Jan. 1st, 2012: The Beginning

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Winter season in Minnesota opened this morning, a friend and I proceeded to follow a ritual seen this day for the last four years. Wake, prep gear, drink coffee and drive to the spot. This spot is particular in that no matter the conditions the bugs are active and thus the fish follow suit. Some years this has worked better, some not as well but today was awesome. Windy as all hell on arrival but we found pockets of the valley void of wind and when we did get wind came in bursts allowing us to fish between gusts and see many fish come to hand. Interesting notes off the bat: the fish were very active on arrival and the fish activity tapered off around 1pm then proceeded to drop off a cliff after 2pm. Also, the creek was a bit stained, certainly not gin clear as I was expecting which perhaps benefited us. Finally, the bug activity on arrival was good, very good. My attempt with a #20 Griffiths Gnat saw many fish move for and even aggressively chase downstream leaving a wake as they came after my fly. Arrival airtemp was ~30degrees with a 26-30mph sustained wind from the WNW.

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Several fish were nymphed up with a #20 Miracle nymph and a #18 Beadhead PT, those were the hot nymphs for the day and Sershen did quite well landing many right after I put all the rising fish down with a couple bad hooksets on the Griffiths Gnat. I swapped to the #20 Miracle nymph with a Hot Blue Wire rib rather than the traditional copper and it got crushed. The fish were hungry and active, so much so that fishing a no indicator rig was generally easy as they tugged line rather than slowly sipping the flies. As the morning wore on we moved to a spot that has in the past given up few fish but looks so damn good that it’s hard not to spend a short period of time with. Due to the depth and potential for larger fish I opted to try a new streamer pattern that is still in the proto-type phase and is not fully ready to be unveiled but I can tell you this much… the fish certainly enjoyed it. I’m calling this fly the “Jungle Boogie” and it’s for a couple reasons but I’ll get into that perhaps down the road a bit. All you need to know is that it brought trout after trout out from dark hiding places all the way to [singlepic id=3140 w=320 h=240 float=right]the surface of the creek to be smacked time and time again as I watched. I like fishing a dry fly as much as the next but watching a trout come from the depths of blackness following your fly to then open wide and hit it hard is a beautiful thing and I watched it happen several times this day. White mouth then hooked trout, brilliant.

At one point fishing the same hole we saw a double as I hooked a 15 3/4inch rainbow on the Jungle Boogie with Sershen hooking into a 16inch rainbow on his #18 PT nymph, because the net was closest to me I scooped my fish up then moved upstream ten feet to land the second trout, this was the first winter double I’ve been a part of. Shortly after this occurred I hooked another rainbow and pulled a rookie move shaking my glove off with my back to the creek only to find it floating in cold creek water. Note: always have a spare set of gloves, I’m glad I did. After landing a few more rainbows bringing the count to close to twenty apeice we decided to leave the comfort of rising rainbows and aggressive stockers for less pressured water containing browns and brookies. I continued to fish the Jungle Boogie as it was still producing trout after trout and I saw no reason to argue with its effectiveness. I managed a handful of browns that exhibited the same aggressive charge on my fly throughout the early afternoon. The last brown of the day was seen but not hooked as I made a short cast stripped my fly in [singlepic id=3152 w=320 h=240 float=left]and watched as a ~16+inch brown darted out from a rock that I was practically standing on to smack my fly startling me thus hampering my hookset, this was another highlight of the day. I don’t mind missing a fish when I get to see things like that.

After the couple mile hike upstream we headed back to where we started to find the wind picking up, the airtemp dropping and with it the fish activity. It doesn’t take much of a change in water temp (+/-1 degree often) to drastically alter feeding behaviour. At ~2pm the trout that had been previously so aggressive and willing to chase my streamer down were now looking and if presented properly were willing to hit it but not nearly as hard. Often it was sipped and not hit with the fervor of the earlier morning. I landed three or four more rainbows then opted to hike out, the wind was continuing to pick up and I had enjoyed the opening day of the winter season thoroughly. I saw no reason to sit in the wind struggling to force feed a handful of smaller trout. It should also be noted that the fish that were willing to strike in the afternoon were consistently smaller than the morning trout, an interesting note if you ask me. Despite the lack of snow it was a good day, very glad to be fishing the Minnesota water I love so much. To the 2012 trout season, it’s here and I plan to take full advantage of the time I have. Hope some of you got out and braved the wind to touch a trout on the 1st, I love the smell of trout stink on my hands.

Post Script: My 8’6 3wt Sage Flight was sent in on Dec. 4th, I shipped it regular mail to the factory in Oregon. After discussing my need to have the guides looked at and possibly replaced I was told upon inspection that several of my ferrules had cracks in them. Sage built me a brand new rod, cork handle, reel seat, guides and all. It was shipped overnight back to me on Friday Dec. 30th, just in time for the opener. Thank you Sage.

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13 Comments:

  1. What a way to start the year! I abandoned my plans to head out on Monday because of the wind. The new plan is Thursday or Friday, whichever day looks better. I don’t know if I can wait.

    Side note: Were you throwing that beastly fly on a 3-weight? That must be some rod.

  2. Looks like a good day with lots of gorgeous holdover ‘bows. Nice work. I too was put off by the harsh winds and a nagging cold, but I will be out this weekend for sure.

    Be well.

  3. Guys, good luck when you see the creek next. I hope it’s soon. The fishing was great on Sunday, the weather… not so much but I’ve tolerated worse in search of the trout stink on my hands.

    Evan, I fish this rod 99% of the time, I chuck alot of heavy stuff with it and it does the job everytime. I love this rod. 8’6in 3wt Sage Flight. A damn good rod for the price in my opinion.

  4. Glove in the Creek? That sound familiar. Glad to hear that you got your rod back for the opener. That is some great cust. service.

  5. Another great start to the season.

    ANy luck with figuring out what the bug was that we found crawling on the first brown of the day? http://www.winonaflyfactory.com/wp-content/gallery/jan-1st-2012/p1170275.jpg

    Looking at it now I no longer suspect that it is an ant.

  6. Nice opener! It’s exciting to see fish chase a streamer this time of year. Man, my 3wt is a noodle – great for dry fly action but difficult for heavy streamers or even tandem nymph rigs. I chase most fish with a 9′ 4wt lined with 5wt line. I love it for throwing streamers for trout and even carp, but it’s a bit much for dry fly. Nice that your Sage has enough backbone to get both jobs done.

  7. Seriously nice way to start the year man– the jungle boogie kicks arse.

  8. I second the Sage Flight 3wt. I have one and so does a friend of mine. Casts great in the wind and throws flies bigger than you’d think. Great rod. Another friend has a G. Loomis and talked about how limp it is when it comes to throwing nymph rigs of any weight.

    Awesome outing – thanks for sharing. Counting the hours until I’m out there this weekend.

  9. Yeah . . . my first day of the season wasn’t quite as successful.

  10. Really? Stocker bows?

  11. Nice outing; I like the tradition. Good action with the gnat. And impressive customer service by Sage. Not a surprise though.

    Another year underway… glad for it.

  12. Great post; I’m looking forward to the details from the jungle.

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