The standard Minnesota (and Wisconsin) trout season closed Sunday and I realized I hadn’t gotten out for about 6 weeks. Monday afternoon, I sometimes find a few hours to fish, so I seized the opportunity to jet over to Beaver Creek State Park. Recently, Minnesota started running a catch and release season in several Southeastern state parks (Whitewater, Forestville, and Beaver) plus a section of the South Branch Root River outside Preston, Mn.
I’d never really fished Beaver before, but I’ve heard good things. It is an obscure park that doesn’t get much traffic relatively, but also is hard to fish for several reasons. There is really only one main fishable section in the park that runs for a fair distance, but the water is absolutely crystal clear. We had rain the two previous day and you would have thought this water was born yesterday. Ah, the beauty of spring creeks.
The further downstream you go the better the holes, but the more dense the stream side brush and obstacles.
I really rushed to the downstream section and only fished up about 1/4 mile fishing pretty slowly. Temps were in the 60s and the valley and bluffs were sporting Martha Stewart’s finest fall colors.
Had an awesome couple hours on the water last Monday afternoon. The cloud cover was good. Air wasn’t too warm. And a breeze made for good upper conditions. It isn’t at its peak, but hopper season has well begun here in the Wisconsin Driftless.
We saw plenty of fish. Only a few rising.
Throwing a hopper/dropper combination we caught fish on top and bottom. They aren’t quiet into their fall feeding frenzy, but it is coming.
The trout are starting to put on their fall colors.
I tried to get a shot of Hot Dish setting the hook on a rise. I got the set, but not the rise 🙂
This was an ambitious trout with big eyes for a big meal.
I’ve never ridden the fiberglass train, but I’ve always been intrigued ever since I read this post from the Fiberglass Manifesto. It was there where I learned about the featherlight. Well, I finally decided to pull the trigger. Unfortunately, when I went to Eagle Claw’s website, I learned they don’t produce the same series. They have the new #Fishskinsflyrod which is a heavier weight than I wanted.
So what do most people do next? Head off to Amazon.
Low and behold, Amazon can have this rod at your doorstep in no time! And the rumors were true. $24.99. Now that I’ve even given you the link, you too can have this rod in just a few clicks. So to quote this year’s Nobel laureate for literature, “Don’t think twice babe, its alright (to buy the fly rod).”
I’m hoping to christen her this weekend on the Root River. Here’s to a great weekend!
Its been a while since I’ve made a real attempt video edit of a fishing outing. That is partly due to time (lack thereof) and partly due to a change in the nature of my outings. In Virginia, when I went fishing, it was an event. It was a shotgun day trip to the outer banks, eastern shore or mountains. It may have involved hiking, camping or a stop at a brewery or BBQ joint. Regardless, there was always a story to tell.
I’d like to take a moment to summarize what I see some of the big events in my personal history of flyfishing videos and the culture surrounding them.
The iphone made capturing quality video easier. Lifeproof cases made shooting in and out of water less risky. The GoPro definitely changed the game (remember when the fish eye effect was a sign of a cool video?). My Gopro HD sits unused and out of battery buried in my gear bag.
Then there is the music. First bluegrass and mountain music. Rolf Nylinder brought Tallest Man on Earth into the game with a more artistic fishing video, Trout is All.
And the guy who, in my mind, played a big role in re-thinking how we edit videos, including the idea of using deep track, hip hop beats you wouldn’t think would match with a fishing video, Yukon Goes Fishing, surely helped make DIY videos cool.
But even he, has moved on to other projects, though, his instagram account is still very active with high quality photography. And I believe he does put out video marketing flyfishing and a fly shop in Colorado. Instagram has moved in over Youtube and Vimeo as the the place to stake your popularity claim leading to more folks getting high end cameras instead of putting their energy into video.
That being said, the aerial shot with a drone is currently a standard and enticing novice videographers to take a shot at sweet edits. Check out some of @jrieke21 videos. Awesome stuff.
So where does this leave us? The Fly Fishing Film Tour is still running strong, but most of the movies are starting to look the same to me. Stories about old friends reuniting, last frontier fishing, different species on the fly you never thought of (long nosed gar anyone?), or conservation. All of these are great and important, yes, BUT, I think the time has finally come.
The “big movie,” the one that inspired a generation of fly fishers to dream of the old west, is 25 years old. And The film left on the runway for years, “The River Why” was a dud. We can do better. We must do better. I’m not saying we need to have Channing Tatum in the next leading trout fishing murder mystery, though I would watch it.
But still, I think it is time we take the next step in this fly fishing film adventure we’ve been on. Lets see it people. Let get some plot and character development. Lets get creative. There are lots of stories to tell, and I have a feeling, there is a great one just waiting to be filmed.
So, what do you think? Where does fly fishing film go from here?
August is hot. August is humid. You are bushwhacking through nettle and wild parsnip with sweat on your brow, burning your eyes and fogging up your sunglasses. Finally, your choice to wet wade seems so like the best decision since you switched to fly fishing. The cool water surrounds your feet and legs. You swing your hat through the cold water and slosh it back onto your melon while chills run down the back of your shirt.
You're tempted to even take a drink… But you don't. You know better. You won't give in to swishing out your mouth until later in the day when you really get thirsty. (Don't worry, you most likely will not get giardia.)
I don't get to fish cooler early mornings or twilight often these days due to being blessed with a 3 year old and 10 month old, so I take the time on the water without reservation. When I get to spend it with another angler, it is an added bonus. I like seeing water from another's eyes. And in the heat, sometimes it is nice to just watch someone else cast.
These blurry days of August are intense, but they are also brief. There is a maple tree outside my office that always gets a jump on changing her wardrobe. She just can't wait to put on the blaze orange and marshal in the colors of fall. I saw the first orange leaf today. And though I'm tempted to wish for fall, just as I'm tempted to take in even the smallest sip of crystal cool spring creek water, I want to savor this hazy heat. It doesn't last long. If you are going to lust after colder days or take that sip from the creek, be prepared for weather cooler than you'd like and diarrhea that may be relentless. Take a dip in the spring, and enjoy it; don't drink it. Giardia isn't worth it.
The rush of spring is over now. The fervor with which we hit the streams has settled. There is new water to explore, but this is often when folks start to stay off the streams. Maybe its the heat, but I think it is the height of the brush. The weeds start reaching their peak around this time.
It is not uncommon to be head high searching for the stream. This leads to slow trekking and the potential for falls into muskrat dens, slips down muddy banks and trips over logs.
It also leads to great less pressure on the fish, great terrestrial action, and good cover to sneak up on the honey holes.
Of course you can wet wade as the temperatures usually allow and walk through the stream to avoid the wild parsnip and nettle.
One thing is for sure, a year fishing the driftless will either break you or hone your casting. You’ll be high sticking, roll casting, bow and arrows and side casting to tight spots from even tighter cover.
I suppose July is like winter in that way. The extremes of the conditions keep a lot of folk off the water. Once fall comes and the weeds start dropping (after the awesome August/Sept hopper action), the streams get hit hard again.
For those willing to do the work, hungry trout await.
Bugs were everywhere last satruday morning, but the big rain events kept the water stained enough that few trout were rising. I’ve been seeing Hex around more often lately but have yet to see one actually on the water and not on the sidewalks. This little mayfly rode back home with me on the bill of my hat.
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.