Underbody Tan, Green Overbody...Knowing that trout are opportunists, and that as the seasons progress, the available food source for the trout that live in our driftless streams morphs throughout the year. One of my goals has been to understand at a basic level why things work the way they do in an effort to use nature to my advantage to further my goal; of catching trout. With that said it is getting to be that wonderful time of the year when the hop-ass winged-wonders arrive in droves. The Grasshoppers.

To find the best conditions for mobile grasshoppers I chose to fish later in the day getting to the water around 4pm. I know it is still early and that as the next month and a half progresses there will be better opportunities to fish hopper patterns but I my goal was to scout out a place I believed would yield a plague. Grasshoppers are ectotherms, meaning they use external sources to regulate their body temperature, such as the sun. Knowing this and the fact that it has been much cooler recently made me choose the height of the day for the search. Hopper patterns will be best fished later in the day after the naturals have a chance to warm themselves to the minimum 101.5 degree mark, signaling activity. Note: the graph below compares different specie healthy adult body temperature.

Human Homo sapiens 98.6° F 37° C endotherm, homeotherm
Dog Canis familaris 102° F (± 1°) 39° C (± 1°) endotherm, homeotherm
Pigeon Colomba ssp. 106.6° F 41° C endotherm, homeotherm
Lizard Sceloporus spp. 87.8° – 95° F 31° – 35° C ectotherm, poikilotherm
Fish (Rainbow Trout) Salmo gairdneri 53.6° – 64.4° F 12° – 18° C ectotherm, poikilotherm
Rattlesnake Sistrurus miliarius barbouri 59° – 98.6° F 15° – 37° C ectotherm, poikilotherm
Grasshopper Melanoplus sanguinipes 101.5° – 108° F 38.6° – 42.2° C ectotherm, poikilotherm

I rigged a F*** ****** (shhh…it will come in time) with a Sparkle Larvae hanging off the end about 18 inches and put it in the first drink I arrived at. Two casts later I was pulling in the first trout of the afternoon, a beautiful 10in S.E. Minnesota brown trout. I kept swinging and pulled a few more tiny ones out all on the Sparkle Larvae, I did get one strike with the secret weapon but the Sparkle Larvae was the clear winner today. Going on six trout nymphed from the same spot I felt kind of selfish but I was the only one around, move on? Nope.

Lucky #7

I put my flies in again hoping to bring lucky number seven to hand when I saw the take, with a #16 barbless scud hook I’ve found that if I set the hook too sharply that it pops right off but if I make the hook set a slow but immediate response the hook sticks, something to keep in mind for winter trout nymphing. Back to “Lucky”, I set the hook in the slow manner, difficult for me at times, as I brought the fish in I saw what I thought was it’s shadow elongated by the angle of the sun. It was not an elongated shadow, no this was the real deal which I became very aware of as the fish came easily in to me and promptly turned and took off. Normally a bit of a run is cool but this was awesome, ran three or four times and really pulled hard. At this point I got in the stream and landed this fish downstream before the stream turned into nothing but a riffle. Big Fish (18in)…Small Fly(#16), just a thought for any of you who like to catch “large” trout.

Brook Trout Colors

GrasshopperAfter landing number seven I proceeded to take two more making the count nine and I hadn’t even looked around for what I came for, the hoppers. I put the deadly weapons away and moved downstream but found that a bovine presence had altered the stream to a boderline unsuitable condition for fishing, however I was greeted with each step by about a dozen hoppers in their early stages bolting in every direction. Hoppers go through six stages of development beginning with a nymph and ending with a fully winged adult. I was finding several thousand around me in the first two stages and with varying color. I moved upstream and rounded out my time on the water working towards a brook trout spot I knew of that is well hidden and in the height of the summer the only thing getting back there other than me are deer. I picked up a beatutiful Brookie and kicked out to head home.

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  1. Nice science. Nice fish. Nice writeup!

    Big browns on little flies are fun. There’s a river on the Oregon/Idaho border, Owyhee by name. 18″-23″ browns on #20-#26 midge nymphs. That can be a hoot. Although they had a major blowout in the river about three years ago that it hasn’t exactly recovered from.

  2. Another great post. Congratulations on that big ~18.” Really fat looking. Great fighter. Can I assume you are at your fishing “Private Rewards Creek”? The pools look similar. It pays to explore, does it not? So many folks that do not want to fish anything but easements and are afraid to ask for landowner permission. That is their loss and our gain, right?

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