Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Making Good on April

Been fortunate to put together some solid outings in one of the world's best months: SE MN April.  Hit all three of my favorite day tripper trout waters; each with various family and and friends; stayed at a state park with one of our sons.  I always tell myself to make these Aprils and Mays count; only have so many; objective assessment probably says we were able to manage the homefront fine and log a highly acceptable April 2015.

Many trout waters.  My description of the best is not related to number of fish or size of fish.  It pivots on this: where are the streams that offer all-day walks that show never-ending good water?  These are streams that fall in a certain size range.  The small water doesn't have it.  And the biggest water around here either doesn't hold trout or is somewhat unwadeable or both.  I've got a short list.  Following pics were taken on one of the top three, on a forty degree windy day on which my dad and I found time to fish together.

We hit a greasy road; couldn't keep the vehicles straight; fish-tailing.  On Sunday of this past weekend I spent 45 minutes laying on the ground in my yard spraying off the undercarriage. 

Walking into starting point.

Dad's first SE MN stream trout.  Taken on his yellow Abu Reflex from way back.  He is holding the spinning rod that he bought me approx 28 years ago.

Appreciated all of his remarks on the bluffs, valley and cliff faces.  Not everybody gets to fish in these valleys and I like it when I get to kneel on the bank and watch someone take it all in.

Fact is that I can't show people how to catch trout with spinning gear.  Suck at it.  I can't see how you can get a spinner down far enough to dig out salmo trutta.  After a while Dad would run a spinner through a hole and I'd come behind and hook fish on nypmhs.  Finally I said here man, take this fly rod.  Don't cast it like Brad Pitt; just flip it; flip all the points of weight and follow the drift with a high stick.  Work your way across the water near to far.  Every lane will show a trout.  In his first position he stuck a 15 inch BNT on a Peabody lead fly.  Landed it.  Beautiful buck with deep mouth.  Proceeded to hook three more.  Nymphed like a champ.  And BTW look at that water and tell me the words absolute money do not come to mind.  No man could design it better.

His first trout on a fly.

We harvested small fraction of the caught fish; here some stomach contents.


This fish ate a streamer as it swept across current; tailed out, hovered and smacked it.  I like the spots.

Don't often see wetlands of this type in these systems.  An interesting find.

Going deep into the valley requires a walk up and out.  Great day.  April is easy-walking, buggy and sunny.  Nice time to shake hands with planet Earth.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rocks and Water

April camping with my second son.  Photo journal.

Good gear item.

No dishwashing is the goal.

Morning sun on coffee works is always a highlight for me.

Secondary springs located.

Because the small water was the only fishable, it was loaded with anglers.  We did our best to fit in without ruining folks' days.  Angling was secondary; the big spring was the goal.

Caught a pretty good number of trout given the scenario.

Absolute money water.

"Fish right over there, Danny Boy, guaranteed."

Famous spring of SE MN.

He took off his boots and socks and made a run at entry but the flow volume overwhelmed him; he though better of it.  After stooping under, one can stand up straight.

And then beyond is the keyhole, to depths unknown.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

First Carp of 2015 was a Bass

Last week found a couple hours to look in on the semi-local carp.  In an off-channel turbid backwater I found quite a few.  No veg; easy walking.  But also no camo; no breaking up of silhouette.  Careful steps were needed.  I did get the jump on a couple, and was able to present a fly.  Trouble being turbidity required count down and guess method, as I could not see head; couldn't see much more than tail and a bit of dorsal geometry.  I counted down and picked up; ended up snagging both fish.  What you gonna do; not much; that's how it goes.  So 0/2 for carp in 2015 thus far.  I will look again soon.  If I can even approach 0.250 batting average in MN this year I will be happy.

At the next stop I stared at water for a long time; where currents come together.  In that seam were a number of fish, including quills and carp.  I piled some line at my feet and started roll casting; the wooded setting did not allow for any backcast.  This was very enjoyable and relaxing: roll cast, mend and pile, adjust, get into the current and watch tip of fly line as fly drifts downstream.  Immediately some of the quills spooked.  Maybe the carp too but I didn't see them go.  I understood this as a low probability affair, but it has worked in the past and there wasn't a damn thing else to do or see in the way of fish.  So I kept drifting.  Then I started twitching; which drew the smallmouth bass.  Couple nice ones to hand.  They ate the Deadpool with the foam tab torn off, twitched back to me.  The Deadpool less the tab is essentially JM's hybrid with the double-twist tail.

