ausable bomber

Tricos on the Root

September 1, 2013

Day 2 – I persuaded Noah to hit the river with me early Sunday morning. It was another beautiful morning in the Driftless as we hiked down the trail and started fishing. This time we headed downstream and hit some of the deep, turbulent pools that brush against the limestone cliffs. Both of us fished dry-dropper rigs in hopes of picking off a few browns, but didn’t have any luck. After fishing nymphs for a while, I noticed a few sporadic risers feeding in a slow tailout. I checked the river for bugs, and sure enough a few tricos were floating downstream. I quickly chopped of the nymph and tied on a #12 Pass Lake dry with a big white calftail wing followed by a #20 trico spinner twelve inches behind. South Branch Root River fly fishing The trout were still rising inconsistently, and the first few browns I floated my trico over didn’t eat. Noah and I moved downstream to a long, choppy run ending in an even longer slow pool. The fish were rising steadily by now, but not the finicky, slow water sippers you’d expect from a trico hatch. These trout were set up in the riffles, snatching the tiny mayflies with a splashy rise. Though most of these trout were smaller, it was a treat to cast #20 tricos to fast water where the fish didn’t have a ton of time to inspect your flies. There were, of course, a few stubborn risers sitting right on the bank sipping bugs in swirling eddies.

Small clouds of tricos fluttered over the river as I carefully crept up to the riffle. A good dead drift resulted in a rise and the first wild brown of the morning in the net. Noah quickly got in on the action and caught another trout in the riffle while I tied up another trico rig. The trout were hard, but not impossible, and a good dead drift with a reasonable fly did the trick. The good fishing continued under clear skies, and we stayed in the same pool casting to rising trout all morning. I switched flies a few times when I started getting refusals. I fished a CDC trico spinner, Double Trico Spinner, and CDC Trico Comparadun, and all caught fish. Noah stuck a few awesome wild browns on the trico spinner, and I ended the morning with nine trout, all on trico dries. The browns were small but feisty, jumping a few times before coming to the net. The fish stopped rising around eleven o’clock, so we headed back to camp for some lunch.

Braden also had a productive morning. He hiked upstream and caught ten wild browns up to twelve inches on a dry-dropper rig. Most of his fish took a brown #14 Trout Snatcher Nymph, but a few ate his Ausable Bomber. Interestingly, he didn’t have any rising fish or a solid trico hatch. I did notice the hatch was quite sparse and isolated, with fish rising consistently only in one pool over the morning. I’m not sure if the trout key in on different types of water when the spinner fall is spotty, or what the deal was, but the trout were just as eager to eat a nymph in stretches of the river just a few hundred yards away.

A nice wild brown on a MTMN

A nice wild brown on a Trout Snatcher

After lunch we toured Mystery Cave, the longest cave in Minnesota with over 13 miles of passages. The cave is the life source of the Root, providing the cold water and nutrients that are vital to its existence as fertile trout water. Upstream from the cave area, the South Branch of the Root is a warmwater stream, but it literally disappears in the summer as it takes a shortcut underground through the cave. It emerges several miles later in a few springs, greatly enriched and cooled from its trip. It was pretty awesome to see some of the water in the cave that eventually ends up flowing in the section of stream we had fished earlier in the day.

Pool in the cave

Pool in the cave

"Turquoise Lake"

“Turquoise Lake”

Cave bacon and limestone

Cave bacon and limestone

The three of us fished a bit in the evening, working our way downstream and casting to likely spots. Braden picked up two more browns in a riffle on a Trout Snatcher, while Noah and I didn’t interest any fish. I ventured up the same small creek I hit yesterday and pulled out one trout on a sunk trico spinner.

The red tail and spots are amazing on this brown Braden caught

The red tail and spots are amazing on this brown Braden caught

The fish started rising again just before dark. I tied on a #16 CDC and Elk, and tossed it against the far bank. A brown gently rose and sipped it as the light was fading behind the bluffs. I set the hook, and after a short fight landed a beautiful ten inch brown. Once it got too dark to see the dry I tied on a chickabou Wooly Bugger and started swinging it through the fast water. A heavy trout slammed it, but he popped off after a few seconds, so I decided to call it a night. I hiked back to camp in the dark and ended another great day in the Driftless.

