Sunday, October 7, 2018

Trip Report: Birthday Trout!

You know that kid at your birthday party who blows out your candles?
I give him a pass though since he's reppin' the Brewers! This buttery brown is pretty close to the spawn. Jesse pulled it in quick with his spinning rod and after admiring the fish for a brief moment released it into the pool from which it came. Jesse also landed a 19 inch brute yesterday! I didn't land the lunker of my desire but brought plenty of fish to hand.
 Jesse used a Rapala briefly but focused mostly on his spinner game. I started out with a streamer which fished really well until around 1030am when baetis mayflies (size 20ish light green) started coming off. I switched to a size 20 comparadun pattern with trimmed hackle used for the wing. It's a dainty fly that matches these more diminutive mayflies.
A few larger than average trout took the mayfly. Fish ate consistently in pools and long flats but proved a tough quarry with such clear stream conditions. After a long, somewhat brutal walk back to the cars we decided to head to another stream known to harbor some bigguns.
I fished the same streamer pattern that I've been using lately and it worked well. Fish were rising consistently on this stream as well so I rounded out the afternoon with a few on dries!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Trip Report: Raised on Pike and Bass

I was Raised on Pike and Bass from a young age. My brother and I fished a few really good rivers in southeastern Wisconsin that held Northern Pike and Smallmouth Bass, and we fished them often. We mostly used conventional gear until we reached 14 or 15 when fly gear became our tools of choice. I've focused so much on trout over the last 6 or 7 years that I've ignored a couple of familiar species in somewhat familiar environments (medium sized warm water rivers). My friend wanted to chase Muskie today so we did. The Muskies out ran us but the Pike and Bass contributed to an awesome day enjoying what Southeastern Minnesota has to offer!
This fish took a large, flashy streamer and fought well above his weight on a 7 weight. Notice the heron scar on his back. It looks like I have a mini dip in my lip but I can assure you I don't, not that there's anything wrong with that (Seinfeld fans?).
This fish smashed the fly and put up a great battle. The fly was languishing near the surface toward the end of my retrieve when he hit. It was one of those splashy pike attacks that makes you second guess dipping your hands in the water when you wash off the pike slime.
Jon got on board with this solid pike! It hit the fly as it dropped from the surface. After a spectacular battle, during which the slime rocket took strong hard runs against Jon's 8 weight, the fish came to hand. Jon released him to the chilly waters on a cloudy, cold day.
 I remarked to John as I made a few strips on my first cast in this spot that we would certainly get a fish right away. As I turned back to look at my fly this fish smashed it! We parked on shore while I landed the strong shouldered beast. Wire leaders and strong hooks were a must and our 7 and 8 weight fly rods handled these fish with ease.
 John hit this beautiful smallie in a neat piece of water. It put a surprisingly deep bend into his 8 weight. The bite started to shut down as temps cooled and cloud cover thickened. We also flew through a lot of water without fishing after allocating too much time to the first 1.5 miles of the 8 mile float.
 I am again appreciative to John for inviting me on a trip down the river in the Merrimack canoe. This was an awesome experience and has me pumped to chase smallies next summer!

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Couple Days This Week

I got out couple times this week and found fish in some streams seemingly done with the spawn while in others still in pre-spawn mode. I've fished a combination of nymph patterns and my wolley bugger-ish and had success with both. The five weight accompanied me on all adventures.
This fish had a strong little kype. I'm finding most of my fish in deep, froggy water pools and in the tail outs of deeper runs.
 I'm running low on flies and will have to tie up a few of my fall faves to effectively round out the extended season. Most of Minnesota's Driftless trout streams close on October 15th but a few in State Parks and in towns where fisherman and hunters won't overlap. It very likely protects spawning trout from being targeted and keeps people off there nests, called reds.
 On Tuesday evening storms threatened but never materialized directly above me. The rest of the week it's been spitting light rain with overcast skies. Temps have ranged from the low 80's to the mid 40's. I don't think it's impacted the fishing much as fish know winter's coming.
This was the biggest fish of the week. Probably around 16-17 inches. This fish seemed like a post spawn fish but maybe not. One easy way to differentiate spawners from pre- and post-spawn fish by looking at the fins for signs of damage. I plan to fish a bunch until the 15th so stay tuned!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Trip Report: A Little Fishing and a Big Fish

