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.



Anonymous winonaflyfactory said...

Good read. I always dig your style man. I read the line about shit water and thought to myself...wait..I only fish shit water and I do quite well. Perhaps we need to converge on a section of creek again and go over this "shit water" to see if we consider it the same thing.

I learned a while ago that "rules" like fish hold in deep holes in the winter time and streamers don't work when it's cold are just guidelines. There are no hard and fast rules about trout fishing other can't catch a fish if you don't have a fly in the water.

Your boys will come around, they got you in them. Glad to hear you'll be eating well. Take care man.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey I replied on your blog a year ago that I was coming to SE MN and was looking for some carp action. Well between work and family I have only managed some small river action with fish up to 14lbs. I'm going to explore lake zumbro this spring and hope to get into some bigger fish. If your interested in some euro style carp fishing let me know.


11:18 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

WFF: I think we would find that what I call shitwater here is not what you are typicall fishing. In this case, I am referring to wide and shallow, choked with veg. I know you are good about chiding me into not passing up good/marginal water in between deep holes. I get too focused on the deep nymphing sometimes.

It was a great reminder for me regarding the "rules" you note when I started pulling fish out of shallow lays.

Whatever the case we need to get out sometime. Fish are everywhere; every damn stream and every piece of it!

4:03 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Michael B:

I remember your note. Would be intersted in meeting sometime to learn about your carping technique. Glad you are getting some fish!

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. You are indeed a very accomplished man in many endeavors, and a good writer whom I have recommended to others. Two concerns: you catch lots of trout--why have a barb? And are you at all concerned about the future of our local waters if all of us who are capable of catching trout and enjoy their flesh kept as many as you?

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