Current stream reports, hatch information and conditions can be found here for Southeast Minnesota Driftless area trout streams. Find more information updated frequently on instagram @winonaflyfactory
Stream Conditions 6/21/18: Rain was slow and steady for most of southeast Minnesota on the 21st. I fished and found multiple streams that were unfishable but I also found streams that were off colors and even one that was borderline gin clear. Going into the weekend the larger systems and larger water is likely to be brown through the weekend and may be unfishable. My suggestion is to stick to smaller creeks, shorter watersheds and those areas where you hardly ever see them off-colored or stained. Those streams will be fishable and will be fishing very well through the weekend. I will be releasing an article on how I research and approach fishable water in sustained periods of rain and hopefully it will help some of you get on fishable creeks when things are more difficult.
Stream Conditions 6/19/18: After looking at streams yesterday and taking note of more rain overnight I suspect there is a lot of muddy and brown water in southeast Minnesota right now. I drove the length of one system and as expected I found muddy water in the far downstream sections but even as I got to the far headwaters of the creek I took note of barely fishable water. Longer watersheds will have a significant amount of unfishable water especially further north of i90. This may clear up some my the weekend and I will try to get a report out Thursday or Friday this week to help anyone coming down for the weekend. With all that said I called a few folks that live in other areas and I have reports of clear water in parts of Houston and Fillmore counties and I’m sure some of the water in Winona county is fishable, just be prepared to walk up on some chocolate milk in the next few days.
Stream Conditions 6/18/18: Overnight rainstorms dumped over an inch of rain in many places in southeast Minnesota. I haven’t been out to check a couple spots that I use to gauge the area but I will soon and when I do I’ll update this post. It looks to me like areas around Rochester were hardest hit, I would imagine that much of WhiteWater State Park is heavily stained or brown given the amount of rain and the length of the watersheds that feed the area. It also looks like areas further north around Lake City, MN may have seen over three inches of rain which will likely turn a lot of the water in Goodhue and Wabasha counties brown and possibly unfishable for the next few days, especially if rain continues today into tomorrow. I’ll do my best to get more information up here in the next 12hrs.
Stream Conditions 6/14/18: Apologies for the lack of reports despite some significant recent rains that saw much of southern Fillmore county in flash flood conditions. Heavy rains have fallen recently and flooding has occurred but the water I’ve seen in Winona and Houston Counties are all looking good. Some streams are stained while others are gin clear. I know there is turbid, brown water still in parts of Fillmore county and we are still getting the random thunderstorms which can drop significant amounts of rain in isolated areas. Continue checking the daily precipitation totals for specific ares if you are planning to come down for a day or two which may help you avoid an area hit harder than others. A couple other notes, burning nettle is shoulder high on me and wild parsnip is also coming up. Hiking this time of year can be a pain but we have been fortunate that the obscene heat has held off for the most part making trekking through the jungle much more tolerable. Dry flies are working well this time of year and hoppers will be heating up in the coming weeks. Try a skittered caddis or an Adams dry fly and fish into the later evening as the fishing has been excellent near dusk as of late especially with dry flies.
Stream Conditions 5/30/18 @3:30pm: The on and off thunderstorm pattern that has been passing through the entire Driftless area for the past several days has produced some significant localized rainfall amounts. This combined with stream characteristics such as quantity and flow of spring sources, habitat improvement project locations and length of watershed combines to make a significant mixed bag in terms of the turbidity levels observed. Over the weekend one stream in a popular system that is very long ran almost chocolate the entire weekend while several miles away another stream, in a watershed just as long ran totally clear. This is likely a story of localized rainfall totals and the quantity of springs feeding the streams. When you come across streams that fair better in heavy rain or streams that have more spring sources take note of them for times like this as they will be the safer bets. Today I went to several creeks and observed everything from gin clear to nearly mud, the gin clear creek was near high spring flows and the headwaters of a system while the mud was noted very low on a long watershed, these are simple observations that should be pretty obvious for most of us at this point. My whole point here is that there is fishable water and good trout fishing conditions right now in the driftless but there will be locations that you may not expect to be muddy and they are un-fishable. Have back up plans and maybe consider hitting one of those streams that runs gin clear 99% of the time in the hopes that it is stained and affording you some extra cover. Also take into consideration the nettles and increasingly difficult hiking conditions, the forests are growing up fast with consistent rain and the heat from the past few days. That said the next week looks excellent in terms of weather for trout angling, should be getting into dry/dropper territory soon in the mid-day heat.
