Stream level rollercoaster not as dramatic today

Temperatures still hit the 40s today…even upper 40s from the Whitewater to Winona. The graph below is a good sign the majority (but not all) of the snow in and around the river valleys has diminished in the past few days. The MBWW peaked today at less than half the level it did yesterday.


Then we picked up another shot of this…stuff…which, at least, didn’t amount to much.


Final Round of Spring Runoff Underway

The remaining snow in southeast MN is departing quickly with temperatures finally returning to the 40s and pushing 50 in places this afternoon. The majority of our snow melted this past weekend, but there’s still plenty of stored moisture in the remaining snow, and spring runoff from snowpack will wrap up in the next day or two. Some streams and rivers will remain dirty into the weekend, but most of the smaller bodies of water will peak this evening or Thursday at the very latest. Larger branches such as the Root and Zumbro will take longer to drop and clear.

My buddy Vince in Lanesboro sent me a couple pictures of the Root River out his back door (stop in and see him at the Parkway Pub). Notice it’s high and dark, but not out of control and is within its banks. The Lanesboro gauge was actually dropping as of 3pm Wednesday (4/3/13), but as smaller streams and creeks drain into it, it will likely see an upward surge again.



Please note, none of what I’ve said here is equivalent to “nothing is fishable”, there are simply many places experiencing spring runoff from remaining snow, and some streams/rivers are higher and dirtier than others.

3/31/13 Stream Conditions: Peak of spring runoff has passed

Runoff and high water levels have peaked, at least along the majority of southeast MN trout streams. Water is still rising along the Zumbro River in Zumbro Falls and downstream, and that is the only Flood Warning still in effect in southeast MN as of tonight (3/31/13). You can see the ups-and-downs of the Middle Branch of the Whitewater on my Stream Conditions page.


There is still snow on the ground and temperatures are dropping again, but there isn’t as much stored up moisture as we had prior to this past weekend. The rest of our snow will quickly disappear between Wednesday and Friday of this coming week.

Vaughn Snook, Assistant Area Fisheries Supervisor at the Lanesboro DNR office, grabbed the following pictures Saturday when runoff was peaking in most locations.

Bucksnort Dam
High water and a whole lot of foam below Bucksnort Dam
Pine Creek
Sediment on top of an iced over stream channel – upper Pine Creek

UPDATE: MinnAqua Youth/Adult Mentored Fly Fishing Weekend


I got a note from the coordinator for this, and the deadline to apply has been extended. If you know anyone who might be interested, let them know! It’s a great opportunity to get your feet wet in the sport of fly fishing for trout.

Just wanted to let you know that MinnAqua has extended the deadline to apply for the Youth/Adult Mentored Fly-Fishing Weekend until APRIL 1, 2013. Only seven applications have been received, and we have space (and mentors) for 20 youth/adult pairs! This awesome event features mentors from FFF, TU-Hiawatha, TU-Headwaters, Fly Fishing Women of Minnesota, the DNR, and other partners with additional support from the Izaak Walton League Bush Lake Chapter.

Thanks for letting the new fly anglers in your world know about this unique opportunity to learn from the experts. Please encourage them to apply today! Contact me with questions:

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

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.


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

Minnesota Drought Update – Good News?

There is positive news in the long range drought outlook, and hopefully the active weather pattern of frequent storm systems stays consistent through late winter into spring.


The US Drought Monitor provides a weekly update to overall drought conditions. Today’s drought status doesn’t show much improvement across Minnesota, nor should it, but recent trends in regards to precipitation have been good. Below is today’s updated drought monitor. Note that while 100% of Minnesota is in drought, there’s been a marked decrease in percent area in severe to extreme drought (D2-D4). There is usually minimal change this time of year since our moisture is either not present or sitting on top of the ground in the form of snow. Recent rainfall has actually helped a little, even though we’ve got a deep frost layer.


Minnesota along with much of the Midwest are in a long term drought, so relief from this drought will be a long process.



You can see there is a considerable moisture deficit over the past 6 months, and precipitation deficits actually stretch all the way back to August of 2011. In that 18 month period, precipitation deficits range from 5 to nearly 20 inches across southeast Minnesota reporting stations.

On a positive note is the recent precipitation trending above normal for winter, even if snow has been below normal, we’ve had unusual amounts of rain for winter. Call it what you will, but it’s moisture, and the middle of winter is typically the driest time of the year for us. Hopefully trends continue. Images below show the departure from normal in the last week and the amount of precipitation in the last 30 days.




And the groundwater monitored is finally making a comeback after the lowest recorded level in that station’s history. I’d have put a southeast MN station on here, but levels haven’t been updated since November.