Month – March 2012

Irish Trout

This winter has been very mild to say the least. Although it is technically still winter trout season here in Minnesota, the weather is anything but that. Over the weekend, we camped at one of our favorite trout streams. Temps crept into the eighties, bringing out the trout and the bugs.

Braden and I were on the water as the morning sun crept over the bluffs. We headed downstream to a long, slow run where a few trout were rising sporadically to midges. Braden crawled out on a log jam and after several attempts delivered a difficult cast to a riser. The trout gulped his cdc midge, only to hopelessly tangle himself in the logs before Braden could do anything. That was about it for a while. While Braden hiked back to camp for some breakfast, I explored some water I hadn’t fished before. I found a great pool with some good cover and brought the first trout of the day to hand, a little ten inch brown that took a #14 hare and copper. I caught one more little brown in that pool and kept going downstream. My indicator dove as it drifted along a log, and I tied into a decent rainbow. The last rainbow we caught out of this stream last season was a fresh stocker that barely put up any fight, but this holdover had some nice spots and fought pretty well.

Braden's first trout on the new rod.

Around nine or ten some bugs started coming off and the trout started rising. Braden and Noah came down and got in the action. Fish were holding in faster water and steadily rising to the now thick mayflies. A#16 quill gordon was a decent match. Braden pulled in a nice brown, the first on his new rod. Noah caught the biggest brown of the morning, a nice fish around fourteen inches. I caught six on the morning, not bad for St. Patricks Day.

Biggest of the morning.

On of the best things about the weekend was we got the river practically to ourselves. I saw only two other anglers way upstream. The water was more like it is in the middle of summer or the fall, not high and stained like it usually is this time of year. The high temps definitely kept the trout moving. Anyway, Noah and I hit a slow section in the evening hoping for a hatch or spinner fall. A few trout were rising, but not like we were hoping for. I caught two little browns in the last light of the day.

Same fish, with the fisherman

Baby brown showing off some nice red spots

The next morning found Braden and I on the water early again. I was fishing with a three fly dry dropper rig consisting of a #12 Ausable Bomber dry with a #14 hare and copper and #20 black beauty midge dropper. A few trout were rising to the hatching midges. I was nymphing the head of a deep cliff pool when the Bomber plunged into the depths. I hooked into a good sixteen inch rainbow, one of the best fish of the trip. Unfortunately, the camera battery died so I didn’t get a picture. Braden switched to the same rig and we headed upstream with Noah and did quite well with the shallow water nymphing. Most people overlook this water with the deep pools nearby, but it holds lots of fish, including some bigger ones. A lot of the fish took the midge, but a few ate the hare and copper. Braden and I combined caught nineteen trout, mostly browns in the ten to fourteen inch range, and another good rainbow I caught in skinny water. Noah caught two, one on a cdc dry and the other on a hare and copper. With a bit of help from me, Mom caught her first trout on a fly, a healthy twelve inch brown. It was her first time fly fishing, and she improved alot over the morning. It was great to be camping and fishing in mid March!

Spring Break

Spring break this year was a blast, although the fishing was a bit tough. Over forty hours in the car brought us to the Smoky Mountains, South Carolina, and Florida. I wish I could say we caught tons of fish, but it was great just to go fishing.

For some reason, ever since I started fly fishing I have wanted to fish in the Smoky Mountains. The videos of brookies smashing dry flies, and the pictures of small mountain streams with pockets and pools just begging to be fished captured my mind. When we drove through them I just had to stop and fish, even for just a few minutes. The weather was not on my side, as it rained almost all day, just enough to prevent fishing. However, there was a brief window of opportunity when the rain lightened as we drove by a stream. A small bead head tempted one small trout in the fifteen minutes I had to fish, but he popped off.

South Carolina brought saltwater fishing in tidal pools and creeks adjacent to a jetty. Redfish would go into these creeks and pools at high tide to escape the dolphins. One problem. It wasn’t high tide when we had time to fish. There were still some fish, but it made for a tough day that ended without any fish caught and only a small pod of reds tailing at the other end of a pool for a few seconds.

The fish gave us the hard treatment again on our second day of fishing and kayaking in a salt marsh, but it was not as harsh as last time All three of us tried dredging the creeks and channels with no luck, but I did manage to hook into a hard fighting redfish. I was dragging a rabbit pattern along the bottom of a pool when all of a sudden the line came to life. A strip set later the reel was screaming with a refish on the other end. However, my luck was about to change. After two minutes of runs and hard pulls the line went limp just as I was tiring the fish out. Nothing seemed to be going our way.

The next time I picked up a fly rod was on a brackish lake in the Florida panhandle. Braden and Noah chose not to fish, but to hang out on the beach and I can’t blame them. The coastal “dune” lake connects to the ocean for part of the year, but had been closed off for some time. Near the ocean the water was brackish, but it became fresh as it got farther inland. Dredging flies near the outlet didn’t pan out, so Dad and I drove farther inland to try another spot. A deep, narrow channel bordered by shallow flats and partially submerged grass greeted us. This looked good. After an hour of fishing various flies the only action was a lazy swat at a small popper. Things were looking grim. At this point I was desparate. Even a small bass would be awesome. I tied on a yellow deer hair bug hoping to catch one. After several casts along the weeds I was rewarded with an explosion on the surface. A frisky one pound largemouth had inhaled the bug. It wasn’t the redfish I was hoping for on this trip but it sure beat getting skunked.


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