Parked 10am. 1/3 of a mile hike in some fluffy deep snow to get to the water then another mile upstream and the entire distance back out again. A total of close to 4,050 yards according to Google Earth. 40 football fields in 3-4 feet of snow. Reminds me of the crawling through sh*t line in Shawshank Redemption.
Along the way we happened upon many sights, a pair of hawks flying above with a screeching mouse in tow for example. The hike in was slow, through some serious snow with nothing more than an animal trail over an old set of truck tracks from months ago to aid us. This would be worth it though. I expected to find warm gin clear trout water and that is in fact what I found. First water temp more than a mile downstream of two major springs held a temp of 46 degrees at ~10:30am.
Midge were already peppering the snow more than twenty feet from the stream when we began fishing. We nymphed, myself a #14 Pink Patrick with a #20 Beadhead Midge Larva. Simple, standard and effective patterns. The sun waited until late in the day to show itself, the photo’s reflect that aspect of the day well. We fished old H.I. work as we travelled to the source of this stream. We each managed a few takes on the way in but
water levels were down considerably through the section we fished. I wonder if the massive amount of instream growth this stream supports in the summer that shrinks in the winter might have something to do with it. The more instream vegetation, the more stuff to fill up the channel, thus making the stream look as if it has more water in it. Anyways just a side thought. We fished to source, hiked half the distance back out and fished up again.
At 1pm as we hiked downstream the midge began doing it, literally in the snow they would link up and the larger of the two would basically tow the other around in the snow. Interesting. We saw thousands of midge through the course of the day, with an initial water temp of 46 degrees and the fact that so many were already crawling around several feet from the stream I have to think a majority had hatched before we arrived, maybe before we woke to start the day. At 1:25pm I saw the first one float towards me.
I had to stop for a second and really look to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was, as soon as I was sure I was diving in close to my waist to catch a few WINTER BWO’s? Yep. We watched as a good couple dozen emerged on the run I was fishing, float downstream and take off. Very cool, good day for bugs. Now to find a few trout.
We did eventually find a willing pod of fish that readily took a #20 Miracle Nymph like it was candy but it took nearly the entire day to find it and after swapping fish for an hour we were frozen and ready to head home. Heath had a nicer +16in fish on but as the net came out it spooked and bolted forcing a limp line and an empty net. I managed a few browns as well, typical winter fishing. It isn’t easy and sometimes you’ve got to work pretty hard to see your line tighten up but it
makes those days in the spring and summer when it jumps upon a strike that much better. With frozen feet and smiles we hiked the last leg out quickly. It was 4:30pm. Potentially a top 10 day for 2010 and it’s not even March yet.
Notes: So we found Midge had already been hatching before we arrived, and BWO’s hatching as the water temp got up to 47-48 degrees at 1:30pm. The Miracle Nymph worked wonders today while the Pink Patrick did nothing and could have been split shot for all the trout cared, actually I think I’ve had trout more readily strike my splitshot than they did the Pink fly today. Sometimes this thing can whack fifty trout, others it is a curse and is best left in the box. I learned this lesson today and will not forget it. Especially when the rocks showed about a million tiny nymphs, I was determined to feed them something twice as big and pink. I would have been better served fishing a WD-40 or a PT with the Miracle Nymph trailing. The BWO nymphs that were hatching were a yellow/cream color and were very apparent, I’m surprised and a little disappointed I didn’t take any pictures of them. Finally at the source of the stream we found a dead deer that was something’s dinner, when we hiked to a second spring we found a second carcass that had also been well fed on. I wonder if something large isn’t dragging them down into that valley, interesting… I apologize for the quantity of images but it was a day of things to see. Check the slideshow out on fullscreen.
