June 17th, My Driftless Revolution

June 18, 2009

Third Cast, NiceStarted my day on the water at 9am under cloudy skies. Air temp was comfortable but hiking through thicker foliage after last nights rain made for a soggy morning but that wasn’t going to prevent me from swinging a few flies. I took a water temp and watched for any clues as to what to put on the end of my line. Cold water (~50 degrees) and no signs of fish near the surface told me to go deep so I rigged the same fly as yesterday, I tied two more of the same fly last night. Three casts in and I had the first brown of the day. I picked a few rocks and found interestingly little to no mayfly nymphs, I’m beginning to see similarities between “Mayfly” and “Caddis/Scud” creeks, just a generalization that I apply to some streams that seem to have a higher concentration of one or the other. This is a “Caddis/Scud” creek with plenty of old H.I. work done to keep the water deep, rocks lining the sides giving trout good cover and a place to thrive.

Caddis LarvaStomach Contents Scuds #16-18Caddis Larva

S.E. MN Trout StreamI worked my way downstream, the water was cloudy which would help me here,  normally it is crystal clear and the fish spook easily. I fished this for the first time this last winter and what a difference a few spring months make. My plan was to work the old H.I. work through the cow pasture and hit a hole in the middle of the jungle then work back up and out. I tossed the same fly the entire time, in shallow water it took fish, in deep water it took fish. I racked eight fish easily working downstream, I kept a couple. The stomach contents furthered my assumptions about the bio-mass in this stream, mainly scuds filled the brown I took home with me. 

I love mornings on a trout stream, well any time on a trout stream but mornings and dusk are two excellent times to be near water. Quiet and peaceful I fish silently, unless you saw me you wouldn’t know I was catching fish, you would have to hear the occasional splashing. I enjoy relaxing, concentrating on the moment in front of me, analyzing the best approach, losing myself in the water, bills and work have no place in my mind here. I moved to a spot I specifically came here to fish, deep water in a tight channel with old H.I. work around, I knew there were fish here. By this time I was getting pretty good at chucking this bugger pattern with some additional weight, some of these holes have to be more than 6-8 feet deep and not very wide requiring a longer cast to get the flies down but also accurate so your fly ends up in the water. I picked up a few more and moved downstream.

Thick Ass JungleWorking my way through the cow pasture I arrived at a wall of jungle. I knew there was a secret hole in the middle of it somewhere, better make it the shortest distance through this stuff. Burning Nettles stung my legs for a good five minutes but I remembered my way well and got to the spot in the shortest distance, it was worth it. I kicked three twelve inch trout into the depths when I came out of the jungle. I worked the bugger and picked up a tiny guy. A minute later with a great roll cast I watched a beautiful brown dart quickly and pick up my fly, my casting is improving for sure. Trudging through the jungle was worth it, this fish was a spotted beauty for sure. This fly was kicking ass at this point. I landed the nicer fish and headed back through the thickness, I bounced to each spot I had fished on the way downstream but found nothing wanted my fly. At noon I was where I started and so I took another water temp, the lack of sun prevented much change in temp, three hours later I had ~51 degrees. Yummmy.....

I thought about moving forward upstream but I felt that little was going to happen with this fly and nymphing this tiny deep stuff was something for another time. Knowing that getting in the vehicle, breaking my gear down and getting to another spot would burn time I set my mind to water closer to home so I could move in that direction. I was greeted by this guy upon my exit, cool.ButterflyI drove to a spot I fished early in my fly fishing adventure and I didn’t get much then, a few small ones but alot has changed since last summer. I stuck to the same fly, by this point I had pulled it out of a tree earlier in the day, pulled out a few plants with it and got it stuck on a log all on the last stream and managed to keep it with me. I rolled and lost the first fish that struck but I had a great day up to this point so I had little to complain about. I pulled a smaller 10in. brown out and decided it with the other I had would make a great dinner. I measured this fish, the regs on this stretch are 12″-16″ protected and I wanted to be sure. 

