Category Archives: Trip Report

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.

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5/22/15 Report: Caddis, Craneflies, Perfect Weather

A buddy and I hoofed it way back into valley Friday morning and didn’t climb back out until the late afternoon. Fish were rising to caddis and craneflies at 10am, steadily at first, but more sporadic as the afternoon went on. In a nutshell, fishing was fantastic. There was one particular hole that we fished for about 45 minutes, catching nicely sized trout on elk hair caddis. All fish caught were full and healthy, and rocks were alive with a wide variety of insects. There were a few light hendricksons and baetis in the mix of insects, otherwise fish were primarily keyed into caddis and craneflies on the surface. We caught fish on elk hair caddis, caddis pupa, pink squirrels, and pheasant tail nymphs. Most productive for me was a green wire-bodied caddis wet fly that I tie with a cdc wing, partridge for hackle, and a black or brown dubbed head.

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I gave a new rod a whirl yesterday and was very pleased. Limit Creek Rod Company has recently introduced a line of fly rods. The 5 weight I fished Friday casts and fishes well. It’s a very fast rod, at least the fastest of my relatively small collection, and really shoots line nicely. I was (and typically am) fishing a double nymph rig with weight and an indicator, and did so easily and effortless. It was also very fun to throw out a lot of line with an elk hair caddis and twitch it across a run. The water was very clear and a bit of distance was required, and the rod delivered.

Stream Conditions page updated

4/3/2015: Cold and Cloudy with a Side of Smoked Char

IMG_6287A couple friends and I were joined by a gentleman from Denmark this morning. Thanks to his generosity, this (picture to the left) is how we ended the morning and it was the highlight of today’s fishing trip. He brought along a couple filets of smoked, Arctic Char from fish that he caught in Iceland. Delicious.

The weather was overcast, cold, and gusty with the temperature around 30-31 all morning. I’ve been out at least a half dozen times since January and this is the first time I fought ice on the guides. By the time we got home at 12:30 there was a 10° jump in temperature and the sky was sunny.

We each caught fish, the winning fly today was a black woolly bugger catching a few fish. Peeking caddis caught another, and a pink squirrel caught a beauty of a brown from underneath a fallen tree. Water was crystal clear, no water temperature taken, no insect activity or surface activity seen. We not only wrapped up the outing with a couple filets of smoked, arctic char, but venison sticks and cold coffee (by default of not bringing the thermos). Wow, it was good.

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This rainbow was caught a long distance from where any are stocked – the first rainbow I’ve caught there in years.

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.

July 16th, 2014

Due to weather and home projects, I didn’t fish between June 11th and July 11th. That’s just wrong.

However, from my experiences this past weekend…

-streams are, generally, in great shape
-the gnats have been obscene, but there seem to be spots where they’re worse than others and a little wind can go a long way
-hoppers! There are a variety of sizes of hoppers now, but there are some adults already and we caught a lot of nice-sized trout casting hoppers. There are also some small, bright green grasshoppers, probably a size 10?

Didn’t take a single picture…

I was fishing a hopper very similar to the Letort Hopper but with legs. It was getting some great strikes. I bought it a long time ago and it was my last one, so it’s time to learn to tie these.

REALLY Brown Trout: June 11, 2014 Report

I met up with a few buddies today and fished the Village Bicycle (everyone’s had a ride). It’s been a couple seasons since I fished it…normally too busy for my taste, but not a bad day on the water. The weather was great. The temperature when we were there, 8:30am-Noon, was in the 70s. Sky was mostly sunny, wind was light, water was clear with only a slight tinge. Fish were rising sporadically but were more visibly feeding below the surface. There were a lot of caddis boppin’ around on the water, many of which were larger, darker-colored caddis. Size 14’ish, I’d guess. There were also some craneflies and a few March Browns, but not too many.

A size 14 Adams was refused – a lot – but nymphing was moderately successful. A size 14 flashback pheasant tail caught the most fish for me. With all the terrestrials present, I figured a black wet fly would be killer, but I caught nary a fish on it.

