Category Archives: fly fishing

9-30-16 Report: Streams clearing, fish are eating

September 30, 2016

A buddy and I both punched out early Friday afternoon to go fishing to end a no-fishing streak. Neither of us had been out all September. It was a good choice.

The stream we fished in the Whitewater system was still dirty but visibility is at least about 1 meter, so it’s in excellent shape. We started nymphing with only minimal success, switched to buggers then didn’t stop catching fish until we walked off the stream. Each cast turned at least one fish and most casts resulted in a catch. Both black and brown buggers worked well, including many fish on the ivy pheasant craw.

There wasn’t much time or desire to grab the camera on this venture, but I did get a couple pics for proof. Gotta love the fall colors of the brown trout.

southeast minnesota brown trout

2016 Fly Swap – jrs’s Pink Squirrel Variant

PinkSquirrelVariant-jrs

submitted by message board member jrs – here are the details:

Pink Squirrel Variant — John Stoeckel (jrs)

Except for the tail, all of the components of this fly have been changed from the original Bethke Pink Squirrel. But it still looks like a Pink Squirrel and it certainly evolved from the Pink Squirrel. The main changes have been inspired by the European / competitive nymphing community with an emphasis on making it a hard bodied, fast sinking “anchor” fly.

Hook: European / competition style jig hook #12
Thread: standard thread in black and orange
Weight: Gold brass or tungsten bead, 1/8”
Tail: 2 strands pearl Krystal Flash, split
Body: Black Ultra Wire, size BR
Collar: UV Pink Ice Dub

1) Slide the bead on the hook.
2) Wrap the black thread back to above the barb (if there was a barb)
3) Tie in a piece of Krystal Flash at an angle to the shank. Then fold back the long end and wrap it down at an angle on the opposite side to form a “V”. Trim to length.
4) Wind the thread back to the collar area and tie in the wire. Snip the black thread. Put a layer of cement on the hook shank. Wind the wire rearward in tight, touching wraps to the base of the tail (this is easiest with a rotary vise), then wrap the wire forward in an open spiral back to the collar area.
5) Tie on the orange thread. Secure and trim the wire.
6) Dub a short, tight noodle of UV Pink Ice Dub on the thread and wrap the collar.
7) Tie a whip finish and apply a drop of cement.

Comments:
1) The competition style jig hooks are available from a number of brands – Allen J100BL, Umpqua C400BL. They are a slightly longer than a TMC 3769 hook of the same size with a 60 degree bend at the eye and a wider hook gap. They are also barbless, so if you use a trailer fly, you probably want to tie it to the eye of the jig (rather than the bend) so that it doesn’t slip off.
2) As with the Copper John, you can vary the color of the wire as you like. I’ve used black, gold, and red wire. I’ve also used two colors of wire – eg, black and gold – wrapped together to get a striped effect.

IFFF Fly Fishing School – July 24-26

In case you know someone looking to get into or advance in the sport of fly fishing…

When: July 24-26, 2015
Where: Rochester, MN – RCTC

All the details you’d ever want to know and more here http://www.fedflyfishers.org/Councils/UpperMidwest/Events

…and here: Fly Fishing School Poster 2015

6/14/15 Report & Conditions

Sorry for the radio silence here recently, I’ve been sloughing off my free time on the stream. The fishing around here has really been great lately. We’ve had some insect hatches in southeast Minnesota hitting a tempo that I haven’t seen in my short 12 years of fishing here.

A buddy and I fished a stream north of I-90 on Saturday the 6th. There was a tremendous hatch of long-horned caddis. The caddisflies had very long antennae in comparison to their body length, and their wings were a brown, mottled color. The trout were very selective, but we still managed to catch enough fish that it only made sense to trade off every 3 fish instead of every other. A caddis green wet fly caught the most fish, but we spent a good hour twitching an elk hair caddis with good results as well. Neither of us had a caddis dry that matched the species hatching, and there actually weren’t a whole lot of rising trout, but the fish were actively feeding.

We picked up a pop-up camper recently, so the past two weekends were spent camping. My boys and I camped at Forestville State Park the 7th-8th (love camping Sun-Mon when we can swing it) and then our whole crew + one extra dog spent the past few days at Whitewater State Park.

