Clover Spying the Trout I caught. (Can't see the fish in the photo, I tried though)I agreed to watch my neice Chloe yesterday and with the nice weather I decided that we needed to get out of the house for an hour or two. Being realistic with my expectaions I picked a place that was easy to traverse, close to a public restroom and a park so we could play around for a bit should she decide that staying in the pack was not what she wanted to do. We arrived and I rigged my rod with a Caddis larva and a Pink Patrick prior to getting the little one out of the car seat and into the pack. I was smart to think that once in the pack she would not want to sit still so I prepared everything I needed prior to getting her out of the car. In the pack we quickly set off, I brought the rod but really didn’t think I would be fishing that much.

Trout StreamWe hiked downstream walking near the stream and listening to the flowing water. Clover did well in the pack and we hiked downstream to the spot I wanted to attempt to take a few fish quickly with the random noise, burp or giggle coming from the fifteen month old along the way. With Chloe on my back I started swinging my nymph rig careful to keep the hooks in the water, the Pink Patrick immediatly took a smaller brown trout and as the fish jumped I heard laughter from behind me. I landed the fish showing the Clover what I had caught, her first trout.

I took another fish and sure enough as the splashing started I heard happy noises from behind me. I managed to nymph up a nicer brown but it released itself from my barbless hook before I could get a photo of it. We moved upstream and Chloe began to squirm a bit but as I began to hike she passed out taking her nap on my back. With the little one asleep I was free to swing at a few more fish and I took the opportunity. The Pink Patrick nymphed up two smaller browns and a brookie that I lost before it came to hand.  I fished for a bit longer and then I woke Chloe to play in the park before leaving. Fun to show fly fishing to the youth, probably more fun for me at this age but fun just the same.


August 13th, A Quick Hop

August 14, 2009

Hell Yes!Stopped by a spot I visit every so often returning from CSMP work and dropped a hopper pattern looking for a quick dance with a trout. Not much time to fish, just trying to get one or two to come up and say hi. Noon with an air temp of 82+ degrees makes for happy hoppers warmed and active. Today there was a stiff wind making for tricky casting but I’ve found that some of the best hopper fishing involves wind, hoppers tend to end up in the water after wind blows in mid-jump or flight. I planed to fish a section of pasture that was easy to access, difficult to fish and offering large rewards.

1st run really doesn’t look like much but to make that mistake would be foolish. Often the crack between the massive amount of in-stream weeds holds plenty of fish, combine that with being close to a bank containing weeds filled with hoppers and you have a good recipe for fun. With the first run I made probably eight really poor casts landing mostly in the weeds (both in-stream and on shore). Three or four more decent casts but fly line hung on weeds caused for a poor drift, finally the right cast, good float….and? Yes! Although small this was what I came for, pulling trout from the depths.

1st Spot, Tight Lane

I moved downstream and attempted to take a few more, got one strike from a decent sized fish but a poor hook-set allowed the fish to take off. If this happens I highly suggest stopping. Dry your fly. Honestly, move on in the hopes you can tempt one more on the pass on the way out. If the fish tastes hook you need to let them be, and how often do you think a grasshopper really gets blown into the stream, certainly not in the time it takes an anxious angler to make a few false casts, trust me I know, I’m that guy at times.  I moved down stream and working from a higher vantage point I let the fly splat with a nice bounce, I think it is that bounce that really gets the trout.

Trout StreamNoticing the time I sat for a moment and took photo’s of the hoppers surrounding me. Hundreds in several sizes, makes me want to work on a kind of micro hopper (I’m thinking a #14 hook standard length). I spied an orange hopper, green, grey, all kinds of hoppers.Today most of the hoppers were #12 but I carry much larger hoppers down to a #4. Find a few and tie your best imitation on and get swinging. I moved back upstream and attempted at the run I lost the  one fish, sure enough the third cast a fish came up and I lost that one too. I moved back to the first run, the place I had taken the trout from earlier. Although I didn’t get a strike here I did watch a nice brown turn all the way around to spy and deny my fly, had the drift been drag free for a second longer I think I would have had a chance at that fish as well. Honesty sucks at times.


