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!
We have had some rain the past couple days.... there are some spring creeks that are stained and select sections are fishable. On a better note there are a few creeks that didn't get as much precipitation and are looking much better. At one particular section of stream just outside of town I saw a tiny sulphur hatch and trout were rising at 8:30am. Stop in at the shop if you need directions just ask Tim! Thank you everybody have a great day, it's going to beautiful out today.
Shop will be open 8am- 8pm Saturday July 1st-4th, just so we can make sure you can get everything you need for your holiday weekend fishing adventures in the Driftless area. Thanks again and have a wonderful holiday weekend!
Even with the above average temperatures we have experienced as of late here in SE Minnesota, the fly fishing remains excellent in the Driftless Area. Best to choose your time on the streams and location wisely to avoid the heat of the day and those areas with full sun bathing the water. Fish early and late and during peak times of the day, seek locales which have at least some shade provided by a full or partial tree canopy. Caddis and Lite Hendrickson hatches have been quite prolific at times and dry fly action has been exceptional. When no surface action is occurring, go to nymphs, emergers and Leech patterns. Guide season is in full swing and dates are booking fast. Don't forget, Father's Day is right around the corner! What better gift to give than a full day guided fly fishing trip in beautiful SE Minnesota .... or stop into the shop and pick up a gift card!
Below are photos from this morning's outing - 40 Brookies caught, all on dry flies ....the Good Ol' Days are right now!
On several recent outings, I've encountered some pretty amazing fly fishing here in the Minnesota Driftless. Here are just a few quality Browns that I was fortunate enough to land during these times on the stream.
The heavy rains that rolled through much of SE Minnesota Monday night proved to be once again very spotty. Areas in Houston and Winona Counties received rainfall amounts ranging from 2" to as much as 5" leaving streams totally blown out and creating flooding conditions. Meanwhile, in Fillmore County, Mother Nature was much less harsh dropping only about 1/2" of rain behind leaving the streams in great shape and very fishable. They say "a photo is worth a thousand words" so here you go .....
These were taken yesterday when I had the pleasure of guiding these three gentlemen (a father and his two sons) up from Kansas / Missouri to fly fish the Minnesota Driftless. Nymphing worked well until late morning / early afternoon when the Caddis started coming off, then we switched to Elk Hairs. So, moral of the story ... do a little intel, scouting before heading out this week and check on stream conditions, especially as more rain is in the forecast - or call the shop!
THE CADDIS ARE HATCHING AND SPRING IS OFFICALLY HERE. THE WATER HAS GOOD FLOWS AND THE TROUT ARE HUNGRY. USE AN 18 TO 14 TAN, ELK HAIR CADDIS WHEN YOU SEE RISING FISH FOR RESULTS.
IF NO RISING FISH USE A BH PHEASANT TAIL NYMPH SLOW DRIFTED IN THE COVER OR SWING A SOFT HACKLE THROUGH THE POOLS. NOW IS THE MOST AWESOME TIME IN THE DRIFTLESS AREA OF MINNESOTA. COME ON DOWN. WOW!
As temps climbed into the 60s and even the 70s the last few days, the fly fishing on the streams of the Minnesota Driftless became red hot! A lot of dry fly action to be had with BWO's, Dark Hendrickson and even a few scattered reports of Caddis hatches occurring. This weekend, I personally had great success with Parachute Adams, BWO Parachutes and during times of Non-hatches, Scuds, BH nymphs and Woolly Buggers all produced well. In other words ..... just about anything is working - with the warm weather, the trout feeding activity has increased and they are eager to eat! Be sure to stop in at the Driftless Fly Fishing Company's fly shop and stock that fly box and check out the latest Orvis gear for the upcoming season!
Sorry about the delay folks! We had 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of rain it dirtied the water conditions up across the board. The spring creeks are still pretty stained this morning, little to no visibility but the flow of water hasn't increased significantly so hopefully by mid day (april-5) the water will start to clear. Even with the stain the south branch stayed fishable through the day, with 6 inches to a foot of visibility. Its tough to find the fish the feeding window is going to be smaller, get low and slow to get that fly right in front of their snouts to results in these conditions thanks and good luck!
Recent rains have stained the water a bit providing decent trout fishing in the Minnesota Driftless Area. Larger flies such as the Root River Special, Woolly Buggers and Leech patterns are all working well. These have been especially effective during these cloudy, overcast days of late. A gradual warm-up is forecasted for this week with more showers likely coming in later. Spring is coming that's a fact but it's just taking its sweet time :-)
Thank you to all who stopped by the shop's booth last weekend at the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo - we had a great time talking with old friends and making many more new ones!
South branch browns coming on to streamers off the bank don't let the rain scare you!! Stop in for some Clouser minnows and baby browns!
The latest issue of Midwest Hunting and Fishing Magazine is in the mail and online. If you're interested in learning more about fly fishing in the Minnesota Driftless Area during Spring, scroll to page 36 after following the posted link. I hope you find it informative and enjoying to read.
Yesterday afternoon brought sunny skies, little cooler temps and much wind. I explored a piece of water that I hadn't fished for well over a year and after today, I'm asking myself "Why?" A nice outing was had despite the slightly adverse conditions with the gusting winds but where there's a will there's a way. On my first cast, I put the fly tight to the bank in a deep pool that is sheltered by an over-hanging deadfall. I let the fly sink before starting the cadence of the strip and as began the retrieve, the oh so familiar flash came from the undercut - fish on! As the fish slid into the net a quick glance had me thinking it was a unique looking dilute colored Brookie but upon closer inspection, it was discovered that it was indeed a Tiger Trout. These rare "unicorns" are a Brook x Brown hybrid and are a real special treat to anglers here in the Minnesota Driftless Area. This was the third one I have had the pleasure of catching and surely hope that it's not my last! Today, the winds should calm a bit, some partially cloudy skies with temps nearing 60 degress so be sure to take advantage of this and hit the streams of SE Minnesota!
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.