We had five days in April, Part I:
Trees around here took it pretty hard past few days; especially the conifers. Fifteen inches of snow in Rochester MN on May 2. To the west in Owatonna and Blooming Priaire, around eighteen inches. Heavy, high-water-content stuff. One of the funny little remnant cedar decorative trees along the back fence line snapped in half. No big loss. But telling. Man in a mask straight out robbed us of April and now a weekend in May taken too. When the windows come, they must be addressed. Lest this entire spring and early summer slip away. April 26 through May 1 were pretty damn nice days. Enough time had passed since previous rain events. Water was in good shape going into that stretch. One must strike. Must get out and forge some memories. Forge some bonds. Thus we came upon a period of approximately 102 hours during which I was not further than 100 feet from a coldwater segment of the Root River system for 60 hours. Part I of this episode was a single day of fishing with a coworker, approx 830 AM to 600 PM. Piscator Fontinalis
is the handle. Here are the notes:
The criteria for a big trout day are pretty straight-forward, in my opinion:
(1) Weekday. Unless later in the summer when the crowds have moved to lakes. Fish a weekday. Tuesday is nice. But any of them work. You don't want to be fishing behind someone. Sure you can catch fish doing that, but it limits you.
(2) Water in decent shape. Doesn't have to be perfect.
(3) Fish the right size of water. Don't a plan a day trip on a small stream. Unless you want to go Izaak Walton on the bit and eat fish at streamside and meet merry maidens. A day trip needs long stretches of good water. There are a number of options in SE MN, but to be honest there are not dozens that fit the bill really well. I used to fish small water a lot. Now I like medium sized water. Good day trip water.
If you have those three criteria in place and you DO NOT catch 30-50 fish, something is goofy. And you could easily catch 50-80 fish. Just being honest. Tongue is loosening and honesty is flowing. Two guys or one guy; doesn't matter. The total fish to hand should be about the same.
In this case, we set out to nymph like hell. We could have done it; would have worked pretty well. But we quickly discerned that it was going to be a streamer day. For the fish, a sword day, a red day. Ere the sun sets.
(1) Every shadow had fish laying up. Smacking these waters, even little triangles and small woody debris... would draw packs of linebacker fish out, all showing after the streamer, smacking at it. It was a bright day; this was notable. A lot of water was lit up. So the shadows were good.
(2) Slow water was good. Dead looking reaches produced fish. It was like casting and stripping in ponds sometimes. Not the giant pools, but slow stream reaches.
(3) Stomach contents played right into the streamer story. Almost zero bugs. Leeches, crayfish. And a lot of empty stomachs. Pursuing clarity on this one. Why were the stomachs last outing stuffed to bursting with all varieties of bugs, and these trout empty? Reflex answer is that these fish were coming of prolonged turbid water; slow feeding time.
(4) No hatches. We saw sporadic risers. Very clearly we could have fished dry flies all day and caught a fraction of the fish we caught, seen a fraction of the cool tackling takes we saw, and in general caught smaller fish. But we did not do that. At the end of the day I put on an Adams and prospected in riffles and runs. Caught exactly six fish, in maybe half an hour or so.
(5) PF can fish. Great to be on the water with a salty veteran. One who grew up fishing BKT. A guy acquainted with steelhead; someone who thinks hard about our natural resources. We didn't go too crazy with respect to fishing intensity and without counting can say we easily touched 50. Can practically remember that many fish.
(6) Kept nine thick fish, of which eight were between 11-13 inches. Perfect for eating. Some Biblical parable was in play; my creel strap broke under the weight.