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
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 like Brian . Thanks guys.