Winter Fishing Report
It’s been a long, cold winter this year! Hopefully you were able to get out and fish on one of the warm days we had. With the long cold snaps we’ve endured, many areas of our local trout streams have been iced over. The deep, slow pools (as well as areas without much groundwater influx) have been iced up the worst. The best success we’ve had lately has been to find water that’s a bit shallower and faster moving on the bigger streams (though there may still be some shelf ice, you could at least put some drifts through the channel.) Heading up to the headwaters of the bigger streams or seeking out small tributaries with more groundwater influx has also proven to be successful. Groundwater is constantly chugging out of springs at 50+ degrees, so the headwaters and tiny creeks have been the warmest this winter. The further you get from the springs, the colder the water gets, thus more ice builds up. Warmer water this time of year also makes for happy bugs and happy fish. If you’re lucky enough to time a fishing outing with a sunny 30+ degree day, your chances are very good for seeing a midge and/or tiny black stonefly hatch and rising fish! Otherwise, we are running long leaders with tandem nymph rigs on 5-6x tippet. Our best nymphs have been zebra midges, pink squirrels, and purple perdigons. It’s also a fun time to throw big streamers as big browns are very territorial and hungry after their fall spawn. If trout isn’t your thing, you can head up to the Mississippi River below the nuke plant and swing streams for bass, pike, catfish, and various other species. This is a great place to practice spey/switch casting too, if you have thatz equipment. You can fish there until season closes on Feb 28. As always, feel free to swing by the shop, email, or call us with questions- we’re happy to help!
Three Tips to Get You Ready for the Season:
1) Check your equipment: Not sure if you have a broken rod tip, cracked fly line, or leaky waders from last season? Better to check and fix it now rather than finding out on the water on your next trip! The most common issues we see are faulty rods, cracked old fly line, and leaky waders. Take a good look at your rod(s) and make sure all the components are good to go. Ie: the eyelets, ferrules (where the pieces go together), reel seat/butt cap, and the tip of course! If not, send it in for warranty. The most important piece of your gear is the fly line. It’s good to clean it once or twice a year with an actual fly line cleaner (or a wet washcloth in the least.) Dirt and grime can lead to cracks and tears in your line. To check it, carefully unspool it all from the reel, then reel it back in through your fingers. As you’re reeling, feel for tears or cracks in it. It should feel silky smooth. If you find some cracking, its best to first try applying some line cleaner/repair, as that stuff will temporarily solve some minor issues. If it’s cracked really bad or torn enough to expose the inner core, it’s time for new fly line. Plan on putting on a new leader too while you’re at it! For leaky waders, you can try dunking them in a tub. Fill your tub with water, trap as much air in the waders as you can and seal the top, then submerge them in the tub. Look for tiny bubbles coming from the waders, that’s where the leak is. Seal it up with some glue and a patch from a wader repair kit and you’ll be good to go. Don’t have a tub or not sure where the leak is? Just put wader glue on the whole seam of heavily used areas (like the knees and inseam) and that should do it. If not, might be time for new waders.
2) Practice casting: find a field, gymnasium, community pool, or a golf dome to practice casting. This is an essential skill for all fly anglers and is a huge confidence booster knowing you got mad casting skills. Our advice is: Know you’re going for trout or carp? Practice pinpoint accuracy between 30-60 ft. Going for bass or salt water? Practice distance (and then accuracy) between 40-80 ft. Going for pike or muskies? Get to a pool and practice water loading at least 40 ft and practice those figure eights. We do offer casting lessons at the shop too!
3) Commit to Learning Something New: We put a lot of emphasis on trying new things. One of our favorite aspects of fly fishing is that there is always more to know. Be it about gear, casting, water, flies, or fish species- we can never stop learning in this sport. It can be a fun challenge to commit to learning something new. If you like fishing for trout, try finding a new stream via the DNR maps or the TroutRoutes app. You could do a new style of fishing or work with new types of flies, like euro nymphing, or tenkara, or streamer fishing. You could also nerd out on water bugs, we definitely need more bug nerds out there. There’s 1023 different species of fish in MN, try catching a new fish species or a new type of water this season. Some of our favorite species to catch are bass, musky, carp, sunfish- heck, even creek chubs are pretty fun! Whatever your new fishy goals or dreams may be, we’re here to help and to cheer you on.