Monday, October 09, 2017

Exceptional use and last of the trout harvest 2017

As has been stated I don't typically drive great distances to trout fish.  I like to keep my outer bound around 45 minutes.  And 25 minutes is preferable.  I don't like driving over/by good water to get to water.  And further, I don't characterize trout fishing as "vacation" or "sporting" travel because I consider such fishing to be generally part of the life fabric here (I acknowledge that fishing travel does occur and I partake; it's not "home trout fishing" but rather pursuit of other species and/or special destinations with friends/family).  As such for trout I try to keep to habits and places that fit into life schedule/travel/etc.  Now and then it is adventurous, interesting and educational to check out new water maybe at the edge of the celestial sphere.  I typically keep an eye out for efficiencies and when they come up, I pivot on them.  That was the case here: meeting in Decorah, IA.  So the path was set.  There are trout streams on the way, most of which I don't frequent and some of which I'd not fished.  Date was 091317.  Trout harvest closed on 091417.

Minnesota is setting up a tiered system for fish and bug goals in stream and rivers.  This particular stream is (thus far) the only "exceptional use" candidate in SE MN.  That means that it is really good, and the proposal is to raise the bar in terms of water quality goals, and "lock in" that higher bar, such that going forward assessments will be made with those goals in mind. 

Started out banging around with a streamer and got only one eat; landed that fish.  The obligatory bridge hole fish.  Good vertical fall in this stretch of water.  My anecdotal dataset has over time suggested to me a relationship between total vertical fall and quality of fish/bugs.  Generally speaking.  I felt pretty good about putting that streamer through tails like this one but it didn't bring much.  This stream is somewhat renowned as being "difficult" in some ways.

Wider stretch.  Skippable.  But clean substrate; guessing could be good in hatch situation.  Over course of entire walk did not see any exposed banks.

Number of aquarium reaches.  Normally skip those; ratio of work to takes is high.  But the streamer result told me I'd better focus in on what fish I could find.  Using a compradun I proceeded to fish those aquariums.  Any cast over the main pod of fish resulted in skittering and settling.  The deal was to apply a carping approach in this respect: look for the right mood.  For the fish on the edges, marauding about.  Semi-pissed looking foragers.  I got some nice fish in this way, using a long leader, setting the hairwing where those gamers could see it.  Watching in crystal clear water the slow rise, inspection and eat.  It was a worthwhile deal. 

Finding this broken water after the aquariums was an exhalation for sure.  Those fish were caught before any cast was made.  The first two setting-downs of the compradun were destroyed by brown trout.

This one just barely hanging on.  Approx 13 inch female BNT and her stomach contents are in the following pics. 

Belostomatidae - giant water bugs. 

I'm intrigued by the events that led to a trout eating a dozen big water bugs.  Just how did that happen.  You don't see them swimming around freely.  Literature suggests that they hang in streamside vegetation; can also be in slackwater settings.  It's possible that along a bank with good veg, this trout could have been "rooting them out" and snapping them up as they dislodged.  Cool to think about.  A catalog of stomach contents over time and place here in SE MN would quickly dispel the notion that trout are romantic eaters of only mayflies, caddis and stones.  More like opportunistic badasses that can survive on scuds, bugs, inch worms, fish, rocks and sticks (in the case of pellet heads) and whatever else swims by including mice, hoppers, etc.

Both fish ate right there.  I think you could see it coming.  Money water.

Due to other obligations both fishing-related and not, there were not many creels filled this season.  We did eat these five though, the following day, with a mix of produce from our neglected garden.  I don't take things for granted and certainly not the fact that we live in a special place - one in which a guy can just walk a stream and find instruction from nature, scenic beauty, and worthy engagement with many trout, some of which are very fit for human consumption.