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Tomorrow I will be seeing for the first time what a section of stream that I drive by on occasion holds between its banks, this is private land and I’ve been thinking about calling this guy for a while now. I finally did and the landowner on the other end was more than willing to allow me access to his property and the stream, he gave me a place to park and granted access from two points on his property. I asked for his name and if he would be around tomorrow so I could introduce myself and meet him in person.

Private Section of Stream

Trout StreamI stopped by the bridge just upstream of the water I was granted access to and took a water temp and samples from the riffle to give me an idea of what I might find tomorrow. First thing I noticed was a lack of any Mayfly nymphs other than Ephemerella Rotunda/Invaria, I might find some hatching Light Hendricksons tomorrow. I caught my first Caddisfly pupa today, looked exactly like some of the pictures I’ve seen, pretty interesting, other than that the riffle contents were to be expected mostly free-living caddis larva, scuds, and the Ephemerella nymphs. The water temp was kind of interesting, only 54 degrees at noon over my lunch, on most other streams the temp would be in the higher 50’s. It might take this stream longer to warm, might find bugs hatching a little later tomorrow than I’ve been seeing.

Ephemerella Invaria Caddis PupaCaddis Larva

I need to continue to work on these situations, there is plenty of water even closer to my doorstep to fish if I can continue to build relationships with landowners. I have two other streams that I have been granted access by landowners but I have yet to fish in those locations, tomorrow will be the 1st private section of Southeast Minnesota trout streams I’ve fished. Wish me luck, if it is as good as I’m hoping it might be I will have a wonderful new place to visit close to home and if it turns out to be a bust then at least I won’t wonder about it every time I drive by.

Return To The Source

June 7, 2009

Me and My PassengerThis weekend Liz and I camped with my sister and her family. We arrived, set up camp and got to it knowing the weather was going to be unpleasant the rest of the weekend. Last summer Liz and I stayed here and had a great time, this campground is great for families. 

We set off for the source of the stream that flows through the campground, this is an access eased stretch of Southeast Minnesota trout water that runs through a cow pasture and ends at the source flowing from a cave in the side of a bluff. I hiked with no rod or reel, just my niece Chloe on my back, my strainer for riffle contents and a thermometer for gauging water temp at the source.

Light Hendrickson MayflyWe hiked and saw trout rising to Light Hendrickson mayflies, the section that runs through the cow pasture has habitat improvement along both banks keeping the stream safer from the cattle. The stream has several deep runs holding trout, I’ll admit I wish I had a rod but I was happy to be outside in the sun. I took riffle samples and water temps along the way, at the source the temp was 52 degrees and I would imagine it doesn’t fluctuate much. This is a beautiful place to visit, Chloe had a good time enjoying the hike.

Source of Trout Stream

Interesting how the life in the stream diminishes closer to the source, I couldn’t find much on the limestone other than a few caddis fly larva. I did have one of the “Little Black” Caddis land on me standing right at the source but it flew off before I could get a picture. The life in the riffles grew as we went downstream of the source. I plan to fish this yet this summer, but for now I didn’t have time, we decided after 10 hours of rain the next day that it would be best to pack it in early with no end insight to the rain. None of us wanted a sick one year old on our hands, it was a beautiful 1st day though.

May 19th, A Quick Run

May 19, 2009

CatchRelease

Fished for just a few hours today, saw some cool things and met a fellow fly fisherman looking for alittle advice. It was excellent to feel knowledgeable enough to help steer this guy in the right direction. Let me back up, got on stream and took water temp right away, today I was hoping to find some mayflies hatching. I took an initial temp of ~58 degrees and picked bugs finding, as I have on several other area streams that the Ephemerella nymphs were in full force and just about ready to pop. The date I’ve been hearing is May 20th and although I didn’t see any hatching Light Hendricksons I did see a few sporadic rising trout, my thought is due to some light Caddis activity. During my bug picking adventure I lifted a rock with my strainer downstream to catch the contents and when I pulled it out? A Sculpin! I’ve tried catching these things before but they are quick, it was cool to see this one up close.

