Brown on a Trico Spinner #24Goals for the day:

  • Find Trico’s Hatching
  • Catch fish on Trico Pattern
  • Enjoy another day on a S.E. Minnesota Trout Stream
  • Work Hoppers Later in the Day

With the goals laid out before me I set out at 5am. Getting to the spot I wanted to fish was going to require a longer drive than normal but this provided the opportunity to find some rising fish, fish new water and see a stretch of water that I rarely get to visit. I met Joel, who became my Brother-in-Law this past Sunday at 5:30am. This outing was his last as a single man and it felt good to get him out.

Trico Mayfly

Trico (Natural) next to Trico Spinner (Imitation #24)Explaining the goals for the day to Joel was simple enough, first up, use a ridiculously small fly to tempt rising trout. Upon arrival at 6:40am the water temp was already above what I was expecting to find pushing past 60 degrees but the trout were rising steadily and we rigged a bit of 7x and a couple of #24 Trico Spinner patterns I had tied for this morning. We would have been better to arrive at 6am and no later, something to keep in mind for next time. Joel, still new to fly fishing was naturally going to have a difficult time taking a fish on a Trico pattern but tried just the same and although he walked away a few hours later empty handed he surprises me with his patience and lack of frustration even when his fly ends up in the trees/weeds more often than not. At one point he was less than 20ft from rising trout, standing in the stream up to his thighs and couldn’t quite get his leader unfurled far enough to present the fly well enough. I tried to help as best I could but he knew he just needed to practice and was content trying his best until the moment was over.

New Caddis Larva Pattern Tied by The W.F.F.I worked around Joel and managed to take a few risers, felt nice to finally get one of these fish to hand using this pattern. Although small there is something about catching these fish feeding in a frenzy on such a small imitation. Joel and I even caught creek chubs rising to eat the Trico’s. At 9:00am everything stopped almost immediately, no rising fish but still a cloud of Trico’s all around. We waited to see if the spinner fall would begin but after thirty minutes and burning daylight we pushed on to a second spot on the same stream. Unfortunately we found almost Trout Stream w/ Habitat Improvementno life other than a small Brook trout I nymphed up with a new caddisfly pattern and creek chubs. Water temp at 10:30 explained it all, pushing 66-68 degrees, I can only imagine that the trout were either concentrated in the deepest of holes or had moved downstream to colder water. At 11am Joel and I pressed on to a stream that I felt provided the best opportunity to take trout on hopper patterns. The section flowed through a cow pasture that was downstream from the source of the small creek, pouring out cold 51 degree water. Cow pastures and grasshoppers go hand in hand, combine that with the water temp being ideal for active trout at mid-day with the sun beating down and your in business. The second we got to the stream we knew we had picked the right spot.

Joel with a Brown TroutJoel and I set ourselves up with Hoppicators with trailing nymphs, I chose a Sparkle Larvae and Joel a Caddis nymph. I have walked this section of stream a few times before but had been unable to stop and fish it. I picked a run that I had previously spied a very nice sized brown hunkered down the last time I had been here. After getting used to the current and setting the right depth the Sparkle Larvae took a smaller brown and soon I was back at it. Second pass through and I felt a nice tug and soon my fly was heading deep, I tried to turn the fish but unable to do so soon enough resulted with the fish pulling me under old habitat improvement and soon I knew he had wrapped my line around something. I was forced to break my flies off and start again.

Trout Stream SourceWe worked upstream to where I wanted to relax and eat a bit of lunch before fishing our way downstream and out for the day. On the way I plopped my hopper pattern just outside of a deep run located next to habitat improvement and watched as a brightly colored brown shot like a rocket to my fly, hook set and soon it was hopper time. I took one more in a similar situation on the next run while Joel nymphed up a few downstream of me. We arrived at the source and took a water temp of 51 degrees. I managed to get a nice strike from a brookie on my hopper pattern in the hole caused by the pouring of water from the rock wall, very cool but I lost the fish before I was able to get a good look at it. We took a few pictures and smiled, this is one of the best places in Minnesota to be for sure. We worked our way downstream and out heading home at 2:30pm. All goals met for the day, very nice.