Tags: Brown Trout, Fly Fishing, Hiking, Snowshoeing, The Driftless Area, The Winona Fly Factory, Trout Stream, Winter Fishing
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: Driftless Area, The Winona Fly Factory, Trout Stream, Winter Fly Fishing, Winter Season
Took off after work and hit a quick stop hoping to get a look at a few spawners. I know there are brook trout here and I was hoping to get to see one or two but that didn’t happen. I did, however, get the chance to see a Male and Female Brown both full into the spawn. Upon arrival I rigged up an SMB simply because I didn’t have much time and wanted to target the larger hungry trout preparing for the next few weeks, also this spot has quite a bit of depth and a bigger fly was going to get to the fish faster. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: Brown Trout, Driftless Area, Fly Fishing, MN, Southeast, The Winona Fly Factory, Trout Stream
I had an opportunity to fish some new trouty looking water with a friend of mine recently, although we didn’t have much time to fish and we chose to hike more than cast we still had a good morning. It’s easy to find a good morning in the Driftless Area. I woke, readied myself and called Sershen. Typically I’m the one biting at the bit to get to waters edge but this morning I called and expected to be waiting a bit but the voice on the other end of the phone promptly said “I’m already on my way man.” Now that’s sweet. We drove to water I hadn’t fished before. On arrival we hiked for close to half an hour to get to the run Sershen had in his head. Rigged, he ran a bright orange scud through and pulled out a brightly colored +14″ brown. I used Heath’s camera for those photos and I haven’t gotten them yet but when I do I’ll add them in. I do, however, remember thinking that the bright orange scud almost blended with the colors on the fish. Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: Brown Trout, Dirftless Area, Fly Fishing, Pink Patrick, Sershen Bros, The Winona Fly Factory, Trout Stream
16 Jul 2009 /
I visited my CSMP sites today for my weekly visit and took this photo of the fish that inhabit the area near my first location. I counted close to twenty fish, all brown trout, as I sat watching from behind the concrete wall. I’m pleased that I haven’t found much in the way of trash since I was here last. As the site is near the roadside I expect to see a fair amount of trash accumulate in the rocks that form the bank closest to the road. I took my typical readings and during periods of no rain it remains fairly constant, recently a rain fall event of .39in found the stream transparency to be affected even the next day. This stream will remain quite clear most of the time and to get more accurate measurments of stream transparency the MPCA sent me a longer transparency tube. At 100cm, what seems crystal clear may not actually be as clear as you think.
I decided to sample and monitor a second site downstream from this site at a bridge location to see the difference between the two sites as rain fall events occur. I have added a second data sheet and will include the second set of data when turning in the total summers data. I have begun to really enjoy this time near the stream and the trout, with fishing not typically on my mind I find I approach the fish wanting only to observe, get to know my new friends and after a while I might have names for a few of them, at least the biggest brown.
Tags: Brown Trout, CSMP, MN, MPCA, Southeast, Trout Stream
Tomorrow I will be seeing for the first time what a section of stream that I drive by on occasion holds between its banks, this is private land and I’ve been thinking about calling this guy for a while now. I finally did and the landowner on the other end was more than willing to allow me access to his property and the stream, he gave me a place to park and granted access from two points on his property. I asked for his name and if he would be around tomorrow so I could introduce myself and meet him in person.
I stopped by the bridge just upstream of the water I was granted access to and took a water temp and samples from the riffle to give me an idea of what I might find tomorrow. First thing I noticed was a lack of any Mayfly nymphs other than Ephemerella Rotunda/Invaria, I might find some hatching Light Hendricksons tomorrow. I caught my first Caddisfly pupa today, looked exactly like some of the pictures I’ve seen, pretty interesting, other than that the riffle contents were to be expected mostly free-living caddis larva, scuds, and the Ephemerella nymphs. The water temp was kind of interesting, only 54 degrees at noon over my lunch, on most other streams the temp would be in the higher 50′s. It might take this stream longer to warm, might find bugs hatching a little later tomorrow than I’ve been seeing.
