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Fished the spot again today, had some time to chew up and the air temp today was going to read higher than it has in a week and higher than it will for a few more days. Look to Sunday for a decent air temp and clearer skies around here, forecasts are making me wish I didn’t have plans for the 10th.  So I pull up, rig my rod and get down to business. The point today was to test a few things under a semi-controlled environment, in that I know these fish, where they lie and what has worked in the past under similar conditions.

I concentrated on dead drifting and swinging down/across several different patterns. The control, that Sershen showed me and in the past has always produced several trout was the Miracle Nymph in a #20. Gold Bead on a 1X Short Scud hook with a body made of white UTC thread and a rib of Copper this fly is simple and effective, I tied several of these for this place and this time. Today this fly (as always) rocked and picked up six rainbows both dead drifted and on the swing as it rose to the surface. My new hand tied leader helped this process, limited memory allowed for a tighter line which in turn made hook-sets more accurate and the piece of Hi-Vis Mono meant to help indicate subtle takes did just that. I decided after I lost the first rig to a rock that it was time to try something different.

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Trout rising in a constant rhythm kind of gets a guy going you know? This rhythm prompted me to test my #20 Wilted Spinach (tied Wendy B. style) with a trailing #20 Midge Pupa. I lost more fish with this rig today than I caught and I believe it is due to the small hook gap on the Dia-Riki 070 hook I used to tie the Wilted Spinach, I am already planning to tie this on a 1x Short Scud hook to increase the gap. I had tug after tug and several fish on the line only to have that disappointing slack land on the water. I should also note that the downstream and across approach is relativity new to me so I’m still working the hook-set out. This rig trailed with the #20 Midge Pupa pulled several fish out of feeding lanes to smack it on the swing. Two things set this fly apart from others, first the white bubble made from foam both aids in flotation but was also very easy to see which made tracking the fly and the sub-surface strikes much easier. The second reason this fly stands out is the fact that on several occasions today it moved fish several feet upstream in hot pursuit as I lifted my rod, the fish were drawn to it.

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After losing that my flies again to the mystery snag I opted for a hike through the woods to check the stream out a bit more and to get the blood flowing again. I could have fished any number of locations on my way but chose to just observe the geese I kicked up and the fish they disturbed. I was the first to put prints in the snow on this particular stretch this year, a path for later. [singlepic id=1120 w=280 h=200 float=right] Fishing downstream of the spot requires rigging for depth and I was content just to hike and get a good heart-rate going as I went, snow shoeing is no easy task. Slow and steady gets you there and back comfortably.

To round out my time on the stream today I put on a #20 Midge Emerger pattern tied with a trailing shuck of antron, thread body and grizzly hackle. I greased my leader and the hackle portion of the fly with floatant and presented this to several rising fish. After figuring out my mending to allow for a better drag-free drift I was provoking splashy takes from anxious trout. This really made my day today, I did lose a really nice brown but I landed three fish with this pattern and if I had more time I’m pretty sure I would  have taken a few more. A good day to be a trout fisherman in the Driftless Area, a good day to be the Winona Fly Factory.

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    1. Thomas, in Minnesota the DNR opens trout fishing for a Barbless Catch and Release season starting January 1st going through March 31st. The catch here is that for this Early C&R Season you are only allowed to fish certain streams and within that you are only permitted to fish specific sections of certain streams. Most streams have no winter regulations and you are not permitted to fish them until after March 31st but if you use the county maps located here, you will be able to find locations to fish this early in the year. Most of the White Water watershed is open for winter trout fishing, especially around the state park. I hope that helps. Take care.

  1. Right? After I tied one I just knew it was going to work well. The fish took to it immediately. When you are casting downstream to spooky trout under clear conditions when they can clearly see you and you still manage to pull them up and out of feeding lanes to pick your fly off you have a winner.

  2. I have been following your blog for a few months now, I really dig it. Great patterns! I have been tying my own leaders for a year or so, I will never go back to the one piece taper stuff. I have a couple of really good leader recipes I wouldn’t mind sharing with you. Depending on the material you use you can tailor a leader for dries, nymphing, swinging soft hackles, you name it. If you are interested let me know, I can email them to you.

    avatar Brandon

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