Trip Report: Smalljaws

Buddy wanted to get his drift fishing raft on the water today. The wife is out of town and I had to tend to the dog, so with limited time we decided to float a short stretch of the mighty Mississippi.

I haven’t been chasing trout due to warm air and stream temperatures, and due to on call responsibilities. It felt good to hit the water!

This was my first decent fish of the day! I fished with an olive sparkle closure type fly all day with great success.

This was a fun fish, a big ol freshwater drum. It put up a great fight on my buddies 9 wt. He started fishing a few different streamers but rounded out the day with a few on poppers.

This is my fish of the day! He put up an outstanding fight on my 5 weight. The water is low and clear so we were able to see quite a few fish chase and take the fly.

We were on the water by shortly after 8am and fished until around 2pm. Fish ate consistently in areas with good current and cover. They were also oriented tight to shore.

On the drive back to my car we reflected on the promise for good fishing we see in the Big Muddy. Hopefully we’ll soon be able to explore some other stretches.

Trip Report: Last couple days

A couple nights ago I got out chasing trout with the mouse. It’s spooky out there at night! I ran into a giant turtle, a smaller mammal, and a few little trout.

Rain has larger rivers in-fishable. It rains as I type and it’s cold. I’m thinking even smaller streams might be off color by the morning.

I saw this fish sitting near the bottom feeding. I dropped a nymph down to him and within a few casts he was on! As much as I hoped to fish all week I’ve also spent a fair amount of time messing with my new bow.

This will be my first time bow hunting. While my form is coming together I still have a fair ways to go before I’d feel comfortable chasing deer.

I hope to get out later today and maybe tomorrow, but it’ll depend on how much rain we get and how the river responds.

Trip Report: Slow float

Yesterday a friend and I went on a slow float. We hit a larger, more marginal stream.

Shortly before landing this pudgy rainbow I hooked and lost a really nice brown trout, probably around 18 inches. We each landed a few on streamers but I had the best luck fishing dry flies.

Fish rose sporadically to caddis and some type of yellowish mayfly. I used the trusty sz 16 elk hair caddis.

Later in the float we found some public land to explore.

Tim spotted a patch of morels! We picked a few dozen big ones like these! Some were in good shape while others were a bit past due.

We enjoyed a few cold ones on the float. I certainly should have drank more water cuz at the end of the float I had a splitting headache and a fair bit of sunburn. I forgot how summer works!

My favorite type of fly fishing is to pick out a rising fish, preferably a large one, then casting to it. You need to cast the right fly, timed out to the fishes rising rhythm. Slow fishing but a fun day.

Trip Report: Dodging rain

Bad title. I did a horrible job dodging rain over the last two days. I hoped my time off work would be marked by sunny skies and mild breeze, but after catching some good fish I’m glad it rained.

This fish has a great story. I messed around a little at this larger river before heading toward a feature that looked like it would hold a tank. I tossed the streamer a foot above where a big log met a deep, rocky shoreline. This beast swung at the fly immediately, missed, followed, and nipped at the fly all the way to my feet. I gave him a break for five minutes before making my next cast. Same thing. I sent the third cast right away. The beast gave chase but didn’t strike. I tried switching flies, gave him more time, but eventually moved on.

This decent trout took the streamer as clouds built above me. As I headed back to the car I noticed a fish rise in the beasts lair. I sat in the car for 20 minutes or so thinking about my next move. Go home to let the dog out? Get lunch? Hit another spot? Stay and try a dry? I was certain the rise I spotted couldn’t have been the beast. But it could’ve been… I grabbed my net and my 7’ 6” fiberglass rod, tied a sz 16 elk hair caddis on 5x tippet, and went at him. He didn’t rise as I slowly approached so when within casting range I stopped and waited. After a few minutes I saw him poke his nose up. Caddis, some fat little yellows orange mayfly, midges, and crane flies were in the air. After 10 or 15 minutes of watching him rise and trying to figure out his rhythm I let the caddis fly. It landed gently above him and he immediately took notice. I sensed that he wasn’t going to take it so I gave the fly two gentle twitches. He reacted, but the fly, and the fight was on. But how could I land such a huge trout on 5x tippet!? Very carefully! He initially thrashed hard so I let up a tiny bit. When he stopped I worked to move him toward me. At times it felt like he barely realized he was hooked. Any time I put the screws to him too much or brought him to the top he’d thrash and/or run. I stayed below him and after thirty seconds of careful dancing I scooped him into the net. Glad I brought the net today.

