Most streams in the Minnesota Drifltess Area are in good shape, running clear to slightly stained with trout being eager to eat. Nymphing (with / Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail, Pink Squirrel) remains consistently successful, surface action with dries including Parachute Adams & Elk Hair Caddis "skittered" across the surface has been producing as well. We are entering into one of my personal favorite times of year to fish - Terrestrial (aka Hopper Season)! At this time, I love to seek out streams that meander through pasture land. Not only do they provide the angler with better casting opportunities as they are devoid of the thick vegetated tree canopy of wooded areas but these are the areas that contain the insect life such as crickets, ants, beetles and grasshoppers. To escape the summer heat and sun, trout often times tuck themselves in undercut banks with eyes focused up waiting for the unsuspecting insects to either fall under their own accord or get blown into the water. Casting a Dave's Hopper along the edges produced several aggressive takes with many nice Browns put to the net. Be sure to stop in at the Driftless Fly Fishing Company in Preston, MN to stock up on flies, gear, information or just tall tales! :-)
Sometimes a little stain to the water allows the fly fisher better concealment and the bigger fish are more vulnerable. This was the case today. A bright flashy nymph like the Pink Squirrel produced numerous fish over 12 inches in a short time. Skating the Tan Elk Hair Caddis would trigger vicious strikes. The movement was key. The visibility did not allow them to hit the dead drift but some action usually resulted in a splashy take. Cooler and cloudy weather also made small streams q little easier to stalk fish. It was a great day in Bluff Country.
Yesterday morning I was on the water almost at first light to beat the forecasted storms and although I did for awhile and a tremendous outing was in the works, it was Mother Nature who had the last word and I was left scurrying for cover as lightning flashed and the deluge of rain came. Explored new water and it didn't disappoint as many good fish were landed along with same real dandies that failed to meet the net :-( With no hatches happening and lack of classic riffle / pool runs to nymph, I threw Woolly Buggers in an attempt to coax the big Browns from their undercut bank and vegetation mat hides. This turned out to be quite effective ..... right up to the point I had to bail for the safety of my vehicle. The rain continued throughout the day blowing most streams in the area, So, on tap for the day: writing this blog, tying more Woolly Buggers and patching the waders I ripped yesterday!
Most of the creeks near Preston-Lanesboro area have once again prevailed against the heavy rains this weekend. The rain fell very spottily throughout the south-eastern Minnesota region and is expected to do so again this next week. Stream fed creeks in the area are expected to have fast recovery times and even the South Branch of the root river looks clear and very fishable as it winds through Preston. Once again, most river and stream conditions will depend on localised rainfall events within your streams watershed.
If the water your fishing seems to be much cloudier than normal but still not a chocolate milk brown then switch to a darker or bigger profile fly such as a black wooly bugger or even a size or two up on your favourite bead head nymph. If you're fishing in the rain(no lightning I hope) and see rising fish, try for an emerger pattern or a soft hackle to imitate the insects that are stuck on the water because of the humidity.
On my last trip out I caught three colourful Brook trout all about the same size and I have a picture of one that I've placed below.
Best of luck - Scott Blake
Melvin Hayner is the owner of The Driftless Fly Fishing Company in Preston, Mn. He has been fishing this area for over 23 years and guiding here for over a decade. Some reports will be from other reliable sources around the Driftless area. Thanks guys.