A tourist in my own backyard: a day with Rich Osthoff

Since moving back to the driftless, I wanted to spend a day on the water with a guide. I wanted formal instruction and to come ready to learn. I have many weaknesses and fly fishing. The things we are most uncomfortable with are often the things we do the least. It is a vicious cycle. Avoidance perpetuates the weakness. My weakness if wet flies and nymphs.

A driftless area guide, author and fly tier is Rich Osthoff. If you watch his youtube videos, you’ll see good size fish caught on primarily nymphming techniques.  This was the guy I needed to learn from. I scheduled an entire day with him. I saved on cost by doing a
“50/50” deal where he fished some of the day to. This worked out great because I was able to learn by watching in addition to doing. And lets face it. It is hard to fish for 10 hours straight.

At our first stop we ran into a friendly beekeeper. Nice guy who knew the area well. We were in for a hot day. 95 degrees, all sun, and big winds. Perfect for fishing 😉

The turtles were very active in early June and this day was no exception. Walked by this big snapper burring some eggs. Keep digging ma’am.

Rich showed me how he would approach his our first pool. We essentially used small nymphs (size 16-18) all day. It proved to be a wise decision.

After a couple missed fish from our first pool, we moved on.

We spent a lot of time reading water. Looking at structure and seams. Discussing casting techniques and tenkara. He fishes a “no line” technique a lot which would be similar to that with tenkara or czech nymphing. Again, this was great because when I tenkara, I almost always use dry flies, again because I’m uncomfortable with sub surface stuff.

It was early on at a long slow run when Rich gently lifted his size 16 zebra midge up before recasting that he hooked into a healthy driftless fish.

It was the biggest fish I’d seen caught all year in person. We ended up seeing several more of these hefty 20″ fish.

The day got hot but so did the fishing. I caught easily 40 fish during the day and vastly improved my subsurface game. I had one 15″ fish but the bigger ones were more shy in the bright sun.

At our last stop, when all was said and done, I washed off in the freezing waters pouring out of this spring. It amazes me to see how such clean cold water can flow freely in this place. Perfect way to cool off after a hot and sweaty day.

The drive home was relaxing. I pulled off once to quick fish another spot and watched some big fish rise to unseen insects.

If you every find yourself in the Driftless Area and are looking for a guide, Rich definitely knows his stuff, and I’m happy to recommend him (I’m receiving nothing for this endorsement and do it out of my own free will). And of course, you are always welcome to call me. I’m slowly cataloging the area for more and more spots to fish. So much water.

New water, new friends, new camera

With a sudden opening in my schedule, my habit of storing my fishing gear in the car paid off. Instaagram again gets a nod for connecting fly fishers. I connected with @hotdishflyfish recently and shot him a message. His work schedule usually results in free days/mornings, so we met for a couple hours on his local stream.
The water was new to me. It had plenty approachable holes and runs, but the clarity was a little too clear. Even with the overcast skies, the fish were jumpy. I managed a few flashes and finally landed a standard driftless brown.

Hot Dish spend the morning casting his Blue Halo with a nymphing rig. He had a few takes that were not sticks but nothing to hand. That was fine by him. Dry hands are warms hands in the winter.

We have a warm spell coming through. That should bring the trout out to feed especially as the snow melt leads to turbid waters.

On another note, I finally gave in and bought a camera other than my phone. We will see how it goes. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, so I think the Sony a6000 will do well for me. If not, you may see it re-listed on ebay 🙂

Winter Season Begins Jan 1st/8th

I found time to get out twice in the early winter season. The first day was a shot at some new water. There is so much water between Minnesota and Wisconsin. I’ve found some great streams, but it is really fun to try new things from time to time. In fact, in general, I prefer to fish a new stream than fish the same stream twice (unless it is a new section).

So, for my first day out in 2017, I found a new section on a this phenomenal trout map. I don’t know who made it for Minnesota, but it is awesome. I love it. I’m hoping someone will make it for Wisconsin.

The section I fished had easement access but it was really hard to find so I stopped at someone’s house to ask for directions. They were very helpful and said I could fish anywhere I liked. Score!

The stream has only a mile of publicly fishable land that had work done on it back in the 80s. A beaver did some work on it this last summer, but that is another story I’m sure.

Anyway, after finding the easement, I hiked my way down to the stream and found myself facing a phenomenal run and pool.
There was a nice undercut near the run so I threw a streamer through the run and caught a healthy driftless brown on my first cast. It is one of those sparsely spotted browns with good olive and gold color. It amazes me how variable these fish can look.
 