Southeast MN got between and inch or two of rain in most places over the past three days. Still, most smaller and medium sized streams I’ve seen are running clear or slightly stained and low. I’ve been focused on larger, more moderately stained bodies of water.

I’ve been diggin’ the streamer. As much as it might seem like I know what I’m doing with streamers some of it remains a mystery. Yesterday I missed two over 18 inches and both fish gave me multiple chances.

If streams are stained be prepared to fish a streamer or San Juan worm. If conditions allow, we should have good dry fly fishing. Mayflies, caddis, midges, and more will be coming off! Get out there while the gettin’s good.

Trip Report: Sneakin’

I’ve been on call for the last week and will be until tomorrow morning. This leaves me with plenty of time to tie flies, do household chores, and watch tv, but who wants to do any of that? After a few friends texted me about fishing I couldn’t shake the thought of getting out. I have a precious few streams that are within cell reception and within my response area so I picked one and headed there this morning. Southeast Minnesota got variable amounts of rain last night. The stream I chose looked unaffected. Fish were rising at 1045am when I pulled up.

Quite a few good fish came on a size 16 quill mayfly emerger. I fished the fly casting upstream with a twitched retrieve. No natural dries were seen today but plenty of fish dimpled the surface.

A bunch of good little brookies came to hand today as well. I fooled a dozen or so fish in 40 minutes of fishing, all on the mayfly emerger. With temps heating up this fly and technique should only keep getting more effective. It was nice to get out and fish for a bit today. I’ll have a little over a week off work coming up so stay tuned for plenty of good, fishy content!

While I fished I noticed something I couldn’t figure out. At first I thought it was a yellow plant, but then it started moving. It looked like a fish with really bright fins. After pulling a bunch out of this pool I decided to walk up to see exactly what it was. Turned out to be a 14ish inch trout with a 5 or 6 inch trout clamped in his jaws! As I was taking this picture a little otter ran past me and jumped into the water. I also spotted an eagle in close range. Fun day!

Guide Trip Report: Stream walkin’

Yesterday morning I guided a half day trip for a fella who had great skills and a younger angler who is just starting. He progressed well over the day! Both landed fish but the newer to the sport angler landed the most.

He did well fishing a San Juan worm deep. Shortly after this fish was caught he lost a much larger one that pulled him quickly into a deep undercut. A learning experience!

The stream had a light stain but fishing was a little tricky. We spotted very few rises and got very few swipes on the streamer.

One of the guys texted me later in the day. He fished a bit further upstream. He ran into the land owner who told him that the stream has seen a ton of pressure since the catch and keep opening day. On my way home I heard a report that this year saw the highest fishing licenses “in a generation”. Lots of pressure. Streams remain low and clear-tough conditions.

Conditions: Hit or Miss

I drove past a stream that usually clears up quick after a heavy rain. We received over 3.5 inches of rain yesterday at my house. I checked the 24 hour rainfall totals and found that most of south eastern MN go between 1-2 inches, with heavy rainfall very much localized. I headed out after work to check a spot that I fully expected to be running dirty. With the streamer rod ready to go I hiked down the hill to find crystal clear water! The wind was fierce but I managed a few on a twitched caddis.

I landed at least a dozen over 2.5 hours with most being quite small. I did break off on one chunky one of 16 inches or so. The moral of the story is check the rainfall total maps before you go fishing when rain pushes through. You can cut down on some driving and find fishable water.

Trip Report: Tricky

With the caddis activity slowed to a trickle and very few mayflies sighted, I headed to a stream that’s full of trout and hard to fish when low and clear. That and full sun worked against us as we fished, he with a spinning setup and me on the fly. The banks on this medium sized creek are quite high necessitating conscience navigation and judicious wading.

