With estimates of 3-5 inches of rainfall over the last few days in much of the SE MN region, stream conditions are looking pretty dire. Even the most dependable streams are running high, fast and with a lot of stain. The forecast calls for mostly nice (though brisk) days ahead which should give our streams a chance to rebound just in time for the closer of C&R season, Monday October 15th.
Many of the bigger watersheds will take over a week to settle, but some select spring creeks will be fishable in 1-3 days. For those of you, who like me, are determined to fish regardless... focus your casting attention towards the upper reach spring sources of the small streams or target the banks in the high fast stuff. Trout will be on the lookout for lazy resting spots and easy meals. Oversized nymphs and meaty streamers, slow through the buffer zones, will likely be the meal ticket. Our local stream dwellers are ramping up for the spawn and preparing for the lean winter. FEED THOSE FISH!!!
With the recent rain falls over the last few days, and more yet to come this Tuesday night, September 4th... Things are not looking so good out there in regards to water clarity and fish-ability of our most favorite creeks and rivers. According to our scouting notes, many of the most dependable streams are showing the signs of run-off. Estimates of Tuesday's rain fall is slated to be between 2-3" with localized flooding possible. If this proves to be the case, most streams will continue flowing with substantial stain until our next forecasted rainfall on Wednesday September 12th. If this rain subsides, many of the Root River's spring creek tributaries should clear in 1-3 days. Let's keep our fingers crossed!!!
Trout streams in The Driftless area about as good as they have been all year. Hoppers are beginning to catch the attention of hungry trout. Caddis taking fish in the evenings and a few bonus Blue Winged Olives for good measure make for some of the best fishing all year. Nymphs of course taking a lot of trout during the sunny days in the deeper shadier holes. Get out there! Mel
NEW GOOGLE REVIEW FOR THE DRIFTLESS CREW-BRENNEN
Best experience ever! My boyfriend and I are used to lake trout fishing and genuinely wanted to learn as much as possible about fly fishing. These are the guys you want!! We looked into a few other guide services in the area and the guys at Driftless were the most knowledgeable and experienced by far. We even stopped in various shops and the overall vibe with Driftless was beyond compare. On the streams we were taught everything and more we could have possibly ever needed to know about fly fishing. The guide gave each of us one on one time to help us perfect our casts at each different spot we fished. The guide completely caters to how much you want to experience and what your skills are. They are willing to be with you for up to 14 hours of fishing, lunch and fluid included!! This guide service isn't just for newbies like us, as we would have been in different spots if we had experience. Well worth it's weight in gold for the cost. The experience is something neither of us will ever forget, we caught beautiful trout and the backdrop is breathtaking!! You don't have to go out west to experience the real deal, Driftless can give it to you!! Only very minor flaw, if I have to give them one, was the website. I had troubles with submitting my deposit. However, they were incredibly customer service forward and we were able to work the issue out right away. Just awesome experience, too much for words to even articulate. Will be going out with these guys again for sure!!! Oh yeah, and they are the ONLY guide service endorsed by Orvis in the area. That's just kinda a big deal in the fishing world.
Streams are beginning to clear! Upper stretches of South Branch and some headwaters of small streams ae very fishable. Dark nymphs like Pheasant tails, Prince and Root River Special are taking trout. Look for risers in the clear water in the evening or after the sun drops below the bluffs. Parachute Adams, midge or small Elk Hair Caddis might take a few on top. Many downstream portions of streams should rebound by tommorrow and be clear enough for streamers and nymphs. Mel
SUMMER TIME PATTERN IS BEGINNING AND STREAMS ARE CLEARING.
The South Branch of The Root River is still high from up to ten inches of rain about a week ago. Tributaries of The South Branch and South Fork are clearing and very fishable. Dow stream sections are stained and some big fish have ben taken on Pheasant tail nymphs and Root River Specials. The heat has got the trout deep in the cover but just look for he shady spot mid day, drift it close the cut banks and log jams and hang on. The big fish still have to eat and will be more active in the evening or at least after the sun drops below the bluffs or overcast days. Some rising fish in the evenings are taking Elk Hair Caddis on top but go deep and dark during the day. Black Wooly Buggers, Mottled Sculpins, Cone Head Baby Browns, Root River Specials, Pheasant tails all successful recently.
