2011 was a great year for us. We caught tons of fish in many different places and had lots of fun doing it. Here is a brief overview.
One of our favorite things about fly fishing is discovering new places. This year we found a gem. There is a park a short drive from our grandparent’s cabin full of old granite quarries stocked with trout (food for the monster bass) that also hold bass and sunfish. It has become one of our favorite places to fish. Because of the deep, cold water, the bass will stay shallow even in the heat of summer.
Our grandparents have a spot on a lake in central MN, and we spend a lot of time fishing there in the summer.
Sunrise salmon fishing was awesome…
Trout in the Driftless Area
We hit the Driftless a few times this fall for some great spring creek trout fishing in the bluffs of SE Minnesota, a few hours from our house. Camping, tricos, and rising trout. Good times.
Arkansas and Missouri Tailwaters
Over Thanksgiving week we fished the Little Red River in Arkansas and Lake Taneycomo in Missouri. The fishing was great. We caught lots of fish on dries in Missouri.
Little Red River with Greers Ferry Dam in the background
Lake Taneycomo (Missouri) rainbow caught on a Cdc BWO Comparadun
On New Years Eve day we went to Iowa. It didn’t really seem like winter. 45 degrees and no snow.
3 Brothers Flies
Dad and I left the house at six in the morning to do a little small game hunting and trout fishing. A breakfast stop and two hours later we were at the parking lot. The river was a good hour’s hike away through steep ravines, bluffs, and thick brush. We hunted our way there. The river ran through a canyon with steep cliffs on one side and woods on the other. Trout were rising occasionally in a deep, slow pool next to a cliff. I tried catching them with an ant, but they were frustratingly selective. I only had one small trout rise to my ant after an hour of fishing, and I missed it. I got the thought that nymphing would be much more productive than dry flies. Sure enough, a few minutes after I switched, I caught a small brown on a Hare and Copper.
This guy fell for a hare's ear
This stretch had a lot of fast water, with lots of rocks and boulders, perfect for nymphing. Unfortunately, Dad’s spool had fallen out of his reel during the hike, so he didn’t fish much. We decided to pack up and hike back to the car and scout and fish some more land. By the time we got back to the car, it was three o’clock. The next branch we hit was sandy with a few deep pools and some faster runs. It was really easy to wade with my rubber boots in the cooler weather. Just two weeks ago we were wet wading in shorts. I immediately caught a decent brown in a deep run…
Fat, healthy brown
I hiked a little ways upstream and fished a few more runs before I caught another smaller brown. It was feeding in the middle of a run.I got the idea of catching a fish in all three branches just for fun, so back to the car we went. The third branch had a mud bottom in the pools and lots of small rocks in the riffles. I spotted some larger trout in a pool from the bridge. However, after repeated casts right over them I could not get a strike. I moved on to find some hungry fish. I threw my pheasant tail next to a boulder in the middle of a run. On about the third cast, my indicator stopped. I gently set the hook, and the trout shot into the faster current and tried to spit the hook. My pheseant tail held, and I gently slid the trout into the net. It was about twelve inches, one of the bigger fish of the day.We left right after I caught that trout because I needed to make a material stop. An awesome nine hour day of trout fishing and hunting!
Tight Lines! Conner
I was on the river at 8:30 this morning. I hiked downstream from the bridge to a pool that had a slow tailout, which looked perfect for dries. I was nymphing without luck when I noticed a swarm of tricos hovering above the river! The spinners were not falling yet, so I quickly rigged up a bushy hivis dry followed by one of the female tricos I got on Saturday. The fish started to rise a few minutes later. There were two midstream feeders holding behind a rock, rising unpredictably. Two trout were sipping bugs practically on the bank. I drifted my flies over the midstream fish. No takers. I then tried for the ones on the bank. It was a little tricky to get a drag free drift and an accurate cast, but after a few attempts I finally got a good one. A fish gently sipped the fly. I missed it! Threw it back out. I missed it again!!! It was really hard to let the fish close its mouth on such a tiny fly. A while later I hooked a little brook trout, but he popped off. I had about an hour of spinner fall to fish. While I didn’t land any trout, just getting them to eat in this hatch was exciting. It was an amazing weekend to be on the water. We didn’t break any records, but had tons of fun fishing.
