Friday, April 12, 2013

April is Slipping Away

...and we've been moderately robbed thus far

Probably the last instance of April 1 meaning much to trout fishermen in SE MN.  Next year, things should be somewhat less detailed in the way of seasons.  As it stands though, that date marks the open of catch and release trout fishing for nearly every stream in our corner of the state (I believe that Dakota County is not included and there is a segment or two of trout water in that polygon).  This year, flexibility was a required attribute for anyone who ventured out.  Streams were charged with meltwater, meaning temperatures dropped and water clarity decreased.  And not like rain events, which can generally be fished with decent success as the hydrograph recedes…     snowmelt is a little different, in my opinion, because nearly all or all of the “extra” or “event” water that reaches the channel gets there running over the ground.  Meaning if I drive up the road to the stream 35 hours after a rain event and the water is receding, I expect it to be very clear if not dead clear, and I expect it to fish really well.  But it is not a given that you’ll find those conditions as snowmelt-driven peaks recede.  More variable.  I looked at many streams that had come down 3-4 feet by Monday and they were nearly all less than six inches clarity.  Tied up some slightly bigger, somewhat flashier nymphs; some black streamers too, for good contrast.  I found one stone clear BKT stream and caught a few pretty fish.  Best part about this reach though was stumbling onto a totem that marked someone's extensive sugar bush.  But that was early on and I believed I’d find better water.  Turns out I should have stayed.  I fished turbid water for a while and caught a couple BNT, one fairly nice one, on streamers.  But I got to the point of asking myself: why do I want to stick around here and fish either (a) turbid water of the size I like, or (b) really small streams – the few that are clear right now?  I like to nymph.  That’s a fact.  I’m out there to beat up on seams and nymph.  That and catch some fish to eat (in season).  My conclusion was that I’d do neither of those things on this day.  And I don’t have to fish; no one making me do it.  I like it and I like tradition of April 1.  But hell, when things ain’t right, you don’t have to stick with it all the time.  Fold up and head home.  Maybe I’m getting old.  But more likely cranky: more and more I like to fish what I like to fish; not just fish to be doing it.  The fish are there; I'm here; God willing that will always be the case. So let it be now and then.  And yes - you can almost always find water; some water, to fish.  We love you and everything else but that is not a revelation of any sort.  That is a known fact.  But again, ratio of work to time to enjoyment to enthusiasm is in play.  Hell with it.  Drove away around 3 PM and abandoned the 2 inch clarity, have-to-hit-a-fish-with-streamer-bit and went home.  Other days are down the road.  As a consolation, I stumbled on about 6-7 old jellybeans in the crotch of my chestpack.

Day before opener we climbed around the park and fished some of the winter streams.  Should say the kids attempted the winter streams; I didn’t string up a rod.  I knew it was a 10% chance for them, but I gave them bright jigs and spinners and just let them cast for half an hour or so.  Zero hits.  But new line helped JD out quite a bit. And DM really has the casting down now.  Couple notes on this outing:
(1)    When Dad says do not step on the ice, there is moving water there over that hole; and then brother says do not step on that ice…    it’s good to not step there.  But lessons are learned in various manners.  DM fell through to approx. thigh depth early on in the trek.  To his credit, after emptying his shoes and brushing him off a bit…   he carried on, for 2-3 more hours…    without a single word of complaint.  If it’d been cold, I would have called it.  But no chance of any damage, so we went ahead.
(2)    We picked up a Primus backpack stove on sale for $19.  You see how small it is there…    and the two mugs and the fuel fit into the kettle.  So this is something that even a small daypack can carry with ease.  It boiled ~1/3 of that volume in 3-4 minutes.  Ice pellets hit us while the little stove was ripping away.  May sound silly to have tea out there on the sidehill, but it was a highlight.  Kids dig the idea of going out and setting up some such thing in the woods.  In the way of gear review, I’d say plus on this…  but only used it once thus far.  Coolness factor pretty high.


Blogger Feather Chucker said...

That looked like a great day. Except for your kid falling in. I give him props for hanging the rest of the day. He had to be cold.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous winonaflyfactory said...

Good report. I hear and understand the frustration but these times will make that first day when the caddis are blowing up and your stripping layers off and trout in both in a steady clip that much more beautiful. Would like to make something work out soon. Take care man. Boys are looking good by the way.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi!Tought I write to you and thank you for your texts and photos. I'm from Montreal (québec) and your ideas about fishing, environment and nature strikes a chord!
(sorry for the english ...not my native tongue)

7:15 PM  
Blogger amanda said...

I adore the photos and days spent like this.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Good notes.

Today is catch and keep opener. Taking my son to a work meeting and then we may look around the park for any easy-access fish-knocking water. I have a brand new pair of wool socks on, made in North Carolina. Feels pretty good. All the ground surface is covered in snow. And supposedly tomorrow we got a big slug of rain. Damn it.

Carry on everybody; let's salvage something of this April; usually one of our best months.

10:38 AM  
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