Of the handful of fish caught, I did manage one really nice fat brown, measured at 15 1/2″ (I rarely measure fish, but if you’re going to measure, you might as well be accurate), and stout. I like it when the trout have got some girth to them, and this one fought with it – a fun catch.

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I caught the brownest brown trout that I ever recall catching today. I’m assuming its darker color was due to its preferred, darker dwelling. I caught this fish in a short run, under a tree, with a large rock overhang. It took the fly from under the rock and am guessing said fish spends a lot of time there. The picture doesn’t do the fish’s color justice, in my opinion; it was pretty dark.

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Stream conditions steadily improving

It’s been relatively easy to find a good spot to fish for more than a week now, but things were rough on a lot of water at the end of March and the beginning of April due to runoff, rain, and a little additional snow. Not un-fishable in southeast MN, but there was plenty of turbid water. Now that the snow has been almost completely gone since this past weekend (some north-facing slopes still have some stubborn drifts-turned-glaciers) and we’ve got a break from precipitation, we should be in good shape.

A good friend and I took our kids camping for spring break from the 31st of March through the 2nd of April. We were the only campers in all of Whitewater State Park, which was awesome. The kids had a great time despite the fact the river through the park was in rough shape until our last day and the weather wasn’t always agreeable – but it’s rarely perfect.

This is how things looked through Whitewater State Park on Monday, March 31st.
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After a blustery, cold Tuesday with more time spent around the fire or in the camper, weather and water improved Wednesday, April 2nd. I’m sure outside the park and farther upstream was in much better shape, but we stayed put with 4 kids. The kids were casting fly rods, spinners, and a Rapala, but fish were stubborn. Still, they kept casting for quite a long time. We managed to catch a couple of trout, but that was it.
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Last week wrapped up with a fresh blanket of snow on Friday morning, the 4th, which disappeared by the end of the weekend.
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I got out yesterday (Tuesday, April 8th) morning and fished a clear stream. Temperatures were in the 40s in the morning with mostly sunny skies and a stiff, northwest wind. I managed a handful of fish, all on an orange scud, although I tried small nymphs, a midge, and a small, green soft hackle to no avail. It was more turbid farther downstream, but that could have been as much cattle as it was remaining runoff from some snow banks stuck on an east-west running feeder. Most remaining slopes/ditches should lose their snow today due to the warmth and wind. Stream conditions should be good this weekend; probably better than the weather with showers/thunderstorms Saturday and a chilly, wet Sunday in store.

You can check out quite a few, recent trip reports and stream condition reports on the message board. Feel free to share your own reports, they’re helpful.

Trout Camp 2013

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This past weekend was our 3rd annual Trout Camp, a get together friends and I do every spring to shake off winter’s webs and fish for a few days. This year winter didn’t want to let go, but we make it happen no matter the weather, and even with crummy weather, Trout Camp 2013 didn’t disappoint. Fishing wasn’t prime, but we still caught plenty of fish and kept a handful for Saturday evening delicacies.

We departed early Friday morning in the wake of a storm system that dropped around an inch or two in southeast Minnesota.

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Despite a few patches of blown snow covering the roads and a soaking rain the day before, we remained optimistic for a great weekend away. Camp was set up relatively quickly in the cold, spring air, and we were one of only 3 populated campsites in the lower campground. Note the snow melted quickly…a benefit of April even if this April isn’t behaving appropriately.

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After 1-2″ of rain the day before in addition to a coating of snow, the river was running high and very dirty through the park, which was no surprise. We threw buggers for a while with no luck before venturing to another branch of the system which was also running high and muddy. After a short while of flogging the water fruitlessly, we headed to a much smaller stream farther south. We had much better luck catching fish the rest of the afternoon before heading back to camp to get the fire started and bacon-wrapped steaks on the grill.

Saturday started off with quite a chill, but there was plenty of sunshine to melt the frost.

