Trout Fishing State Parks – Oct. 16-Dec. 31

The catch-and-release season on the majority of southeast Minnesota trout streams is now closed. This year was the first to be extended from the end of September into the middle of October.

However, there is still trout fishing to be had in a few of southeast Minnesota’s state parks. Here is where you can fish in Beaver Creek SP, Whitewater SP, and Forestville SP.

All of southeast Minnesota’s designated trout streams will be open on January 1st, 2015 for the catch-and-release winter season.

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Pros and Cons Of The “Ghost Net”

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“Ghost Netting” is just translucent “rubber” (urethane?) netting. Trout colors really “pop” when photographed in this type of netting.

I can’t remember exactly when it was I first saw a picture of a trout being held in a “Ghost Net”…probably a couple years ago…but I do remember thinking, “wow, that net is cool.  It really makes the colors in that trout pop”.  Soon I started seeing more and more great “in the net” trout pictures that actually looked really good thanks to the clear rubber ghost netting.

Then one day I was in my favorite fly shop and noticed they had my net…a Wolf Moon Oxbow...that had the ghost netting installed on it.  We called up Bill at Wolf Moon and sure enough, he could sell me a replacement bag for my net, so I ordered one up.  It only took me a year to get around to installing it, but it’s done now, and I’ve formed some opinions on it

Pros:

-Pics taken of trout in the ghost net can actually look really good.  The whitish, blueish, clearish, translucent netting really brings out the color in the trout.  Pics of trout taken in the standard black mesh netting never really can look good.

-You can’t get your hook caught in a rubber net like you can in a fabric mesh net.  I had several “hook holes” in my old bag from forcefully removing stuck hooks.  “Cockle burrs” and other “sticky” plant seeds can’t get stuck in the rubber bag, either.

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14 inch trout behave well in a rubber trout net, but what about a 20 incher?

-Rubber is easy on the fish’s slime coat…but so is soft mesh…so this one is a wash.

Cons:

-The ghost netting is a fair bit heavier than mesh.  Of course this isn’t going to keep you from using it, but it is noticeable.

-It doesn’t lay nicely on the back.  The rubber is too stiff to lay down properly, and so its common for the net to swing around when you bend down…more-so than a standard net does.  With my longish Oxbow net, my fly line seems to get caught on the handle more often now when wading deeper, because the handle sticks out at a greater angle from my back.

-Fish seem to be able to flip out of the net a little easier, particularly larger fish.  The biggest fish I’ve netted with the ghost netting has been around 15 or 16 inches and so far this hasn’t been too much of an issue, but I get the feeling a 20 inch trout would give me some trouble.  In the past, the Oxbow net with standard mesh handled 20 inch trout with ease.  12 to 14 inch fish are no problem, though.

I don’t regret putting the ghost netting on my Oxbow, but if I had to do it again, I’m not sure I would.  It certainly has its pros and cons.

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.

6/13/14-6/20/14 Heavy Rainfall

Rochester has received 4.02″ of rain since Saturday, June 13th.

Here are radar estimated totals from Wednesday, June 18th through Friday, June 20th
2014-06-20_12-25-47

Here are 7 day totals from June 13th through June 20th
2014-06-20_12-25-31

River gauges

Rain measurements from June 14th through June 20th, courtesy of NWS La Crosse

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LA CROSSE WI
119 PM CDT FRI JUN 20 2014

...PRELIMINARY RAINFALL TOTALS FROM JUNE 14TH THROUGH JUNE 20TH...

LOCATION                            COUNTY          AMOUNT 


...NORTHEAST IOWA...

WAUCOMA 3S                          FAYETTE         7.44
NEW HAMPTON                         CHICKASAW       7.42 
CHARLES CITY                        FLOYD           7.19
POSTVILLE                           ALLAMAKEE       6.82
OELWEIN 1WNW                        FAYETTE         6.80
EL DORADO 1E                        FAYETTE         6.45
COLWELL                             FLOYD           6.28
IONIA 2W                            CHICKASAW       6.22
ELMA                                HOWARD          5.90
MONONA                              CLAYTON         5.80
YELLOW RIVER PARK                   ALLAMAKEE       5.64
STRAWBERRY POINT                    FAYETTE         5.55
NASHUA 2SW                          CHICKASAW       5.20
CRESCO                              HOWARD          5.06
OSAGE                               MITCHELL        5.02
DECORAH                             WINNESHIEK      4.89
CLERMONT                            FAYETTE         4.87
ELKADER                             FAYETTE         4.73
ORCHARD                             FLOYD           4.73
ION                                 ALLAMAKEE       4.21
LITTLEPORT                          CLAYTON         4.16
VOLGA 1NE                           CLAYTON         4.05
DORCHESTER - HIGHWAY 76             ALLAMAKEE       3.67
BLUFFTON                            WINNESHIEK      3.64
GUTTENBERG DAM 10                   CLAYTON         3.21


...SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA...

