Fishing Journal 1/3/2023

Evan Griggs’ Looking Ahead at 2023

Starting off winter with a polar vortex definitely gets me missing the warm days spent drifting for bass or casting dry flies to wily trout in the summer past- and of those days to come! The life of an upper midwest fly fishing guide ebbs and flows with the seasons. Our prime fishing time is finite in this region. Between April and November, our team works tirelessly to provide as many fishing opportunities for our community as possible. We cherish every day we get during the season (even the windy and rainy ones) because we all know what’s coming after November. If you’ve fished with me in the past on bad weather days, you’ve probably heard me say, “At least it’s not snowing!” The fact is, we are so lucky to be anglers here in Minnesota and any day on the water is a good one. Our region offers some extraordinary watersheds to explore and a wide array of fish species to target. We are so excited to share with you some of our favorite waters and fish during the 2023 season! 

Reflecting on previous seasons before heading full bore into 2023, it’s been amazing to see the growth of our community. Sure in numbers, but especially in skill levels. I’ve been a part of this angling community since I was in high school and worked in it for the past 10 years. Over the years, I have taught many of you reading this how to fly fish from square one and have even been lucky enough to net your first fish. I am honored to have met so many of you and to be a part of your fishing lives. Consistently during last season, many of you came to me asking for more advanced level opportunities- and that is so cool for me as a fishing educator. 

In 2023, you’ll see Fishing For All continuing to offer our renowned beginner opportunities like Intro to Trout Camp, our Beginner guided trips, and casting lessons. But we will also be offering many more intermediate to advanced skilled programs like: Intro to Musky Camp, Intro to Steelhead, Dry or Die Trout Camp, and St. Croix Bass Camp. We are also excited to offer a couple new destination trips like Louisiana Redfish and Lake Michigan Tribs Camp to satisfy your big fish adventure needs. We will also be expanding our spin fishing opportunities including Big River Spin fishing and Ice fishing, both of which are perfect for kids, families, and friends groups to enjoy time together on the water. We’ll also try doing some spin fishing camps, Rainy River Sturgeon and Ice Castle Ice Fishing Overnights. For those who’ve got crazy work hours and/or young families, we’ll also be launching “Day Camps” that will focus on more advanced skills or species, but will be condensed into a few hours so you can still access these great learning opportunities with less of a cost or time commitment. We will also be growing our partnerships with other local businesses and conservation nonprofits to offer exciting fishing opportunities for our community. And of course our food menu for camps and day trips will continue to be top-notch as well, with new items being developed as we speak (anyone like crawfish boils or smoked brisket!?)  

At the end of the day, Team, it’s my goal to make sure you are as obsessed with fishing as we are. The guides at Fishing For All are committed to teaching fishing, growing anglers, and advocating for our home waters. We are so grateful that you’re a part of our fishing family, and are extremely excited for what next season has in store! So we’ll keep the fishing fun and learning coming as long as you keep being awesome- sound good? 

Happy New Year and Tight Lines! – Evan Griggs, Owner & Head Guide, Fishing For All LLC       

Fishing Report

METRO ICE FISHING-

  • The panfish and pike are heating up around the metro. Fish in 8-20 feet of water with tungsten jigs and waxworms for panfish. 
  • Crappies have been most active at sunrise and sunset. Wax worms, crappie minnows, and red/pink soft plastics have been best for them.
  • Pike are being caught on tip-ups with medium suckers and shiner minnows.

All lakes across the state are now fishable with metro area lakes averaging 7-10 inches of clear ice under 2-5” of frozen slush and snow. Fish have been very active in the mornings and right before dark. Midday action has been hit or miss depending on the lake. Tungsten jigs with waxworms and crappie minnows have been best for the sunnies, crappies, and even some largemouth bass. Pike are lurking the shallows over weeds taking shiners and sucker minnows. Fish are just beginning to move out of the shallows into deeper water, and still in very active schools. Be prepared to drill lots of holes to stay on top of the schools as they move around.  

