Mid-Afternoon the truck (GMC Jimmy) was packed (and I mean packed) with my family (Melissa, Nolan, Gavin, our dog Henry, and myself), camping gear, and a few things for fishing. The boys were sleeping before we hit the highway and didn’t wake up until we stopped for gas and ice in Plainview just outside the Whitewater Watershed. We setup camp and decided to head out for a little fishing jaunt.
We arrived on the middle branch and filed out of the car. We practiced casting a bit with the boys while getting ready for Melissa to give it a try with a dry. There were many caddis around but the Trout seemed shy of what she was offering. We left and headed back to camp we dropped Melissa off at an Orchid Slide Show. She was the only attendee but enjoyed the presentation. It is a shame that there are many great programs at the parks that go under utilized.
We enjoyed our first campfire of the season with temperatures beginning to cool it was very nice sitting out at the fire. The boys were a little wound up but eventually fell asleep as did Melissa and I. I was suddenly awakened by a vicious snarling and growling sound. I could here the college guys camping next door talking around their campfire about what that was. Then I heard it again, I remembered I had left 8 pieces of bread in a soft sided cooler, the only food in the cooler, on the hitch rack still attached to the truck where Henry was sleeping. I grabbed the flashlight, opened the tent, and quickly moved toward the truck before flashing three raccoons. Two scattered away while another moved up a tree. Sure enough they had been trying to pull the loaf of bread out. They had been fairly successful as the plastic was shredded and the bread was all smashed and drooled on. I quickly threw it in the garbage in the truck and went to see the coon in the tree. The coon was leaning back into the tree with it’s nose very high in the air trying to blend into the tree. I was pretty impressed with it’s instincts to try and hide.
Sunday brought much cooler temps so we decided to hike up to the Elba Lookout Tower. The boys had fun although Gavin’s little legs tired and needed to be assisted up and down. We went up the tower to the second level and decided to head back down due to the high winds. The view of Elba and the confluence of the Middle and North Branches to form the Main is very nice from the base of the tower.
We returned to camp to make a quick lunch and we took a little drive to make sure the boys napped which resulted in me getting to do some fishing.
With the cool weather there were blue wings coming off with a few light hendricksons. I fished for about an hour then we headed back to camp. In the park there were many bugs coming off missed a few on BWO. Then a big mayfly landed on me so I snapped a few pics. I think it is a March Brown. A few Dark Hendricksons were around as well. The entire weekend was a great experience for our family and the boys were very sad we had to go home already. We will see where are adventures take us this this summer.
On Thursday my clients, Steve and Eric, fished the lower Kinni. Nymphing caught several fish late morning and into the evening. Swinging a wet fly moved a few fish especially at the tail of a drift. A few fish missed and caught on caddis throughout the day and into the evening. The day ended with Eric catching a brown trout on the caddis. One of my favorite times with clients is meal time. Everyone sits back, enjoys the scenery and food, and chats as the water and other nature provide background music. Birds chattering, grouse drumming, leaves rustling, and water gurgling.
Friday we fished the Rush. Steve and Eric really enjoyed the view of the cliffs and water. A little different look then the Kinni. Fish were rising when we hit the water, we quickly narrowed it down to crane flies were the preferred choice. Eric hooked up on a nice fish that charged into and under some rocks seemingly to use it as leverage to dislodge his fly. The sun eventually tipped over the trees to peer directly into the water. The fish sunk in as temps rose. The water was still cool as we wet wadded very comfortably. Another enjoyable day on the water.
With a stout wind we launched the boat to head out for a couple hours of panfishing. Cooler was packed with snacks and dinner. We barely hit the water and it was snack time. We didn’t go far found a weed line and a sandy edge. The boys were excited, Gavin was the first to catch a fish. I was very impressed with the two year olds ability to hold the rod and reel the fish in.
The fish were very cooperative and it was very difficult to keep both rods in the water at the same time. We caught close to 30 bluegills, a few came home with us. The boys liked playing with them in the live well(cooler). Nolan caught and released the big fish of the day but didn’t want his picture taken. Gavin stepped up to pose with the fish. It was a great trip and the boys are excited for our next day on the water.
