Friday, January 30, 2015


Interesting contrasts provided when SE MN fisherman goes to NE Iowa:

(1) Keep fish year-round.  I like that part of the deal.  Because I like to fish my way along the stream, catching and releasing and keeping.
(2) More stocked fish.  Aggressive program that puts more catchable size fish in the water.  No qualitative evaluation of this fact; it is what it is.
(3) Per 1 and 2 above, many more people out and about fishing in January.

We had nothing going so I suggested I take a kid down for a long weekend; reply was that I too would love to participate so it came to four in a cabin.  Trout water visible from the second-story patio.  My original intention was to push hard to get at least one kid his first trout; but that dissolved quickly when it became very apparent that 3/4 of the group wanted to relax in warmth, reading and watching TV.  This always difficult for me to deal with; certainly in this case, but I resolved to be at ease with everybody doing what they felt like doing; was afterall a vacation of sorts.  Older son gave a modest effort with a jig and twister tail on a deep bend that I picked out for him...   no strikes; windy; he lost interest quickly and went back to rolling big snowballs and dropping them off the bridge.  Trout fishing may be some of the most difficult for kids.  I have to get it in my head that an adult can't project himself straight into the kids and expect that they ought to like hard work going after fish, enduring tough conditions to come out bright and calm on the far side.  Kids like comfort and warmth and security.  They like fun and they like catching fish but maybe they don't like working hard for them or beating themselves up to feel alive.

As it happened then, I walked the stream in the vicinity for maybe 3 hours on the first day.  Immediately saw that it would be very challenging, because (1) pretty crappy water, and (2) quite a few people around.  A lot of wide and shallow is what was offered up.  Only a couple good deep holes.  I was convinced that the fish would be only in the dark depths, so I stood over those and pounded away with streamers.  Three people came by while I was fishing.  I had never experienced that in a day of winter angling.  Moved or hooked four nice fish, but landed none.  I figured I'd missed my chances, given the situation.  I sulked around and started throwing the streamer into some of the shit water, smacking the surface as close to woody debris as I could put it (even if only a few inches deep).  This drew out three rainbow trout, two of which I killed and kept; the other wouldn't eat; would only chase and charge.  This did prompt me to reconsider some of the previously dubbed crap water but nothing came of it.  Two stocker rainbows with beat up, rounded fins and guts full of filamentous algae.  Would bring anyone to late afternoon beer.

I looked at a map for a while after everyone else in bed.  Decided to drive a few miles the following morning.  In the vehicle for nine minutes; parked on a crossing that I recognized.  I'd been there quite a while ago with a coworker.  A little more bedrock control in play; some decent water.  First deep broken run showed nothing, which surprised me.  It was very warm and by 9:15 AM I was over-heating in the sun even with light jacket.  No wind.  I appreciated this very much.  Second hole was a confluence, deep and flat.  I didn't get past that point.  You can visualize the scour hole; throw ahead of it, make sure everything sinks....   and when flies come through the hole give the slightest twitch.  It become a method and many fish were captured.  Top, middle and tail of the hole all showing fish.  They wouldn't scatter.  They were unawares.  I released a good number and had a limit <60 a="" after="" bit="" fishing="" hen="" just="" minutes="" nbsp="" ontinued="" out.="" p="" parking="" see.="" the="" to="" upstream="" vehicle.="" walked="" without="">

Meat hunt.

Actually ended up with four kept RBT on the first day; this water gave up two just before I turned around to head back.  Big beaver dam; have to figure some fish in the tailwater.

Suns out guns out; second day weather was nice.

There is the drift.  Money. 
Some useful information gathered in studying license options: (1) the 3-day license is $17 and the year-long license is $41.  The trout fee is something like $12, and if you but it for the 3-day, you do not have to buy another for your next 3-day license provided it's before Jan 10 of the following year.  I went with the year-round license, thinking I'd probably get out at least twice to bonk fish between this spring and fall.  Also learned that you can't keep another limit for your kid unless you buy another trout fee for him.  However, while the daily limit is five (5), the possession limit is ten (10).  So we came back with nine trout; five of which will be a chowder or gumbo for Super Bowl.  Share any recipes you may have.  I like soups a lot.