Brown Trout


Rainfall between 6am and 2pm.Fished early this morning attempting to find Trico’s hatching. Water temp was 56 degrees upon arrival and the stream was tea colored making for good conditions but no real hatch to speak of. I saw a rising trout and put a Trico pattern on it for a strike but a miss on the hook set. I was hoping for more from the trico’s but no luck so I swapped for a nymph rig. Caddis and Sparkle Larva on my line makes for a deadly fly factory.

I left the camera battery at home which may have been a blessing in surprise as the rain began at alittle before 9am and did not let up, I can see myself getting it soaked. I fished with my soon to be brother-in-law this morning who has only fly fished for trout once before. He did well and I only had to tie a few knots, for the most part Joel was on his own. The rain let up and the sparkle larvae out fished the caddis larva five to one. I took seven trout from a single run of twenty feet, that was sweet. I’m catching fish after fish and I look over and Joel has a fish on, and what a fish! He took the size prize landing a 15in brown for his second trout for the day. We left at noon walking out in the mud and rain, I loved it. The streams need the water, so does my garden. At home I checked the rain gauge at 6am when I left the house, nothing. By 2pm we’ve had more than a half an inch of rain which is more precipitation than we’ve had since I started taking daily measurements on July 1st. I will have to swing by my CSMP site tomorrow.

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.

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

The FlyLeft work, lunch and I spent thirty minutes with one fly and one fish. Drove to the spot, tied on the only fly I tied last night for this occasion. Decided for some reason that rather than head straight to the spot where I know the big ones live I’d chucked this into the first riffle I got to. I did this because although I weighted this fly heavy under the body I knew to fish it deep at the place I was going I would have to add more weight, rather than do that, first I would try it out on the way. First spot I kicked up a female duck, and the fish didn’t respond well to my fly. I quickly moved downstream. Second spot I lost a take and just decided to press on, trying to keep this one to a half an hour. Third spot I made the first cast too short and although one trout came after it, it refused as the fly got closer to me. Second cast was placed right above the pool just in the riffle, perfect. I let it drift for a few seconds, first strip, second strip and then I watched him saunter up, turn and sharply stomp this fly, straight to the bottom. I watched from 20ft the whole thing. Damn.

The TroutWith that it was on, I had 4x tippet on and I didn’t want to force this fish and frankly at the time I didn’t think he was as big as he turned out to be.  I pulled his head torwards the head of the pool, downstream and we would have played with sticks and a big log, I didn’t want that. He dove towards each bank up the riffle and then chased back down the pool, each time I had to turn his head. On the third he chased up the riffle so far he was in 3inches of water half exposed, that’s when I realized what I was dealing with. He came back down and before he hit the pool I pulled him out, landed on the grass. Four photo’s out of the water quickly, I removed the hook with my forceps and got him in the water, I wanted to be careful not to harm him. We spent about three minutes together, I took photos and eventually he slipped up and under the bank I could still see him in six inches of water. I just sat and watched him. The whole thing lasted less than twenty minutes. I packed it in didn’t even bother to go to the spot I had came here for, funny too, the landowner that gave me permission stopped me and asked how I did. I had a huge grin, so I showed him the photo’s I had, I assured him that I let the fish go. I will be sending him the photo’s later.

S.E. Minnesota Male Brown Trout

30min. First Fish, third hole. Watched him come up, on the 3wt. Sick, just sick. Ran up a riffle three inches deep. Body exposed. Landed by hand, no net. Four frantic photos out of the water. A few in the water while enjoying the three minutes I got to hold this trout before he left me. 20+in I think. Heavy trout. One fly, one fish. What a moment…

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.


