Month – May 2012

Spring Crappies

 Whitecaps crashed on the lake as we drove to the landing. Canoeing and fly casting in twenty mph wind. Call it crazy or stupid, its probably both. Fortunately, the landing on this small, weedy lake was situated in a small, mostly sheltered bay. Despite getting absolutely hammered both summer and winter due to its close proximity to the metro, this little lake continues to produce huge crappies and bluegills in good numbers. We have ice fished here in past years and caught lots of slab crappies, but this was the first time we fished in open water. The fishing was slow for the first hour. Braden caught one decent crappie on a flash bugger and I had a few bites on a popper, but that was it until the wind died down. I had some action on a popper and a small DNA Clouser. Finished with a fat bluegill and a good crappie along with some smaller fish. Didn’t catch the slabs I was hoping for, but it was still fun to get out. The wind limited us to the small bay, so we couldn’t get to some better spots. In the other canoe, Noah fished with his new Cabelas glass 4wt and caught a slab of a crappie among smaller ones(more on the glass in a later post). At the landing, I noticed the DNR’s invasive species sign for the first time. Eurasian water milfoil, an invasive weed that chokes out native plants, was found in the lake a few years ago. This is a huge bummer, but hopefully the fishing will remain good. Do your part to prevent invasive species! On a lighter note, we are going up to the cabin with Grandpa for the weekend. Bass, trout, panfish, and maybe some catfish.

Best flies and tactics: Small minnow patterns such as DNA Clousers and Noahs minnows. The crappies and bluegills are shallow, two to five feet along the weed lines.

Tight Lines,



A Glimpse of Trout

Dad and I snuck out for a few hours tonight after dinner on the same river we fished last week with Grandpa. The night was perfect for trout fishing. The sky was overcast, and there wasn’t any wind to mess with casting. High and muddy water greeted us rudely at the end of the trail. It was going to be a tough night. At the first spot Dad hooked a small brown on his indicator rig, but the popped off after a brief moment. The high water made it tough to figure out where the trout were sitting. It was hard to tell where the good pools and riffles were, the water just blew it out of proportion. Still fishable but not easy. Thats trout fishing for you. The density of trout in this river is low, making even perfect water conditions a little tricky to find the fish. However, if you do find them you might get rewarded with a huge fish. I spent the night walking from pool to pool, loosing more flies than I care to remember. The wood is great for the fish, but not the angler. Saw a lot of new water, and found some holes to go back to. No trout in the net at the end of the night, but thats okay. It was a great night to be on the river.

Our camping plans were cancelled because of the rain, but we should get out this weekend to a local lake for some bass.


Tricos- Four Patterns to Fish the White Winged Curse

Over the winter I have been tying a bunch of trico patterns to get ready for summer fishing. If you have ever fished this hatch you know how challenging and fun it can be. These guys can be just maddeningly difficult, but they bring up lots of trout. Tippet down to 7X and a precise drag free drift are a must. Tricos usually emerge (very) early in the morning from July to September. Here are four patterns to fish the “white winged curse”.

Trico Spinner

I like to throw my spinners about 10-12 inches off the bend of a big bushy dry fly for better visibility. An Ausable Bomber works great for this. For a female spinner, use light olive thread.

Hook: #20-24 dry
Thread: Black 8/0 UNI
Tail: Microfibbets or grizzly hackle fibers, splayed
Abdomen: Thread
Wing: White or cream Antron yarn
Thorax: Black superfine dubbing

Double Trico SpinnerDBL Trico Spinner enhanced FG

If you are having trouble getting hook-ups with the tiny flies, tie one of these guys on. Most trout don’t seem to mind the extra body on the same shank, making it a great bug if the #22’s and #24’s just aren’t doing it. It’s particularly good during a blanket hatch (err..spinner fall) when trout are rising profusely. A sparse spinner fall or extra finicky fish are much better fished with a Sunken Trico or a smaller CDC spinner tied on a wide gap hook (for horribly selective fish, rocks launched aerially into the center of the pool work well too :) )

Buy them here over on Fishing Gear
Hook: #16-18 dry
Thread: Black 8/0 UNI
Tail: Microfibbets or grizzly hackle fiber
Abdomen: Thread
Thorax: Black superfine dubbing

CDC Trico

I am a big fan of cdc flies. It floats really well and adds lots of movement. After a few fish, dry it off and dust it with some Frog’s Fanny to keep it floating.

