Guide Trip Report: Caddis

Today I took two fellas from the great state of Wisconsin for a foray on one of my favorite stretches of trout water. I hoped conditions would be good for caddis but with cloudy skies and windy conditions we didn’t see a blanket hatch. Still caddis came off all day with a frequency that led fish to rise all day. Early on fish responded well to the fly twitched. For most of the day fish wanted the fly dead drifted. They also responded fairly well to the skitter.

Jon briefly hooked into a good one on a streamer before switching to a dry fly. This was a good switch and he landed fish at a prolific pace.

Jaime threw a side armed cast under the rainbow branch in the background to hook this fish on top.

Jaime put a hurt on em! We never really had caddis coming off heavy but fish rose all day. While lots of smaller fish came to hand we also saw plenty of above average ones! His last cast of the day hooked into a 16+ inch brown that snapped off his 4x tippet in short order.

Toward the end of the day these guys had a solid double. I have no idea how many fish came to hand but it was many. Jon and Jaime were great company and quick learners. I’m hopeful the tips and techniques shared today will lead to more and bigger fish for these guys in the future.

Trip Report: Dreary day

What a dreary day. When I arrived on stream, around 1115am, temps hovered in the mid 50’s, rain spot from the cloudy sky, and the wind was just strong enough to mess with a good cast. It didn’t help that I chose a skinny stream. I hoped to see caddis but they seem to like it a little warmer. I though for sure Olives but none. I chose to fish upstream with a elk hair caddis. Dead drifts worked ok but a slow, steady twitch retrieve triggered good action.

This solid fish put up a great fight. He was a consolation prize as I missed a much larger on minutes earlier. I continued to pick up lots of 8-10 inch trout with a few good ones interspersed before walking up to a run/pool with a willow hanging over. It would be impossible to fish it casting upstream so I snuck to the head of the run and whipped a sidearm cast under the willow and into the current. It was snapped up quickly as it swung through the current.

What a fatty! This picture doesn’t do him justice. Check out this angle!

He was probably only 15 inches but he put up an outstanding battle. A couple dozen came to hand today with a smaller than typical average size. This is a good sign that big ol boom trout have plenty of decent sized food to chow on! The next few days look a little chilly but Monday should see a return of the caddis. If I were fishing this weekend I’d use caddis nymphs like the pink squirrel, hares ear, or anything sz 16ish, or I’d twitch the elk hair caddis with and/or against the current. Olives will be around too. Smaller mayfly nymphs (sz18), parachute dries, and other emerger should fish well at times. Don’t hesitate to nymph with a caddis imitation in a tandem rig followed by a small mayfly nymph.

Trip Report: More caddis

On stream by 1230pm and off by 430pm. A friend and I expected to find caddis but were a little surprised to see so many flying up the windshield as we drove in! We both rigged up a gray size 16 elk hair caddis and chased ‘em.

This guy somehow picked my artificial fly out of the hundreds that were floating by. He put up a great fight on the five weight.

Again the average size fish was much better than usual. I attribute this to being able to target larger fish based on rise form, and sometimes by sight!

This was my fish of the day. The picture doesn’t do him justice. He was hefty and strong. He plucked the fly off the surface as it drifted within inches of shore and put up a great battle. We ran into a fair number of people on the river today. Most fly fishermen seemed to do well while spin fishers reported slow fishing, probably because the fish were gorging themselves on caddis flies! Another beautiful day on the water.

Trip Report: Caddis madness

Hiked into a remote spot with a friend hoping for a caddis hatch. We got a late start, on the river by 10am. Midges came off strong at first but fish didn’t seem interested. We landed a few sporadic rising trout before fish started to key in on emerging bugs, around noon.

Fish ate on top until around 3pm, then rises continued on a sporadic basis. A few waves of hatches came through with most being sz 18 gray caddis. I fished a size 16 with great success.

I used the five weight fly rod again with a 12 foot leader and tippet combination terminating at 4x.

These fish were amazingly fat, stuffed to the gills with caddis flies. It makes a 12 inch fish feel much bigger and makes light or damaged tippet much more likely to break.

I didn’t count today but between the two of us I bet we landed 40 fish. They all came on Elk Hair Caddis dry flies. Long casts weren’t a must but certainly gave the angler an advantage as streams remain low and clear.

Trip Report: Do you ever…

…get sick of being wrong? Yes. But I’m this case I ain’t mad.

As I got within 20 feet of the stream I could see enough caddis in the air to know they were coming off strong. All but one of my elk hair caddis was in my car. I carried the 5 weight today with 10 lb test and a big streamer from yesterday. Luckily I did decide to bring 4x tippet and my small fly box. I rerigged immediately, although not ideally, and hit the water.

I didn’t think the caddis would come thick yet. I arrived at 315pm and the hatch was going. With the water low and clear the fish’s behavior could be easily observed. Small fish hit enthusiastically. Medium sized fish snapped up caddis adults with vigor and, in slow water, would “cruise” or patrol an area. They’d snap up a fly within a four foot zone or turn another direction to grab a natural. Sight fishing dry flies is the best!

As the afternoon proceeded fish kept eating. Check out the belly on some of these fish! They put a great bend on the five weight.

Fish initially wanted a perfect dead drift. By 530ish they started to respond to twitches, then to the fly being slowly retrieved with long, slow strips. I fished that one elk hair caddis the whole time! 2 dozen came to hand while I missed that many, if not more. Three came to hand on the walk back to the car. The general season (when you can keep trout) opens tomorrow. While I infrequently keep trout I don’t admonish those who do. Good luck, the mn driftless will see a lot of pressure over the next month or so! If you plan to hit the area manage your expectations with respect to finding solitude and be nice to each other.

