Driftless Trout Anglers

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shebs  
#1 Posted : Sunday, May 21, 2017 4:34:21 PM(UTC)
shebs
Rank: Stone Fly

Joined: 5/12/2014(UTC)
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Location: Mpls

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I was lucky enough to find myself in one of the few places in the driftless with fishable water this weekend. This was a planned weekend camping trip, and I was anxiously watching the weather all week. Fearing that all was lost, I had low expectations upon arrival early Thursday afternoon.

Went out to a popular stream with a nice eased cow pasture Thursday afternoon to try to fish with the lady for a bit - she has little patience for fishing, so I figured if she could walk the banks without fighting high weeds an ticks, we'd both enjoy at least a couple hours of fishing. Water was somehow running totally clear, despite 2"+ of rain in the previous 4 days. Not much success, couple dinks each, and a solid 12 or so lost at my feet. Pretty spot, though.

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Just as she started to make dissatisfied noises and said it was time to go set up camp, I said, ok ok we'll go, let me throw a couple casts into the culvert and see if anyone's home. Had a follow from a huuuge fish. No strike. We headed to our destination, set up camp, and she went off to play banjo and fiddle with group who was there - the nominal purpose of the trip, but it's a fishing trip for me Razz

It was about 5, so I went out to scout some of the water I wanted to fish for the weekend rather than do a short section. Stream A was total chocolate. Scratch that. Stream B, a feeder to A, was running high and dirty, about 12" visibility. Threw a couple casts in the new HI, caught a little dinker brown. Made a note that it would be fishable if everything else failed.
Drove to stream C - looked amazing. touch of stain, but mostly clear. This was a 3 mile section, and un-eased, so it wasn't one to start with two hours of daylight left. But I had my plan for Friday set. Decided to head back to the culvert to see if I could lure that monster out again...

First cast - I thought I hit a snag. Then it ran at me, and the fight was on.
Fighting a 20" brown in a culvert, with your rod tip scraping the concrete above you, was an interesting experience to say the least. Thankfully, the floods down there last fall had piled all of the timber at the bottom of the culvert behind me, so there were no logs or other obstructions for him to dive into and throw the hook. Still took a solid two minutes - this is a long fight for me - the advantage of using 10lb braid I guess! Three or four net attempts to get him...bastard didn't fit in my net! I didn't think I'd need a steelhead net in SE MN, but this weekend made me reconsider. Fattest non-lake run fish I've ever seen. Jesus.

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He taped at a hair over 20", with a 15"+ girth. 6 or 7 lbs I'd guess. Unbelievable. I almost wanted to kill him just to see what the fuck he was eating, but I can't do that to the gene pool. This stream is so small, I cant imagine how he got so big...must have been eating the dinks! (If you recognize this spot, keep your damned mouth shut, and see if you can find him. He swam right back into the culvert, and I'm sure he's still there.)

Woke up Friday morning to a cold rain. 44 degrees. Rainy. Perfect fishing weather Glare

Drove over to the stream I had scoped out the night before - still looked good. Got suited up and decided to go for it. I'm down here to fish, it's cold and rainy everywhere, but this water is clear, so get to it. Had mapped out a section about 3 miles long on a section of a stream that is popular in the eased portions - yet somehow no one seemed to ever hit this part. I fished two different stretches, totaling about 5 miles, and never saw a single footprint, beer can, worm container, or any evidence of angling. Maybe the landowner is hostile and I was just lucky his field was too wet to work! I did a short piece of it last year when I was down there, and in about an hour I caught 4 fish from 14-18", had a follow from a beast that had to be pushing two feet, and caught a 12" chub to boot. So it was on my list for further exploration. Just my type of stream - muddy as all hell, 12 foot high collapsing banks, knee deep sediment in every hole. Not an easy wade by any means, but that keeps out the riff-raff Flapper

Got to my access point, and hooked into a nice chunky 12 on my first cast. Good start. Saw a bigger fish swipe on the second cast, but he wouldn't take. This is gonna be awesome!
Came upon a logjam with a nice deep hole, and a tiny casting window.

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Threw a cast, missed my mark. Try again, cane pole style pulled an 18" female outta there.

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So at this point, I've been going for half an hour, and I'm just drooling over the potential for the day.
Of course, the weather was shit, and I was freezing my ass off, but it was worth it. I must have landed a dozen fish over 16 over that section. Only photo'd this one because I was in a convenient spot to get my camera out of the bag. Between the rain and the muck I was wading in, I was leery of giving my phone a baptism. Wish I had bit the bullet and risked it, but oh well.

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Caught this bad boy at the tail out of this huge pool.

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He was about 17". My immediate thought was, if he's sitting at the tail out...who pushed him out of the prime lie at the top of the pool?! Two casts later I had my answer. A beastly 21" male with a nasty kype...who I did not photograph Crying because I was knee deep in muck, and the water was damn near the top of my waders already...netting him was an adventure with my feet planted firmly in the muck, so I just let him go rather than stress him more by dragging him thru the mud to the bank for a photo shoot. Sweet! Two 20s in two days! I'll fish everyday in cold rainy bullshit for that! Rounded the corner and saw another awesome looking pool...