Started the day teaching a “Getting Started Class” at Kinni Creek Lodge and Outfitters with fellow Guide and Instructor Andy Roth, Gray Goat Fly Fishing, to a great group of 14 beginners. I always enjoy working with beginners and sometimes wish when I started around 20 years ago I would have been a student cutting down my learning curve by getting to ask questions and learn about the sport from two experienced instructors. This was the first time I have ever taught with Andy and the man is a wonderful story teller, making connections to each person in the class and what brought them there that day. A skill I hope to build upon in my own teaching. I enjoy helping beginners start their journey in a sport that has brought much satisfaction and fulfillment to mine. Between the two of us I am sure many questions were answered and some where now equipped to be dangerous. I look forward to seeing these anglers on the water someday down the road.
After the fly shop at Kinni Creek had quieted down I set out to do some fishing of my own. As I approached the lower Kinni I noticed an angler sitting in the grass upstream a bit. He recognized me and I walked over to chat, it was a student from a “Getting Started Class” I taught a few weeks before our paths had crossed once again. He was said he was having a good time, fishing was a little frustrating but in all it was a great day to be on the water. I crossed the stream to kick out a flurry of caddis, reaching the other side I noticed a yellow stone sitting on a blade of grass. It wasn’t long before I hooked a 10 inch brook trout on a tan bread & butter caddis. Missed and caught a few more and the sun was beginning to duck behind the hillside. Caddis seemed to disappear and cream Mayflies were beginning to appear, I was able to grab two first not sure if it was a light henrickson or a pale evening dun and second catching a Kinni Sulphur. In addition to the swarms of light colored midges were a smattering of crane flies. I switched out my caddis to a dun caught a few, then the rising trout seemed less interested so I switched to a parachute to do the same. Finally ending with a cripple as I could no longer see the fly, reacting to the sound of trout sipping or splashing bringing a few more to hand. A great end to a wonderful day. The water was slightly off color early in the day and cleared a bit as the day went on. There still was a tint of cloudiness as the evening prevailed. I look forward to the days ahead as some of the best dry fly fishing is here. It can be a little maddening trying to guess which one of the five or so bugs coming off that they are keying on but that is the game of fly fishing.
I hope all the Moms out there had a Happy Mothers Day on Sunday!
Many thing in life are enjoyable but there is something magical about a client making the needed cast and the fish eagerly taking the bread & butter caddis you tied up the night before. On this day that event was repeated time after time for me. Today’s trip on the Whitewater system started about 11am after pulling in to find the parking area vacant. We started walking and catching up on life since the last time we were on the water together. The air is a crisp 40 degrees F and sunny with a spattering of clouds.
Arriving at the first riffle and run I noticed a few fish rise along with some mayflies. Tied on an emerger which gets hit on the first cast. A nice start to the day. Within minutes the riffle is bubbling with rising trout. Ralph methodically picked them off one by one bringing about 15 to hand in this one riffle. I take notice of the little grey caddis crawling all over his waders. The mayflies I saw before are a lot fewer and more and more caddis are hopping on the water surface. Ralph continues to catch fish on the upright hair wing emerger but the fish are catching on. We move to the next riffle to find more fish rising. The emerger lands a couple fish but soon the fish are ignoring it. I tie on a grey bread & butter caddis which Ralph presented to a few more cooperative fish.
We came upon a some timber, sunken logs, and rising trout. Casting to trout rising in very tight places requires a great amount of confidence and precision. Ralph threaded the needle to a perfect drift to a swipes n miss by a nice brown trout. He quickly cast in again the wind blew it a little off target and another fish swings and misses. After making a few casts upriver of the structure the fish between the uprights and over the sunken log continue rising. Ralph makes the cast and brings to hand a gorgeous 14 incher. We continue fishing our way up river fishing dries mostly and nypmhing with a tungsten front fly and either a pheasant tail or airhead pheasant tail trailer. Pheasant tail taking most fish size 14. The sun seemed to be a big player on where fish were actively rising, with sunniest areas containing the most rising fish and bouncing caddis.
