I made moves with both family and employment to make the last three days of the work week memorable. I contacted a landowner in another state and secured permission to camp on property located deep in a valley that is difficult to reach this time of year. Plan, plan and plan some more. Early in the week, I packed my gear, hammock, hatchet, dehydrated food, coffee, water filters everything I would need. The plan was to stay for three days in a magical place that I’ve been wanting to explore more but due to the remoteness of the location I often only get a few hours before having to hike out. Securing permission to camp on private land opens up a world of possibilities and I had planned on taking advantage of it from Oct 10-13th. I figured three nights and four days in the woods would secure an excellent end to the catch and release season, all this planning and then the rain came. I watched the streams for days prior begin to swell and stain. Tuesday night it rained and I woke Wednesday morning to creeks that had taken all they could. I left the house at 7:45 am knowing that my plan to camp in the woods in the remote location was blown, just as blown as the streams. I was left scrambling to find fishable water.
South I drove, then west, then north and east. I drove the length of multiple streams that I know tolerate heavy rain and wet conditions well. Everything I looked at was blown. It was all coming down but the morning of Wednesday the 10th everything was unfishable. I don’t give up easily. I drove for five hours crisscrossing southeast Minnesota. Different watersheds handle rain differently and different areas received varying amounts of rain, fishable water was out there I just had to find it. I continued to drive, through four counties looking for water that wasn’t high and muddy. Finally, around 1 pm I got a fateful phone call from a family member I had asked to spy on some water for me, he said it was clearing up. I was an hour drive away. At 2:20 pm I was tying on my streamer looking down at heavily stained but very fishable water. I fished for the next couple of hours until it started to get dark. Browns came out left and right for a streamer cast down and fished back up riffles. I landed five fish in the first hour all pushing 16 inches. When brown trout hit a fly and come back to hit it again you pay attention. This does not happen often and when it does it is a signal that the fish and bigger fish will come out when they normally would not. Fish came out hard.
I could hardly believe it when I watched one brown come back a third time for the same fly after tasting hook twice before. Finally I stuck the hookset and landed that fish. Turns out it wasn’t a brown, rather it was a tiger trout. At the time I landed that tiger I had only ever held two in my life and the second came just days prior. That fish made five hours of driving and searching worth every minute. I released it smiling and the fish just kept coming. I moved one brute of a brown but due to a poor vantage point high up on the bank slack in my line was too much and he spit the hook. I fished up far enough to manage a couple brookies. Where there are browns and brookies there may be tigers.
I headed home thinking about the next two days. I had the time and my car was packed ready to go. The wife was surprised to see me roll up just in time to sit down for dinner. I ate and thought about the coming few days. I called Carl, plans were evolving. Carl and I would find each other the next morning at 8am. We would fish the day and I would split to camp on a smaller stream that I’ve grown to love more than most. To be continued….