Stream Conditions 5/26/18: Yesterday saw bouts of heavy rain throughout the southeast region in Minnesota. These thunderstorms left certain areas with a lot of rain and others with much less. For example the Minnesota City dam received .4″ more rain than the dam just downriver in Winona. Caledonia received almost 2″ of rain which will certainly effect streams in that area. I got a report of very heavy rain between Houston and La Crescent. All this translates into a high variability of the stream conditions. I would suggest looking at the min/max precipitation page in the links tab and basing some of your decisions on that. I would expect that for the most part the smaller streams will be fishing just fine even if they are stained but I know some streams in the area are running high and muddy today, this may change by the end of the weekend with two days of no rain.
Stream Conditions 5/14/18: Southeast Minnesota and much of the driftless area has been in a pretty regular pattern of on again off again spats of rain. These may be heavy at times but haven’t lingered too long. I’ve been checking the daily precipitation totals and haven’t seen anything much over a half inch. I should preface this by noting that local amounts can vary significantly but in general things are in very good shape around here. Most streams will be running low/normal levels with minimal to no stain on them. The further downstream on larger systems may prove to have heavier stain but I have yet to hear of or see unfishable conditions. The weather has been excellent as of late, the wildflowers are out and morels are soon to come. Burning nettle is coming up fast but it’s manageable for most right now.
Stream Conditions 5/9/18 @ 8am: After looking at the precipitation totals for the past 24hrs and driving to a couple local streams in Winona Co. I can say that the stream conditions are a mixed bag. There is plenty of fishable water with minimal to no stain from the rain overnight and on the flip side within minutes of driving past very fishable water I also drove past unfishable water. When you put this into a broader picture that includes the next two days where we could get rain on and off all day tomorrow and some on Saturday things for the weekend could be questionable on some streams in S.E. Minnesota. From what I saw most places got between .5″ and 1″ of rain and the ground soaked a good amount of that up. The next two days will determine the situation going into the weekend. Friday looks cooler with air temps not getting above 50°F, clouds all day and rain on and off. Things are supposed to warm up again Saturday and Sunday. I’m confident that there will be fishable water over the weekend but you may have to drive around a bit to find it. I’d imagine that the spring caddis hatches are wearing down on most streams as well after almost two solid weeks of emergence which will be very good for next years emergence.
Stream Conditions 5/4/18 @5pm: I’ve gotten reports of dirty water south of i90 and just north of i90. Looks like some areas were hit harder than others and the general feeling going into the weekend is that the smaller streams further north will be in the best condition. Plan back up locations and prepared to see other anglers as people will be looking for those headwater areas to find fishable water.
Stream Conditions 5/4/18 @7am: Precipitation totals from the rain last evening show Winona with 1.2″, Preston 1.1″, Lanesboro 1.4″, Caledonia 1.9″. I will be checking on streams today but going into the weekend I expect to find some dirty water in S.E. Minnesota and into the Viroqua area which has consistently gotten the largest amount of rain over the past few days. Streams in Southern Houston and Fillmore Counties may be heavily stained and larger systems may be muddy depending on the agricultural practices in the watershed, upstream spring concentrations and stream length. I’ll update this as I get other reports from anglers. I would imagine this is the last weekend to fish heavier spring caddis hatches.
Stream Conditions 5/3/18: The rain from the day before soaked in and did little to affect streams north of i90. Further south where larger precipitation totals were noted from Lanesboro to Caledonia extending across the river to Viroqua I’ve yet to hear of any water that is muddy. My best guess is that the larger water is stained and the smaller streams are already running close to gin clear again. Spring is here and things are greening and growing quickly, get out while the weather is ideal.
Stream Conditions 5/2/18: S.E. Minnesota received a decent amount of rain last evening but from what I can see it didn’t do too much to the streams. Winona received only .9″ , Rochester .63″ and Caledonia was hit the hardest with 1.93″. I expect that the largest watersheds may have some heavy stain lower in the system but most of the smaller streams will have handled this round of rain just fine. Caddis will continue to hatch today between 10-3pm depending on the location. The streams I drove past this morning had varying amount of stain on them but all were in good condition. The next 48hrs is predicted to contain more rain, depending on how much we get this situation could change but for now things are looking good.
Stream Conditions and Hatch Report 4/29/18: Everything I’ve seen and heard from this past weekend had streams in excellent shape and the caddis hatching regularly in the 11am-3pm range depending on the stream. I saw a few streams with a moderate stain on them but I’ve not heard of or seen any water that isn’t fishable. The weather is looking great going into this next week with the potential for some rain which should be good for things provided we don’t get pounded. I expect that the caddis will continue to hatch heavily for the next 5-7 days and hopefully longer on some streams. The hiking is easy and wet wading is here, time to go trout fishing.
