Confluence Bluff

Black Midge, February 2, 2014, Houston County, Minnesota

Confluence Bluff

Confluence Bluff

The thought of hiking two miles,  in knee deep snow, through a remote valley, in order to watch Black Midge crawl from water’s edge on a sunny day was consuming me.  I was oblivious to the cold air temp as I loaded the car.  I was heavily bundled in gear that keeps me warm in sub zero temperatures.  I had convinced myself that the winter Black Midge had begun their February hatch in Houston County’s Minnesota Driftless country for 2014.  It has been an annual event for me for more than a decade.  The 60 mile commute to Crooked Creek is now all to familiar.

I have learned that Black Midge typically hatch after a long cold spell warms to the mid teens.  Today happened to be such a day.  I carried my 8’3″ Winston WT three weight the three quarters of a mile to the confluence.  I was focused on the knee deep snow more than I was tossing a line.  As I scanned the snow searching for tiny black dots crawling I passed several coyote tracks and a few places where fishing raptors had been feasting.

I was not disappointed upon reaching the confluence.  There were a few midge here and there and even an odd trout or two sipping from the surface of the water.  The sun was shining gloriously.  Hearing the thrum of Grouse in the oak forest combined with the rush of the spring creek’s riffles and the splash  of rising trout while watching the marvel of Black Midge crawling from the water’s edge up onto the snow covered creek bank was enjoyable.

2014-01-01-Rainbow

Jan 1, 2014

2014-01-01-RainbowAnother season is upon me.  I had no worries about finding and catching trout today despite the 5 degree air temps.  Over 30 seasons of trout fishing in southeast Minnesota has given me the skill in determining where to catch despite harsh conditions.  Jan 1 has warranted the same spot for the last five seasons.  It is a spot where there are always ice free flows and active and willing fish.

Today was no surprise that within two casts I sight fished my first Rainbow of the year.  #18 purple bead head pheasant tails trailed by a #20 miracle nymph produced with well placed presentations.  The hike downstream gave us no rewards save for a hike through the forest and the awareness that were too heavily layered for 5 degree air temps.

Iced up guides was not an issue although i had mild amounts of ice collecting on my chromoly tip on my Winston WL 3-weight.  This chromly tip is the odd one out as the rest of the guides on this custom rod are titanium.  Fresh line always helps shed water in the winter and if you can dfish a rod with titanium guides it will lessen the amount of time spent pinching ice from frozen guides.

Camp Creek, Maust Pasture

June 26, 2013 – Fillmore County

Taking a different route to Preston today I was able to see the aftermath of this weekends floods on local area creeks.  the creeks are still high and muddy, gravel roads are in rough shape and the bridge on Grosbeak Drive alongside Duschee Creek has collapsed.

Inevitably it will be a few days before trout fishing is more viable regionally.  Additionally; fish kills are being reported on certain Houston and Fillmore County creeks as the fish were stranded in fields and ditches when the flood waters receeded.  The ponds at the hatchery were flooded which unintentionally released stocks of fish into Duschee and ultimately the South Branch of the Root River.

South Branch Root River, Preston, Minnesota

April 24, 2013 – South Branch Root River

Today I was able to walk about half of the nine hole fishing course in Preston today.   I found the water fast.  I was able to make long casts with my #9 gold and black Panther Martin spinner.  The course is in good shape and the trouts are willing.  For more info on Preston’s nine hole fishing course click here.

I caught several Brown trout in the 10-14 inch range.  All fish were released.  As a note, i do not fish hardware as often as I once did and its not unfounded.  In the hundreds of trout that I have caught and release this season I have induced no significant injuries to fish.  Today i had the misfortune of putting a hook through a 10-inch trout’s eye.  Next time i fish the course i will be more inclined to use a fly for lower impact angling.  Most of the fish were holding in the urban trout house made of recycled concrete.

Gribben Creek, Whalen, Minnesota

April 25, 2013

The creeks are in good shape and will stay that way through the weekend.  T-shirt weather is forecasted and the trout fishing will be great this weekend.

Please remember to pack out what you pack in.

April 17, 2013

Fillmore County creeks and rivers have been receding over the past few days.  Anglers have been reporting that the afternoon toss of stream bed is still common place on many spring creeks.  I have heard no talk of hatches in over two weeks.

Jigs have been winning the most opportunities to creel trout.

I am hopeful that there will be caddis flittering and wildflowers blooming in the coming week with predicted temperatures returning to the 50′s.