The boys wanted to fish, so…

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My oldest is still just starting out with fly fishing, but he did catch this nice rainbow all on his own. We worked through some sweet tippet knots as well, but I didn’t get any pictures of those.

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Last weekend, at least Sunday evening, there was an amazing mayfly hatch. There were March Browns, Light Hendricksons, craneflies, caddis, a few sulfurs, and a pale white mayfly. My boys and I stood in the river and watched the clouds of bugs until after sunset. We cast at a few risers, caught a few trout, and admired the bats as they flapped within inches of where we were standing.

A yellow humpy cast to the right spot yielded a nice brown.

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Next weekend we’re headed to a park much farther southeast.

4/17-4/20 Report: Trout Camp

Due to a number of scheduling conflicts, this year’s Trout Camp had to fall on the same weekend as the catch and keep opener. As frightening as that was, it turned out to be much better than I anticipated. The campground and the streams were busier than usual on Friday through Saturday, otherwise everyone cleared out rather quickly Sunday and we didn’t see anyone else out fishing on Monday. Overall, great friends, good fishing, and a welcome reprieve to a river valley with no cell phone reception.

Friday Brook TroutFriday: the weather was amazing, maybe even too warm with the lack of wind although we didn’t have too many complaints. First fish, first run, first cast – great start to the day. On an upper reach of a spring creek, water temperatures stayed around 48 degrees despite air temperatures in the mid-70s and full sunshine. The catch rate was fair to good. Fish were caught on peeking caddis size 16, caddis larva size 16, pink squirrels, orange scuds, copper johns, and pheasant tails. Farther downstream in the afternoon there were quite a few caddis bouncing around on the water. Unfortunately, despite the hatch, there were no rises seen, very few fish caught, and very few fish spooked. Something seems amiss through that popular stretch of water.

Trout FiletsSaturday: opening day. We ventured into the big woods south of I-90 and fished a relatively popular stretch of water. Every access point was loaded with about 6-8 cars when we arrived, which we expected.Trout Tacos What I didn’t expect was the majority clearing out of the stream before lunch. The water temperature was 58 degrees on this stream; warmer than the waters fished previously. By the end of the afternoon there were very few people left fishing. We caught a lot of fish, kept a few, and had an amazing dinner of fried trout filets, trout tacos, and altogether too much to eat. I hadn’t fished on opening day in at least 10 years and it was well worth the extra effort.

Sunday Rainbow TroutSunday: we took a long walk on a cold stream and caught a few fish. There were showers, but not much rain, it was overcast and cool with temperatures in the 50s. The fishing was difficult through the morning although we did catch a handful right out of the gates. The fishing picked up a little in the afternoon. Fish were caught on midge larva, copper johns, peeking caddis, and san juan worms. A few, nice glory fish were caught in front of the camping onlookers who said those were the first fish they’d seen caught all day. This was another stream that seemed to have a much lower population of fish, and that was confirmed by recent DNR shocking statistics. One of the highlights of Sunday was catching a handful of nicely-sized rainbow trout that had been planted in years prior as yearlings. They put up a hearty fight and were a pleasant surprise.

Monday's stopping pointMonday: it was the worst weather day of camp, but the fishing was close to the best of the 4 days. We ventured far back up a river valley and saw no other anglers the entire day. Fish were still actively feeding up in faster water although no hatching insects were seen above water. Successful patterns included a variety of nymphs, midge larva, woolly bugger, and that stinkin’ worm pattern.

 

3/7/2015 Report & Conditions

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Saturday, March 7th Report:
Fished from 9:30am-12:30pm. Sky was clear, wind in the valley was a non-issue (gusty on the blufftops), temperature started at 32 and was ~38 when we walked out of the valley. There was still plenty of snow on the banks and ice shelves in a few stretches. Fishing was slow, but there was one stretch with ample sunshine + emerging midges that brought fish to the surface. This was a first outing for 3 of us fishing, each caught our first trout of the year on a Griffith’s Gnat (and a couple more to boot). In this particular location, fish were up in the current, actively feeding. Additional fish were caught on an orange scud. In many other stretches that were still shaded, we caught nothing despite our best efforts.

