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.



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.

Caddis Larva ontop of Caddis LarvaRecently I’ve been working over my approach to this method of fly fishing for trout, when I started almost a year ago I used a few indicators mostly larger flies but quickly started blind nymphing almost out of ignorance. I should state have no problems with indicators, I’m sure I’ll use them yet this season. My reasons for continuing to blind nymph rather than using an indicator are the following; 1st it is easier for me to cast a weighted two fly rig if it doesn’t have an indicator in the mix. 2nd, I don’t like changing position of the indicator constantly to match the needed depth. I guess I’d rather add weight or take some off than spend time adjusting an indicator, and finally the third and main reason is that I enjoy the challenge that is inherent when fishing without an indicator. I should also say that I do carry indicators, I have used them but I rarely choose to.

Mayfly Nymph (Ephemerella?)

With that I’ve been working on the best method for deciding how to prepare my rig to present to the trout. I first watch; the water, the fish and then I pick bugs, if possible I choose a riffle that is upstream from the location I want t0 fish. I try not to disturb the fish or the water to pick a few bugs, this can sometimes take me a while. I do this to eliminate guess work, typically I pick two different size imitations if the rocks show me that the stream holds a larger and smaller sized food source. If not, I match to the size but typically I rig a larger fly trailed by a smaller fly, this is nothing new and has been described and written about at length by others, I’m just describing how I prepare when I am nymphing.

Greenery!Recently I had the opportunity to rig up and hit some sweet, sweet trout water for an afternoon under the sun. Conditions were right for nymphing, it was early afternoon and there were no signs of rising trout. In an effort to better understand the mechanics behind blind nymphing and to practice this method I set out to find a good spot for some trial and error. I picked a few bugs leading me to choose a larger caddis larva pattern and due to lower water temps (~55) combined with my observation that the trout were holding low in the water I chose a weighted pattern. With my lead fly picked out, I decided on a smaller PT nymph based on several mayfly nymphs, mostly Ephemerella (interesting, I thought this hatch was over in S.E. MN) sitting side by side the caddis larva.

Starting with both flies and no other weight my typical approach involves watching and timing how long the flies take to sink to the bottom, usually I will go downstream and try to simulate the depth and current of the water I am going to fish and watch how my flies react, based on this observation I add weight accordingly. Sometimes it can be difficult to stop, relax, and take the time needed to get this right but as I found on this day, it is well worth the extra effort.

1st Fly PT Nymph sized to Match Naturals2nd Fly, Caddis LarvaWeight

After I got set and tied my flies on leaving about 8-12inches of line between the lead and trailing fly I got to work. With the rain from the last few days everything is beautiful, I’ve never loved the color green so much. Along with the greenery around me the water was ever so slightly tinted in the deeper pools making my approach slightly easier. Water levels are still low around the area but the steady amount of rain has been good and I can see it is going to be a good summer season.

The Test SubjectI decided to try a run that I knew held smaller fish downstream of the run I really wanted to concentrate on just to see what the initial reaction was. As my second cast was drifting towards me I noticed a quick flash and a tug on my line, I was late but I knew I had chosen well. After practicing my cast a few times and making plenty of crappy presentations I moved onto the real test. I was cautious not to spook the trout while getting in position. It was evident immediately I needed more weight for this second run. I added one splitshot a few inches above my lead fly and made a few more casts. I know how much weight I can toss without it getting stupid, I combine the weight with mending and hopefully the fly gets to the trout. I got a strike, two strikes and I even landed a few trout. I observed that it took several passes before I got a strike, never once did I get snagged so I decided to try adding abit more weight.

Trout Beauty

That was it baby, once the rig was set for the hole I was in the butter zone. Almost every pass had a strike, I watched the tip of my fly line for any change and tried to set the hook at the slightest sign of a different drift. I lost at least 60 percent of the takes because I failed to notice the take or I set the hook too late but I took several trout and despite alot of poor casts with the bulky weighted rig the trout weren’t put down once. I walked each trout downstream as I played them, this gave the others time to relax and me time to enjoy the spoils of blind nymphing.

Brown TroutPT in the KisserBrown Trout

Things to remember for next time. Let the fly drift all the way through the hole. I found I lost alot of fish as I was beginning to pull my rig up and out for another cast, had I waited longer I might have been able to set the hook properly. Just set the hook. Quite a few times I would slightly put pressure on the line, feel the trout and then it shook once and was free. Had I just trusted my gut I would have probably set the hook on half of those I lost.  Wait, choose the cast. I need to limit how many times I just toss the rig in the water. I would cast into wind and it wouldn’t end up the way I wanted, had I just waited a few minutes I might not have made so many poor casts.

Garage Sale PlateLater I worked on a few PT nymphs to help match what I saw in the stream. Liz and I went to a few garage sales this last weekend and I found a set of plates featuring a few fly fishing flies, they caught my eye and I swiped them up to decorate an already cluttered fly bench. I worked on bead head versions of my swimming nymph PT pattern. To match the darker brown and black nymphs I found at the stream, I tied these with darker pheasant tail fibers, I’m looking forward to testing them soon.

Silver DoctorRoyal CoachmanParma Belle

PT's in the Dish

The Mighty…

April 15, 2009

Stopped by another stream near by and took these the other day.

The Mississippi River

The Mississippi River

The Mississippi River

S.E. MN Fly Tying Army

March 5, 2009

Sershen Bros. and The Winona Fly Factory partnered to teach and help those in this community who signed up for our class learn about trout and the flies that catch them in Southeast Minnesota. Thank you to our students who were excellent to have in class and taught me just as much as I taught them. 

We learned tying basics from starting your thread to palmering hackle. Along with explanations of the tying technquies we spent time explaining how the flies are best presented to trout. This required learning about trout and the students made this very enjoyable with many questions that pushed us as instructors.  We tried our best to present accurate and helpful information.

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

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.  

Forecast, Winona MN

Small Stream Minnesnowta

December 20, 2008

Winter Trout Stream

Jan. 1st is Coming

December 18, 2008

Winter trout season opens January 1st. The MN DNR has specific regulations for where anglers can fish from Jan.1-Mar.31st. Although there may be a possibility that in a few years all streams designated for trout will be open for the winter season for now we fish a select few. The MN DNR released maps with the winter symbol for the streams designated for winter fishing, however the DNR’s website has a much more descriptive map for the winter streams. These are the streams closest to me.

Winona County Winter Streams