I need to continue to work on these situations, there is plenty of water even closer to my doorstep to fish if I can continue to build relationships with landowners. I have two other streams that I have been granted access by landowners but I have yet to fish in those locations, tomorrow will be the 1st private section of Southeast Minnesota trout streams I’ve fished. Wish me luck, if it is as good as I’m hoping it might be I will have a wonderful new place to visit close to home and if it turns out to be a bust then at least I won’t wonder about it every time I drive by.
Tags: Fly Fishing, Land Access, Landowner Relations, Minnesota, Private land, Southeast, Trout Fishing, Trout Stream
07 Jun 2009 /
This weekend Liz and I camped with my sister and her family. We arrived, set up camp and got to it knowing the weather was going to be unpleasant the rest of the weekend. Last summer Liz and I stayed here and had a great time, this campground is great for families.
We set off for the source of the stream that flows through the campground, this is an access eased stretch of Southeast Minnesota trout water that runs through a cow pasture and ends at the source flowing from a cave in the side of a bluff. I hiked with no rod or reel, just my niece Chloe on my back, my strainer for riffle contents and a thermometer for gauging water temp at the source.
We hiked and saw trout rising to Light Hendrickson mayflies, the section that runs through the cow pasture has habitat improvement along both banks keeping the stream safer from the cattle. The stream has several deep runs holding trout, I’ll admit I wish I had a rod but I was happy to be outside in the sun. I took riffle samples and water temps along the way, at the source the temp was 52 degrees and I would imagine it doesn’t fluctuate much. This is a beautiful place to visit, Chloe had a good time enjoying the hike.
Interesting how the life in the stream diminishes closer to the source, I couldn’t find much on the limestone other than a few caddis fly larva. I did have one of the “Little Black” Caddis land on me standing right at the source but it flew off before I could get a picture. The life in the riffles grew as we went downstream of the source. I plan to fish this yet this summer, but for now I didn’t have time, we decided after 10 hours of rain the next day that it would be best to pack it in early with no end insight to the rain. None of us wanted a sick one year old on our hands, it was a beautiful 1st day though.
Tags: Headwaters, Hiking, Minnesota, Southeast, Trout Stream
Fished the afternoon, caught some sporadic hatching Light Hendricksons. The plan was to nymph an area that I have been observing during this hatch but to my dismay I found I had company and not the kind with a fly rod. Interesting how the cattle grazing near the one spot caused it to muddy the entire time they were present and only downstream for a hundred yards, after that it cleaned right up. Fishing in a place where the stream frequently runs through a pasture, S.E. Minnesota farmers are in a unique position to affect the streams with the amount of grazing time they allow near the streams.
The cattle disrupt the stream causing the water transparency to decrease, if this happens enough it can affect the life in the stream by limiting the amount of sunlight able to penetrate the water. Also cattle can erode the streamside by eating and trampling the vegitation, the root structures provide strenght during rain events to help soak up large amounts of water so that the stream doesn’t get dumped on and to provide stability to the banks so they don’t erode as easily when significant rain fall occurs.
Although I didn’t fish for very long it stuck in my mind how many miles of S.E. MN trout stream run through pastures and if farmers are careless and allow cattle to constantly graze, a stream can be negatively affected, some grazing is fine but when they are allowed to stay for too long the stream and the life in it can suffer. Rotational grazing is an idea in the works but it takes effort on the part of the farmer, money to purchase the fencing and time to actually move the cattle so I can see how it might not happen as often as it should. One thing we might do is petition the state legislator to use some of the money set aside from the recently passed Constitutional Amendment to subsidize the cost of making this happen more often.
I moved on and found myself driving for a ways before stopping. Fished to a few rising trout and caught a few but I perhaps should have spent more time nymphing rather than concentrating on getting the perfect drift to entice picky trout. Something to think about next time I see the splash from a rising trout. I did get the opportunity to check out a new stream and the images say it all.
Tags: Brown Trout, Fly Fishing, Rotational Grazing, The Winona Fly Factory, Trout Stream, Water Quality