This was the plan for today. Bigger flies for bigger trout. John and I both eagerly awaited the weekend. We discussed a few options and settled on walking around and swingin', twitchin', strippin', and dead driftin' bigger flies on a few stretches of much beloved waters. I tied up a half dozen of the flies pictured above and carried a small container of midges, scud, and some small midge emergers just in case. A few heavier tungsten beaded nymphs made the trip as well.
 We both landed a few fish by the time this stout brown trout chased down my fly. I fished a 9' five weight that I've been diggin' lately. The rod typically performs really well but I'm using heavily saturated line and found casting to be difficult at times. These were tight quarters so we fished close together, often switching per fish.
John used a bunny leech lookin' thing with a deer hair collar (I think). Once we started tying into 'em faster John remarked that fish struck much more aggressively when the fly was swung and twitched against the current. We both thoroughly enjoyed fishing this stretch of water and toyed with the idea of continuing on. We decided instead to check out another spot that has been haunting my waking moments for the past year. I had a good feeling we could find a biggun. We hiked in a good distance before starting. After tossing larger flies for around a half hour I decided to rig up a pink squirrel of prey. A few 12-13 inchers came to hand before I hooked into a log.
I set the hook, she let of a great flash, and the fight was on! John came over the net the beast with a tiny little net. To his credit John wielded the net with extreme precision, likely cutting the fight by a little bit. After a few quick pics she was sent back to the depths.
After landing a few more little ones we headed to town to have lunch with John's wife. She put together an awesome little picnic lunch. They headed on a hike after lunch and I headed to a nearby stream to try my luck again on the big fly. I landed many between 8-12 inches and rolled a few slightly larger. I arrived home to find my pictures from last night still on my camera... So here they are!
Solid brookie on a size 18 pheasant tail emerger trailed behind a size 18 tung beaded zebra midge. Fish were not overly aggressive but I did manage to lose two nicer ones to long distance release.
This guy took the big fly! Only a few took the streamer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Trip Report: Guide Trip- Ed and Dave

Today I provided my services to guide Ed and Dave on a couple driftless gems. We met up at Kwick Trip (where else!) before taking a short drive to one of my favorite little spots. We rigged up with nymphs while hoping for some dry fly action. Temps hovered in the mid 60's and slowly grew cooler as a front came through. Skies were overcast and a gentle breeze became progressively more bothersome as the day went on.
After a few smaller fish came to hand Ed took this deep bodied brook trout. Things were slower than I expected and we never really found one fly that got 'em going. They ate various nymphs and slashed at a wolley bugger and quill mayfly. Fish rose infrequently yet skies were clear of bugs. A steady breeze didn't help either. But Dave didn't care...
He landed this above average brown trout with Ed and I looking on! This stream was way weedier than usual and some of the pools that usually fish well were void of trout. Pictured below is Ed launching casts through the wind with precision.
After a few fish to hand a piece we decided to head to another area stream that the guys hadn't fished. Ed landed a few tiny browns out of that stream but fishing was slow there too. Overall it was nice to spend the morning out of doors and with fellow fly fishing fanatics. Fish were not as aggressive as typical for this time of year. I've been hearing the same from the last few fisherman I've spoken with. I suspect fish are still recovering from the last two cold fronts and heavy rains the area has seen over the last few weeks. Get out there and fish if you can. The late c&r season ends October 15th. After that the trout fishing season becomes restricted to a few State Parks and handful of streams located within city limits.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Two New Builds!

The first is a 9 foot four weight four piece. It is built on a Hook and Hackle Ftx blank with components from Proof Fly Fishing.
The next rod is a 10 foot three weight euro nymphing rod. It is built on a Hook and Hackle Xi blank with components from Proof Fly Fishing.
These are both for sale at Whitewater Valley Flies for $225.00.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Trip Report: Only Two Fish (and a Rod)

The wife and I are headed to Viroqua for the afternoon but before we go I wanted to check out a spot that's always really productive for me this time of year. I arrived on stream by around 8am and fished until 930am. This spot requited a little hike made more strenuous by saturated soil along the banks. I managed to stay upright while tempting two nice trout beyond their restraint.
 After trying numerous heavy nymphs fished deep with no success I switched over to a streamer. The first cast I ripped through the pool and on the second practiced more of a dredging slow twitch presentation. This fish ate the fly on that second cast. After a good battle the 5 weight proved overpowering and she swam right into the net.
 This fish put up a great fight as well. After around 45 minutes without success I headed home early. On to Viroqua! By the way, the fish I've encountered have not been spawning yet but they're sure getting ready. That means fish are hungry and aggressive. We only have a little over a month before season changes restrict our stream options in Southeast Minnesota.
 This rod is for my friend Jim who I met in college. It's a 7 piece 8ft 3wt backpacking rod that Jim plans to use while chasing trout in the alpine lakes of the Sierra Nevada range in California.
I really like the look of the brown thread on top of the green blank. I just got a bunch of blanks to work with including a 4pc 10ft 3wt euro nymphing rod. Can't wait to get started on those!