Late snows and cold temps have put a damper on typical Spring activities like yard work and of course fly fishing the Minnesota Driftless! However, the mercury climbed well into the 60's this weekend and has put us back on track and in business! Fishing early was the key before too much snow melt runoff stained the water. During this peak time, fishing was solid producing many quality fish on larger nymphs and Woolly Buggers. As the afternoon arrived waters began to run high, fast and muddy. A reprieve was seen already today with headwaters and streams with multiple springs clearing nicely. The weather this week looks very nice and things should stabilize .... so knock on wood, I believe Spring is here!
Stained water in the headwaters of smaller streams produced some trout on Bead Head Pheasant tail nymphs, Dark Wooly Buggers and Blue Winged Olive Parachutes early in the day on 4/21/18. Once the sun got high enough to melt the north facing hills and bluffs it was instant chocolate milk. Reports today indicate some clearing in the upper reaches of small streams where Buggers and nymphs have been effective. Look for The BWO's to emerge en masse this week if it stays above 50. Be patient. The Caddis will come, eventually. See ya on the stream. New season extended shop hours. Now open 7 days a week. Monday through Saturday 8 AM to 8 PM Sunday 10 AM-6 PM
The temps this weekend creeped into the low 40's but with slightly cooler overnights, the snow melt run off slowed creating just about ideal fishing conditions here in the Minnesota Driftless Area. Most streams are just slightly stained making the trout happy and ready to feed. This is what I encountered again today catching some nice Browns on streamers, nymphs, soft hackle wet flies and even dries during an afternoon midge hatch .... so, I basically caught them on everything but the kitchen sink :-)
COOLER NIGHTS WILL HELP SLOW DOWN THE MELTING SNOW AND RUN OFF. LOOK FOR GOOD WATER IN THE UPPER REACHES EARLY IN THE DAYS THIS WEEKEND. STOP BY FOR GREAT DEALS ON FLIES AND GEAR.
STOP IN AND CAST THE NEW H3-IT''S AWESOME
We had a great time in Iowa this past weekend at the 44th annual Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association's show. Met a lot of great people, talked flies, told some lies and thoroughly enjoyed our time in Bettendorf. We are looking forward to attending the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo once again this year being held at Hamline University - St. Paul, MN on March 16-18th. Mel Hayner, the owner of The Driftless Fly Fishing Company & Orvis endorsed guide, will be one of the featured speakers of the weekend. He will be discussing fly fishing in the Minnesota Driftless area. If you are in attendance, please be sure to stop by and say Hello, plus check out our show specials!
The weather cooperated for the most part this weekend and the fly fishing was solid. Snow showers were encountered yesterday and some rather strong winds today but the trout were undeterred. I worked on what I equate to the "short game" in golf. I fished small, intimate water where delicate presentations of small nymphs were necessary. My reward was Brookie Bliss in the heart of the Minnesota Driftless. One of the aspects I love most about fly fishing is the variety that it offers. From stripping streamers to gently laying in a size 22 Griffith's Gnat on 6X tippet I constantly try to learn and hopefully improve my skill set in the process. Area streams are in good shape but keep an eye on the weather as they are calling for an ice storm Monday into Tuesday. Also, we had a significant thaw a few weeks ago which created a layer of ice in most areas which was then covered with snow - be careful when navigating the streams!
Many have fished the Mother's Day Caddis hatch in the Minnesota Driftless but have you ever participated in the rare February 13th Birthday hatch? Well, that's precisely what I did yesterday! Once again, it was Midges being taken but the Browns were still readily taking my Elk Hair as long as I "skittered" them across the surface. Catching big Browns on the dry fly in the middle of winter - what an incredible Birthday gift from SE Minnesota! With temps in the 30's and 40's through the weekend (a slight dip on Friday) look for more of this action! Unlike in Spring, when hatches are plentiful, winter brings far less of this activity so when hungry trout feverishly feed at the surface, they seem far less discriminating. This gives cold, wet and numb fingers a break by allowing one to tie on larger dry flies which takes a bit less dexterity :-) When the surface action waned, fish were picked up by nymphing (BH Pheasant Tail & BH Hare's Ear) and slowly stripping Woolly Bugger / Leech patterns. Stop by the shop in Preston, MN and re-stock those fly boxes and check out all the new Orvis gear.