Stream Conditions and Hatch Report 4/25/18: I’m still getting reports of dirty water but the stream I fished today was gin clear. At 1:30pm the grey caddis began emerging in earnest and it was a very heavy hatch for this early in the season. Trout were rising everywhere and readily took a dry fly. Water temperature at 11am was already 51°F and hatching conditions are ideal at 54°F. Provided that the weather stays this nice we should have an excellent weekend of dry fly fishing.
Stream Conditions 4/24/18: I’ve already received reports of and seen larger watersheds still very muddy from this past weekend of run-off. Smaller streams will clear in short order and are likely fishable now. I say it over and over again because there can be alot of variation from valley to valley based on upland agricultural and other practices that can create conditions that allow one stream to be virtually unaffected and a stream one valley over to be un-fishable, plan a back up location. Caddis are starting to emerge with more regularity every day now, the next two weeks will be prime fishing. BWO’s will likely still be emerging on some streams for a while yet, watch those water temps. 45ºF, get ready and good luck.
Stream Conditions 4/23/18: Going into the best week of weather we’ve had since last fall the streams are clearing up nicely. On the way home yesterday I noted a few very brown streams at 5pm. The snow is almost totally gone in most places and unless we get a lot of rain on Wednesday the streams will continue to clear up. This week the caddis will be exploding on many streams, this is a great time to go fishing.
Stream Conditions 4/21/18 @ 5pm: Fished both north and south of i90 today. I found dirty water and fishable water in both areas so the take away for tomorrow will be…go fishing and have back up locations ready to go. If the water is clear and you arrive later you may have two or more vehicle parked in the spot, alot of anglers are taking advantage of the nicer weather. I saw both caddis and BWO’s hatching today and I expect this to continue tomorrow. Go fishing!
Stream Conditions and Flooding Outlook 4/20/18 @5pm: Stream conditions north of i90 are much better than south of i90. At 2:30pm I spied the water pictured to the right, almost gin clear despite 50°F air temperatures. South of i90 saw smaller watersheds that I’ve known to be free of dirty water to be heavily stained and the deeper snowpack south of i90, overnight temperatures above freezing and temps into the upper 50’s tomorrow spell trouble for water further south. I’m sure if one looks hard enough something will be fishable but I’m staying north of i90 through the weekend. Hope this helps.
Stream Conditions and Flooding Outlook 4/19/18 @ 2pm: I stopped by a larger watershed and noted that as predicted things in the lower end of the watershed were looking very stained but still fishable at 2pm with an air temperature approaching 50ºF. The further upstream I got the cleaner things looked. The image to the right was taken mid-way up this system which I was surprised to see how well it was handling the snow melt. Going into the weekend things will be hit or miss, you will be able to find fishable water but you may have to travel around a bit. Areas south of i90 got hammered with more than 8inches of fresh snow in some places, this means that going into Saturday and Sunday the further south you go you may have a harder time finding cleaner water. It’s possible that by Sunday things north of i90 will have calmed down a bit and may be in better shape. I will try my best to post updated reports as I get them over the next 72hrs.
Stream Conditions 4/18/18: I drove past three streams and briefly fished one. Even the largest of water that I saw was fishable, heavily stained but fishable. The smaller the watershed and the closer to the headwaters and things cleared up nicely. Winona got heavy snow late this afternoon and air temperatures around the area are going to climb in to the upper 40’s tomorrow, this combined with overnight lows above freezing is going to cause the heavy wet snow to melt off faster. My best guess is that we are going to have some muddy water this weekend but that if one looks hard enough there will be fishable water out there. I know the larger systems will be high and muddy.
Stream Conditions 4/16/18: My best guess is that most of our water in S.E. Minnesota is in fishable condition. We didn’t get that much rain and the falling air temps stopped any melting snow from contributing to high water levels. This creek here is back to gin clear conditions only two days after being chocolate milk. The precipitation totals vary quite a bit based on location, some areas got alot more snow than others. I’ll be posting more updates as the next few days happen and we have a better handle on when it’s going to warm up and how fast.
Stream Conditions 4/13/18 @ 5pm: I drove past two streams this evening and both were stained but totally fishable. The weather outside may be discouraging but there are streams that will be in decent shape. You may have to stick with shorter systems or target headwaters but the fact that we are below freezing and getting snow instead of rain has shut down the run-off picture for some streams. I’d imagine that as the days go on we will see the streams clear up as we move into another week of 30-40s during the day and below freezing at night.