BYRON 6S                            OLMSTED         7.30
ROCHESTER 5SW                       OLMSTED         7.00
AUSTIN 2NE                          MOWER           6.55 
ELGIN 5SE                           OLMSTED         6.27 
OXBOW PARK                          OLMSTED         6.25
BYRON 4N                            OLMSTED         5.97
ROCHESTER 6ENE                      OLMSTED         5.96
ROCHESTER 3W                        OLMSTED         5.79
ROCHESTER - BEAR CREEK              OLMSTED         5.77
AUSTIN 3S                           MOWER           5.70
EYOTA 5W                            OLMSTED         5.61
VIOLA 4W                            OLMSTED         5.32
MANTORVILLE 2WSW                    DODGE           5.32
LANSING                             MOWER           5.27
AUSTIN 3NW                          MOWER           5.23
ROCHESTER - SILVER CREEK            OLMSTED         5.22
ROCHESTER - BELTLINE                OLMSTED         5.11
FILLMORE                            FILLMORE        5.08
ALTURA 5W                           WINONA          5.07
SPRING VALLEY 3E                    FILLMORE        5.05
MANTORVILLE                         DODGE           5.05
ELBA                                WINONA          4.95
ROCHESTER AIRPORT 2NE               OLMSTED         4.94
OSTRANDER 5WNW                      FILLMORE        4.82
EYOTA 2NE                           OLMSTED         4.81
ROCHESTER - CASCADE CREEK           OLMSTED         4.74
WHITEWATER STATE PARK               WINONA          4.73
ROCHESTER 6N                        OLMSTED         4.68
ELGIN 2SSW                          WABASHA         4.60
SPRING VALLEY                       FILLMORE        4.58
WINONA 4SW                          WINONA          4.55
DOVER 1E                            OLMSTED         4.52
MINNESOTA CITY DAM 5                WINONA          4.36
ORONOCO 1W                          OLMSTED         4.25
CARIMONA                            FILLMORE        4.22
ORONOCO                             OLMSTED         4.04
ROCHESTER ASOS                      OLMSTED         4.02
WABASHA                             WABASHA         3.99
PRESTON 3NNE                        FILLMORE        3.97
ROCHESTER 2SE                       OLMSTED         3.96
GRAND MEADOW 6S                     MOWER           3.96
PILOT MOUND                         FILLMORE        3.84
CHATFIELD 9ESE                      FILLMORE        3.79
THEILMAN 1SSW                       WABASHA         3.76
PRESTON 6S                          FILLMORE        3.74
LANESBORO                           FILLMORE        3.71
CALEDONIA                           HOUSTON         3.63
PRESTON                             FILLMORE        3.55
ROCHESTER 4ESE                      OLMSTED         3.46
LEWISTON                            WINONA          3.43
HOUSTON                             HOUSTON         3.41
LA CRESCENT 1NNW                    HOUSTON         3.37
BEAVER                              WABASHA         3.37
BRISTOL 1N                          FILLMORE        3.32
KELLOGG                             WABASHA         3.28
SPRING GROVE 4N                     HOUSTON         3.12
ZUMBRO FALLS 4SSW                   WABASHA         3.01
BRISTOL 3NE                         FILLMORE        2.99
MOUND PRAIRIE                       HOUSTON         2.98
RUSHFORD                            FILLMORE        2.96
MABEL                               FILLMORE        2.96
PLAINVIEW 3E                        WABASHA         2.93
WINONA 5WSW                         WINONA          2.76
LA CRESCENT DAM 7                   WINONA          2.71

...SOUTHWEST AND CENTRAL WISCONSIN...