Early AM DimpleSunrise in Mid-Stream

#22 Trico tied by The Winona Fly FactoryStarted the day early, waking to coffee during the pre-dawn hours preparing to take on the day and hopefully a few trout on dry flies. As it were it was not to be this day. Think of three points A. The house, B. The Spot for the Day and C. Trico Possibility. C was smack between A and B so I pulled over and watched the water for ten minutes drinking my coffee. I spied enough rising fish to make me think it was worth the effort, 6ft tall weeds soaking in morning dew made for a very wet fly factory. I knew the difficulty based on the stretch of water, slow, very slow. No virtually still, especially in the early hours of dawn. I rigged a long leader and a bit of 7x tippet for my trico attempt and then waited for the sipping to begin, it never really did. I put the fly on several risers and struck out every time, my casts were alright but I’m sure I could have landed the fly a bit gentler a few times. After close to an hour I picked up and left for point B.

I love this picture.

Excellent View! Erosion at work.Point B was beautiful, I love being here. The water was stained upon arrival but in the distance upstream I saw a few dimples so I left the Trico on for the time being. I tossed it a few more times to risers but nothing again. Second stream with little to no rising fish, I was beginning to question why I got up so early just to walk around in the water when I thought I was rather fortunate to get the opportunity to try, to just have the opportunity to attempt a difficult task. I’m hoping before the season ends I can take a few trout on a trico pattern but first I’ll have to find a few hatching. Check out Wendy B.’s recent trico outing, great pictures.

I put the Trico pattern away and busted out a Bead-Head Caddis Pupa pattern and a Sparkle Larvae and expected to do fairly well. I missed my fair share of takes and landed a few fish. After my recent strikeout I was looking forward to seeing any, even the smallest of trout so that was good. The sun was quickly warming everything up as the morning hours faded. The Caddis Pupa and the Sparkle Larvae were each taking fish, almost every other strike from about 9am until 11am then everything slowed way down. I nymphed my way far upstream and spent more time hiking than Brown on the Pupacasting but I had the opportunity to be here at this time and wanted to make the most of it. I put my fly places that I have previously encountered trout of the Brown kind but today was different. Chub, chub, chub. Chub. Chub. Chub. My thought here is that at a certain point the trout were holding deep and were not feeding as actively due to warmer water temps and the chubs were taking advantage of the situation. Honestly, I didn’t put two and two together regarding the water temp and lack of activity until I was driving home realizing that I never took a water temp later after 11am, bummer.

Brown Trout.

Double Chub Rig...I took a few more chubs heading back to the truck and lost out on two decent brownies with poor hook sets after I switched over to the SMB for the last leg out. Notables include: While casting today I saw rustling from the stream side veg, expecting an otter/beaver I waited and watched as huge snapping turtle walked out. He looked at me and jumped right into the stream. Very cool. I was scared shitless by gun fire less than 200 yards from my put in. I stopped fishing a bit early and carefully approached the bridge I needed to cross to get to my truck finding three kids (under 18) shooting a variety of weapons at beer cans. I heard shotguns, rifles and I think a handgun. I was uncomfortable and wanted out of there, I announced my presence and desire to ascend to my vehicle. I rarely hear gun fire while fishing. On a lighter note I felt my casting was great today. I didn’t have to pull flies from weeds or trees but once or twice and I didn’t get the nymph rig knotted up at all. I concentrated on my roll cast almost 100% while fishing the nymph rig today and I was getting good close to the end. All in all a slow day for fishing but an excellent day to hike around a driftless area valley.

Underbody Tan, Green Overbody...Knowing that trout are opportunists, and that as the seasons progress, the available food source for the trout that live in our driftless streams morphs throughout the year. One of my goals has been to understand at a basic level why things work the way they do in an effort to use nature to my advantage to further my goal; of catching trout. With that said it is getting to be that wonderful time of the year when the hop-ass winged-wonders arrive in droves. The Grasshoppers.

