forward to the spring hatches but trying not to dwell on them, if I do I may lose it.

    Paul,Yes you should. Looks like Sunday will be the better day this weekend. Sun and 29degrees, not sure about the wind. That will make or break a day. Check before you pick your day/times. Good luck.

  5. Very nice fish, but a word of advice for winter fishing. Go to bootfoot waders. I did a couple of years ago and have eliminatd cold feet as a factor. I found that Simms Extreme waders are the best cold water tools ever. They might have been discontinued but I’ve seen where some are still available. I have the lug sole version that are great for snow and ice. Felt soles are too slippery. Also, do you have the pattern for the “hairball” fly? Thanks, I love your sight.

  6. this fall i was having an amazing week in your neck of the woods. midges every evening…i had gone through a dozen or so 20’s. i broke off a large fish in fast water…no more 20’s.

    the leader was short and it was time for supper. the last fly in my box was a rubber legged gotcha, tied it on and took a 17 inch brown, a 6 incher and finally a three inch parr. i use size 6 octopus hooks on these flies for carp and bass.
    the little guy looked like he had been attacked by an alien facehugger. the legs actually trailed behind his tail. i saw him come up to strike…no hesitation, no fear…just hungry.

  7. 6X, thanks for the motivation to video the Hairball. I just posted it, let me know if you have any other questions.

    Craig, Midges in the evening in September sounds pretty good right now. Thanks for the story, glad you had a good time.

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