Got out yesterday for a few hours on a creek that is small and difficult to fish especially during the late spring and summer. The weeds are already knee to thigh high and crowding the banks making casting accuracy more important. It is quickly feeling more and more like summer, soon terrestrial season will be upon us. Tossing beetles, ants and fat hoppers will be the norm. Stream conditions haven’t changed much with the .4inch rain we got over at my place on 5/27. Creeks are gin clear and moderate to low around Winona County, I would guess its pretty similar in the rest of S.E. Minnesota. Air temps in the upper 70’s bordering on 80 again under sunny skies as I spied for caddis on the creek. I didn’t see a thing with regards to any rising fish, a scant few Grey Caddis were fluttering around but nothing seemed to be paying attention to them. I started up through a thickly wooded section of creek honing my rollcast. I opted to fish a #10 Hairball which took a handful of smaller brown trout through a few shallower runs.
Hiking through the woods I spied a few Morels but didn’t find many, just a handful. Word has it that the rain from 5/27 kicked them off again so get out now while they are still around, another few days and they may likely be done for the season. I also spied a few butterflies hanging out on wildflowers, they wouldn’t sit still or allow me to get close enough to photograph but the flowers were more cooperative. On a creek this tight and small I typically hike upstream, spy trouty looking locations and think to myself…”Up or down?” I know casting upstream is preferred in ideal situations and conditions but when you know trout are holding in a location and the only way to get a fly to them is to send it down and in it’s worth accepting the situation. I managed four or five more fish simply because I opted to drop my fly down and in and slowly lift my rod up pulling the fly close to the surface, this usually presents with a splashy attack resulting in a rise like scenario. Take advantage of what you’re given and drop one in if you need to.
Through the woods and out on the other side things opened up a bit more allowing me to consider tossing a dry fly. Height of the day, no surface activity but I had a hunch that a #18 standard dry fly would do the trick. I opted to go with a brown wing/tail and white bodied fly that I have a bunch of but haven’t fished in over two years. I don’t know why either, I can recall several days in succession under the exact same conditions where this fly brought trout after trout up. These were early days when I didn’t know as much as I sometimes think I know now. I paid special attention to properly dressing my fly and I made a couple excellent casts with great drag free drifts and….nothing. Hmmm…. I thought to myself the caddis… so I stripped that fly in so fast it left a wake and sure enough fish began rocketing out after it. Something about a high floating fly skated just lights up trout at times. No rising and minimal bug activity just turned into some of the best dry fly fishing I’ve had this season. I sat on one spot and skated that fly to over a dozen smaller browns to hand with two that were pushing 13-14inches. Note: it seemed that the fish hit more on the ever so slight pause between strips of line when the fly would hesitate for a brief moment and the fly had to be riding high, really high. I’m not one to typically advertise products but in my opinion Dry Magic by Tiemco is the best floatant I’ve ever used, you can pick it up at the Driftless Angler in Viroqua if you’re so inclined. Support the driftless area and it’s shops.
Last note: watched a 17+inch brown chase down and literally attack, bite in front of me less than five feet from me a smaller brown that had my fly in it’s mouth. This happened in a riffle no more than 4inches deep, that fish came bolting out and bit the other trying to get my fly. That was an interesting sight, crazy how aggressive how those fish can get.
Photo Credit: The Driftless Exposure