Expo show schedule for The Driftless Fly Fishing Company:
BE SURE TO STOP BY OUR BOOTH
Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association (March 2nd and 3rd) - Bettendorf, IA
Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo (March 16,17,18) St. Paul, MN
If you're on Instagram be sure to follow the shop's page
The Outdoors of SE Minnesota are truly amazing and I'm reminded of this fact often as I spend a vast majority of my time hunting and fly fishing year round in the Driftless Area. I had this point reiterated once again on Saturday while fly fishing an area stream. While nymphing, I came across a deep pool with an eddy that had many rising fish sipping helpless midges at the surface from a hatch spurred on by temps in the low 30's. My hands were wet, cold and not functioning well but there was no way I wasn't going to tie on a dry fly! I could only muster up enough dexterity to firmly secure a large Elk Hair Caddis which was obviously much larger than the hatching midges not to mention a whole different species. What saved me was a foam line which obscured the true profile of the fly and by "skittering" it, this small amount of movement prompted the strikes. This is where the wonderment of the Driftless lies ..... here I was, fishing a secluded valley, with snow falling, catching Brown Trout on a dry fly in the middle of winter. As Dorothy once said, "There's No Place Like Home".
On Saturday The Minnesota Driftless saw temps nearing 50 and with that came quite a substantial thaw. This left many area streams stained if not blown out due to field runoff. With that being said, there was very fishable water out there but one had to do a little scouting and gathering of intel before heading out. Success was found on such flies as the Root River Special (available at The Driftless Fly Fishing fly shop) and larger streamer patterns (articulated). Action may be slowed once again towards the end of the week and into the weekend as temps will drop below zero during the overnights and then struggle to reach the 20's during the day. Maybe a good time to sit at the vice and restock the arsenal - supplies which can be gotten at the shop. But then again, where there's a will, there's a way if the streams of SE Minnesota beckons you :-)
This past weekend brought Spring like temps to the Minnesota Driftless Area with the mercury soaring into the mid 40's and with that weather came solid fishing. Most of the success was found on nymphs, pink squirrels and Buggers. A little "twitching" and slow stripping produced good results for me as I threw my Cat's Meow (Bugger / Leech pattern). When Monday rolled around, Ol' Man Winter came back with a vengeance dropping rain, sleet and large amounts of snow on varies parts of Minnesota / Wisconsin. Due to the rain events and melting we experienced here in SE Minnesota, many streams were blown out or very stained so if you are heading out this week - gather a little intel first (like calling the shop). True to form like the old saying goes, "If you don't like the weather here in the Midwest, just wait 15 minutes it will change" .... a gradual warm-up is forecasted as we go into the weekend so streams "should" be in good shape by then!
"The great charm of fly-fishing is that we are always learning."
Follow the link to the Explore Minnesota website to read about winter fly fishing by Brian Schumacher, guide at The Driftless Fly Fishing Company in Preston, MN. Catch & release season is open in SE Minnesota and with temps forecasted to climb into the 40's by the weekend, conditions will be favorable for increased insect activity and with that comes happy, feeding trout! If you're in the area be sure to stop in for any needed gear or flies, some hot coffee or just to warm up. :-)
KICK OFF THE 2018 SEASON RIGHT. THE SHOP WILL BE OPEN NEW YEARS DAY FROM 8-8. FISH THE GREAT WATER IN TOWN OR ANY STREAM NEARBY AND WARM UP WITH FREE COFFEE, HOT CHOCOLATE AND VISIT THE GUIDES AND STAFF AT THE SHOP. GET TIPS FROM PROS AND CELEBRATE A NEW YEAR. GET GREAT DEALS ON GLOVES, HATS, FLY TYING STUFF, WADING STAFFS OR ANY OTHER WINTER GEAR YOU MAY NEED TO STAY WARM, SAFE AND CATCH TROUT IN THE WINTER. OR CLICK ON THE GREAT ARTICLE AT EXPLOREMINNESOTA.COM BY DRIFTLESS GUIDE BRIAN SCHUMACHER
ALSO SEE US AT THE HAWKEYE FLY FISHING SHOW MARCH 2-3 IN BETTENDORF IOWA AND THEN THE BIG ONE AT GREAT WATERS FLY FISHING EXPO IN MINNEAPOLIS MARCH 16, 17 AND 18. TAKIN' IT ON THE ROAD! SEE YOU THEN.