To find the best conditions for mobile grasshoppers I chose to fish later in the day getting to the water around 4pm. I know it is still early and that as the next month and a half progresses there will be better opportunities to fish hopper patterns but I my goal was to scout out a place I believed would yield a plague. Grasshoppers are ectotherms, meaning they use external sources to regulate their body temperature, such as the sun. Knowing this and the fact that it has been much cooler recently made me choose the height of the day for the search. Hopper patterns will be best fished later in the day after the naturals have a chance to warm themselves to the minimum 101.5 degree mark, signaling activity. Note: the graph below compares different specie healthy adult body temperature.

Human Homo sapiens 98.6° F 37° C endotherm, homeotherm
Dog Canis familaris 102° F (± 1°) 39° C (± 1°) endotherm, homeotherm
Pigeon Colomba ssp. 106.6° F 41° C endotherm, homeotherm
Lizard Sceloporus spp. 87.8° – 95° F 31° – 35° C ectotherm, poikilotherm
Fish (Rainbow Trout) Salmo gairdneri 53.6° – 64.4° F 12° – 18° C ectotherm, poikilotherm
Rattlesnake Sistrurus miliarius barbouri 59° – 98.6° F 15° – 37° C ectotherm, poikilotherm
Grasshopper Melanoplus sanguinipes 101.5° – 108° F 38.6° – 42.2° C ectotherm, poikilotherm

I rigged a F*** ****** (shhh…it will come in time) with a Sparkle Larvae hanging off the end about 18 inches and put it in the first drink I arrived at. Two casts later I was pulling in the first trout of the afternoon, a beautiful 10in S.E. Minnesota brown trout. I kept swinging and pulled a few more tiny ones out all on the Sparkle Larvae, I did get one strike with the secret weapon but the Sparkle Larvae was the clear winner today. Going on six trout nymphed from the same spot I felt kind of selfish but I was the only one around, move on? Nope.

Lucky #7

I put my flies in again hoping to bring lucky number seven to hand when I saw the take, with a #16 barbless scud hook I’ve found that if I set the hook too sharply that it pops right off but if I make the hook set a slow but immediate response the hook sticks, something to keep in mind for winter trout nymphing. Back to “Lucky”, I set the hook in the slow manner, difficult for me at times, as I brought the fish in I saw what I thought was it’s shadow elongated by the angle of the sun. It was not an elongated shadow, no this was the real deal which I became very aware of as the fish came easily in to me and promptly turned and took off. Normally a bit of a run is cool but this was awesome, ran three or four times and really pulled hard. At this point I got in the stream and landed this fish downstream before the stream turned into nothing but a riffle. Big Fish (18in)…Small Fly(#16), just a thought for any of you who like to catch “large” trout.

Brook Trout Colors

GrasshopperAfter landing number seven I proceeded to take two more making the count nine and I hadn’t even looked around for what I came for, the hoppers. I put the deadly weapons away and moved downstream but found that a bovine presence had altered the stream to a boderline unsuitable condition for fishing, however I was greeted with each step by about a dozen hoppers in their early stages bolting in every direction. Hoppers go through six stages of development beginning with a nymph and ending with a fully winged adult. I was finding several thousand around me in the first two stages and with varying color. I moved upstream and rounded out my time on the water working towards a brook trout spot I knew of that is well hidden and in the height of the summer the only thing getting back there other than me are deer. I picked up a beatutiful Brookie and kicked out to head home.

Glad to See These GuysStarted the morning hoping to find trout rising to tiny Trico’s, the infamous “dimple.” Water levels seem low but rain last night helped to cloud the water slightly helping me out a bit. I took a water temp of 56 degrees, noting that 56 is ideal for hatching Trico’s. I moved upstream and observed steady dimples but no flies. I took a chance and rigged a 12ft. leader with 7x tippet and tied on the smallest imitation I had. I hadn’t gotten a chance to tie my own Trico spinners yet so I rigged a #20 Jujubee Midge and let loose. I could barely see the fly so I scanned the water looking for a dimple, I got a take and set the hook too sharply. I found you really only get one shot at each fish, they aren’t going to fall for it twice. Although I didn’t see any Trico’s I did get two more strikes on the Jujubee Midge before noticing a small yellowish mayfly come floating at me. The Little Blue-Winged Olive’s (Plauditus punctiventris) are out and in size #18-20. I need to tie some of these up, pronto. 