Fishing was slow for my buddy. I started out fishing a sz 16 quill mayfly to sporadic risers. A few 5-6 inchers came to hand but it was slow. After every two or three steps we could see trout darting away, spooked by our silhouettes and the vibrations of us walking heavily up river. Eventually I conceded that they weren’t gonna eat on top. I tossed on a small indicator with a size 16 Brassie trailing a size 18 rusty orange mayfly nymph. I chose this fly after matching it to similar natural I found overturning a rock that sat under water in 8 or 9 inch deep riffle. This worked, but still spooked plenty when it hit the water.

I know I’m holding it waaay out but this was still a great fish with a pair of shoulders and a good story! My buddy spotted it as I stood in the middle of a slow current the was planting to pull my line downstream. After he keyed me in I landed a few good casts, but spooked him a little. I proceeded to pull quite a few chunky little 10-12 inch browns out, sometimes on consecutive casts. After a dozen or so my buddy, standing on the high bank behind me, spotted the fish again! I tried a few more times as he decided to move upstream. After 5 or I’d casts I landed one at his feet. I saw the fish move a tiny bit to his right and the indicator dipped. After a quick battle he was in. I found a few more productive pools, pulling 5-10 fish from each one. Again, small average size fish, but one sporting one!

Trip Report: 24 Hours

The wife is out of town this weekend so I fished a whole lot over the last 24 hours. The lawn needed mowing last night but when I wrapped it up around 730 I still wanted to fish. After a quick dinner I headed out mousing! I arrived on stream at quarter to nine. The sun had set but there was still a glow on the horizon. As soon as that glow went away fish started snappin!

Unfortunately this was the only one to come to hand. I have a smaller mouse pattern that would’ve increased my bite to hand ratio. I landed 1 but had 8 or 9 hits. Some felt and sounded substantial. I was home by 1015pm.

I woke up late this morning and after some indecision decided to hit a smaller stream that’s less pressured. I saw plenty of fish but couldn’t coax any to the top. I landed one small one on a nymph before heading to another spot. To my surprise the lot was empty!

I’m pretty sure a buddy hooked and lost this fish earlier this week. The fish came from the exact same spot and took the same fly! Fish didn’t seem too interested in a dead drifted fly but when retrieved quickly with a short twitch fish responded well. They also seemed to like the fly twitched upstream, against the current.

Temps reached the low 80’s and I noticed very little bug activity. The stream was crystal clear at first but I’d guess someone was fishing the upstream private section of this river because the water became more stained as I walked up.

There are lots off dinky little trout in the rivers right now. I think this bodes well for the next year of fishing! Lots of new fish and lots of food for the big ones! Tomorrow looks stormy so stay tuned for updates on conditions.

Trip Report: Spotty

I got out yesterday evening and today. While caddis were around surface activity was spotty. So we’re the trout!

A few smaller fish took the fly dead drifted but I found much better luck, and much larger fish, when the fly was sunk and twitched or skittered. We had a few rain events earlier this week but it’s had very little effect. The rivers I fished were both still very low and clear.

This little guy has very unique markings! While there was no discernible hatch I didn’t deviate from the gray sz 16 caddis until I threw a streamer on the hike back to the car. No love. Today I decided to cash in a personal mental health day that my job offers (sweet deal, right!?) to chase trout and de-stress. With temps forecast in the mid 60’s and sunny skies I anticipated a great hatch. What I found was wind. Still, fish came on a caddis dry dead drifted, skittered, and (most frequently) twitched. Driftless trout love a little movement on the fly.

I’ve noticed that the bigger fish tend to push farther into the run and porpoise as they eat. This pattern helped me target larger fish and avoid the hundreds of young of the year dinks that are numerous.

Around 30 came to hand with many more small fish than the last few times out. I think because of the wind the bigger fish weren’t willing to surface for less payoff. The rain may have also cooled the water down and messed with the hatch. I found two distinct periods of hatching caddis, around 1230 and another around 130. A size 18 (spotted sedge I believe) and a size 20 black caddis. The size 16 gray I fished all day seemed to work just fine.

I suspect the caddis are waning, but will continue for at least another week or two. Yesterday I spotted a few mayflies, but far more caddis. Streams are busy but vegetation is still low so hiking is easy. Spread out and go get ‘em!