I got a new Patagonia hip pack.  I love it. I’m a hip pack person for sure.
I fished down stream until I came to a long, slow, deep section. I started hoping over a few muskrat or beaver dens and quickly saw when the section is so deep.
A broad, sturdy dam was doing its job. I wonder how that affects the fish population in that part of the stream. Darker water. Deeper water. Bigger fish?
 
On my way back out, I hit a few spots I a spooked earlier and manages a gorgeous native brookie. There is something special about the native brookie. Sure they don’t get as big as the big browns, but, man, I really love them.
 

It was a great way to finish a first day out on the water in 2017. My next outing would prove to be a bit tougher as far as fishing is concerned.

We recently had a bit of a cold snap in Wisconsin, as such finding open water was more of a task. I hoped a favorite stretch would be open, but it was much harder than I thought. I should have searched for a sunnier stretch of water. So all in all, no fish came to hand.

I threw streamers because I’m not that confident in my nymphing technique or skill.
 
You can see how sparse the pockets of water were at times. It made for a gorgeous day. At times, I was able to simply walk across slow runs because the ice was nice and thick.
 
A couple amazing finds were this frozen hawk. I think it is a Nrothern Goshawk, but if any of you know can identify it as another type, let me know! I looked closely, but left the bird to the wild.
It was surprisingly light weight for its size. I suppose that’s the deal when you are a bird.

I also found this big buck. I presume is a hunter’s lost harvest. a gorgeous rack, just squeaking out that 9th point.

By the time I got back to the car, I decided to leave the waders on for the drive home. My gators were frozen to my laces. My feet were warm though.

Once we have a slight warm up, the water will get a slight stain and the fish will get hungry. The bite will turn on again!

Rest Easy, Friday Night: Vol 19: David Nash (ME!). County 9 – My Third Album

If you are looking for some new music, especially some to make the new Bon Iver album sound a little better, check out my new CD. You can listen on Spotify or get it on iTunes.
There are only 8 tracks, but I feel it is a good album considering my amateur status. Honestly, it is better than the first two.
So this fall/winter, when you are sitting down with your favorite cold or warm beverage and searching for inspiration while staring at the naked hook clamped in your vise, try playing this CD in the background. If nothing else, you won’t be sitting in silence.
 
Click HERE for a link to iTunes
Click HERE to listen to “Fertile Ground” on Youtube

What a Saturday!

I walked into last weekend thinking it would be pretty routine. I walked out of it astounded. We packed in the good times. 
Saturday morning, I met a new friend to explore our local “urban” carp waters. I walked an old family fiberglass rod down to the Zumbro, and we spent a few hours casting at carp. I grew up in Rochester, Mn, and we always referred to this river as the “Scum-bro.” I still wouldn’t drink the water, but, man, it was a gorgeous morning and we saw some BIG carp. No takes, but I did manage a nice smallmouth. There are, reportedly, some great stretches of the Zumbro where you can land anything from walley, northern, smallmouth and panfish.  
After a few hours fishing, I walked home and met Sara and David for a trip to our local Transportation Fair. It was basically every type of utility and municipality vehicle you can think of, a 2-year old’s dream come true. 
David was so excited that nap time went out the window. I thought I could get him to nap in the car, so I packed a bag (Thirty-one – Thanks Sara) full of diapers, clementines, peanut butter crackers and other snacks, a tenkara rod, some water and flies, and we headed down to Preston, Mn to visit the National Trout Center. 
Turns out it was “Trout Days” in Preston, their annual town festival. This meant antique cars, pigs and ponys to pet, tours at the historical society, and some yummy food. I had David in the back carrier most of the time until we walked down to a park to fish a little on the Root River and play at the park. No fish, lots of fun at the park. 
When we finally got home around 5pm, I had a phone call from my brother. He was taking his 4-year old camping for the first time at Whitewater State Park. David had a long day in the sun, so he stayed home with mommy, but I drove over to the park for burgers, evening fishing and roasted marshmallows. My nephew has a blast. We found teh perfect spot to let him practice fly fishing for the first time. 
The tenkara rod was a nice set up for him, and as the sun went down, the fish were getting bold, taking flies off the surface readily. 
Whitewater is about 30 minutes from Rochester down County 9.
Collin wet-wading to rising fish. They were taking size 20 beatis. 
Collin and Colton at the training hole.
We got Colton to fight in a couple nice fish are this hole. The swallows were abundant above our heads. You can see their holes in the sandstone along the river. 
Tenkara cast
I got home at about 1030pm and realized how big a day we all had. I had fished three rivers (Zumbro, Root and the Whitewater), spent time with my family exploring a new town (Preston) and the transportation fair.  And enjoyed time with my brother and nephew.  The joys of being back at home in the Driftless Area 🙂