It’s been way too long since I had myself a day with the cold water. Conditions: 55-60 Degree Air Temp, Overcast, WNW Wind at ~20mph after 8am. The S.E. MN region has had it’s share of rain this summer season this last week was no different. Three out of five days saw rain in the gauge. I had some concerns about finding clear water but my fears [singlepic id=1962 w=340 h=260 float=right]were eased at 6am when I stepped up to the bank at dawn. I could see the rainbows stacked thick just waiting for me. My goal for the day was a two part mission. One, nab a stash of stocker rainbows while the wind was low during the morning hours. Two, migrate to a much smaller system in search of the Heritage strain, our native brook trout and avoid the wind that would get brutal as the day wore on.
The semi-stained water I saw at 6am gave me confidence that my plan was going to make for an excellent day despite the early morning wind and thick clouds. I rigged a new fly I’ve been mulling over in my head for a while now that is essentially a short, fat mini leech. A downstream and across approach with a decent amount of weight to keep the fly a good 3-6inches under the surface produced fish after fish. Hard to argue with 13-14inch rainbows readily taking just [singlepic id=1968 w=320 h=240 float=right]about everything presented to them. I fished the new pattern until a series of rises forced me to swap to a Devestator with a #16 WD-40 trailer. A few minutes later and I was working a few more rainbows and a tiny brown to the net, all in all I would say I got close to 2 dozen to hand and another 2 dozen hooked in the two hours I spent here.
I pulled off the water and split for the next phase of the plan but found a road closed sign staring me in the face. A choice, abandon the rest of the plan and make a snap choice on a second option or drive the round about way and loose a good thirty to forty-five minutes to the road. I chose the road and MPR as a result of the wind and my goal of finding my way to brook trout. I drove until a series of events signaled the continuation of the day, turning down a gravel road, passing a steep grade road-sign and hitting the brakes on the truck. The untouched stream is my favorite, no paths and the only sign of humanity is the occasional piece of trash or debris from rain events. The [singlepic id=1971 w=320 h=240 float=left]rainbow stop off was good for moral but lacked many elements of the journey that I need. The hike, the woods, wilderness, wildlife, the unknown.
Water conditions here were good, clean and clear running in the low fifties for a temp. I continued with the new mini leech pattern but left off the split shot, casting to smaller shallower water with spookier fish. The second cast I realized that I had left backcast land with the rainbows and turned into roll cast country when I hit the gravel road. On a shorter ~7-8ft leader and fishing no indicator just watching the water I lost the first two fish I came across. I’m watching my fly line connection for a strike or any signal from the trout, a roll, flash, anything. The second fish I lost was maybe a 12-13inch brookie that got off shortly after I hooked it, no big deal. I stayed out of the wind and was very comfortable the rest of my time here. Checked the rocks, minimal mayfly activity but plenty of caddis with the occasional riffle beetle. I fished upstream a ways using a variety of flies. A #16 Pink Squirrel, #16 WD-40, #18 Orange [singlepic id=1970 w=380 h=300 float=right]Scud’s all took trout along with the new mini pattern that I fished most of the day with. I got my brookies and got to see a new stretch of Driftless water but due to my detour I had to access this water at a different point than I had originally wanted causing me to run out of water to fish a bit too early, go home? No, a pit stop to see if I could find a few larger browns was in order.
This spot provided deeper water that in the last month had seen a rain event clearing a wide channel through swatches of thick vegetation making the conditions perfect for streamer fishing. I’m learning more and more that choosing wisely to take advantage of the current conditions will make for a better day on the water. My approach here is a cast straight across or slightly upstream with a mend if nessecary to encourage my weighted flies to sink deep then as my line begins to curve and tighten with the current I either: watch for a strike and just tight line it until my line straightens out behind me or add a retrive after I have allowed the flies to sink. The excellent thing here is that I often get to watch a fish come darting out of the depths to nail my flies making for a good show and the best strike detection possible. I managed to land a few nicer browns with one topping 16+. Not a bad way to end a day on the water, good to be in this place again.
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