On the way back we decided to hit the upright spot one more time at about 7pm. Ralph makes a few perfect drifts to no avail. I insist there was a rise a little more to the right. The fly hangs up on the branch and drops and disappears in a whooshing display of speed and power. Pop. The leader comes flying back as the fish powered under the sunken log as quickly as it appeared. We were able to get a 14 incher out of there fairly easily this fish was no 14 incher, how big only our imagination can tell. We will be back again. Ralph, Thanks for the great day on the water it was a pleasure!
On Sunday March 18th I set foot on the upper Kinni for a couple hours before a guide trip. Arriving at my destination before the sun began to peak above the horizon. The day was my birthday and the start of a new year of my life. The birds were just beginning to chatter by the time I had my rod in hand and trekking down the trail to the first fishing stop. I began to think about all of the adventures from the past year, the biggest being pursuing my initial teaching license in middle school science and Master’s in the Art of Teaching at Hamline University. I will be finished with all of my pre-student teaching classes this summer and after student teaching this fall I should be a licensed teacher beginning 2013. I am glad that I finally took the leap to get into teaching which is definitely one of my life passions. I am eagerly waiting for the reality of my first steps into my very own classroom.
The solitude of my morning invigorated the beginning to my day and year. Many pheasants were crowing and fluttering around in the tall grasses just out of my sight. Several fish were caught mostly on a size 14 GB Airhead Pheasant Tail trailing fly but a few took the size 12 Black Copper John lead fly. A few mayflies, stoneflies, and midges were in the air however the trout did not seem to care as they were aggressively swiping at my presentations. I did not see any other anglers in my brief outing, most were probably recovering from the St. Paddy’s day activities.
I headed back to the car to make the short trip to Kinni Creek Lodge where I would meet my clients for our time on the water. For a few hours I joined a couple Gentlemen on the lower Kinnickinnic where several trout were caught on similar setups as described above. I always enjoy sharing stories and learning about clients lives while helping them achieve their desired experience.
The weather has been remarkable for early-mid March with highs in the upper sixties and lows in the forties, if I didn’t know better I would have thought I woke up in May. Nolan and I headed out around noon on Sunday. We packed Nolan’s essentials; a gogurt, a juice box, a cutie, a stick of string cheese, and a few crackers. We also grabbed his sunglasses and a TFO Bug Launcher (an eight foot 5/6 wt with a kid-sized cork grip). We stopped in at Kinni Creek Lodge to visit with Paige Olson the owner. Nolan wanted to fish so we walked down to the canoe landing and fished the nice seam running across from the landing. We managed to land a few fish, although Nolan was more interested in throwing rocks and trees into the stream. Here is a video Paige took of Nolan and I landing a little browntrout. Before we left we played a couple games of hide and seek. Then it was time to hit the road for our next fishing destination, the upper Kinni.
We got to parking lot and a young couple was just heading out as well as an older Gentleman who Nolan wished “good luck”. I grabbed my waders, rod, and gear before we walked to the first fishing spot. Nolan carrying his rod case and a cutie (in case he met a friend who was hungry). We started fishing, I just strung Nolan’s rod so the line was out without a hook which he seemed very content with. We will practice casting in the park this summer and see where that goes. He was having fun pretending to catch fish and cast.
The conditions appeared to be slightly more stained here then down at Kinni Creek Lodge. Saw a few midges around but not much more for bug activity. I managed to catch a few more fish in between being lassoed by Nolan or a stick being launched. I was fun to watch him play and have a good time. He came over and asked if he could fish by me. Of course I said sure come on over. He asked me if I was going to keep my fish. I told him no as it is catch and release season and you have to let all the fish go. He proceeds to tell me he is going to keep all the fish he catches. I explained to him that it was against the law but he still insisted on keeping his (imaginary) fish. I wasn’t going to argue much more since the evidence would be hard to find, but I think I have some work ahead on understanding there are laws and regulations that we need to follow as stewards of the land and water. I was amazed how colorful the fish were with the high waters we had a few days earlier, I expected the fish to be a little more silvery but most were vibrant yellow and brown. Nolan was a little disappointed he couldn’t share his cutie with any friends but I told him there is always next time as we hit the road for our tip home. I think Nolan was sleeping before we hit the highway. I am looking forward to our adventure this summer and the years to come. Gavin will be coming along too.
