Today Mikey and I decided that we could catch more Redhorse in Minnesota City. We also had a plan to hook up with Master Baiter from River Angling to find a decent carp and buffalo spot.
I phoned Brad to let him know we would be in our usual haunt.
We met up in Minnesota City. Brad and Mikey decided to fish a big slow pool close to town. Mikey wanted to get some Horse on a fly rod. This is something that he has never done before. He is still learning the ways of the spinning rod and now he wants the challenge of the fly rod. I gave Mikey the 8-weight and headed upstream to the bridge where I knew the Shortheads and Silvers would be waiting for me.
I accessed the bridge run from the other side of the brook today. The Shortheads were holding on the shallow riffle while the Silvers were in the deeper pool run. They were not intermingling as much as one would think.
I was fishing my Sage XP-490 tippet with 5x tippet and a number 16 ice dub squirrel with a silver tungsten bead head. The fish were not spooked by my approach.
I caught several Shortheads off the riffle with a dead drift. They were taking the fly actively.
At one point I noticed that my guide was broken on my rod. It brought me back to Moakurua Stream near Waitomo, New Zealand. This was the place where I hiked for four hours one way to get to a remote stream that held Rainbows of an unbelievable stature. That day I broke the guide on a hook-up with one such Rainbow of nearly ten pounds. I had put the rod back in its sock in my rod tube and forgotten about it. The broken guide caused me to cast like crap, as the fly line would wrap around my rod. Fighting fish was also a challenge.
Given that I am confident in Sage’s warranty and my ability to retied guides on fishing poles; I kept fishing.
I fished the deeper faster water for Silvers and caught two after switching to a larger, #10, and beadhead prince nymph.
I was after a grand slam today. I started out right with a Shorthead and a Silver.
Now I was off for carp and buffalo.
Mikey and Brad caught a few fish in the pool near town.
We stopped by the Prairie Island Spillway because we heard that there was a Pike bite happening. We watched old men pull in several Walleyes that pushed ten pounds. They were using 3-inch chartreuse jigs. We caught nothing.
We headed to Aghaming Park to meet up with Jeff. We found him and the carp he was taking. He had several carp up to 30-pounds for his garden and was still seeking more. We watched him take a few smallmouth buffalo and even a shortnose gar before we left. We did not have the right bait or tackle to catch fish here today. We discussed coming back tomorrow.
A few things about fishing for native species; These fishes have thousands of years of evolution behind them. They are tougher and smarter than trout and on average 20-inches plus. They use the current with their big old flat sides and catching a dozen in an evening will leave your body sore.
With any spawning fish they are in thick. It would be easy to snag them in the fin however it is very difficult to get them to take the fly.
Things to consider to successfully catching Horse on a fly are presentation and fly size. If you use a fly larger than a #10 you will snag them. These fish do get leader shy so a small tippet is paramount. A good drag on a soft rod allows you to land the fish from their fast current holds. Presentation must be low and slow. A dead drift is fine.
Shortheads are head shakers and jumpers. When they end up with a sharp piece of steel in their lip they freak out. Silvers are more subtle and typically do not run until you pull on them.
Both of these species of fish are capable of long hard runs. They understand the current very well and will try and wear you out with this ability.
Silvers, being the larger of the two species, will run you around, back and forth across the creek until they get tired at which point they will sit. At this point turning their head and ferry gliding them across the current is my preferred technique.
Handling spawning Redhorse is a little different than Trout. There are two places that are a good place to start. If you can get their tail between the anal fin and the tail fin you can hold onto the fish very well. Grabbing directly behind the head is also a good place to grab them. All too often I see anglers dropping wriggling fish. Please be gentle with these species as they are successfully reproducing in the waters they inhabit. Beating them up on the rocks and ground can exhaust them and inhibit them from doing their thing in the water. I prefer to leave the fish in the water when I can. If I am going to take a photo I make sure that the fish is played a bit and will wriggle less to not induce any harm on the fish.
Handling a Horse by grabbing it behind the head can cause their air bladders to empty making them go limp and easy to handle. In order to revert this one must hold the fish in the water with their head in the current. This process requires two hands as you must tilt the head of the fish so that their mouth is taking in water in order to refill their air bladder.
The color in the fish will return which is indicative of them reviving. Typically a revived fish will hold on the bottom for a bit before swimming off on their own.