At that confluence hole the lead fly was an orange scud; probably top winter nymph of all time if you survey SE MN anglers.  But almost every fish ate this trailing nymph.  Bent the tip toward the end of the hour.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Calendar Year 2015 Report 1 

All designated trout streams in SE MN now open for anglers with a need to get out and look for the deep slow water.  I was not in a position to fish January 1st; rather, I looked in on a favorite stream on the 2nd; even then, had only 13:15 to dark as my allotment.  Just recently I sat with a guy who was lamenting the fact that he is two hours from the nearest trout stream.  Can't take for granted the fact that we live close enough to great water; we can drive a few minutes for a few hours of stream time.  In fact we live in a unique and special place on Planet Earth.  Various forces scraped away and carved deep and freed the aquifers to run in stream channels; dissecting bluffs.  We can't make trout streams; we can surely delete them but we can't make them.  So when I look at one I don't shrug my shoulders or pass it by without a good nod.  And further there is no better way to learn about the streams than to walk them; fish them.  See what magnets attract bug life; see where the fish lay up.  Know where the fish are holding; read water.
First hole fished in 2015.  Cast one: hook, play, LDR.  Cast three: hook, play, LDR.  Cast six or seven brought first fish.  A few minutes later, this fish was third to hand.  Rare picture of self here, main reason being to highlight the two pieces of gear pictured: Stormy Kromer cap (good cross of ball cap and stocking hat) and hand muffler (previously noted).  The SK hat has flaps that a guy can pull down over ears as needed.  Lifetime warranty.  Made in Michigan.  The muffler allows one to warm hands at will, without fumbling with any gloves.

Number of fish from the first big slow flat water found downstream of plunge pools.  This water isn't romantic: depth charge it with streamers; strip back; fish jump on. 

Another gear review item of note.  After many years my Simms waders have been retired.  Much good use.  At this point, many leaks.  I moved on to these Orvis Silver Sonics, which show a number of good features that really spoil a guy like me.  Gravel guards.  Straps that allow for easy lowering of waders at streamside (to water bushes).  Conversion to wading pants.  Tell you one thing it was nice to come in from fishing and not be wet.  Been a long time.  Thanks Orvis.

Few of these fish just decimated the 2 wt such that I couldn't see them for a good 10-20 seconds.  I really dig that aspect of the light gear; there is some mystery and anticipation and the possibility of losing.  In each case it turned out the fish were 12-14 inchers; great fish but not huge.  One was a footballer RBT that was around 14" I bet.

Tied up six basic bead chain eye LOD variations.  Lost three of them on this outing; which was good because it meant I was getting down.  One was lost to a giant strike in the big pig hole; never know what that was about but it was some force applied very directly to my tippet that shattered it on impact.

Yet longing comes upon him to fare forth on the water.
- Anonymous, translated be E. Pound

Boots on the water is a phrase used often by JMontana.  Get out and see what's going on.  Quite a bit to take in here in SE MN: this day included a pheasant kicked up at six feet (good lesson in micro-habitat importance - it was in a narrow fence row), and then a big whitetail.  Deer highways everywhere; concentrated at pinch points. I was looking in the riparian veg for beds and across the stream at maybe 40-50 yards I saw a tail bouncing.  Stared for a few seconds and picked out really big antlers.  No telling how many points but they were certainly worn high like a crown.  He made it though all seasons.

Word on this streamer pattern.  It's easy and effective.  #6 long hook, bead chain eyes, marabou tail, chenille body and soft hackle (like grouse or pheasant) up front for collar.  What I like about this fly is that you skip the rib and palmered full body hackle, thereby eliminating a good piece of tying time/hassle, and yet you achieve the same basic shape and silhouette, even the leggy look with the soft hackle.  I tie a lot of these and beat up on both carp and trout with them. Make 'em the right size; make 'em drab.