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!

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 🙂

Good Days

I love good days. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are lazy. Some are long. Some flyby and they’re gone before you know it.

Saturday was a good day.

We enjoyed a night in on Friday, and Saturday morning we walked to the park after a fresh pot of coffee and a quick breakfast. I had to run into work for about an hour but made it back in time to play befor a midday nap. While Sara and David slept, I went for a long run. Longer then I’ve run in a couple years. 9.75mi. It just felt so good to be out in the hot August sun, so I kept going.  I came home to a well rested house, and we headed straight to the neighborhood swimming pool for a hour of water play under the fountains and bubblers. We walked home in our suits and the little guy in a diaper and towel drinking a bottle of milk. 
The next stop was the Salem Glen Winery just 15 minutes south of Rochester. All the grapes are grown on site. The property rests on a hill where the observatory waits for nightfall. The wines were wonderful. Typically I think most northern wines end up being very sweet, but these were much more of the traditional variety with something for everyone. My favorite was the Marquette. It was dry, cherry flavored and peppery. Sara liked the LaCrescent and the Cygna. 
David paired his milk and matchbox cars with cheese crackers. He is wise beyond his years. 
He quickly moved onto the red wagon and explored the grounds. 
Not in the mood to cook dinner and hankering for smooth custard, we stopped by Culvers on the way home. A satisfying dinner was topped off with a game of Choo-choo while standing in a wok. Sara and I still aren’t quite sure why David enjoyed this so much, but good things don’t always need explaning. We just rolled with it. 

Tempting fate with a day that was already perfect.  I rushed out to the stream after putting David to bed. I haven’t used my new rod yet and I wanted to fish a section of the stream I hadn’t tried. I had a limited window before dark so expectations were low. 

However, this day could do no wrong. The Walton Powell Hexagraph casts beautifully. I was tossing a mini hopper into spots I shouldn’t be able to. It felt like all I had to do was look where I wanted to cast, and I could make it happen. Still, I hadn’t seen a fish in the 30 minutes I was there and darkness was upon me. 
There was a downed cottonwood that was creating some great structure, but it was the type of structure you normally pass up because it is understood you will lose every fly you cast anywhere near the tempting pools. (It brings to mind ships wrecked on the rocks after hearing the sirens call.) Today, however, a last chance at a fish seemed well worth the risk. 
I ended up walking out on to the cotton wood, balancing on the beam, mid stream. I landed the fly in a stretch the size of a 10-gallon bucket and the fish hit immediately. He hid under two trees before I finally got him to the surface. My balance got me so far as to net the fish before I fell backward chest high in the cool water. On a hot August night, with a big brown trout in your net, it is hard to be upset at something like that. I laughed because Sara had just gotten me a new waterproof case for my phone.  I smiled because I couldn’t think of a better way to initiate my Hexagraph. 

Not all days are good, but when one comes along it pays to relish in it. It even felt good to walk back to the car soaking wet. So good I tried to give my very best Breakfast Club fist pump to the sky, fly rod in hand. 
Another one in the books, I guess. Tomorrow, we start all over again. 
Here is to another good day ahead of us. 

Bring it on, 2013.

I worked the week of Christmas, but Sara and I managed to sneak a quick trip to the Midwest to see family to say good bye to 2012 and usher in the New Year. It was a wonderfully relaxing time with good food, family, and refreshingly cold weather. I must be wired a little funny, because when I woke up on on January 1st to see the temperature at -15 degrees Fahrenheit, I just smiled and got outside as quick as I could.  Something about that cold, brisk air is just so vitalizing (that’s assuming your dressed properly, of course).
It was a wonderful trip for many reasons. Here, let me show you.
Negative degrees. Awesome. 
Great mornings.

The cold shore.

Expanding ice. Cracks that reach across the lake.
Taking a couple kids fishing.

Skated across most of the lake. Great ice.

Skating and fishing on lakes is something that is definitely not in Norfolk, Virginia.

Grain Belt: Nordeast. A tasty local brew.

Sky lanterns on New Years.

Another tasty Minnesota treat.
A great man.

Painted a brown trout for my dad.
Remnants of the Pike spear fisherman.
Lots of family.
2012 was great, so bring it on, 2013. We are ready for you.