Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring Caddis

After the weekend snow flurries, today was the first nice day this week... and I was lucky to be able to spend several hours on the prime SE MN spring creek. Amy joined me for the trip, but decided not to fish, since the wind was blowing in 20-30mph gusts.

The stream was slightly high and little off-colored, but nothing too bad... We arrived around 11:30am, just in time for the caddis hatch. The first rises indicated fish taking emerging pupae, right under the surface. I love this type of fishing, since I can use soft hackles in combination with my glass rod, to swing them or fish them upstream, dead drifted or sometimes with subtle twitches. Very soon the fish were boiling everywhere... This particular stretch has nicely manicured banks, so I just grabbed my wellington boots and started casting. Fish would usually take the fly savagely. At moments there were so many naturals on the surface, that it would take several repeated drifts to get a trout. I switched to a bigger fly, one size larger (a soft hackle with bright green biot body, speckled brown hackle, and ostrich head), and noticed that bigger fish would often grab it.

Little later I put the waders on and explored some corners where I previously noticed swirls of larger fish-spots which weren't reachable from the shore. Towards the end, the emergence ceased and fish would still take fluttering adults on the surface. I ended the day with several fish caught on dries in a narrow fast flowing side channel, under the low-hanging branch. None of the fish caught today went over 13", but the numbers made up for the size... Two consecutive casts would often produce either a take or a miss.

I was trying to identify today's caddis and compared the photos at SE MN hatch chart lists two common early dark caddis species: Cheumatopsyche sp. and Chimarra sp. As you can see from my photos, insects are definitely not completely black, but have dun/brown wings. My best guess would be the first of the two species-Cheumatopsyche sp. (Little Sister Sedge.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Split Thread CDC Midge

A hatching midge imitation...

Hook: Curved TMC 2488
Body: Split thread dubbing loop with black CDC fibers
Wing: White CDC puff

Monday, April 21, 2008

Soul Painting

In today's mail I received some wonderful illustrations of my favorite gamefish, from a good friend. Mark is ornithologist, a talented painter/illustrator, and a passionate flyfisher! Visit his blogs: FLYINTROPICAL and YUHINA ILLUSTRATION for more wonderful images and interesting flyfishing-related topics!

Mayflies of Spring

I fished the western Wisconsin twice last week and spent the Saturday fishing NE Iowa, while visiting my in-laws. With three outings in a week, I finally feel like I am catching up with my fishing. The weather was gloomy for the most part of the week-I even got soaked on Rush river on Thursday. However, this type of weather is the greatest for fishing, and all three days were truly magnificent, with double digit catches on each outing.

Both Wisconsin trips started in similar fashion... I would drift buggers or weighted nymphs during the morning, occasionally switching to size 22 midges for bank sippers. Baetis hatch would start little after 11am, and fish would turn on. There were still some little stoneflies around, and I spotted very few Dark Hendricksons and a single black caddis. The river was slightly off color and little high.

On both days I found pools below riffles where stacked fish would gulp little olives. The feeding on rainy Thursday was so intense, that the churned surface full of swirls and boils reminded me of blitzing stripers on the NE coast...I don't think I ever saw that many trout feeding at the same time. While half emerged duns caught plenty of fish on Monday, PT nymphs and Starling & Pheasant wets took fish consistently on both days. It was greased line fishing in classic style: switch and single spey cast down and across, mend the line, follow the swing, and allow enough slack in the system to hook the fish successfully. Each cast would often bring a hungry trout. I didn't get any giants, but all trout were well conditioned and feisty fighters (notice the footprints of another "fisherman" next to the trout, photo above.)

Iowa creeks were not in the greatest shape, due to the heavy downpours during the week. Waterloo was murky and high, but I decided to fish it, since it can produce big browns when the water is slightly off-color. The visibility ranged from 6 to 12 inches-not great but still fishable.

I started the day with Waterloo Leeches, Siliclone Sculpins and the super-fast polyleader. Size 2 sculpin didn't prove too big for average Waterloo browns, fished off the bottom in slower pools.

Around noon, a heavy hatch of Baetis materialized, followed by Dark Hendricksons. The unfavorable water conditions were responsible for the lack of intense surface activity, but in quiet eddies there were enough surface feeders to satisfy a dry fly purist. I fished my new Sceptre glass for the most part of the week, and it proved again to be very versatile stick. I switched from polyleader to furled thread leader and Hendrickson CDC Cripple dry. Wild browns from Waterloo, just like their Rush river cousins, were in excellent shape and hungry. The fish keyed on Hendricksons (title photo) after the Baetis (left) hatch tapered off. The egg laying spinners hovered over the riffles, while the duns were still emerging, often intercepted by red-winged blackbirds in the mid-air. Hendrickson umbrella duns with moorhen front hackle worked like a charm on selective feeders.

I had to leave around 5pm so I wouldn't miss the family dinner... Fish were still rising along the rocky bank, enjoying the mayflies of spring.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Small Wild Browns

I often fish this beautiful spring creek in early season... known for its cold water and smaller fish. Its upper reaches are kind of a place where you will use every casting technique you know. Tall dry grass, leafless branches and gusts of early spring wind play a wild dance with the fly line. You are using every bit of concentration to throw a pretty loop through the trees. The water feels like a melted ice and the fish are sluggish.

Suddenly, the sun is breaking through the clouds and the fish are lined up in sandy shallows like little soldiers. They are taking something from the surface-swirls and splashes are everywhere. Looking closely at the water, I see a tiny regatta of Baetis duns and midges skimming nervously across the water surface. It is midges they are after! Fish like my little emerging pupa, with banded body and CDC wing. The activity ceases as abruptly as it started. Little later, I watch early dark stoneflies near the faster, rocky stretch upstream, doing their egg laying routine. Little trout are going wild again, and a couple of them smack my bushy fly.

The sun is playing hide and seek and it finally disappears. The shadows deepen, while I take one more glance at my favorite open stretch. The wind picks up and I can feel the cold seeping through my waders. It is time to go...