STILL PLENTY OF GOOD FISHING LEFT THIS YEAR. NEW REGULATIONS OPEN UP SOME OF THE BEST WATER IN THE AREA FOR CATCH AND RELEASE INTO NOVEMBER ANS DECEMBER. DESIGNATED STREAMS WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS OF PRESTON, CHATFIELD, LANESBORO AND SPRING VALLEY OPEN YEAR ROUND FOR CATCH AND RELEASE FISHING. STOP BY THE SHOP AND SEE "WHAT'S WORKING" BOARD AND CONTINUE TO ENJOY SOME GREAT FLY FISHING. STREAMS ARE REVOVERING NICELY FROM RECENT, MUCH NEEDED RAIN. LOOKOUT FOR "REDDS" OR NESTING FISH WHEN WADING AND DON'T DISTURB THEM OR SPAWNING FISH. IT'S JUST RUDE. SEE YA, MEL
GETTING SOME RAIN TODAY SO MIGHT BE TOUGH TOMORROW BUT GO TO THE HEADWATERS OF THE STREAMS YOU LOVE. LAST DAY FOR CATCH AND RELEASE FOR MANY BUT NOT ALL STREAMS. WE STILL HAVE EXCELLLENT WATER WITH THE NEW "IN TOWN" REGS FOR THE CITY OF PRESTON, CHATFIELD, SPRING VALLEY AND LANESBORO. FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER THERE WILL BE YER ROUNF CATCH AND RELEASE FISHING, ARTIFICAL LURES AND FLIES ONLY IN THE STREAMS WITHIN THE CITY LIMTS OF THESE THREE TOWNS. REMEBER ALL THREE STATE PARKS ALSO HAVE AWESOME YEAR ROUND FISHING. ENJOY IT WHILE YOU STILL CAN. GOD TIME TO STRIP A STREAMER FOR THE BIG ONES. THEY ARE CRUSING IN THE PRE-SPAWN AND LOOKING FOR MEAT. GOT
THIS ONE LAST YEAR WITH A WHITE CLOUSER IN OCTOBER. GET OUT THERE!!!!
Overcast days are producing all kinds of dry fly action. Blue winged olives (18-20) are great. Add in a few Yellow Mayflies, Caddis and Hoppers it has been great. No one fly is hot but keep looking and trying different small flies until you hit. The small 18 Parachute Adams has been taking some selective trout in clear water. The cast and presentation have to be good because they are picky right now. On small streams you might only get one shot at a pool and if it isn't good, move up because you may have just pissed them off. Good luck out there but bring your best skills or stay home. Mel
Fishing remains solid throughout the Minnesota Driftless Area as rather mild summertime temps of late have kept streams temperatures at good levels. Flows and clarity have leveled out after the last series of heavy rain events hit our area .... so, even those these are the "dog days of summer", there's great fishing to be had. Stop into the shop, gear up, get the latest tips on what flies are working and hit the water! I have found great success as of late with Dave's Hopper and Pink Bellied Morrish patterns, along with the usual BH nymphs (Hare's Ear / Pheasant Tail) and of course streamers in the slower, deeper pools.
Area streams are in good shape with normal flows and they have cleared after the several rain events we had in the weeks past. Although it is early and I didn't personally see a lot of Terrestrials along the stream yesterday I still ended up having a phenomenal outing by throwing Dave's Hoppers and Pink Bellied Morrish patterns. Their eyes were definitely focused upwards so now is a great time to start trying those beetles, ants, crickets and Hoppers! Stop by the shop and stock that fly box .... and while there, be sure to pick up a free copy of Midwest Hunting and Fishing magazine which has an article by yours truly about Terrestrial pattern fly fishing the Minnesota Driftless.
Even with more rain last night, area streams are only slightly stained and very fishable. First hand reports are saying productive fishing to be had with sub-surface nypmhs and Wooly Buggers/Leeches being the "go to's" today. Be sure to stop in at the shop in Preston to stock up on flies and check out all the new Orvis gear!
Have a happy and safe 4th of July!
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.