Fall Fishing Report
Just as warm temps, budding trees and blooming trout lilies beckon the start of the season, cooler temps and colorful leaves are a sure sign that the end is near. Trout fishing in SE MN and WI will close on Oct. 15. I often get asked why the trout season closes for a spell in the Driftless. Well, there’s two good reasons- 1) To allow our brook and brown trout time to spawn unencumbered. 2) To keep hapless trout anglers clear of deer hunters during rifle season. Fear not, there are some areas open to catch-and-release trout fishing year-round: Whitewater, Forestville, and Beaver Valley State Parks and in-town sections of Lanesboro, Preston, Rushford, Chatfield, and Spring Valley. Maps of these areas are available here. Catch and Release Trout Season opens in all SE MN counties and streams on Jan 1st and in WI on Jan 7th. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even head to south Iowa for year-round fishing!
If you venture to the winter season areas, keep an eye out for blue wing olive mayflies and midges in size 18-20 for the rest of October. After that it will be a nymph game. Fish will be moving towards their winter holes, so look for the biggest pools and fish the transition water at the head and tail of the pool. Try to avoid fishing and wading through shallow riffles this time of year because that’s where the trout will make their nests, called redds. A redd looks like an area of gravel that’s been wiped clean, because it has been! Trout use their tails to wipe away the silt and sediment from the bottom to reveal clean gravel to lay their eggs in. Large articulated streamers will also produce great results this time of year as the large browns become very territorial around the spawn. Book your winter or 2023 trout trip anytime!
Bass and carp have pretty much hunkered down for the year. They prefer warmer water temps. You can still catch them, especially at Montissippi Regional Park which is right below the nuclear power plant in Monticello. This is no secret spot, so I don’t feel bad sharing it with you all. The plant uses the river water to cool the reactor. As a result, the outflowing water from the plant is much warmer throughout the winter than the rest of the river. Walleye and catfish are also known to over winter in this section! You can get them by wading with an intermediate or sink tip line swinging small baitfish and crayfish patterns. Be warned, this spot gets A LOT of fishing pressure before the lakes freeze over, and it can often be shoulder to shoulder with other anglers. Season is open until 2/26/23. Book your bass and carp trips for the 2023 season anytime!
Pike and Muskies are the main targets in our warm water lakes and river in the fall. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can be greatly rewarded with a trophy fish. Large rods 12-16 wt, with heavy sinking lines and large bucktail streamers are the way to go. Don’t forget your wire leader! In our guide tip section below, we’ll show you how to make one. Generally, fly fishing for these species is doable until mid-Nov before they move too deep and become extra lethargic. Heck, it just gets too cold anyway! Look for deep pools next to faster water, ideally with large woody structure for musky and shallower backwaters with weeds for pike. Just remember they are the fish of 10,000 casts and its takes time and a positive mental attitude above all else to put one in the bag.
The Brule is fishing well now! You can chase steelhead and some big browns downstream of HWY 2 until Nov 15. The salmon are likely to be in zombies by now. Egg sucking leech streamers, or double nymph rigs with yarn eggs and large stonefly nymphs are the jam. The large fall run of fish will over winter in the river until spring. Then there will be another (smaller) run of steelhead that starts once the river unfreezes. These holdover fish will lose their chrome paint job as they spend more time in the warmer waters of the river. They will primarily eat large stonefly nymphs during this time. After spawning in April/May, most of the migratory fish return to Lake Superior and the lower section of river will be almost void of fish (except for some resident brown trout) from June until the September. Such a fascinating ecosystem! We’ll for sure host an Intro to Steelhead Camp again next April!
Time is ticking, folks! Hopefully you can get out before the great white blanket falls over the land. As always reach out with your questions or book a guided trip to get in on the action and learn more about your local waters.
To Book- Online: https://go.theflybook.com/book/1120/ListView/0
or Call/Email Evan- 612-293-8058 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Shout Out Section!
Daniel was one of eight brave souls to join us on our 1st ever Intro to Musky Camp earlier the month. His quest was greatly rewarded by the river gods with this 40″ musky! Really makes you second guess dipping your toes in the water…
Ramblings of an Old Fishing Guide
Such as the ecosystems around us, the life of an upper Midwest fly fishing guide starts to slow down come fall. Our muscles ache, our fly boxes look like triage units, and there’s finally a moment to take a breath and reflect on the season behind us. So for your reading pleasure, I’ll take this time to reflect and express my deepest gratitude. This was my 12th year as a fly fishing guide, my 6th with Bob Mitchell’s, and 2nd owning/operating Fishing For All. Many of you reading this now aren’t just clients, you’re truly friends and like a fishy family- and you’re the reason why I keep doing this. (Trust me, it’d be way easier for a guide to just go fish by themselves, but that’s not the point!) What I saw most this year was, Growth.