A Comparison? Sculpin from under a Rock!Ephemerella Invaria/Rotunda Nymphs

I fished a larger Caddis pattern trailed by a smaller PT and both were catching fish today. Second cast and I was onto trout, small trout but trout none the less. I’ve yet to be frustrated with size but I have been catching 6-8″ trout in large numbers but few larger than 10″. Today saw two larger than 12″ and one that threw the hook would have been a larger trout. I enjoyed the warm sun, standing in a few inches of cold trout water was refreshing. I fished until a fellow happened by wanting to know if I was catching anything.

Trout Water Flowin' To My Feet After a few minutes of having a conversation across the stream I decided that I would rather chat about fly fishing than keep working the spot I was on. I crossed the stream and met a fellow who introduced himself as “Bruno.” He asked about trout, places to fish and what flies I was using. I popped open the boxes I had on me and gave him a few Swimming PT’s and a few new Scud patterns. It was great to talk trout and help someone out, afterward I decided to pack it in, I had obligations and I was satisfied I had put the trout demons down for the time being.

Feb. 22nd Fishing New Water

February 22, 2009

Hit up a new stretch of water south of me on the advice that I might find a winter brookie hold up there. Pulled up to a very small trout stream and despite below freezing air temps and wind too boot we hit the water. Along for the fun: the dog, the little blonde, and another family of trouble makers. Two rods, two dogs, two women, and two men hit one stream and had a great afternoon in the sun. 

The Crew

Roadside SpringSaw quite a few fish but I caught none. I have plans to return hopefully sooner than later. Water temps higher than usual peeked my interest. At one point the water flows from a drainage pipe just below the road, this is spring water for sure. On the other side of the road a small pond no more than 4 feet across but no ice, spring water. 

Trout Stream  Clean and Clear Trout Water  Creek Curves  Trout Stream

Catching fish was difficult today, perfectly clear water and difficult casting conditions made it a challenge. After scouting the stream I am more confident that I can return and catch a fish. This place was brilliant in the cold sun, I was excited to be in this place. A Good Day. 

Sershen Bros Fishing for Trout

Professor F.F. is Back

February 20, 2009

I was invited back to speak with students from Winona Senior High’s Fish and Wildlife class. I did my previous presentation with alittle bit of new information that I have added since the last time I gave my trout dork speech. This time, however, I found I had to fight alittle to get students to respond but they came around towards the end when I got into tying. 

I discussed trout in Minnesota ranging from species, location, and behavior including spawning and feeding. We also discussed habitat, conservation and my desire to start volunteering for the MPCA which I plan to begin spring/summer. 

I tied two flies for the students explaining how each would be fished under different situations. The PT nymph because of its wide range of application. I explained how it is fished is related to the behavior of the trout and the habitat in which they live, understanding both will enhance your fly fishing. I also tied a size 20 Midge Larva to explain how trout will take such a small meal when that meal comes in large quantities and requires few calories to acquire, but that at the same time (as I learned with the Marabou Leech) when the fish are holding and there is no single food item they are keyed into, that fishing something larger providing more incentive to a holding trout may be better, maximize calorie intake while minimizing output. 

I hope I left a few with something they will want to look back on, if anything perhaps they will think about the area they live in a slightly different way, I know when I began to fly fish I began looking at this place in a different, better way. 

Feb. 16th Hole Hopping

February 17, 2009

Ice Art

Trout StreamStarted my day on the water just after 10am hoping that the weather would cooperate with me. It, however, did not and I found myself fishing under cloudy skies with the wind a blowin’ right at me in most instances. This could be discouraging but I dressed warm and although my knees hurt at the end of the day I had a good time on the water. The first thing I noticed was the drastic water level difference on this (one of my favorite) stream between the summer level and now. With low flows the stream trickled from hole to hole which is where the trout are so this is hole hopping! I should also note that the water had cleared significantly from a week ago when this stream all the way to the source was a chocolate mess.