I had been putting off filling some holes in my fly boxes by enjoying this weird winter getting in several trips for winter smallmouth and winter trout. I started to experiment with glass beads. Also, tying some old favorites and creating some new ones.
Partrige and Orange
Hook: TMC 3761 Size 14
Thread: 8/0 Burnt Orange
Body: Thread Wraps
Thorax: A couple wraps of brown UV ice dub
GB UV Pheasant Tail
Hook: TMC 3761 size 14
Tail: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Ribbing: Small Copper Wire
Bead: Brown Glass Bead
Dubbing: Brown UV Ice Dub
Wingcase: Pheasant Tail Fibers
FQ Night Terror
Hook: Steamer Hook Size 6
Thread: Black UTC 140
Tail: Unwoven Black Mylar Tubing
Body: Wrapped Metallic Black Braid
Hook: Scud Hook Size 14
Bead: Translucent with Pink Inner
Thread: Brown 6/0
Body: Brown Thread
Ribbing: Small Copper wire
Thorax: UV Ice Dub Brown
Collar: CDC Brown
Elk Hair Caddis
Hook: TMC 200R or Dry Fly Hook Size 16
Body: Olive Gray
Underwing: Z-Lon Tan
Over-wing: Elk Body Bleached
It was mid-week that I began putting the plan in motion. Sunday was looking like an opportunity to get out for some trout fishing with some spectacular weather predictions. I had an itch and it needed some desperate scratching.
Having tied up several nymph patterns over the last week or so. I was excited to get them wet. I started to experiment with glass beads. I fashioned up a dozen or so inspired by Gray Goat Fly Fishing guide Andy Roth. I also tied up a couple of my own variations of my own patterns.
I met up with a friend not so early around 7 am and we were on the water just after 9am. We decided to hit the Whitewater area. I wanted to scout an area before we went to some of my favorite water in the system. The first place looked very desolate and sandy with not much for fishy looking water, we fished for a short time and come up with nothing. We went back to the truck to head to our next search and deploy spot. High up on a bank we found a pretty good grouping of trout. The sun was not in our favor for fishing these fish. We decided to give it a try from up high as scampering down the bank would spoke them for sure. I stripped out my line made a few false casts and let it rip. Just as my fly was going to make it to my desired location the last free line caught on the grass sending my fly right on top of the school of trout. Bam they were done and screaming around. I made a few more casts to see if I could get the right cast and drift if we made it back to this spot later. We probably would go up and around in the evening and fish with the sun in our face as it set in the West.
With that we ended our scouting and headed to some fishy water leaving behind the fewer fishy looking sections of the lower river. We ate some homemade chicken noodle soup before heading out again. I have become a big fan of the Stanley Food Containers, keeping food hot/warm for about 10 hours as we finished off the rest around 6pm as we were leaving and it was still warm. We also enjoyed a beer and there is nothing like an ice-cold stream side beer.
I often tote two rods (3-wt. & 5-wt.) this time of year. It is cumbersome at times but allows me to be ready to fish top-water at the drop of a hat. We found our first pool and tailout with a good number of fish stacked up. We both caught a couple fish between 6-9 inches. We were working a couple of different rigs with scuds, midge pupa, copper johns, and other smallish flies.
As the day went on we encountered fish rising pretty consistently to midges and caught a few on some griffith’s gnats. Fished a couple of the better spots on the way out with success. We had fun searching the very clear waters for fish, with barely a breeze the water was like a glass aquarium nearly everywhere we went.
When leaving a stream for the day I relish the time spent and the moments of meeting nature’s occupants. We saw several deer carcases and were mesmerized with some of the log jams from the floods several years ago. The stream has changed, holes are gone but new ones were formed, and a new mental map was drawn. The sun had set and the last of drop of beer had been savored just before the key turned to start our return home.