Trip Report: Streamer evening

After work I headed to a spot that I haven’t fished in quite a while. The stream is certainly more silted in than last time I fished it, but the fish are still there!

I laced up the ‘ol Korkers and headed for the water. By 6pm I was fishing upstream. Trout immediately responded. Unfortunately the fly I used was barbless and the fish seemed to know just how to spit it. I hooked into three fish that were easily 16”+ but lost them during the fight. Frustrating but fun!

This beautiful brownie struck twice before the hook landed. I decided to use a larger streamer today which kept some of the smaller fish off. Seven or eight fish came to hand with none over 14. Around 7pm the streamer bite slowed down but I kept at ‘er till 8.

Clouds of tiny midges floated over every riffle. I didn’t spot any mayflies or caddis but fish were sipping something off the top. I stuck with the streamer but probably could have done well with a griffiths gnat or Matt’s midge. The general trout season opens on Saturday so streams will probably be pretty crowded. Might be a good time to chase bluegills or smallies.

Weekend review

The shit talking between my 3 year old niece and I over the last month culminated in a twenty minute outing (about the maximum of her attention span for any single activity) to see who would catch the biggest “boom trout” as she calls them. We arrived on stream under overcast skies. I tied on a quill mayfly emerger and skittered it through the first likely spot.

She held the rod while I pulled in the line. She seemed to feel the cheapness of this arrangement but showed a little excitement. We proceeded in search of a real “boom trout”.

Although it looked like there was a slight stain the water was really very clear. Fish were surfacing to midges and I spotted a few spare mayflies. Before too long she was ready to find a playground. As we were getting ready to leave I hooked a decent fish. Rather than letting her know there was a fish on I handed her the rod and told her to reel it in, “it’s in a good spot”! She didn’t seem to realize there was a fish on at first but as soon as I keyed her in she squealed with excitement. She steered it in like a pro and I scooped it up. Boom trout!

After the release I turned to her and said, “you caught a bigger fish than uncle Clay”! She replied with the sassiest little attitude, “me told you so”. Sick toddler burn, right?! At least I don’t wear a life jacket when I’m fishing in a little creek. Easily one of my favorite days on the water!

As for conditions midges and bwo’s should be coming off all week. I really like fishing the Griffiths gnat this time of year. Probably some crane flies and caddis too. Temps are forecast in the high 40’s low 50’s with minimal precipitation. Cloudy. Low, clear water. I hoped to try mousing this week but nighttime temps may be cool enough to keep me home.

Conditions

Well, it rained a little throughout the MN driftless today but not much. After consulting the 24 hour rainfall total map it appears that we got around 1/4 inch, not enough to stain the water. I’ve seen and heard reports of sporadic caddis and slightly more consistent bwo hatches. Temps over the next few days look cooler, with highs around the high 50’s. I’d bet on good mayfly activity around the heat of the day, not so much for caddis. Caddis dries and nymphs may be a good option for searching patterns though. Small mayfly nymphs and dries, midges, and pinks squirrels should fish well. I’ve done well orange scuds this time of year too. Streamers? Why not! With low, clear water long leaders and a stealthy approach are a must. Fish are still holding in deeper pools but they’ve been increasingly spread out. Fish around rocks, secondary currents, in deeper riffles, fast runs, plunge, pools, long slicks, everywhere. Try to pattern there location and focus more casts in those areas while not entirely neglecting other features.

Trip Report: Warmth

A friend and I met up for a quick fish in a spot within cell reception. We fished from around 1015 to noon. The stream was crystal clear and fish were easily spooked. We fished nymphs the whole time despite spotting a few risers.

Around 1030am a few clouds of small midges came off. Throughout our time on the stream I also spotted two types of mayflies (sz 20ish and 16ish) and two very small caddis.

The sz 16 orange scud, sz 18 mayfly nymph, and sz 16 soft hackle all produced for us. I’ve seen plenty of caddis cases on rocks over the last few months so we should see great caddis hatches by the middle to end of the month! Make sure you have your caddis patterns!!! If you do not…

I’ve got a caddis assortment pack for sale. 10 nymphs, four indicators, 6 soft hackles, and 18 dries in a pocket sized plastic case. I also have 4x and 5x Rio powerflex tippet at an additional cost. Only one available for now so jump on it!

$ Sold!!! (Cash, check, Venmo, or PayPal)

Quick Trip Report: More wind

It’s been a windy few weeks. I had one hour between work and being on call today and the plan was to fish. I didn’t realize until I walked out the house that it’s hella windy out there! I didn’t realize until I arrived on stream at 1115a that almost all my flies, tippet, indicators etc were in my waders, hanging up at home. After scrounging up some old 4x tippet, a spare indicator, and the couple flies that were tossed in the trunk it was game on. I went with the prince nymph, a pattern that doesn’t get much love from me. Casting sucked. It was cold. Even with the 9’ 5 weight graphite rod it was tough casting.

Water was crystal clear and there want a cloud in the sky. The only silver lining was that the wind disturbed the surface enough that the fish weren’t as spooked by my approach. In this stretch of water a foot or so often means the difference between fish and no fish. With such tough casting conditions I left by noon happy to count three fish to hand.

I did spot a few rising to midges, no mayflies spotted. With warmer temps moving in and more moisture next week the bwo’s should really get going. Bwo’s love the slop. We’re on the precipice of some good dry fly action.