Trout HoleI started at the first hole and got about twelve holes in before hitting the end of the winter boarder. This, by the way, is way better than any round of golf, even in overcast, windy, 24 degree weather. I swung a scud with a midge trailed and got no where. Assessing the situation I moved away from the scud/midge and went to a #8 Black Marabou Leech. I’m not too experienced with swinging heavier weighted patterns with my 4wt but I figured got to get to the fish and that means down deep, practice is good too so a leech launching I went. Tiny TroutIt just so happens that today I would catch my first trout on a streamer pattern. The first fish made me laugh and I stopped to take it in. Slightly larger than a sardine you would find at the store but much more to look at. I smiled and sent it swimming. I could see that this was going to work. I found that I would get strikes right after the leech hit the water and it sank for just a second. I lost a few opportunities to take a fish due to the inexperience I had with this situation. I ended up loosing two or three that displayed some areal acrobatics which aided in there escape from my barbless hook.

Brown on a Mini Leech

Where's all the water?I spent the cold weather leech launching into the wind and trying to get used to casting a heavier pattern. I picked up one more on my way from one winter border to the other. After taking in the entire section of winter fish-able stream I headed back to try my luck at two of the beginning holes. I took a few casts and sure enough missed one right as it struck after it just hit the water, I went back for more. I saw a flash, clearly a fish turning around, I set the hook and with that I had what I came for, a fight! This log didn’t jump once but sure did test my resolve, I was fishing with 7x tippet, in retrospect I will tie on 5x for the marabou leech but I was pleased when I pulled him out. I said hi, took my picture and sent him on his way. He ruined the hole for me and seeing the time I headed out. At 1:15pm I got to the truck to turn around and see parting skies and sunshine. I still caught a great fish and fought the poor weather to do so.

Brown Trout


The Magic TreeLiz and I decided to drive south to a trout stream that I wanted to see again. Knowing I couldn’t fish the stream I brought only a camera and the dog. We left at 8am with an air temp of probably 20 degrees, we didn’t park until close to 10am and the air temp was no more than 26. The sun was shining though and despite the wind it was a beautiful day and I was glad to be up and outside early. We hiked a route I had taken in the summer and I guess I was curious to see if I could find one, just one fish. The reason being: this summer none were to be found and in water that looked perfect for trout. 

We started and immediately I noticed that the water was clearer than I remembered it, an advantage of the winter season. I was hoping this would help me find where the trout were that I was missing this summer. We walked and I thought I saw a few move in a large 6-10ft deep pool. Trout WaterThis was a very slow moving section of the stream requiring the wind to cooperate if I was to see what was on the bottom. After my initial thought we pressed on due to lack of wind cooperation. Moving on the next section for sure produced trout, I got excited and then confused. I was seeing in a section that I had witnessed no trout in during the summer almost teeming with them, I had to have seen 20 trout hold up in this hole.

Clean and Clear

Now, I know that they stack up in the deeper holes during the winter but do they migrate up/downstream and then hold up? Was it possible I was blind this summer and either the water was too murky for me to see them or I was so poor a fly-fisherman that I couldn’t catch even one? I’m not sure, the area they were hold up in was more of a long, slow, flat 4-8ft deep section, not a 10+ft deep hole. 

Green In The WaterWe hiked further than I had in the summer, after using Google Earth to map my route I was much more confident in my assesment of the easement boarder. Interestingly enough I thought I would see more fish further downstream but as we hiked I saw nothing. I’m not saying they wern’t there, I just couldn’t find them. After a few hours we hiked back to the car and as we did I stopped to look in the initial section of water that the wind had kept me from seeing more clearly in. At first I thought I saw one or two, and then I moved and saw more fish in this one section of water than I had in any other. I was awestruck. The only time I’ve seen more fish in one spot is in the hatcheries. 

I watched, they were deep. Holding, still. I sat and wished there were winter regs here. After ten minutes or so Liz and the dog got me moving back to the truck. I’m glad I came back, I might have unfairly judged this section of water writing it off as a barren wasteland when in fact it might hold some sweeeeet trout. I will be making another trip here in a few months.

This basic dry fly pattern can be altered to match the caddis that one will find hatching throughout Southeast Minnesota.

Deer Hair Caddis:

Decided to get the dog out. Traded the rod and reel for a camera, had a great day and got some good photo’s. This is a place I call Dinosaur Land. This is one of my summer runs, I love it here. Seeing it in the winter was excellent, saw Midge rising about 2pm but no rising trout. Beautiful Day.