Check out the VineAlthough I didn’t land any fish on the midge pattern I was pleased that I was able to fool a few takers and as water temps rose I noticed fewer and fewer mayflies. I re-rigged with two caddis larva patterns, a larger #14 and a smaller #18. First run I got to with the new set-up made me feel like a rookie. Stumble to the water and immediately kick upstream a nice 18-20in brown, lookin’ healthy, then in an effort to get started I planted my two flies in a 6ft tall weed. Note: the flies must be in water to catch trout.  A little frustrated I retrieved my flies and concentrated on getting them down deep to fish lips. First fish up to bat was nice and it felt good to see one of these guys again, it’s actually been a week or more since I saw one up close and personal like.

Brown TroutSecond fish went down like this…larger fish comes up the run past me, I don’t know why I thought I could cast to a cruising larger brown but I did and the first cast didn’t get anywhere. I made a quick second cast probably 4ft in front of his nose and what resulted next is one reason I love trout. He caught a glimpse of the larger caddis larva I had on as it hit the water and just nailed it, like a charging bull, no need for the strike indicator here. He faught well and was promptly released to fight another day. I worked upstream taking a few creek chubs and smaller trout when I happened upon a sucker that was still breathing turned upside down in a shallow pocket of water. Seeing him struggle I attempted to see if he could be released but to no avail, this fish was on it’s way out. Curious. I wonder what might have hit this thing, perhaps a big bad daddy brown, either way everything will eat well when he settles to the bottom tonight. 


Other quick note-ables: The nymphs are beginning to show up on the rocks again. I’m pretty sure the image above is of a Trico (Lower Right) and a late season BWO (Upper Left). Also, I was pissed to find a 4ft fire pit on the edge of the bank today with burnt trash and beer cans in it. Someone camped out on one of the best holes, go somewhere else and illegally camp (I was on WMA land) and make a mess. If I can’t trust you with making and cleaning up a campsite how can I trust you with our cold water resources? F*** You. I apologize to those of you who are respectful and would never do this, which I hope is most of you, sometimes the Fly Factory has to vent some steam or I may explode!

Meet My Stream Buddies

July 16, 2009

Looking Downstream at the WallI visited my CSMP sites today for my weekly visit and took this photo of the fish that inhabit the area near my first location. I counted close to twenty fish, all brown trout, as I sat watching from behind the concrete wall. I’m pleased that I haven’t found much in the way of trash since I was here last. As the site is near the roadside I expect to see a fair amount of trash accumulate in the rocks that form the bank closest to the road. I took my typical readings and during periods of no rain it remains fairly constant, recently a rain fall event of .39in found the stream transparency to be affected even the next day. This stream will remain quite clear most of the time and to get more accurate measurments of stream transparency the MPCA sent me a longer transparency tube. At 100cm, what seems crystal clear may not actually be as clear as you think. 

My Friends

I decided to sample and monitor a second site downstream from this site at a bridge location to see the difference between the two sites as rain fall events occur. I have added a second data sheet and will include the second set of data when turning in the total summers data. I have begun to really enjoy this time near the stream and the trout, with fishing not typically on my mind I find I approach the fish wanting only to observe, get to know my new friends and after a while I might have names for a few of them, at least the biggest brown.

July 3rd, Goal Met

July 4, 2009

Driftless Area Trout StreamWoke at 4:45am to drive. I met Joel at 6am we grabbed a mug of the black stuff and headed towards flowing water. The goal for the day was to get Joel, my soon to be brother-in-law, his first trout on a fly rod. I posted a while back about lending him my old rod/reel to practice casting and I know he practiced, it showed on the stream today. I’m no guide, and I don’t have all the answers but I was hoping with some willingness and a bit of luck I might get this guy hooked. We arrived and took a water temp of ~60 degrees at 7:15am and upon assessing the stream and the fish I decided to get him a trout we were going to have to go deep and nymph fish. I brought my rod but did not rig it until later, for now I was concerned with making sure Joel could ask questions and get information and advice as we went. I rigged his rod with a #14 Caddis larva pattern with a trailing PT nymph, knowing the water I added one small split-shot and explained that casting this rig with an indicator was going to be very different from the practice casting in the yard with no weight. 