Braden and I tried fishing the same run under the bridge first thing in the morning, but the fish were rising to something very small and wanting nothing to do with our flies. A generous fly fisher gave us some tricos, but by the time breakfast was over the fish had stopped rising. Dad and I drove to an easement, but the thunder drove us home before we could even set up. The rain returned and didn’t stop. The river was already a little high and muddy, and with the addition of the pouring rain, I pictured a blow-out and an end to our fishing for the weekend. All of us were seriously bumming. When the rain stopped, we anxiously crawled out of our shelter and walked to the river. It was chocolate milk! I could only hope for fishable water as I climbed into my sleeping bag. An unexpected surprise awaited us in the morning.
The day started with rain. Quite a bit of rain. Thankfully, it cleared up later in the morning and we were able to fish for a few hours. Noah set out with a goal of catching one of the recently stocked rainbows he had seen in the cliff pool. While he was busy casting to the rainbows, I tried to pick off a few trout that were barely breaking the surface eating something minuscule, but they were not in the mood to eat. Noah had one of his Noah’s Minnows on and was moving a few fish. He even had a take, but in the excitement set the hook a little too soon. After fishing the pool for a good half hour with no results, Braden asked if he could try a few casts with Noah’s streamer. Noah, being a very nice fellow,
The cliff pool
hesitantly handed the rod to his older brother with the instructions of, “Three casts!”. On the third cast, at the end of the retrieve just as Noah put a hand on the rod to take it back, bang, a rainbow inhaled the fly. Braden flew into action, and set the hook. The trout did a few headshakes and runs. The boys shouted with hapiness as the rainbow went into the net. It measured an honest 16″, which turned out to be the biggest fish of the trip! It rained on and off throughout the rest of the day. In the breaks, Grandpa joined us to check out a small feeder creek that holds wild brookies and browns. It was a gorgeous piece of water. The stream was small, but had some great holes and runs. I was fishing an undercut, and a 15″ brown swam through, a big trout for such a small stream. Unfortunately, we couldn’t tempt any trout to take our dries, so we returned to camp. The evening dry fly fishing was again really good. Braden and I fished the same run, this time with headlamps. I rose four browns, up to ten inches, on the same Quill Gordon that I used last night. Braden caught one nine incher, but then his line got in a really bad tangle that he could not fix in the dark. Bummer. As it would turn out, we were lucky to get two nights of quality dry fly fishing in because of all the rain. Another great day on the Whitewater!
The Whitewater River in southeastern Minnesota is one of the best trout streams in the state with browns, brookies, and rainbows all in the Middle Branch. For five nights we camped along the banks of this great stream. Fish were caught. Fun was had.
Trout were rising in the cliff pool next to our site around 8 on Thursday morning. Braden delicately set his Quill Gordon in the feeding lane of a rising fish. He raised the rod on a splashy rise, a flash of pink and silver, and the tippet snapped. He grabbed my rod, rigged with the same fly, and threw it back out. After a few drifts, he finally got another take. A 10″ brown, his first on the fly, came to hand. Noah grabbed the rod, and on a good drag-free drift caught his first trout.
The trout were stacked up along the edge of the cliff gulping bugs like it was the end of the world. It was my turn to fish the pool next. By that time Braden had already tied on another fly and started to fish the riffle that dumps into the pool. As I was working on a fish that was steadily rising in the tailout, Braden shouted to grab the camera. A feisty little brown was in his hands after a brief fight. After the release, I returned to the tailout, where the trout were still rising. The drift had to be drag free and right in the feeding lane. It took few drifts, but I was able to get a good one and caught a gorgeous brown, my first in Minnesota.
Braden's second fish of the morning
Notice the fly in the corner of its mouth
Breakfast ended the fishing for the morning. Later in the day I fished nymphs in the same pool and caught one brown and lost another. Grandpa, who was camping a few sites down, came with me and checked out a rip-rapped section of stream that held lots of fish. We watched them swimming around in a long run from the bridge. I raised two fish to an ant, but they came unbuttoned shortly after they were hooked. Some of the best fishing was in the last light of the day, when the trout again rose with reckless abandon. The three of us returned to the riprapped section I had fished earlier. From the bridge we could spot trout rising in the long, slow run below a plunge pool. The same fly we used earlier in the morning proved to be the ticket…This 12 incher was rising right behind a rock near the bank. Braden caught the next fish, a nice brown holding around the same place.Very soon it was too dark to fish without headlamps, so we hit our sleeping bags after a great first day of fly fishing on a river full of trout.