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Working towards my goal of evening fishing I arrived stream-side with Sershen in the mid-afternoon to test a few pet fly options for the day of fishing this Saturday. Fall is fast approaching, this becomes apparent when leaves floating in the stream alter the drift you are attempting to achieve. Cooler night air temps have encouraged fish activity and streams are generally low but fishing well. Mayfly nymphs are on the rocks again (for those streams that don’t see many Trico’s) after the summer lull, another indication that it is later in the year. We started the day fishing a “hot spot” that has legend of large fair but for some reason has always turned out to be a bust for me, after a quick stop we moved to the main attraction and began the hike in.
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During the hike in I remember mentioning how I had not seen many adult Caddisflies this season, upon arrival as I was approaching my first run I hear Heath clicking photo’s away and sure enough he has found a brightly colored large (#12) adult Caddis fly sitting on a leaf. I of course drop what I’m doing to scoot over to see the bug first hand as per usual. Hiking further in we arrived at a place I had fished only once and it was a cold day the last time I had been here. The water looked familiar but little else looked like the winter wonderland we had encountered earlier in the year. We split up for a bit each picking runs and holes to tempt trout. With nothing other than creek chubs rising and my desire to test my pet flies, I rigged a B.W.F. (Black Wet Fly) with a #18 Pink Page dropper and set off.
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Wading in cool water I approached a really excellent pool with a perfect foam line running the far edge. After adding a bit of weight I started to get strike after strike but they seemed to be quick sharp little tugs, the chubs… Chubs can be frustrating as they will often swoop in and strike your flies before the target can. I persisted and a few minutes later a real strike from a brightly colored Brown had me grinning, a good 14 inches and beautiful, this trout was beginning to show its fall spawning colors. Landed by net and released promptly I put my flies back in the drink to find on the first pass another strike with what felt to be a real fish on the other end. After a poor fight I realized I was brownlining in my pristine trout water as I nymphed up a sucker right in the kisser, pretty cool but not really what I was looking for.
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We moved upstream and as I was attempting to land a 12″ brown in mid stream I reached for the fish which had taken the Black Wet Fly and left the Pink Page dangling to its rear. A sharp bolt left me with no fish and instead my trailing fly was on display sticking out of my index finger on my right hand. I don’t recommend displaying your flies like this. As it is the end of the season in Minnesota all hooks must be barbless for the Catch and Release portion of the season so I was fortunate to have crimped all my barbs prior to arriving, even with a crimped barb it took a few minutes for me to work up the nerve to yank it out with my forceps. A good reminder why most of your flies should be barbless.
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After working upstream a ways the sun was beginning it’s final decent, we decided to pull back and fish up another section quick before we were in the dark. Looking to target brookies I removed a bit of weight from my rig as the water we were now fishing was far shallower than the previous stream. I kept my B.W.F. and Pink Page rig on and took a few smaller Brown trout on the way. As we stood at the last hole of the day the sun sunk out of sight, I tossed in my flies and with a drift nothing, maybe a strike here or there that went undetected for the most part but little else, then I started bringing my flies in fast to head out when as the flies reached the surface I witnessed an aggressive quick rise to take the B.W.F., very interesting. This scenario landed me three smaller trout, it was fun to drag my rig to the surface and see excited fish go nuts, something I will make note of and utilize more fully next season. We each landed a brookie which was the goal for the second portion of the evening and with that we hiked out in the dark. A quick final note: there were large numbers of Baetis in their final instars and are almost ready to hatch, look for the gloomy crappy day and get on the water, hope they don’t wait until after October 1st to pop.
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