Stream Conditions 4/13/18 @ 8am: As of 8am multiple streams of varying size in S.E. Minnesota that I drove past were borderline to totally un-fishable. NOAA is recording .27in of precip in Rochester and .34in in Winona. This combined with still frozen soil and the bit of snow left has created muddy and cold streams going into the catch and keep opening weekend. The continued rain throughout the day will only serve to exacerbate the conditions I’ve seen and combined with the cold air temperatures predicted (30-40°F), the potential for snow, and the high winds this weekend is looking unfortunate to say the least. I’ll continue to update conditions as I hear of other reports. Also, remember that if you are determined to fish and I applaud those who go despite conditions that are unfavorable, always have a couple back up locations in mind and stick to shorter watersheds with a high concentration of springs to help mitigate the effects of the run-off.
Stream Conditions, Flooding Outlook 4/9/18: The past five days have seen air temperatures climb just above freezing and the ground warm ground helped melt some of the snow off after last weeks storm leaving the 4-8inches of snow cover left in the area. NOAA reports that this snow cover totals less than 1″ of rain however I am still concerned that the larger watersheds will muddy mid-week as the air temperature climbs in to the 50’s and the snow melt is aided by some even if minimal rain. I expect that the smaller streams will dirty but be totally fishable through the warm up, the only thing I would note is that as the snow melts off the streams may cool down affecting the trout and their feeding. Spring BWO’s will continue to hatch and I expect that tomorrow and Wednesday will see some of the best hatching simply because the mature BWO’s have been waiting for the right conditions and the next two days may prove to hold those conditions. If you’re going to try and fish dry flies on Wednesday I would hit the water early as the water temps will climb fast and the hatching BWO’s may show up earlier than normal.
Stream Conditions, Flooding Outlook 4/4/18: Current stream conditions remain much as they were over the past week. Clear and low. I see this remaining much the case through the early part of next week. The Southeast Minnesota region received significant snow in the past 36hrs. I’m posting a picture of the estimated observed snowfall totals which indicates that much of Winona County has between 8-16inches on the ground. My observations are we got close to 10inches in several areas. Looks like closer to the Iowa border it was less. Put this picture together with the 10 day forecast and my conclusions are that this weekend 90-100% of Southeast Minnesota streams will be totally fishable, mid week next week and into the catch and keep opener could be a very different situation. A small amount of snow is predicted this coming weekend and next week we are predicted to get a warm up into the 40-50’s with rain, this will mean bank-full flooding events for most area streams late next week and possibly into the weekend. I will do my best to provide an updated report as the next 10 days progresses. If you can go fishing this weekend I suggest going, next week things may be totally blown out.
Stream Conditions 3/28/18: The streams I’ve seen are all running clean and clear but very low. Spooky trout will be difficult to catch in slower sections and will likely be held up in the deeper areas when invertebrate movement is lower, i.e. post hatching. Pre-hatch periods have seen fish stack in riffles waiting for #22 Midges and #16-18 BWO’s which are starting to come off more regularly. I expect that the BWO’s will hold off somewhat and extend the length of the hatch this spring due to cooler weather predicted the next 10 days or so.
Weather Update/Stream Conditions 3/24/18: The predicted storm overnight last night has not hit Winona Co. or Houston Co. very much if at all. Stream gauges on larger rivers also appear to be down so for the time being everything looks good for fishing if you wanted to get out today or tomorrow. Plan a back up location just in case if you are thinking about fishing larger watersheds running east/west and longer than five miles but I would expect even those types of streams are likely doing just fine today.
Stream Report 3/18/18: I have reports that 80% of the snow in southern Houston and Fillmore Counties has melted off. This resulted in some cold and unfishable water yesterday according to some reports I received. I have had no problems finding clean creeks and if you stick to shorter north/south watersheds I would expect you’ll find the same. I have even reports of early BWO’s in some parts of southern Fillmore Co.
Stream Conditions: 3/14/18 @ 2:30pm. Clean and Clear water showing almost no signs of run-off despite the 46°F air temps. Stopped and spied three creeks all varying in size and length all are looking great going into the weekend.
Minnesota Stream Report for 3/11/2018: Water around the region is in great shape. Water levels are low to normal and clear with the excellent weather pattern we are in this should hold through the week and into the weekend. Little black stoneflies and midge #18-22 are likely to be found daily this week as the weather rises above freezing during the day. If the snow continues to slowly melt off we may avoid blown and cold creeks this coming weekend. I’ll try to update this often over the course of the week with other information I’m hearing.