Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Here and There

That seems to be the approach as of late. Days, and even half days are hard to come by… a lot to do around here. Yesterday allowed a couple bits: half hour for carp and a few hours leading up to dark for trout. Here are some highlights:


The local carp are holding pretty steadily in a known reach of the river. I swung through that vicinity and did some sprint fishing: gear up in high speed and then sprint to the fish. I put the SJW on three fish – the first one was a great tailer – I proceeded to put him off by allowing him to see the fly move. The second two though both fell victim to that deadly little length of chenille. In both cases I was 20-30 feet away from the fish and the worm dropped maybe 1-2 feet from fish head… So I was able to watch the fish but not see the fly at all. They gave me some solid cues though that led to positive hookups. No great runs from these fish. Staying with the hurried theme, I brought the second one in pretty green and hot. I don’t do that too often and it was kind of a surprise to me to see that fish go nuts flopping around on the bank.

Well, is it becoming ho-hum to catch 6-9 lb fish on flies? Maybe. Not sure what it means, but I don’t get too excited anymore unless: (1) I can see a cool take, (2) the fish runs to beat hell, (3) the fish is really big, (4) the fish eats a dry fly. That might make me something, but I’m not sure what. It’s the truth though, at this point. Accordingly, the sweet detail here was watching the cues and reacting correctly. Both fish moved really well to that SJW and sucked it up. Mouths like angels singing.

Dessert: Trout

I fished the end of the day on a water that is considered a blue ribbon trout stream of the Midwest. It was hot, and the water is very low right now. Stretches that held fish a month or two ago no longer hold fish. I was very torn at the outset because I wanted to fish a terrestrial pattern with a dropper… but nymphing is always the go-to method. It’s deadly. So I did a little of both – conceding that I’d have to change rigs frequently. Started out slowly – picking up ~5 brookies of varying size, a white sucker and a number of creek chubs. I couldn’t “get into them” it seemed. Things eventually came together. Maybe best to just offer a few highlights:

(1) In an interesting twist, it turned out to be a solid multi-species day on trout water, with the 2 wt: brook trout, brown trout, white sucker, creek chub.
(2) Nice to catch some little brook trout – love the coloration of those fish. One ate a hopper pattern.
(3) I tried prospecting with various hoppers and EHC. Nothing really going on there. I caught a couple fish on hoppers and one brown on EHC in near-still water.
(4) One moderately large brown put himself on the reel and even ran a bit – pretty cool. Strong fish. I think maybe 14-15 inches.
(5) Turned over a few rocks and found them to be pretty barren. I saw one big stonefly nymph (they over-winter) but that was the only bug of any note.
(6) Because the frying pan had been defeated for the first bit (all fish either too large, too small or wrong specie) as darkness approached, I ran to a known honey-hole. It provided some deep water in this low water setting – fish were stacked up in there. In a stretch of ~20 minutes I dredged quite a few from the nadir in rapid succession. Interesting to note that I got zero hits until I added a second split shot to my rig – I’d been floating over fish heads, going unnoticed.
(7) Found almost nothing in the five fish stomachs I examined. No discernable bugs.
(8) Notable note #1: as I left the hole and walked upstream, I started seeing some dimples. I watched for a while. Some small, pale mayflies – maybe #18 – were flying upward and past me with some regularity. I had a white hopper on already, so I put that on some rise forms but got no takers. It was dark now so I was reluctant to change flies… but then I noted: everyone back home is already in bed, kind of snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug. Then I asked myself: what in the hell else do I have to do right now? The answer was either nothing or something not as interesting as finding the right fly and putting it on those fish. The green LEDs of my headlamp came on then, and I tied to the 4x a length of 5x and to that tied a cream colored emerger, size 18. I put that on a fish that had just dimpled. It is worth mentioning at this point that the water was approx 6-10 inches deep. Being dark, I could see nothing of the fish. A second or two after the fly hit the water, I believe this is what happened (not 100% sure – one of those type of memories): a fish (presumably a trout) ate it and immediately charged forward, creating a large wake in that shallow water. Whoa! Man! That is what I thought. Connected just long enough to feel the weight of the fish and see the 2 wt bent over pretty well… And then the fish shattered the 5x tippet and took the emerger to keep. A strong fish and the makings of a good run – something you don’t encounter too often fishing trout in SE MN. My references may be skewed, given the relationship with carp I guess. Anyway – sweet connection there – one that I will remember and wonder about.
(9) Notable note #2: the evening was splendid. Very calm, and comfortably warm. Fireflies lifting off and lighting everywhere. Bats and swallows swooping low and close. The herd of cows ripping grass in the dark and occasionally walking to the river for water. Fish rising here and there. Crane flies (I think) buzzing and rattling just above the water in the over-hanging grass. Barred owl asking who cooks for you? Mayflies – silent and only noticeable when they flew close to my head. At one point a coon and her little one came in for a drink. No artificial lights in the viewscape. Geez, I thought over and over. Look where I am right now. I did that and I tried my best to appreciate it and the only way I could figure to do that was to linger there a while with a clear mind and then promise myself I’d return often and that one day I’d be back with my sons.

[note: fish picture above was released - not same fish as pictured below, dead]


Blogger winonaflyfactory said...

This time of year is interesting in that other than caddis larva in droves the streams seem to have little to no nymphs. I haven't seen anything other than early instar BWO's, we get the smaller #18-20 BWO's later in the season, I think those are what I'm seeing. I haven't seen much in the way of Trico nymphs yet either but the recent lull in the macro's has made the strainer stay in the pack.

As for the night fishing hook-up, I've had one of those moments and it leaves you stunned for a moment. Awesome that you picked the emerger pattern, in the dark, the take. By ear? Very cool man.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

I was able to see the dimple on that emerger - not quite dark enough to require by ear only. The more I think about that fish, the more I wish I'd seen it.

9:36 AM  
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8:47 PM  

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