Where She LivesI lost two others and picked one last hole to fish before packing it in for the day. Upon seeing the hole I felt like something drastic had happened, there was a new sand bar built up providing a shallower spot in the middle of the hole now, before it was a deep drop off with a huge tree root structure blocking a majority of the water, a trout haven for sure. I got in position and made one roll cast across the shallow area and let slack out to allow the fly to sink. The current pulled the fly up and with that I saw alittle flash, I needed to get the fly deeper which meant a longer roll cast with more slack. Two attempts later I watched my fly creep up from the dark water below being pulled by my line crossing the current, the fish I watched trail it looked like a shark. As the fly passed through the shallowest part she struck, I got to watch again! Female Brown TroutAmazing. I set the hook and she was gone, I was almost convinced I was going to lose this fish after she ran the first time. My reel sang to me. This hole is big and deep, tree limbs, even with the 4x tippet I didn’t want to break her off so I took my time. She pulled hard, and I just hung on for the ride hoping I would be able to land this fish. She smacked the surface hard two or three times, you know the fish is a slab when you hear that deep smack. Once again no net I guess I didn’t think I’d need it. After fighting for several minutes I moved her up into a deeper riffle and allowed her to come downstream to me landed cradled in my arm. Female Brown TroutOne photo next to the rod, three with me and I removed the hook, she was out only a brief minute or two. My heart was still pounding as I stood in the riffle holding this gorgeous fish, beautiful blue glimmer. I held her submerged for quite a while to ensure a full recovery, with one strong push she turned and took off. What a day. I was pleased to get my fly back, it is now in the ceiling of the truck next to the one from yesterday to give me a smile every time I get in to go fly fishing in the Driftless Area of Southeast Minnesota. 

Female Brown Trout

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13 Responses to “June 17th, My Driftless Revolution”

  1. its funny that our winter find was stained. I figured for sure that creek would stay clear 95% of the time.

    I about know where you got that female. Lots of big fish in that creek this year. We gotta get on that section downstream that we have been speaking of. I have tagged several fish in that “large” class in that creek.

    Bigger than George do you suppose?

    Did you see any other anglers out? Dropping trout stamp sales means more drag pulling fish for us.

    Lets do some flies and beers while kissing the fish at my place soon. I would love your help constructing the tackle office and have some ideas to throw at you about stuff…

    stay slutty…

    H-man

    • Hell yea man, You should have been there to see this one, it would have only been fitting. I would love to come kick and work on the room, I’ll try to find my phone and get a hold of you soon. No other anglers at either spot, fishing solo on the streams this day. I think this female was about George size, maybe alittle longer. Talk to you soon man.

  2. Brian said

    wow. These last two browns have been absolute trophies– way to go, these are the kind of fish that leave you shaky in the knees regardless of whether or not you land them.

    Great stuff

    nice ink too btw!

    • Shaky knees I had for sure, both times. I had a better view of the second and she had more room to move so I was more surprised to land that one, two days in a row, wow. I’m a lucky bastard for sure. Keep up the good work in Reno man, diggin the flies I see posted recently, really like that March Brown nymph, perfect tail man. Keep it up. Peace

  3. Bill said

    Awesome Fish!

    The second I hit post on this comment I am going straight to the vise and tying a dozen of those little buggers.

  4. minnesota said

    I hope you finish off the evening with some good beer, really good beer. Those two browns are season makers and you still have a lot of days left. It’s awesome to see that you’re picking this up so quickly. Happy celebrations.

  5. Wow…nice Brown!!! My kid, Michael caught a nice on on a H&L Variant on Hot Creek this past Sunday. I’ll put it up as soon as he emails it to me…

    PT/TB 🙂

  6. getting into some hogs lately congrats.

  7. Know what you’ve got here: a string of days that you’ll remember. Great fishing and beautiful pics. Remarkable fish.

  8. Nice going! I love your technical ruminations on the biotic level–knowing your water and the bugs in it and then connecting the current water with other similar waters is a nice approach. Even better are the big brownies you’re pulling in! It took me almost two years of fly fishing before I brought to hand my first fish and you’re like an old pro after just one year. Then again, you’re fishing a lot more than I did during those two years (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it).

    -scott c

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