January 2014 Report I
Moon phase preantepenultimate to the January Wolf marked the first day in calendar year 2014 that afforded some fishing time. In other words Jan12, 11 AM to 3 PM. It was a much anticipated day. Records show that it had been 2+ months since any line cut water. November/December always mark the long hiatus. Last year it was noted at this location that there would not be in the foreseeable future another day on which one could not fish for trout in a stream in southeast MN. It was the goal, it was the vision; but it did not come to pass. Slowdown is what it was; a slow process. Understandable but nonetheless disappointing. I’ll say it again, a year later… I think the time of no stream trout is behind us. Going forward we should have the normal catch and release, normal harvest, and then hopefully the State Park streams are open in the fall. No tangling with deer hunting, no hunting in the parks. Everyone go about their deals. Forget about trout and carp and do some deer hunting early November. Then when the jones comes back, go out late month and catch some trout. That is something to consider; a good thing. It is written as such, now it must become rule.
Given the cold spell and subsequent warmup that landed precisely on last weekend, I think it was generally understood that there would be a lot of folks out looking around, looking into gray water and pools. Let’s ditch these confines and breath some free air, I think people were mumbling. So I was a bit tense; a bit possessive (right or wrong, fact) on my way out there. I’ve no individual right to anything in particular but you know what I mean. Man, hope no one is on that reach. If yes, I had secondary and tertiary options noted. But no one was present. I think edging toward the early side of start time helped; I know some folks drove by and saw my car. Moved on; which is what I would have done.
This is water that I only fish in winter season, because all is C&R only so particular regulations don’t mean much. Struggle as we might with the idea of 100% C&R, it’s tough to NOT fish even under that constraint. Been a fair bit written on that subject; not for this report. More on this water though – it’s been very much adjusted per human hand. Which is another topic but one that has been given due attention and may not be of immediate concern when one just wants to step on rocks and get hands wet cupping some fish; just for a minute. The fish are there, in the holes, simple as that… I think that if you don’t catch them you are not fishing deep enough. The fish were not in the tails of the pools, they were in the bellies, the first resting water adjacent to main plunges, the seams behind rocks and along banks. You cannot go to the store, buy the right flies, apply them and just expect to catch these trout. Of number one importance are the split shot, number two probably the mending, number three the tippet diameter and the strike indicator, probably number four the fly patterns. Possibly importance number 0.5 is knowing they are there and committing to addressing them with an iterative approach. Meaning adjustment of indicator and addition/subtraction of split shot as various holes are encountered. Visions are good too, of fish in pools. There are numerous, unlimited dimensions of skills in the world of fishing and I claim to have very few of them. Even so, understanding that the fish are there and they need only be dug out of the places in which they feel secure… makes up for a lot of deficiency.
And thus, the four hours of fishing produced very precisely 24-26 fish. My estimate is based on remembering the series of 4-5 holes that produced 1-2 fish each, and the “turnaround hole” at which I kept careful count (it’s known to produce very many fish and I wanted to get to 20) and came away with 23 detected takes/turns/hookups and of those 17 trout to hand. Zero brook trout, zero big trout, a fair number in the really pretty/healthy 10-12” range, quite a few just a step down from that in the 8-9” class. And one good note is that some of these smaller fish felt like absolute trucks as translated from the tip of the Sage 2 wt down through my hand and into my sensory system. Something that I appreciate. It adds another layer of wonder and suspense, which is desirable in most facets of outdoor activity.
|First fish 2014. Like the deep cut mouth. From under ice shelf. Orange scud. Note quite as dramatic as first fish 2013.|
|Solid line was the accessible drift; dashed line was the desired drift. Ice shelf made mending tough. Good hole.|
|This fish ate the X rubber legged nymph at the bullseye noted below. In the course of battle, he rammed my tippet into the ice, such that I had to wade out to free it.|
|One of the fish that hovered around 12" plus/minus a bit. Many spots.|
|Go back home when the day is done.|