Light Hendrickson MayflyThe LandscapeI watched the Light Hendrickson’s hatch again today, I have been trying to watch this from the same section of stream several times during the entirety of this hatch to well, just to watch it and observe. Once again the cattle were around and that combined with almost an inch of rain yesterday made for some transparency issues on the stream today, that didn’t impede the hatch any, I think it prevented the trout from eating though.

I got to the stream and immediately saw several Light Hendrickson’s hatching, I collected a few and took photos, saw no rising trout. I waited for quite a while watching the same spot noticing a greatly increased volume of mayflies. I counted 5-10 pass every 10-20 seconds, this is much more than I observed last week. I expected to see rising trout and after a while and a little hiking to find some cleaner water I did in fact find rising trout. I love watching an excited trout rush your fly from the depths, keeps you on your toes man. I had a blast, caught several but most were small. I was a little disappointed that the hole containing the larger fish was being trampled by the cattle again, this kept the flow very muddy and I just watched hundreds of mayflies hatch without a single rise. I would be getting on stream earlier than you might think for this hatch, I would say to get a jump on it be ready at 10:30am and thats rigged and ready to go.

Sage Flight 8'6" 3wtToday was AWESOME! I got to test the new rod I recently received and with it caught one of the sweetest trout I’ve seen in a long time. I got on stream and took a water temp immediately, cloudy skies made me think it wouldn’t happen today but I was dead wrong. First water temp, 58 degrees. I took some samples and then rigged a larger scud trailed by the usual Swimming PT. I have other flies but this PT pattern has really held it’s own and it represents well the Ephemerella Invaria nymph well so it would be counter productive to not use it in my opinion. I started swinging…

Swimming PT StrungFelt a light take, the new rod felt weird the first few casts. I lost three takes in a row and then saw the first one. Floated right past me and I almost jumped in the creek. I quickly reeled in all the line I had out and headed downstream. I lost that one but knowing that these nymphs hold in fast riffles and let loose to emerge I positioned myself and got ready. 11:28am 59degree water temp. I actually watched several of these flies hatch in the crystal clear water. With what seemed like almost one wriggle most were out of the shuck in the blink of an eye. I caught a few and took photo’s, noticing two different body colors I’m wondering if this wasn’t Invaria and Rotunda hatching at the same time. I saw rising trout a few minutes later and switched to a Compara-dun patter I tied for this hatch during the off season. Never seeing this before I was unsure if my flies were going to work but I tried a lead Trailing Shuck Compara-dun followed by a Deer-Hair Emerger pattern, both took fish.

Light HendricksonLight HendricksonLight Hendrickson

The first on the new rod was small but felt good just the same. A few more followed and I was getting the feel for the new rod, everything about this thing felt excellent. I felt confident casting, this made for a few mis-steps but I was getting used to it. I moved upstream to the real targets. Casting the same two flies I made the first cast count, always a good thing and it payed off immediatly when a beatiful brown launched from below. Took my fly right to the bottom, the fight that ensued made me love this new rod. He went straight for weeds at the bottom and wrapped himself up, I waited, a few minutes later he knew he couldn’t stay there. He ran me downstream and after another few minutes surfaced for good. I wore him out good so I hung around for a few minutes to see him off in good shape.

Brown Trout Release

The rest of the afternoon saw a few sporadic hatching and rising fish, I caught a few more until another nice trout struck and because I thought I could man-handle him I lost both flies and was forced to start over. I re-rigged and took a few moments to take pictures, relax. I trailed my lead fly today with the Deer hair emerger but at one time also with a Swimming PT and both produced trout. I ended up catching only two more fish but I know there will be more of this hatch. On a final note I must say, if your new to this be confident, not cocky but confident. I tied the flies that caught these trout from information from books, the Internet and other anglers before seeing the real thing and it can work. What a sweet time on the water, I will not take this for granted and I will stew on this time for a while to come.

May 19th, A Quick Run

May 19, 2009


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.