ETTRICK 4WNW                        TREMPEALEAU     7.86
BLAIR                               TREMPEALEAU     5.94
BLACK RIVER FALLS 2N                JACKSON         5.59
LA CROSSE - RIVERSIDE               LA CROSSE       5.57
ROCKVILLE                           GRANT           5.53
OSSEO                               TREMPEALEAU     5.37
TAYLOR                              JACKSON         5.36
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN                    CRAWFORD        5.35
WHITEHALL 4SSW                      TREMPEALEAU     5.24
LYNXVILLE DAM 9                     CRAWFORD        5.24
BURTON                              GRANT           5.20
HIXTON                              JACKSON         5.04
GALEVILLE 2WSW                      TREMPEALEAU     5.04
BLACK RIVER FALLS RAWS              JACKSON         4.75
FORT MCCOY YARD ROAD                MONROE          4.74
SINSINAWA                           GRANT           4.58
TREMPEALEAU DAM 6                   TREMPEALEAU     4.44
CASTLE ROCK DAM                     ADAMS           4.43
TUNNEL CITY 1S                      MONROE          4.38
STEUBEN                             CRAWFORD        4.26
HATFIELD DAM                        JACKSON         4.25
ONTARIO                             VERNON          4.18
MATHER 3NW                          JACKSON         4.17
WHITEHALL                           TREMPEALEAU     4.13
SPARTA                              MONROE          4.13
DE SOTO 1SE                         CRAWFORD        4.06
GENOA DAM 8                         VERNON          4.04
CUBA CITY                           GRANT           4.04
READSTOWN                           VERNON          4.02
WESTBY 3ENE                         VERNON          4.01
RICHLAND CENTER                     RICHLAND        3.98
LA CROSSE WFO                       LA CROSSE       3.94
WHITEHALL 6N                        TREMPEALEAU     3.86
FOUR CORNERS                        JACKSON         3.86
PIGEON FALLS                        TREMPEALEAU     3.82
STRUM                               TREMPEALEAU     3.81
READSTOWN 4NE                       RICHLAND        3.69
WARRENS 5WSW                        MONROE          3.67
GAYS MILLS                          CRAWFORD        3.56
NEILLSVILLE 3ESE                    CLARK           3.56
LA CROSSE 4NNW                      LA CROSSE       3.50
VIROQUA                             VERNON          3.44
ONTARIO 3E                          VERNON          3.42
HILLSBORO 2SW                       VERNON          3.35
BOSCOBEL ASOS                       GRANT           3.20
MAUSTON 1SE                         JUNEAU          3.13
STODDARD                            VERNON          3.03
NECEDAH RAWS                        JUNEAU          3.02
LA CROSSE ASOS                      LA CROSSE       3.00
ALMA DAM 4                          BUFFALO         2.99
DIAMOND LAKE RAWS                   TAYLOR          2.95
WEST SALEM 1W                       LA CROSSE       2.93
HOLMEN 2S                           LA CROSSE       2.93
PETENWELL DAM                       JUNEAU          2.91
HOLMEN 1NW                          LA CROSSE       2.90
FRIENDSHIP                          ADAMS           2.80
NEILLSVILLE                         CLARK           2.77
MELROSE 8SSW                        JACKSON         2.69
OWEN 2N                             CLARK           2.60

OBSERVATIONS ARE COLLECTED FROM A VARIETY OF SOURCES WITH VARYING
EQUIPMENT AND EXPOSURE. NOT ALL DATA LISTED ARE CONSIDERED OFFICIAL.

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.

IMG_4490

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.

IMG_4489

Fishing Attractor Dry Flies On Driftless Area Streams, part II

“Not long after I took up fly fishing, as a teenager, I began to look upon those who fished the Royal Coachman and Parmachene Belle and other such garish and unnatural flies as…well, gullible.

I unconsciously counted myself among the new breed of fly fishers who understood that trout eat insects and crustaceans and tiny fishes and that flies should imitate these creatures in look and movement at all times.

When I’d hear chatter about the magic of red floss and peacock herl in the Royal Coachman dry fly I’d just smile a sympathetic smile of wisdom. Oh poor, ignorant fools, I’d think.

Now I think differently. Now I think, Oh what a poor, ignorant fool was I”