Our overall goal here is to GROW anglers and to TEACH fishing. MSP isn’t a fly fishing destination like Bozeman or the Caribbean. We are the hometown guide team, working with you- our neighbors. Of the hundreds of folks we fish with each season, most are starting at square 1, like little fly angler seeds. It’s our mission to help you grow, to share with you as much knowledge as possible, to cheer you on when you land your first fish or tie on a fly by yourself, and to get you hooked on all the amazing fish and waters we have in our back yard. It’s given me so much joy this season to watch people return again and again, to see their progression in skills and knowledge, and truly start loving their local waters. In short, Team, you all rock and this wouldn’t be here without you!
One of the coolest moments of my career happened this season at Bass Camp. Bass Camp is probably my favorite thing we do, and it’s become a small cult following. Rewinding to 12 years ago, I started guiding right out of high school. It was my life’s dream to be a guide. I packed my car and drove to Montana and stopped at the first shop I found on the Big Horn River. I walked up to the two old timers behind the counter and said, “I want to be a fishing guide!” Adn they just laughed at me. But one of them was the owner, and he took me in. I got to live rent free in a cat-infested camper at the back of the property and work 12-16hr days, every day, for $9 an hour. Each morning I’d run 10 rental drift boats to the ramps by 6am, then open the fly shop and get a pot of coffee going by 7am. The first folks through the door were the guides- leathery, old, grumbling wizards of the water. They’d pull up with their junky 80’s pick-up’s and trusty drift boats. These guys were my heroes and mentors, who’d never miss a chance to cuss me out for making the coffee too strong or just about any other thing I did. Everyday I’d listen to their gravelly mumbles about the day’s battle plan, which flies to use and when/where. Who would float which channel, who would take which clients. Then about 8am the clients would start to show up, and the guides would hurry them to their boats and the rigging ritual would commence. New leaders and guide-tied flies would be whipped together. So much quiet excitement would fill the camp that if you stopped and listened you could feel a buzz in the air. Then by 9am everyone would be on the water and I’d complete the rest of my chores like running shuttles, scrubbing toilets, and mowing the grounds. Then in the evening, all the old trucks and boats would come rolling back into camp with laughs booming and smiles gleaming. Those guys were my heroes. After 2 years there I finally worked my way up from scrubbing toilets fulltime to just parttime, and I got to be one of those guides.
And now, as a head guide and owner of a guide service, I get to be the old guy who laughs when someone says they want to be a guide or cuss out the new guy for every little mistake. But more importantly, now it’s my turn to be a role model, to mumble battle plans in the morning, and to share my passion with the guides who will in turn share it with you. This year at Bass Camp, we had some spots open up last minute and so we had an open boat. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had as a guide to date, but I decided to take a step back from something I created and love so much, and let the team take over. And these badass dudes didn’t disappoint. I got to watch them mumble morning battle plans, pull up in their trucks to whisk eager anglers to the river. All the while I prepped food, washed dishes, and ran their shuttles. Then in the afternoon when they rolled back in with booming laughs and gleaming smiles, I can honestly say it brought tears to my eyes. These guys are my heroes, and I couldn’t do this without them. We reap what we sow, right?
What else can I say other than, Thank You. Guide life ain’t easy, but its sure more enjoyable with you all along for the ride. I can’t wait to see what lucky season 13 has to bring! Plans are being made as we speak for next season for classes, camps, and day trips. Expect a few big, exciting changes and plenty of cool fishing opportunities! I’ll spill the beans in a month or two once things are a little more solidified. But you’re gonna love it, I promise. In the meantime, I wish you all the best and thank you again for fishing with us. — EVAN GRIGGS
Guide Tip- Making Your Own Wire Leaders
There are premade wire leaders out there now, which is awesome! But here’s one way to rig your own that’s simple, cost effective, and reliable.
1. You’ll need a spool of 40-50lb mono fishing line. Cut off 2-4ft of line.
2. Tie a Perfection Loop to both ends of the leader and loop it through your fly line.
3. Cut 12-18″ of 20-40lb bite wire. *Here is where a lot of controversy lies- which knot to use to connect it with the leader. Your easiest option is a perfection loop to loop. Other options are the Uni-to-uni knot or an Albright knot. All work equally well, but the loop to loop is the fastest and easiest.
4. Loop the wire with the leader, then use a clinch knot to tie on a quick snap.
5. Put a big ole fly on the snap, and start fishing!