Monday, August 23, 2010


Back in the late 90's, before I met my wife, before we had kids (etc) I spent all of my time on the spring creek near my home. When I got married that got cut back to 3 or so days a week. And now that children have entered my life, a day a week is about all can manage. Over the past few years, smallmouth fishing in the mid-summer became an interesting change from my spring creek forays. This past weekend, with my wife and kids out of town, I relived the old days with a serious dose of troutin'.
Friday afternoon I headed out despite foul weather and fished until dark. I would have stayed longer but the unusually high population of mosquitoes this year drove me off the water. (For the record, I grew up in Northern Minnesota so I know all about these critters. At quitin' time on Friday night I had on a rainjacket with the hood up, dishwashing gloves with the fingertips cut off, a Muskol soaked buff over my face and a ball cap pulled down nice and low...) I have this question about this pesky bastards: What were they planning to eat before I got there?
Saturday as well as most of Sunday were spent on the creek. I fished old familiar stretches and revisited pieces of water I haven't seen in over 10 years. I even bought a new spool of 7x which I recently started to doubt was ever necessary...I no longer think it's a gimmick. Trout were caught on midge pupa, baetis emergers, and tiny black ant patterns. Overall I would mark the reunion as a success. There remains no better backdrop for solitude and mental health than a spring creek.

Brownie caught while fishing slow and low with a beadhead PT.

Midge pupa looked good to this one...

Despite naturally reproducing browns that haven't been stocked since the 70's, the DNR drops a batch of these in every year...

Release view...

See ya.

Local denizen.

If you look closely into the eye of this'll know right where I was fishing.

An errant backcast just about ended the life of this Halysidota tessellaris larva. Luckily, it'll soon be a Banded Tussock Moth (No trees, caterpillars or trout were harmed in the photographing of this picture).

A dinker that figured my Baetis emerger was good enough...

Dawn till dusk...just like the good ol' days...

A nice one...

On Sunday afternoon I crept heronlike into position and remained still long enough for the locals to resume the position. I apologize for the shaky camera work...but alas, I wasn't carrying a tripod (plus I had the Olympus zoomed all the way in).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spring in my step...or... step in my spring

I ventured back out for some solitude on my homewater this past weekend.
It seems that my neglect of the local spring creek fisheries has cost me.
I don't know if I am slipping or if the fish just aren't hungry, but despite a solid 6 hour outing I landed a grand total of 4 fish...and, I had to dredge nymphs to get them.

I spoke with a local fisherman/creek activist a few days ago for an hour or two who said that this fishery has changed a great deal over the past 20 years. What was once a thriving dry fly stream has largely become a nymphing stream due to a reduction in surface hatching species.
He suggested that the mayfly populations have been on the decline for a while and that most trout seem to find their biggest payoff feeding on stream dwellers such as scuds and the like. His tactics, he divulged, have taken on the form of short line nymphing similar to what is seen on Colorado's South Platte. The problem, as I see it, is that the south Platte is a dammed freestoner and my homewater is a bonafide spring to plumb the depths of a spring creek with all of that plant life?

On a plus note the scorching hot temps of mid-summer gave way to a pleasant afternoon in the high 70's with a nice breeze. No complaints.

home water as viewed through a cattle crossing fence

Evidence of another year class...

A better than average Brown with my secret recipe peeking caddis style nymph secured in place.

Back you go.


Photographed as found with steel leader attached...I wonder if it was left here in honor or frustration?

Monday, August 16, 2010

I have pictures forthcoming to prove it.

As promised in an earlier post...Here's T with the wall-e from the Soo...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August Weekends

I killed a couple hours on my local trout stream last weekend and despite a few splashy noncommittal rises I never hooked or landed a fish. With all of the local lakes in full algal bloom it isn't a stretch to say that the wade through this clear cold spring creek was transformative.

This weekend I decided to give it another go...I had originally planned a Sunday escape, but changed the plan on Saturday morning when the weather indicated that Sunday was going to be a gamble...I promptly threw my 4 weight Schroeder and a few boxes of flies in the car and slid west.
Side Note: I happened to grab a reel loaded with an old double taper Scientific Angler Supreme 2 line. This line retained zero memory and floated like a dream all day long. Why am I paying $69 for the latest and greatest lines nowadays?

There are a few ways to proceed with this post...
1. I can be vague and let you assume that I rocked the creek
2. I can focus on the 17" brown that I caught on top with a terrestrial pattern
3. I can let the pictures speak for themselves
4. (and this is the route I am taking) I can tell it like it was.

So here's the deal...I took a pile of pictures of the TWO trout I caught. The first was a 17" brown (taped) that happened to be hiding in a spot where I caught an 18" fish a few years ago. I pasted the fly against the bank and this fish assaulted it...I was halfway through the fight before I realized what the hell was going on. I caught a glimpse of him and started muttering to myself...mostly cursing (I think). Then, I landed the fish and thought - That's a helluva nice trout.

Shortly after that (in the same run) I was wading upstream with my fly dragging in the water (through water I had just fished) and the second fish, a scrappy 14 incher, latched on. From behind me I heard the audible "blip" of a fish hitting a surface meal, turned, connected the dots and raised my rod tip. I have to admit that catching a fish like this really, really sucks. I hadn't even gotten over the smug satisfaction of fooling the first fish before the second fish made a fool out of me. Let me put it this way...In total I spent 5 or 6 hours wading slowly, staying low, false casting away from my target, dropping my fly near banks, undercuts, slots, buckets, pocket water etc...and this fish took my fly as I waded past it dragging the fly upstream. I need to reread Leonard M. Wright Jr's book:

So that's it. 6 hours...1 great fish and one nice fish. One brilliantly played and executed and one a complete fluke. I did get a few other rises, but didn't connect, caught an awesome chub (7") and spooked a nice brown who betrayed his home when I damn near stepped on him (a future target to be sure). I also shot some underwater footage of a sculpin and witnessed the downstream drift of two mating snapping turtles. I saw this once before when I was fishing this stretch of water swinging wetflies. I was facing downstream and the couple almost ran into my legs but I noticed them out of the corner of my eye and got out of their way... This time I followed closely and snapped a pile of pics.

Trout 1 in the net...

Another pic of trout 1 prior to release.

Trout 1 heading home.

Trout the net.

Trout 2...underwater mug shot.

Trout chow...what would Nick Adams do?

Sculpin - nice camo! And you deny natural selection?

Snappers making whoopie...I showed this to my young daughter and told her they were "wrestling".

The secret trail out of my secret spot