The names Browns and Bows don’t just refer to two of the three species of fish that are the predominate exotic biomass in southeast Minnesota’s Driftless Areacreeks.
Shawn and I had fun catching sturgeon in the shade yesterday. We were hopeful that today we could find something similarly significant for today. Our target species were trout and we were in Fillmore County. We are much older now than the last time we fished this creek together. This was a creek that we both experienced for the first time nearly 30 seasons ago. We caught our first trout here, as did our young nephews, and we still fish it today.
Unlike fishing this creek in the 80s we did not have bait or spinning rods. We each carried a homemade custom built Winston rod with hand tied tippets. Our flies were crafted with our own hands, size 20 miracle nymph with a dark copper rib.
Further, we fish down stream further from our original spot. Our methods of catching salmonids have graduated to a fine activity that requires crawling on your hands and knees, hiding in the weeds, and sight fishing to the largest fish in the pool with a size 20. This is the antithesis of bobber fishing with a half-night crawler.
We sat at the side of the creek drinking coffee. We had covered nearly every inch of our skin with the clothing that we could find to keep the swarm of size 20 mosquitoes from biting us as the morning dew lifted. We worked out our casting lanes patiently.
Eventually the 12-inch fish began to move out of their feeding lanes with a fervor as a predator Brown had moved out from the rock cover. We watched this fish for several minutes in order to gauge what it was going to eat. The smaller trout had stopped rising now. They had also grouped up in a shoal in the deepest part of the plunge pool. Inevitably the predator Brown took a strike at a 10-inch fish which scattered the shoal. This left the predator alone at the bottom of the deepest part of the pool. I casted.
The pool is several feet deep. I had my fly line tipped with about 6-feet of 6x tippet. I presented my fly in such a way that my fly landed upstream of the Brown and the knot that held my 10-foot leader landed downstream of the fish’s tail. I had no weight on my fly simply a size 20 – lightly threaded Dai-Riki 135 with a few wraps of dark copper rib. This is a fly I fish often. The leader and tippet lengths are also something that I fish often.
I also try to make sure that when I present to German Brown Trout in Minnesota that I drift the fly on their right side. I do this because an old-time hatchery biologist told me that the wild Brown Trout stocks in the state have a dominate left eye. He suggested that you can catch more Brown Trout by drifting any fly with a good presentation past their right eye because they do not see as well out of the eye.
Regardless of your interpretation of the description of my tactics I will leave you with this wonderful memory from the first drift.
It was nearly noon by now. The spectacular leaps and 60-foot downstream jaunt performed by the 20-inch Brown left us satisfied with entertainment.
As we began preparing for supper in Winona a severe thunderstorm blew through town. We decided to drive to the backwaters to a low spot where you can see three miles of Mississippi River land. We were greeted with a spectacular contrast of dark storm clouds, the sunset and a double rainbow all at the same time. It was a fantastic way to end the weekend.