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Fishing got off to a slow start despite clearing water. Temperatures bottomed out in the teens and fish were sluggish. We managed a few here and there in the morning through early afternoon on buggers, flashy nymphs, and scuds. It was still clear that fish were sluggish post-flood as some that we caught were skinny and pale. There was also a lot of angler pressure, to be expected, which was another contributor. By the mid-afternoon, we headed to a favorite spot where rarely another angler is seen, and it turned out to be a very good choice. For the rest of the day, we caught plenty of fish on skinny nelsons and small PTs until we switched to black woolly buggers closer to sunset. That decision resulted in quite a few fish caught in the closing hour of the day and it was a blast to watch trout hammer the buggers. There was quite a bit of gallery fishing, trading off after a fish caught, mockery for losing one, and it was cool enough to keep the beers chilled.

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We had caught (and kept) enough fish between the 4 of us to cook trout over the campfire. In lieu of simply gutting, cooking, and eating, we ramp it up a bit and turn them into fish tacos. It’s quite simple. After gutting and rinsing out the fish, stuff with some butter, salt, pepper, wrap the fish in foil, and cook over the fire. Once they’re done, a couple of us peel off the skin, remove the bones, and put the trout meat in a bowl and mince it up a bit with a fork. Instead of mixing ingredients, we have sliced limes, cilantro, and hot sauce on the side to make your own. Stuff a corn tortilla as desired and there you have it. Or do you? “That’s one way to do it, I guess.” To add a more crisp texture this time, we put the corn tortilla on the cast iron skillet, let it cook a short while, flip it, then add trout, squeeze a lime wedge over it, add cilantro, hot sauce, throw on a few of those sliced potatoes too, and….delicious. The 24 pack of tortillas and trout disappeared rather quickly.

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Sunday was an excellent finish to Trout Camp 2013 and we were the only campers in the loop by 9am. Sure, the deep cell battery in the pop-up may have died and in turn left a couple of us with no heat for the night, and sure, a fresh inch of snow fell Sunday morning, but after another excellent breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, and venison chops we were welcomed by cleaner water, hungrier fish and a few blue-winged olives coming off in the midday.

Snowy start to Sunday with really big snowflakes.
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Mmmm…eggs…
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Nobody was skunked.
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…and camp was packed up around 4pm Sunday afternoon with a few, celebratory beers left over.

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It was a great weekend to remember, spent with the best of people. Plenty of trout were released…until next time!

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The smell of campfire still lingers for at least a couple days afterward.

3/24/13 Report

With spring taking its sweet time, a friend of mine decided it was time to camp no matter the weather this past weekend. I wasn’t able to join the camping expedition, but did head out with a buddy to meet up with him and fish Sunday. When we arrived, there was a smoldering campfire in the partially shoveled-out campsite.

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They happened to be the only campers in the park aside from the turkeys and deer.

Light snow was falling, temperatures were in the upper 20s to lower 30s, sky was cloudy, and winds were brisk but not overwhelming. The water was very clear. A few fish were rising to midges, enough to coax me into tying on a midge dry after a couple hours of nymphing, and I tagged a couple small fish on top, otherwise we caught our fish on small PT’s, small wet flies, and midge larva patterns. I fished a size 18 pheasant tail and a chironomid most of the outing, which succeeded in bringing a half dozen fish to hand in a relatively short amount of time.

Tan Chironomid

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After a few hours, the desire for comfort exceeded the desire to fish any longer, and we left the water around 3pm. Not a bad day on the water, enough fish to scratch the itch as we wait for the days to warm up going into April.

March 7, 2013 Update

As of March 6th, the snow depth at the Rochester International airport is over 12″ for the first time since February 16, 2011. The recent snowfall varied from 5-12″ across southeast Minnesota. The highest totals were reported in northern Goodhue, eastern Wabasha, and eastern Winona counties. March 5-6, 2013 snowfall totals.

Current snow depth from the National Snow Analyses
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I got out for a couple hours this past Sunday, prior to our fresh layer of snow, and fishing was pretty good in the afternoon despite being on the downhill slide of stream temperatures. As expected, catching was more productive where sun was hitting the water as opposed to shaded, colder portions of the stream. There were midges on the snow, not swarming, but plenty, and there were a few trout rising in slower water downstream of a few riffles/runs. The water was only slightly stained, and air temperatures were around 28-30 degrees from 2-4pm. I caught a handful of fish on a skinny nelson and one on a rainbow scud.

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Any reports on recent outings are appreciated on the message board.