Easter Fly Tying

Some hatches that have popped off the vice recently:

“Red Hot Chili Bomber”

Red Hot Chili Bomber

Hook: #16 dry
Thread: 6/0 red UNI
Tail: Moose body hair
Body: Tying thread
Wing: White deer hair or calf tail, tied ausable bomber style
Hackle: Grizzly

A (big) Ausable Bomber variation tied for small stream brook trout.


Greedo BWO

Hook:#18-22 nymph
Thread: Olive 6/0 UNI
Bead: 5/32 gold brass
Tail: Brown duck flank fibers, hen hackle fibers, pheasant tail fibers, or whatever else you have laying around
Abdomen: Olive Micro Tubing
Thorax: Olive hare’s ear dubbing
Wing bud: Brown goose biot

I tied this one up to imitate the plentiful small BWO nymphs I have been seeing in my home waters. I think the micro tubing does a nice job of getting a segmented body.


Hook: #12-16
Bead: Gold brass
Thread: Olive */0 UNI
Tail: Two split brown goose biots
Abdomen: Olive Micro Tubing
Wingcase: Mottled brown turkey or hen quill slip
Thorax: Olive hare’s ear dubbing
Legs: Olive Micro Tubing

I have been playing around with micro tubing a lot lately. This nymph is basically a copper john with micro tubing instead of wire and some legs. I don’t have a name for this one yet. Any suggestions?

I haven’t had the chance to fish any of these flies yet, so tie some up and let me know how they do.

Have a happy and blessed Easter!

3-31…A New Fly Fisher

Today we took a friend down to the Driftless Area in search of some trout. It was his first time fly fishing. It was a little chilly, forty five degrees, when we arrived at the stream at 9:30. It definitely felt like March today, unlike two weeks ago when it was in the eighties. I took our friend David upstream while the rest of the guys stayed back and fished another hole. Fishing was slow for the first couple hours. David was casting and mending pretty well by the end of the morning, but the fish just wouldn’t cooperate, so we headed back. Same story for Braden, Noah and Dad. I was hoping for a BWO hatch once it warmed up, but it stayed right around forty five almost the whole day.

Me fighting a nice brown

However, some midges started hatching around noon, which got the fish active. David caught his first trout on a fly, a little brown that ate a copper john. It was such a cool feeling knowing that you put someone on their first trout! I tied on an ausable bomber followed by a hare and copper and a black beauty midge. Two small browns took the midge and a brown in the thirteen inch range came up and slammed the bomber. Braden had a few hits on a streamer, but couldn’t coax any to the net. The fishing slowed down after that, so we ate a quick lunch and headed to another spot. I fished this spot last fall and had some decent luck, so I was excited to explore more of it. Almost immediately David got into a nice brown right under the bridge.

David took this beautiful wild brown on a hare and copper

This creek was quite sandy, and it took a bit of walking in between pools, but it was worth it. The bluffs made for some picturesque pools and runs cutting through the valley. The fish had moved into the shallow riffles and indicator nymphing worked nicely. I caught four browns up to around eleven inches on a hare and copper. I was fishing downstream when I heard David yelling with excitement. I turned to see his rod doubled over with a nice brown on the other end. Fly fishing is so much fun. Only about three casts later his indicator dove again and he was into a good fish. It gave him a good fight on his four weight. This was definitely the fish of the day, around fifteen inches, not bad for your first day fly fishing:) As Noah said, “I think he will be doing this again.”

Fish of the day

Best flies for the day:  #14 hare and coppers, #20 black beauty and miracle midges.

David's first trout on a fly

David fishing a productive hole






Trout, Turkeys, and Tailwaters

Our family just returned from a week in the Ozarks, home of the legendary White River and some huge trout.

