I work for a school district where I live managing the auditoriums. I met some folks up north in a city called McGregor and a while back they paid me to visit them and run a bluegrass show for there a class reunion. This provided me the opportunity to fish waters I’ve never seen and alone, an adventure if you will. This is how it went.
I woke the morning after the show, I slept on a mattress in the back of my truck at a wayside rest in Carlton, MN which is 45 min east of McGregor. I had maps and maps. I found a few small streams but they didnt look fishable, less than three feet wide and nothing but 4-5ft tall weeds all around. So I drove.
I stopped first at a section of the Blackhoof River. This is what I saw…
I played around with a stimulator and got strike after strike with this thing but to my puzzlement it was no more than four inches long. I found this everywhere. The water was beautiful and so untouched that I was surprised to not find a fish longer than six inches. The weather was slightly cloudy but nice and warm. I was pleased to find rock rather than mud for a surface to wade in. After hitting this river in four spots I moved on in search of a larger fish. I went to the Nemadji River.
I fished for hours and saw lots of beautiful water and such a green place it was awesome. I did it alone and was pleased that I could prepare myself to visit a place I’ve never been and managed to fish, be safe, and catch fish although very small. The Brook trout was the largest fish I caught and was beautiful. I found out later that the variety of trout tend to not live very long and so were much smaller. I don’t know if this is completely true but I didn’t see anything very big. Had alot of fun and wore myself out. It was beautiful and if I thought I could catch larger fish I would go back in a heartbeat.
That little rainbow you caught on the Blackhoof is a steelhead smolt. The river still takes a few spring and fall run fish. As for residents, they won’t get that big. This water is too soft, acidic and the bug life in the stream is not high. Fish top out at about 8 inches–unless you find a beaver pond. Next time, head up to Cloquet and try the White Pine river and tie on a Pass Lake–a variety of wet fly. The numbers of brookies are a little better up there. Overall, in northern Minnesota the trout fishing can be good for numbers but not size. Northern Wisconsin is altogether something quite different.