Stonefly NymphI’m not the best at casting and without being overbearing I attempted to walk him through each approach to a run or hole. Joel never having fly fished before and never having fished a smaller stream needed some guidance with respect to the water and where the fish were. I explained how we move from opportunity to opportunity passing the sections of stream that the fish avoid. Riffle, Run, Pool. Early Am Spider WebWe went through reading the water and how depending on your casting location the current might pull your flies and keep them from sinking properly. Joel did very well casting the weighted rig with an indicator, we all know the potential for disaster, I did untangle a few knots and tie on a bit of tippet but for the most part Joel was making it look easy. Fishing a slower deeper section Joel got to practice setting the hook on creek chubs hoping one would turn out to be a trout. Determined to get him a trout I decided to pack it in here and drive to the second spot I had in mind. 

Rather than sticking with the nymph rig I set him up with a #12 Stimulator to let him get the feel of drifting a dry fly. We worked upstream from our access and each time we saw a rise form I explained how we would need to target a bit upstream of that location without giving our position away or spooking the fish with the fly line and fly. Joel had his first top water strike and I could see the excitement in his face, improper line management made for a poor hook set but he was enjoying the day and we had wonderful weather. 

Trout Stream

No surface flies and the sporadic rising scenario that seems to take place during the height of the day made me choose to rig both of us with a #12 Stimulator and a trailing Sparkle Larvae after my recent success with this set-up. We found a slower moving section of stream and was very wide and deeper on the opposite side. Never having fished this before it was a crap-shoot, might get something good but we might end up slowly drifting flies for the rest of the day coming up empty-handed. I started first and within three casts I was into a nice brown trout taking the sparkle larva. I knew if Joel could get his flies to the fish it would be nothing but smiles. I worked the fish downstream and set Joel casting upstream and across explaining that with the slower water he would have to allow for some slack so he didn’t drag the flies. 

The W.F.F. with Brown TroutPeterson w/His 1st Trout on the Fly

Peterson Fly FishingI stayed downstream of Joel and after a few missteps he made a great cast and sure enough a brown launched and I had thought it took the Stimulator but it turned out later that he rose quickly to take the Sparkle larva as it entered the water. Joel set the hook and was quickly looking over his shoulder as the trout ran around him. FISH ON! I loved watching this, it made my whole day. I watched him play the fish loving the feeling, a minute later the fish surfaced and his first brown trout was a nice 14inch fish that fought him hard. I took another fish as Joel worked upstream, although he only took one fish he did lose one and missed a few other strikes but I think as a whole he had a great time. Fly fishing isn’t easy and even with someone helping you it can be frustrating, working with Joel I never once felt frustration from him, very commendable. We talked trout on the way home and I explained a few things he might want to get before heading out on his own, I also gave him a few of my maps with some good locations and directions for him.

I learned alot just watching Joel work the fly rod today, I observed behaviors that I know I need to work on, the eagerness that causes poor casts and other things that seem to go unnoticed in the moment. Watching Joel I noticed a feeling of accomplishment knowing that it was only a bit over a year ago that I was in his shoes just starting to figure the stick out. He has plans to continue working the stick and I might just have to donate my old gear to a worthy cause for the time being.

Sparkle Larvae tied by W.F.F.Fished under cloudy skies today for four hours this afternoon. I fished two rigs; the SMB on a short leader and a #12 Stimulator with a trailing #16 Sparkle Larva on a longer 12ft leader, the fish just nailed the Sparkle larva. I saw little to no mayfly nymphs or surface flies on the stream again today which was the main reason for tying on a Sparkle Larvae, I’m glad I did. Approximately twenty fish were taken in a short time and the count was 12-14 brown trout that were 14in or above, Excellent. All fish caught in a hundred yard stretch of flat open water that I worked up very very slowly and then got out and worked it up again. I’m working on better casts, accurate mending and deader drifts. The wild parsnip is up and in full bloom, know what it looks like and avoid if possible. Enjoy the summer now, it will be gone before we know it.