As we can surmise from Skip Morris’ comments above (Thanks Skip!), attractor dry flies have been around a long time…and have been looked down upon by many an “ignorant fool” over the years.  On a more positive note, many of us- mainly through the  teachings of great tyers/authors like Morris, LaFontaine, Swisher, et al.- have found out how effective these great flies can be…even here in the Driftless.
So, what are some good attractor dry flies to use on Driftless Area streams and rivers?  That list would be a long one, so I’ll highlight a few I’ve used, and a few that have been mentioned by other folks on the MN Trout Forums board.
First on my list…mainly because it is probably the first attractor dry I ever used…is the Yellow Humpy.  I’ve caught many trout on this fly, which has its origins in the Rocky Mountains, but catches fish here, too!  The Grizzly Wulff is a similar fly that I’ve used with success as well.
Yellow Humpy
Next on my list would be the mighty Madam X.  This fly is without question the father of many of the more modern attractor dry flies that use “X-pattern” rubber legs.  Doug Swisher knocked it out of the park with this one.  To this day, I can clearly recall a large trout slowly rising out of a deep pool to inspect my Madam X, only to turn away at the last moment!  More on that later…
Madam X
Of course I must mention my own creation, the Slurpster.  Obviously the intellectual progeny of the Madam X, this fly has proven to be a very effective and quite durable fish catcher.  This has been my “secret weapon” for around a decade now, and I’ve just recently declassified it.  Trout typically take this fly with a slow SLURP, and the rises are often dramatic.  Makes for fun fishin’!  I tie this fly in tan, olive and black, with black being my favorite.
Can you see the Slurpster?
As I said, there are many great attractor dries that can be very effective on our local streams.  Other local fishermen have had great success with the following patterns:  Stimulators (many different flavors!); Royal Wulff; Pass Lake Dry; Clown Shoe Caddis; Royal Caddis, and other homebrewed patterns yet to be made famous.
So now we have an idea on what flies to use, now how about when, where and how?  Well, there are no hard and fast rules on any of these, so I will simply describe what has worked best for me over the years.
When: I typically start having good luck on attractors around the end of May.  By this time, there typically has been some major hatches of various caddis and mayflies, and terrestrial insects are active.  All this adds up to trout being more prone to “look up” for their food.  Good fishing on attractors will last throughout the entire remainder of the season…even in the “dog days” of summer.
summer-time brookie on a Slurpster
Time of day:  I’ve had good luck at pretty much any time of day, although the best times are of course the best times for any type of fishing:  morning, evening, and overcast days.  I do remember going out very early one morning (on the water right before dawn) and finding many fish rising.  I could catch virtually all these rising fish on a Slurpster.  They would take it without hesitation.  What a great morning.
Where: For whatever reason, I’ve had my very best luck on attractor dry flies on “unimproved” trout streams, and streams with a good population of larger fish. On streams that have high populations of smallish trout, it may be wise to go with smaller attractors, such as a size 14 Yellow Humpy or Royal Wulff.  For some reason, the big Madam X dries get more “false rises” than the smaller patterns.  I”m not sure why.  It could be just the streams I fish…I am working on a smaller rubber-legged patterns for streams like this…
How:  It’s been my experience that large patterns like the Slurpster and the Madam X fish best on a dead drift with no hint of drag.  It often happens that trout follow these patterns for several feet as they drift along before deciding whether or not to take.  9 times out of 10, when the fly starts to drag, they turn away (see big fish memory above).  Long drifts aren’t always necessary, but I’ve been surprised more than once by a trout that takes the fly after it has drifted for long time and I’m about to pick up for another cast.
Smaller, bushy hackled flies like the Humpy, Stimulator, etc., can be fished dead drift, but twitching or skating them can also lead to some violent strikes and more takes.  My guess is that these patterns look more like some kind of hatching insect, and so giving them “life” can be an effective method.
Finally, I’ll leave you with the “why” to fish attractor dry flies:  because it’s FUN!  To paraphrase David Letterman:  “If fishing attractor dry flies doesn’t drop ya, ya ain’t hooked up right!”

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…

image (53)

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.

image (55)

 

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.

Fishing Attractor Dry Flies on Driftless Area Streams, Part 1

It’s interesting to me that two of our sport’s most iconic “hatch matchers” also were enamored with “attractor” dry flies.  After all, attractor flies are, in a sense, the opposite of these tyer’s well known hatch matching patterns. This little observation should stand as a lesson of balance for all us Midwestern fly fishermen.

Doug Swisher, along with coauthor Carl Richards, wrote the classic book “Selective Trout“.  In it they describe a new fly they invented, the now legendary “No-Hackle” (not a very catchy name!).  This fly is the epitome of hatch matching flies.

Gary LaFontaine, with his book “Caddisflies“, taught us how to fish this prolific hatch.  His Sparkle Pupae and Emergent Sparkle Pupae patterns are extremely effective hatch matchers and a staple in many, if not most, fly angler’s boxes.

Okay, so these guys knew/know their bugs.  But they also studied and came to understand the importance of pure “attraction” in regards to dry fly design and what triggers a trout to take a fly. Swisher invented the Madam X. Not only an awesome fly in its own right, but also the prototype for many subsequent attractor dries.  LaFontaine wrote two books dealing with attraction:  “Trout Flies: Proven Patterns” and “The Dry Fly: New Angles“.  While less well known than Swisher’s Madam X, LaFontaine developed several innovative, effective attractor dry flies, such as the “Double Wing” and the “Air-Head”.  Gary’s daughter Heather also designed a great attractor dry, the “Mohawk“.

It’s my observation that many angler’s here in the Driftless tend to overlook or marginalize the attractor dry fly.  If there is not a hatch going on, many of us default to dredging nymphs.  If we see an occasional rise, we may tie on whatever hatched recently, generally going smaller if the fish won’t take our initial offering.  Of course, these methods do catch fish.  But I’m here to tell you that if you are not fishing attractor dry flies, you are missing out on some fun, and maybe some nice trout!

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll talk about some specific patterns & how to approach fishing an attractor dry fly in the Driftless.  In the meantime, please read my latest fishing report, which tells of the effectiveness of the attractor dry fly on our local streams.

 

 

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.

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.
image (52)

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.