No carp.  I have now heard two reports of guys getting carp on flies in MN; one in a river; two in a lake setting.  Good night and good luck.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Easter Weekend Notes

Abbreviated day on good water; good conditions over Easter weekend.  We got a late start (~1030 AM) and came back early to watch Final Four games.  Even in that time though we got guys on trout.  

Brother has caught trout on flies in the past; but not many; this only his second outing.  He busted some fish out of the first hole; stripping streamers.  Keep that rod tip in the water; stay in good contact.

Nice work.

Especially cool to see son and nephew on one of my favorite waters.

Two fish for nephew, both fishing a streamer down and across.  He is a good fisherman and a good athlete; so fly casting and fishing came pretty easily to him.

First trout; also first fish on fly as far as I know.

I fished here and there and picked up some pretty trout.  I liked the deep mouth on this one.

Another one for brother.

We did see some fish rising in the afternoon.  Streamers and nymphs already success, so I tied on this dry fly.  I see in the pic that the barb is crushed but not absent.  I recall that it came out of fish mouths easily on this day.  Some nice dry fly fish to hand.

Been a while since I watched my older son cast; he's pretty good.  I feel bad having not given him more opportunities to cast: on the water, on the lawn; anywhere.  Need to work on that deficit.

These guys had never fished at the foot of giant cliff faces; great enjoyment seeing their appreciation and good time logged.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Hunting Song

Frontier sons are lifelong illiterates
who know only how to hunt big game and brag about being tough guys.
They feed their Mongolian ponies white grass
to make them plump and strong in the autumn.
They race proudly on their horses chasing the sun's shadows.
They brush snow off with the crack of a gold whip.
Half drunk, they call their falcon and wander
            far off to hunt.
They stretch their bows like a full moon and never miss.
One whistling arrow flies and two gray cranes fall.
The desert spectators step back in dread.
These virile heroes shake the sands.
Confucian scholars are no match for them.
What good is it to lock one's doors and read books till one is gray?

                        --Li Bai (translated by Tony Barnstone)

The fish are where we thought they were.

One outing in March; I can't even recall the date.  I can't tell if I still like going out for all C&R trout fishing but I do it and that offers some indication.  The report is that the fish are in the same haunts; they eat the same nymphs unless you drift them over the top of their heads.  They still eat streamers sunk to the bottom and twitched back.  They still show the same beautiful spot patterns and the same yellows; same white edges.  The males still have deeper mouths; dragon-like mouths sometimes.  Trout streams in March lonely as always; no people, no tall grass and no more big bucks sporting antlers.

As for the warmwater streams I have looked in on a few.  The big rivers are low; my old river in which my kids were born is as low as I've seen it on any April 1.  I suppose I should look at USGS records but I was just estimating based on the rocks that are showing and bright stripes of outcrops that are usually underwater this time of year.  The carp were active in both rivers as of April 1st.  I looked in a couple pond settings and did not see one fish of any specie in shallow water as of a couple days later.  I've received one report of a Rochester carp caught with a fly; in fact one report of carp caught thus far.  But in general I don't expect people to report to me and I don't really look at warmwater forums much so who the hell knows.  Carp can be had starting now, safe to say.  I will look for an opportunity despite the fact that I'm ruined by bigger, harder fighting carp of other waters.

I hear reports of trout fishing being slow.  I see data suggesting adult fish populations down.  I've only fished two streams a total of maybe 3-4 times in 2015.  And so I've not noticed anything; will be interested to see how this all feels once things get moving a little faster.  

Hope everyone is getting out and breathing the free air.  April is a top month for many reasons but in sum because one can move about in the world and look at all waters without much encumbrance and without the hindrance of the great streamside nets of green clinging swatting vineworks.  Get out see what you can do.  Pics below of only March 2015 trout outing.

Cranefly.  Used to fish it a lot more.  Good pattern, and easy.

Same fly.

Don't be afraid to pinch a splitshot on right at that damn DB eyes.  No single living organism will notice.  That fly right there is ~4 minute tie and probably my favorite general streamer.  Skip the rib and the full body hackle; use a soft hackle collar instead.

Pretty nice fish was sitting at the toe of the most erosive bank I saw all day.  Crushed a streamer as I stripped it back down and and across 45 angle.

New fishing car.  Made it ~9 months with one vehicle.  Spring showed too many kids sports and too many fishing needs; decided to go back to two car family.  I dig it.  Opens up more doors.