5/23-5/26 Report – Turkey, Trout, and Morels

I’m not a hard-core turkey hunter, and neither are my friends, but we like to take advantage of all that southeast Minnesota has to offer and grab over-the-counter permits for one of the later seasons. This year, due to busy schedules, the only one we could settle on was the final spring season. I took a 4-day weekend off work and we hunted this past Friday, Saturday, and Memorial Day – at least a portion of each day anyway. While it’s not the most sought after season for turkey, my good friend still shot a turkey within the first half hour of hunting, and we didn’t even hit the field until about 10am Friday morning. Hearing that solo gun shot was one of the finer points of the weekend. I figure turkey hunting is a lot like deer hunting, in a sense. When you’re sitting in the woods and you hear a single gun shot, it’s more than likely it was a successful shot. And it was…

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Turkey down.

So, that was about 10:30am Friday morning. I got that pic via text along with a message that my buddy was going to field dress the bird, have a beer, and go fishing. Being such a warm, beautiful day, and being that I wasn’t hearing or seeing any signs of bird life where I was perched, I figured I’d join him – for the field dressing, beer, and of course, the fishing.

Our other friend kept after the turkey hunting and we headed down to the stream. It’s pretty sweet having a great trout stream running through the same place we hunt. On the way down to the river I found a little snack along the trail.

morel

The stream was running clear, a touch low, at least in comparison to what we’d seen in the weeks/months prior, and there were a few fish rising. There weren’t a lot of bugs to be seen, but there were enough caddis, gray and brown, to keep the fish very interested in actively feeding. We traded off after each fish, and there were plenty of fish brought to hand.

brown trout

 

We caught fish on copper johns and any flavor of caddis pupa/larva as a trailer. Fishing faster, shallower water with the nymphs on a lift was very successful. So was taking a break to let the other guy catch a few more fish before jumping in again – you know, to cool down.

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After another hunt Saturday morning (no turkeys seen, but more fish caught), we met up later that evening to grab enough morels out of the back yard to complement a meal of wild turkey. A 5-minute harvest.

morels

There was some leftover bacon grease in a pan, so why not bread a few? They were eaten up quickly.

fried morels

Then we sauteed the rest with some onions and enjoyed that with the turkey. It was amazing…

morels and onion

 

grilled wild turkey

morels and wild turkey

That was just one half of the turkey breast, and 3 of us couldn’t finish the whole thing. The meal was one of the best I’d had in a long while.

We hunted again on Memorial Day after a Sunday break and even though we didn’t reap any more bounty from the hunt, the fishing was, once again, remarkable.

I can’t say it enough – southeast Minnesota is hard to beat if you enjoy the outdoors.

Slot Limits and Harvesting Trout

Thanks to improved land use practices, habitat restoration, and a focus on wild trout management, Southeast Minnesota, is blessed with a great abundance of trout.   This great abundance is most obvious on our streams that have a special regulation called a “Slot-Limit” placed on them.  The  slot limit you will find is Southeast MN is a 12″ to 16″ protected slot.  This means that you must release all fish you catch that measure between 12 to 16 inches in length.  For the exact wording of the regulation, and which streams have it, see this MNDNR page.

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One 10 inch trout makes for part of a great breakfast.

When fishing these slot limit streams, an angler may actually be doing the trout population a favor by keeping a limit of trout.  This is because these streams typically have such a high population of trout, that they can’t grow to their greatest potential.  So, by protecting the trout that have grown to a larger size, while at the same time reducing the numbers of smaller trout, we hopefully end up with a more balanced size structure with more large trout.  That’s the theory.  The reality is that there just aren’t enough trout harvested to make much of a difference.  And that’s the bottom line: there’s just not a lot of harvest going on on many of our streams to negatively impact the overall trout populations.

Of course there are scenarios where harvest could possibly affect a trout population:  Streams that have low populations of trout may be negatively affected by over harvest.  This is not common here in MN.  Another scenario is that when anglers harvest too many larger (over 12 inches in our case) trout.  This has the effect of eliminating the stronger, faster growing fish from a stream, while leaving the smaller fish to reproduce, effectively stunting the overall fish population.  And this is another reason we have the slot limit protecting these larger fish.

So, next time you are planning a trout fishing trip to Southeast MN, consider fishing one of the streams with a slot limit, and plan to keep some trout.  Not only are these wild fish of gourmet quality on the plate, they need to be thinned out in order to better balance their populations.  At the very least, you won’t be hurting anything by keeping them.