For the first half of the trip, we were a short drive from the Little Red River, a tailwater and tributary to the White. It once gave up the world record brown trout, and continues to produce trophy fish. A national fish hatchery sits on the banks, and the trout stack up below the outlets, where we fished for the day. There was no generation, so we enjoyed low water for the afternoon. I started with a Gormans Egg and a gray

scud for a dropper. Noah dredged a streamer and Braden fished an egg with a zebra midge dropper. Within a few casts I hooked a ten inch rainbow on the scud, my first Arkansas trout. Noah got a bite on his streamer, but after that the fishing slowed down. We moved downstream to the next outlet. This outlet had a steep drop off close to the bank, and held tons of fish, including some monster rainbows (25″). As I waded across I noticed some rainbows nymphing in 6″ of water just above the drop off. At this time I had a bead head Nuke Egg on and drifted it to the trout. When it was about a foot from the trout it got lodged in the sand, but the trout didn’t care. He swam right up in the shallow

Braden's bow

water and grabbed that thing off the bottom. He turned, and I set the hook. As soon as he felt the metal, he shot across the riffle into the fast water and made a few hard runs before he broke my 6x tippet. It was a nice fish too, around 16″! The trout were nymphing and occasionally dimpling the surface eating midges. They were very selective and refused a number of patterns. Upon the recommendation another fisherman, I tied on a blood midge, which worked for another 12″ rainbow. I was on the other side of the outlet when I heard Braden shout “got one”! I splashed across the outlet and net the fish, a respectable rainbow that also ate a blood midge. By that time it was almost dark, so we packed up and ended a great day on a great river.

Little Red River with Greers Ferry Dam in the background

We spent the next half of the trip on Lake Taneycomo in Branson,

My biggest fish of the trip. Look at the colors

Missouri. Before we hit the water on Wednesday we stopped at River Run Outfitters, a great little shop just minutes from the river. When we got to the river we had low water, as the schedule had said the night before. Trout were rising and I put on a tiny cdc bwo comparadun to try and match the hatch of midges or possibly blue winged olives. I spotted a trout rising steadily about twenty feet out. I waited for him to rise again and made a cast. A few seconds into the drift and the trout gulped my fly. Somehow the size twenty hook stuck. He made a few runs and came to the net. A beautiful sixteen incher, my biggest of the trip.

Back to swim another day

After I released him, I hiked a little ways upstream to a riffle that had  fish rising in it. Before I could get a good cast, I heard some splashing and shouting downstream. Noah had hooked a fish and it was splashing like crazy. Since I was the only one with rubber boots, I ran over to net the fish. I got the fish on the first scoop. It was another big rainbow, around 16″ (Noah thinks it was 17″). Noah caught it on a Zoo Cougar, the polar opposite of the tiny dry I caught my big fish on. I went back to my riffle and caught a small rainbow on a blood midge before the horn blew and the water went up, ending our day of fishing.

Lake Taneycomo

On Thanksgiving we went fishing with Grandpa in a small creek behind the hotel. We caught a few green sunfish and saw a pod of carp, but couldn’t get them to bite.

Noah's Bow


Grandpa went with us to Lake Taneycomo for a solid day of fishing to rising fish almost all day long. We stopped by the hatchery outlets but they were crazy busy. I mean like fifteen people fishing an outlet! It was way too busy for my liking, so we drove down to the boat landing and found a less busy spot. This time we had some higher water, but the fish were still rising. Noah

Braden caught this trout on a cdc bwo

caught the first fish, a healthy 12 inch bow. As usual, he was fishing a streamer. For the next hour or so, the fishing was pretty good. I caught a feisty little bow on the same cdc fly I had used on Wednesday. Braden caught his first two Taneycomo trout on the cdc olive fly, both decent fish. Then it was Grandpa’s turn. He made a good cast, got a great drift, and his fly was slammed by a 14″ rainbow. He played it well and landed a nice fish. There was a lot more current today, so the fish were on the current seams instead of scattered throughout the “lake”. Noah switched to an Adams and landed another rainbow. After that fish the trout stopped rising as steadily and appeared to be eating emergers. I switched to a Ausable Bomber dry fly and a blood midge dropper. I cast the flies to a fish expecting the midge to be eaten. Surprisingly, a bow rose and grabbed the big dry. I set the hook and landed another rainbow. Two more trout took the bomber and ignored the blood midge. It was awesome to see midging trout take the big dry. The trout started rising again, so I tied on the cdc olive. The fish were in a seam rising like crazy. I caught three more trout, all rainbows, on the tiny dry as the sun was setting. It was great to do some trout fishing in November.

Grandpa's big rainbow


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