Lots of folks are beginning to take out atv’s and snowmobiles on the larger lakes. It will still be a while in the metro before we can safely drive on the lakes, we need at least 8-12” of clear ice under the snow for cars and small trucks and 12-15” for full sized pickups. Our rule of thumb is, never be the first one to drive on the ice- that’s someone else’s job! 

If the fish are being finicky with your bait on the fishfinder, try jigging at different intervals or slowly raising your bait when fish begin to follow it (play keepaway). These can make your bait look like it’s fleeing, injured, and delicious enough for lazy fish to muster a strike.           

DRIFTLESS TROUT FISHING-

  • Catch and Release trout season opened in MN on Jan 1st! All trout streams in Dodge, Goodhue, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona counties are now open. (All other streams across the state remain closed until April.)
  • WI inland trout streams open Jan 7th to catch and release fishing with artificial flies and lures only. 
  • Fish will be most active during the warmest part of the day, typically late morning to early afternoon. When temps get above freezing, snowmelt can rapidly drop water temps and slow down the fishing in the afternoons.
  • During cold snaps, target sections of streams near the headwaters or that have lots of groundwater influx. This will be the warmest water with the most active fish. 

Ahh, it feels great to swing a fly rod again! Even if you can’t feel your fingers and your rod freezes up after every drift. Evan made it down to Hay Creek near Red Wing, MN for the MN opener. This is an excellent stream about an hour’s drive from the metro with lots of easements and good fish numbers. Most anglers skip this stream for its more well known counterparts just across the border in Wisconsin. Winter and spring are the best times to fish here as it can become hard to hike the banks in the summer due to tall plant growth. This stream has received several miles worth of habitat restoration from Minnesota Trout Unlimited since 2008 and the benefits are really showing in the quality of the fishery! They just completed a huge restoration project of nearly 1.5 miles on Hay Creek in the state forest land just downstream from the horse trail parking lot. Evan has been fishing this stream since he was a toddler in the 90’s with his dad, so was excited to check out this newly restored section. His fishing report is below:

“This was one of the best weather days for winter trout opener in recent memory! There was very little wind, bluebird skies, and warm sunshine. Temps hovered between 30-32 degrees midday. I was not surprised to see a few other anglers out along different entry points, but did expect to see more. (That likely means the WI opener is going to be bonkers on the Kinni and Rush next weekend if the weather is nice! I’d say hit MN if you want to lose the crowds.)

The newly restored section meanders through a quiet bluff lined valley. Before, this area was overgrown with buckthorn and box elders with highly eroded banks with almost no access for anglers and very silty streambed. It was great to see the banks graded and stabilized, and all invasive species cleared out. The river bottom is dotted with limestone boulders and has returned to a classic riffle-run-pool channel. There were many deep bend pools that I couldn’t see to the bottom of, I can only imagine what big browns are lurking down there! It will take a few years for the newly planted native prairie to start growing along the banks, so if you are new to fishing or just like having an open back, cast this section is definitely worth checking out. This is a freshly completed project, so there’s not much in the way of water bugs or aquatic vegetation yet. It will also take time for aquatic vegetation to grow in and for good numbers of aquatic macroinvertebrates to populate. I was pleased to see some midge larva and very small mayfly nymphs on a few rocks I picked up from the riffles. Hay Creek receives a bunch of spring influx throughout its course, so its water temps are pretty well regulated until you get down to Red Wing and the Mississippi. As a result, there was very little shelf ice built up.