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Proceeded to land a pair of 14s, and had another tank follow me 5 (!) times. I threw every different color spinner and rapala in my box to see if I could coax a strike, but no dice. He would only follow the gold #9 PM, and he wouldn't hit it. I'll be back for you tomorrow...I said...

Called up my usual fishing partner and told him he HAD to drive his ass down and join me for the next day's trip back. We made plans for it, but come morning, it was cold and raining again, so he bailed on me. sucks for him Flapper
So I slept in, waited for the worst of the rain to pass, and made it to the stream at the ass-crack of noon. Was cold and wet again, but I knew what lay ahead, and went for it. Water a bit dirtier, and the bite was not as hot as the day before, but I still managed quite a few decent fish. Almost called it quits, but decided to press on, because I WANTED that monster. Finally made it to his haunt, and threw about 20 casts through the hole. Got a little 10 incher. I was about ready to call it quits, but decided to put the biggest gold spinner I had on my line and chucked it to the very top of the pool where the riffle dumped in. BOOM.

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Tried to keep fishing after that, but my numb toes and the increasingly dirty water convinced me to bail out at the next possible opportunity. Three days, three 20s. That'll do, pig. That'll do.


Edited by user Sunday, May 21, 2017 4:36:40 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work. ~Author Unknown
Modern Translation, with respect for the Notorious B.I.G. : "Fuck Money, Get Fishes"
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Gurth  
#2 Posted : Sunday, May 21, 2017 4:50:27 PM(UTC)
Gurth
Rank: Stone Fly

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Man
Location: Madison

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Great report.

Well done!


I think my next step is to work towards finding those big guys.

Edited by user Sunday, May 21, 2017 4:53:34 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
shebs  
#3 Posted : Sunday, May 21, 2017 5:03:10 PM(UTC)
shebs
Rank: Stone Fly

Joined: 5/12/2014(UTC)
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Gurth wrote:
Great report.

Well done!


I think my next step is to work towards finding those big guys.


That was my mission this weekend, but I had no idea it'd go this well.
Find the marginal water that no one is willing to slog through, is my best advice. And get out this week as soon as the water starts clearing. Especially with spinners, murky water is monster water.
A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work. ~Author Unknown
Modern Translation, with respect for the Notorious B.I.G. : "Fuck Money, Get Fishes"
trapper  
#4 Posted : Sunday, May 21, 2017 6:01:03 PM(UTC)
trapper
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 3/24/2010(UTC)
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Location: West Fork

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Great job
Get Reel
Guillermo  
#5 Posted : Sunday, May 21, 2017 11:42:50 PM(UTC)
Guillermo
Rank: May Fly

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That big bastard is definitely a cannibal.
s.t.fanatic  
#6 Posted : Monday, May 22, 2017 4:15:50 AM(UTC)
s.t.fanatic
Rank: Dragon Fly

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I love that kind of water!!! It's not traditional trout water to most but to me its all ive really fished. Not without good reason.
Ctrl_Alt_Dlt  
#7 Posted : Monday, May 22, 2017 5:13:08 AM(UTC)
Ctrl_Alt_Dlt
Rank: Midge

Joined: 3/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 121
Location: North Saint Paul

wow! Great report, great pics and congrats on the success!
William Schlafer  
#8 Posted : Monday, May 22, 2017 4:55:19 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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Dang! Those are some monster Brown Trout. That fat one is a P-I-G! Way to stick it out in tough conditions Shebs. Stained water is certainly when the big boys come out to play.

The best part about rain and muddy streams is that it sends about 75 percent of the fair weather fishermen home. More water for the rest of us to fish.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
shebs  
#9 Posted : Monday, May 22, 2017 5:40:36 PM(UTC)
shebs
Rank: Stone Fly

Joined: 5/12/2014(UTC)
Posts: 898
Location: Mpls

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s.t.fanatic wrote:

I love that kind of water!!! It's not traditional trout water to most but to me its all ive really fished. Not without good reason.


Yeah I'm not one to fish the golf course waters that are packed with other anglers...give me some marginal water and solitude every time.


William Schlafer wrote:
Dang! Those are some monster Brown Trout. That fat one is a P-I-G! Way to stick it out in tough conditions Shebs. Stained water is certainly when the big boys come out to play.

The best part about rain and muddy streams is that it sends about 75 percent of the fair weather fishermen home. More water for the rest of us to fish.


-Bill


Even with this weekend being The "trout days" weekend I only saw a few cars at the most popular spots on the most well known streams. Had everything else to myself Razz


A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work. ~Author Unknown
Modern Translation, with respect for the Notorious B.I.G. : "Fuck Money, Get Fishes"
ChasingRainbows  
#10 Posted : Monday, May 22, 2017 6:58:24 PM(UTC)
ChasingRainbows
Rank: Midge

Joined: 3/10/2016(UTC)
Posts: 4

Great report, fun read! I currently live out west and most of the water I fish is on public land, so I am a bit curious about how you approached fishing that water without an easement. Do you fish it upstream and just stay in the stream bed the whole time? Seems like a tough slog!
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