Hook:#20-24 dry
Thread: Black 8/0 UNI
Tail: Microfibbets or grizzly hackle fiber
Abdomen: Black superfine dubbing
Wing: White or gray cdc

Sunken Trico Spinner

This is one of my absolute favorites for persnickety trout or sparse spinner falls. While it’s certainly not new to fly fishing, the Sunken Trico Spinner fished behind a nymph or dry usually extends the hatch a good few hours after the trout have stopped rising. Man, fish it nearly any time of day during trico season (I’ve written a bit more about sunken spinners and dropper rigs here)…

Hook: #20 dry
Thread: Black 8/0 UNI
Bead: 5/32 gold brass
Tail: Microfibbets or grizzly hackle fiber
Abdomen: Thread
Wing: Gray or white cdc
Thorax: Black superfine dubbing

It Pays To Get Up Early

This weekend we trekked up to Ely, MN to get another canoe. If you are not familiar with the area, Ely sits on the border of the famed Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, known for its pristine crystal clear lakes and amazing fishing (smallmouth bass, northern, lake trout, and the list goes on). It is a no motor zone with back country campsites and portages to endless lakes, most filled with fish, some reaching trophy sizes. Ely is a true canoeing and fishing town in the middle of the woods. We camped on a little brook trout lake on the edge of the BWCAW. While it wasn’t actually in the Boundary Waters, it still had a paddle in site and solitude, perfect for one night. It was walleye opener there, so we saw nobody on our little trout lake. Everybody fishes walleye up there and seems to mostly ignore the trout, at least when the walleye are biting.

Brats on the open fire. Hard to beat after a long day paddling

It was a small lake, only about six acres, fringed with cedars and birch. Big rock faces dropped sharply into the water, and a few deadfall-filled bays broke the contour. Camp went up pretty quickly, and after Andoullie bratwurst over the fire, I headed out in the canoe. The first spot I tried was a point with a steep dropoff right off our campsite. I dredged a Noah’s Minnow for a few minutes before deciding to explore a little. The lake was glass calm, and the trees reflected in the evening sun. I spotted a rise and threw my minnow in there. Second cast and bang, a good trout broke me off. Bad knot. Not a great way to start the evening, but it was a fish. A few smaller trout started “rising” (jumping out of the water) so I tied on a royal coachman. I got a small brookie to take the fly, but he jumped and my six weight was just too heavy to keep tension on the barbless hook.

The next morning found me on the water by 5. The paddle across the lake to a woody bay was easy in the calm breeze. Nothing seemed to be happening anywhere. I fished streamers for an hour without as much as a bump, and nothing was rising. Finally I spotted a rise on the far side of the lake, so I paddled over and anchored. A dozen casts later I got jolted. This was a heavy fish. He did some headshakes and dove for around three minutes, taking line multiple times before I brought him to the net. He ran about fourteen inches, and FAT from sitting on the bottom eating minnows and leaches. Silver-gray with flecks of yellow, blue, and red, with stunningly red fins and a nice dark head. It pays to get up early.

Closer look

This fish was about three years old. Not too many fish reach this size in these small northern lakes. A pair of loons and a single offspring will eat 1,500 trout in a single year, very close to the trout stocking number. Angler harvest and natural causes take more trout, but amazingly there are still quite a few bruisers measured in pounds, not inches. The rest of the morning passed uneventfully. One trout kept jumping on the far shore, but nothing else wanted to eat. All the activity ended by eight o’clock, and we were packed and out before lunch. We should be headed back later this summer for a longer trip deeper into the interior. Bass opener is in a couple weeks, and a trip to the Kinnicinic or warmwater fishing in Wisconsin is in short order, so things should stay lively around here.

Best flies and tactics: #12 olive Noah’s Minnow with some krystal flash, or other similar weighted minnow or leech patterns. I fished a floating line, but a sink tip or full sinking line would be a good choice here for fishing streamers deep. Cast to steep dropoffs near weeds, wood, and deeper water. A long, slow strip for leech patterns or short tugs for minnows works best. A small wulff or attractor pattern works well when fish are rising.

Area fly shops: The Great Lakes Fly Shop

Tight Lines,


Pike Monkey

This is a brand-new fly that I whipped out of the vice, hoping to try it on some pike at the cabin. I call it the Pike Monkey!

Pike Monkey

The Pike Monkey

Here’s how to tie it…..

Hook: #4 Mustad Big Game
Tail: Bunny zonker, 1 plume of marabou, a generous amount of Flashabou
Body: Palmered bunny zonker
Wing: Rubber legs
Head: spun deer hair

You can experiment with the colors and I think the crazier the better! I’m super excited to fish it on opener! If I can wait ’till then! :D

Here are a few pics of pike I caught on a fly…

16" I caught last fall

Smaller one

I caught both of them on a Flash Bugger.

Tight Lines,



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