Driftless Trout Anglers

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#1 Posted : Friday, October 19, 2018 11:47:15 PM(UTC)
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 3/18/2016(UTC)
Posts: 262
Location: St Paul MN

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So it's MEA weekend in Minnesota, and my son, who is now 13, was off school. He didn't want to sit around the house, and I was sick of working and not fishing, so I decided to bugger off work for the day and head down to one of the State Parks that are open year round.

My son is gradually migrating away from spinning gear to a fly rod, and we decided to start the morning with streamers and spinners then switch over to tight line nymphing later in the day.

So we parked the truck and hiked upstream a bit with the 6W and his spinning rod. Fished the first few spots without much to show for it, other than some frustration on Ethan's part after putting a few casts up on the bank or into sunken logs, he finally managed a small brown on a spinner. I'd had one hit and miss on a Zoo Cougar. Next spot down was a little deeper run with some sunken wood on the far bank, so I switched out to a Lazer Legal with a fish skull to get a little deeper. Ethan saw the fly as I tied it on, thought it looked kind of cool, and asked if he could throw it for a while.

On his second cast, a pretty sold brown swiped at it. A couple casts later, we both watched a rainbow chase his streamer all the way across the pool before eating it right at his feet. His first fish ever on a streamer...

Ethan's first streamer trout


Yeah - that was the last time I got to touch the streamer rod for the rest of the morning. LOL

We fished down to where we'd parked. He fished, I coached a little here and there and flipped over rocks looking for bugs. He managed another rainbow and a couple small browns, and had a few more swipes and slashes, including a very big brown that followed right to his feet and scared the bejeezus out of him. (I got a pretty good side view of it, and it was a tank).

When we got back to the truck, we took a break, eating sandwiches on the tailgate of the truck and looking up at the bluffs and watching the wind blow the leaves off the trees, and honestly, that lunch was worth the drive down all by itself.

By this time there were a few other fishermen around, so we kind of had to bob and weave to find unoccupied water, but it wasn't bad considering it was nice, and a weekend when the kids are out of school besides.

We decided to head to a different stretch of the stream, and broke out the Euro nymphing rods. It'd been a bit since Ethan had fished that way, so I started on what I considered a marginal spot just to let him knock the rust off. While he got his groove back, I watched up stream, waiting for the two guys in the run above us to finish fishing it and move on. So we waited...and waited...and waited...for a good half hour while they hammered away. I saw them catch 2 or 3 fish. Meanwhile Ethan managed 4 out of the run he was fishing, which wasn't bad considering it was something I sometimes don't even bother with. So we moved up to the tail of the run above us, and Ethan stepped in and started making drifts. 5 feet into his 3rd or 4th drift, his sighter stopped dead and he hooked up.

Euro Rainbow

I stood on the bank while he fished the rest of the run and picked up another 8 fish. (At one point, I heard one of the guys upstream from us say - rather loudly - "He's got another one!")

For the rest of the afternoon, that was pretty much the story. He fished, I stood there with my rod over my shoulder until I had a fish to net. I'd occasionally sneak a cast in here and there, and sniped a few fish, but for the most part, I just watched him have a blast.

Aside from him catching a bunch of fish, it was cool watching him figuring out how to read the water, which is something he's gradually been getting better at. He also started to recognize when he needed to switch to a lighter or heavier point fly to either get him down deep enough, or get a clean drift without hanging up on the bottom.

The last spot of the day was one of my favorites on that particular stream. It's a fairly sharp plunge pool, where three chutes of current dump into a bowl, around a big protruding rock on the far bank, and down into a long, fairly deep run. He stepped up to the bottom of the run, looked at it for a bit, pointed with his rod tip and said "they're going to be right there." He made a couple drifts, shook his head and said "I didn't touch bottom at all. Need a heaver fly." Tied on a heaver version of the same fly, caught fish on the first three drifts, and ended up catching nine out of the exact spot he'd pointed to. I eventually just went a few yards down stream and stood there with the net out. When he was done with that chute he said "There'll be one there, and there." Then he stepped up and caught those fish too. He ended up with 14 from a 30 yard stretch of stream. Not sure who was more excited, him, or me.


At that point, we decided the next spot wasn't likely to top what we'd just done, so we called it a day. Not sure exactly how many we caught. We lost track somewhere in the low 30s. Lots of rainbows, with a decent number of browns mixed in, and one wayward brookie near the mouth of a feeder creek. He caught the majority of his fish on Red Darts, Lighting Bugs and a Sexy Walt's. I got a few more on Frenchies and a Hare's Ear.

All in all, just an awesome day. Watching my son gradually dial things in was pretty dang cool. With hockey season getting into full swing and deer hunting coming up, it'll likely be my last trip for a while, so was a fun way to wrap up the fall season.
"Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish."
- Roderick Haig-Brown
#2 Posted : Saturday, October 20, 2018 12:37:38 AM(UTC)
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 11/7/2016(UTC)
Posts: 1,345
Location: Madison

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Great report and I noticed the USA Hockey hat right away.

Enjoy the fishing and the hockey!
“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
#3 Posted : Saturday, October 20, 2018 12:59:26 PM(UTC)
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 12/16/2012(UTC)
Posts: 381
Location: Decorah

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Great color on that first rainbow.
#4 Posted : Saturday, October 20, 2018 1:17:48 PM(UTC)
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 4/16/2014(UTC)
Posts: 478
United States
Location: Madison, Wisconsin during the week and Lincolnshire, Illinois on weekends.

Thanks: 116 times
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Great report, and great dad!
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
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