- Trout are closed to fishing in most of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The season closes now to give the fish a break during their spawn. We can still fish in Whitewater and Forestville State Parks and within the posted boundaries of in-town sections of Lanesboro, Chatfield, Preston, Spring Valley, and Rushford, MN. (Regular Season Closed on Oct. 15th per 2022 fishing regulations handbook link here!) Iowa is open to trout fishing year round! Catch and Release season opens up in January again region wide.
- Water temps are dropping, visibility is increasing, and the forage is transitioning.
As we head into the fall months, now is a great time to find the local bite times and patterns that will pull in some fish. Fishing deep, low, and slow is the name of the game. Fish also won’t be eating all day consistently. Water and air temps play a huge role in when fish are active and hungry, and this can change daily given the conditions. Look for peak temperature times that will have the warmest water. Warm water equals happy bugs and minnows which will trigger the larger predatory fish. If fishing in a lake or large river, look for still green aquatic vegetation. This provides oxygen in the water, as well as good habitat for their prey. Dying/decaying vegetation uses up surrounding dissolved oxygen in the water, so be sure it’s still green!
Across the board, we have had a very dry fall. Our rivers (and lakes) are very low and clear and that makes for some interesting fishing conditions. Walking a trout stream in the fall is truly beautiful. In one way, it’s fun because we can see our flies/lures or even our targets. It can also school up the fish making them easier to find. But all the bonuses of low water can also work against us by making the fish act very spooky. Using stealth, small flies, and thin tippet are the keys to success on the trout streams right now. Warm, sunny days have produced midge hatches and some mayflies in the late mornings and afternoons.
On the Mississippi, streamers with neutral buoyancy like the Murdich Minnow, Sex Dungeon, Muddler Minnow, Wildwood’s 3M Minnow, and Soft-Hackle Marabou streamers fished on a sink tip, intermediate, or full sink line will attract a bite! Fish them with short strips and long pauses in shallows near drop off’s and woody debris. Bass will use this short window of warm temps to chase schools of minnows and fatten up before winter.
Fall is Muskie season! And there’s some great muskie waters right around town including Bde Maka Ska and Bryant Lake Regional Park. These areas are well-known for a chance at a muskie. Fish big streamers and make sure to strip set if you get a strike. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but you can wade fish for them at these lakes. Throwing large bucktail streamers off of drop off’s and along weed edges could produce a monster from our metro waters!
Austin A. with his first Driftless trout! Love the colors these fish turn in the fall for the spawn. The males especially will turn vibrant gold and blue/gray to stand out in the crowd.
Dates and times: 11/12, 12/10, 1/14, 2/11, 3/11 with two slots each day from 1-2PM and 2-3PM
Keep the rust off and come practice your fly casting!
We’ve rented out the gym at the downtown Minneapolis YMCA. Come cast for one hour with our guides. We can work on many different casting skills, including accuracy and double hauling . Beginner to advanced casters, welcome! Bring your own fly rod if you have one, otherwise a limited supply of fly rods will be available.
Trout Fishing with Small Flies (20-26)
Trout fishing with tiny flies can be tough. (Read “midge patterns”) Especially when all they look like is a bit of thread around a miniscule hook shank. But during the fall and winter months, the fish can be finicky and strikes will be light so scaling down and slowing down the presentation is extremely effective this time of year. Some common patterns include the Zebra Midge, Rainbow Warrior, Brassie, and JuJu Midge.
- Use a light tippet: Using 5x-7x tippet helps the fly move naturally and sink faster. Small flies with heavier tippets don’t have enough freedom. Also, the fish can be wary of heavier tippets, so the smaller the better. Be careful with your hookset and fighting technique when sizing down.
- Fish deep: Take a look at the water… Nothing rising? Nothing hatching? Trout feed close to the bottom on small nymphs during the winter months. That means our flies need to be bumping along the rocks with the rest of the aquatics. Adding some split shot is often the best way to get a small fly to the bottom. You can also use a larger, weighted nymph to help both flies get to the strike zone.
- Go really small: We’re often surprised how many more strikes we get when we tie on flies that look too tiny to be food. The fish are opportunistic when the water temperatures get cold and find forage wherever they can get it. Big fish eat small flies during the coldest parts of the year.
- Small or No Indicators: When the water is clear and low, the fish are more prone to spook. Using a small and light strike indicator helps reduce the chance of a fish taking off. Foam is a great option this time of year. Also, small strike indicators work well when the strikes are delicate and the fish are lethargic. This is a great time of year to try a euro-nymphing set up that doesn’t require an indicator!
Highlight a Watershed
Yes, the trout season is closed for the 2022 fishing season. However, that doesn’t mean all is lost. Fishing in certain sections of towns and state parks is still active! Whitewater State Park located in Winona County, MN is a great trout water option when the season closes. The streams here include the Middle Branch Whitewater River and Trout Run Creek. Early fall is the perfect time of year to try swinging large streamers. Look for the deepest portions of the river–big pools are pure gold–when fishing during the fall and winter months.
Be mindful of redds when wading in fall rivers. These are cleaned out portions of river bottom that the trout have cleared with their tails in preparation for spawning. They often look oval in shape and brighter than the surrounding river bottom. Removing the silt allows the eggs to fall between the cracks of rocks and gravel where they remain safe from predators. Trout eggs also need to be well oxygenated and will commonly be found in runs right before and below riffly sections of streams.
There is some beautiful water to see and fish in this park. We recommend the section through the new campground nearest the park office or the section on the south end, following the river downstream along the high cliffs. These sections both have a good mix of water, easy access, and a lot of spots to spread out at. Orange scud flies in size 14-16 work great for the stocked rainbows! If you want to lose the crowds and test your skills, Trout Run on the southwest side of the park is a fun little stream to try with small flies and extreme ninja skills. You could also catch a Driftless trifecta in this park- rainbow, brown, and brook trout!
This section of Minnesota Trout Unlimited’s interactive habitat restoration map can lead you to some really cool areas of water worked on by our state chapter of TU. These projects are all completed on public easement sections of our streams and can be fun to explore once the season opens again!
Hello everyone! Some introductions are in order. My name is Hiroto Hayashi, though most folks call me Hiro. I’ll be joining the FFA team as their Education and Outreach Coordinator, and an apprentice fishing guide. I was born and raised in Colorado where I spent my time recreating in the Rocky Mountains. I graduated Fall 2021 from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD. There, I majored in English and minored in Outdoor Education and Professional Writing. I chose my mix of courses to help provide people an experience of the outdoors through in-person events or vicariously through writing and photography. My goal is to connect people to their “moment” that takes them from curious about fishing to wanting to grow into new fishing adventures. It’s my pleasure to join the FFA community and share what fishing is all about and what it means for so many of us.