Excellent Fish

Clean/Clear FlowsI got on site slightly later than I wanted but thankful for time near cold flowing H2O. At ~9am the water temp was approaching ~61 degrees and although the first section I fished showed some stain within an hour and after traveling upstream found me quickly casting in crystal clear water. The water felt great and without realizing it I was wet wading through places that were deeper than I typically do, the reason? I was casting and watching everything in front of me and was so comfortable it made little sense to get out. Staying in the stream allowed for much further casting opportunities for the most part and made for a cooler day. The downsides? Casting upstream and moving can be tricky, you have to go slow and take your time, plan to tackle a shorter stretch of water. The clear water and my fly line, even with a delicate cast (trying not to slap the water with your fly line or fly), spooked fish upstream as I went. 

ButterflyI started the day fishing the SMB on a shorter leader but after a poor start casting and watching fish look, look again and snub I put it away. I observed “random” rising and immediately thought the trout are taking caddis fly larva/pupa from the sub-surface and it is not “random” but sporadic. Noticing fish leaping fully out of the water every so often combined with little to no surface flies helped support my hypothesis so I positioned myself to take advantage of this. I rigged a 9ft leader with 3-4feet of 6x tippet, the lead fly was a recently tied Stimulator #12 and trailing it by about a foot was a caddis fly larva. I went with the Stimulator as mainly an indicator but after a while it started taking fish and I felt the more it took fish the more willing the fish were to strike.

Brown Trout on a W.F.F. tied Stimulator

Working longer casts made things fun and challenging, I got strikes on both flies and every once in a while I would get a trout to launch out of the water striking the trailing larva pattern, excellent. Noticing that the larva wasn’t getting as much attention in deeper areas made me lengthen the distance between the two flies. I also tried changing to a slightly more weighted pattern but I couldn’t manage to get the fly subsurface very often, I could have put a tiny split-shot into the mix but I felt that with the spooky fish the way it was I didn’t want to further complicate the equation. Something to keep in mind the next time at the bench with the caddis pupa patterns.Soon To Be Dinner

I moved upstream and caught and landed several smaller trout the largest being 10-11 inches, caught on the Stimulator and the trailing fly. I lost several takes I think due to excess slack in my 12ft leader. The Stimulator attracted three or four larger fish but all seemed to throw the hook within the first shake or two, bummer. Working the heat I continued forward enjoying a beautiful day in the sun, this is the summer push and I know I want to be fishing later or earlier hours but when the opportunity arises I don’t overlook it. 

Trout Water Under Sunny SkiesMy goal today was work upstream of my put in location roughly 2.2 miles to get to a location I saw once last year, fish it for twenty minutes and break down to hike via road back to the truck. As I neared the final destination I found myself peering over an 8 foot bank down through very clear water at several larger brown and rainbow trout. I watched for several minutes without being caught by the fish, long enough to convince me to switch back to the SMB. A few minutes later I was singing, if you know what I mean? Wow, so cool to go un-detected and get away with chucking a heavy fly and getting some awesome action. I could see perfectly my fly in relation to the fish, I could cast upstream and across far enough to compensate for depth and twitch the fly with two or three quick two inch pulls to get the reaction I wanted. The stocked rainbows hit the fly without hesitation almost the second it moved after sinking, a few came home with me for dinner later this week. The best thing about this whole situation was that I was casting from a different angle/approach than I had ever tried before and I came up rather sucessful.

Rainbow TroutAt one point this rainbow hit the SMB and was on only to get off a second later. I watched the fish move downstream and deeper in the water making a gumming motion probably not too excited about the result of his decision. For some reason I decided to try for the same fish, I let the fly sink to right in front of his nose and stripped it quickly, he took it again, this time not to be so fortunate. Made me think of tailing carp with Wendy B., sneaking up from behind to present your fly seeing the action go down. I fished this spot for a bit, surprised to do so well and afterwards got to my goal and fished for only a few minutes to go back and take a few more from the stretch I had just found. Excellent to gain a new way of approaching the fish that I now know to be successful for me.