The fish were in there too! But they weren’t in their standard winter routine, holding in deeper pools where the warmer water is. Because we’ve had a warm week and it was a nice sunny day, most of the fish were still holding in 2-4’ deep runs with moderate-fast current at the heads of the pools. The winning ticket for me was a 10’ leader with 6x tippet using a tandem rig, sz 18 tungsten-beadhead flashback pheasant tail and a sz 22 black zebra midge dropper. The water is low and clear, so approaching the holes from downstream was imperative to not spook the fish instantly. When you catch a fish in the winter, be sure to take your gloves or mittens off when you hold them to protect their slime layer and don’t keep them out too long as the cold air can freeze their gills. (Though if it’s cold enough to flash freeze their gills, you probably won’t last long fly fishing either!)  

No rising fish were spotted on this outing, but I did see a good number of winter midges crawling on the snow. This time of year we’ll see midges and winter stoneflies on warm sunny days crawling on the snow, and- sometimes- rising fish! The insects will look like tiny black specks on the snow. Their dark coloration helps them soak up extra warmth from the sun. 

Reports from other anglers along the creek said that action was good with various small nymphs and midges. In all, it was a great day to be on the stream, and I was so excited to see a newly restored section on one of my favorite creeks. Get out there if you can, this is a great time of year to explore new water!   

Minnesota Fishing Resolutions

Let’s make New Year’s resolutions that are fun to keep- fishing resolutions! Setting fishing goals is one way to develop our skills as anglers. This section is all about discovery: new techniques, new species, new waters. Our hope is that you find something to look forward to during the 2023 fishing season. 

Big Rivers Bait Fishing

Bait fishing on the major rivers in Minnesota is your shot at a giant fish. Massive specimens of catfish, carp, suckers, and many others species will readily take cutbait, a worm gob, or minnow. This style of fishing is also super mellow. Rig a pole with a slip sinker rig, cast, put a bell on the rod tip, and set the rod in a forked rod holder. We can sip a beer, eat some snacks, and simply hang out while waiting for the sound of a bell. When it does go off, the scramble of figuring out which rod, the fish size, and the species is incredibly addicting. It’s a great social activity! Learn more here

Big Rivers Spey Casting

Spey casting is a fly fishing technique using specialized gear that allows us to shoot 100’+ of line in a single roll cast and swing flies in the major waters. Our guide Ricky says that it’s the method for fishing the Mississippi River from shore. This is a different skill and requires new abilities from traditional fly fishing, and can be fun to learn to open up more fishing opportunities. Consider giving it a rip this year! 

Driftless Fly Fishing Techniques

Hopper Dropper: If you’ve never experienced hopper/dropper fly fishing, mark your calendars for late summer to early fall when this technique is at its most productive. The excitement of not knowing which fly the fish will take is what makes this technique addicting.

Wet Fly Swing: The wet fly swing is a simple method to cover water for feeding fish and works year around. While deceptively simple, this technique is filled with expert adjustments that will take your wet fly fishing skills to the next level. There are many situations that call for a wet fly pattern above all else. Learning this technique could be your ticket to a lights out day on the water. 

Streamer: Fly fishing for streamers is a skill in itself. Knowing what to use where and dialing in your streamer instincts is a surefire way to more and bigger fish in the 2023 season. Larger trout, bass, muskie, pike and many other species prefer streamers as they are larger meals for larger predators. Knowing what to throw and how to fish a streamer can feel revolutionary. 

Dry Flies: Oh, the dry fly. In some ways the holy grail of fly fishing. Guides know that it’s fishing with dry flies that reveals a student’s skill level. There are so many things that have to be right: the cast, the line control, the hookset… that fly fishing with dry flies is difficult. Even if the fish are rising and you can see what they’re rising to, they still might not take your fly. This year we are offering a “Dry or Die” trout fishing camp to challenge ourselves and celebrate the journey it takes to fish dries with skill!Try Targeting New Species: The fact is, most fly anglers target trout. And trout are awesome! But if you have been doing it for a while and just want to try something new- you’re in luck. Minnesota is home to 1,023 different species of fish, many of which you can catch on the fly! Here’s a few of our favorites that are worth a try:  

Carp- You heard me. Since you’re following this newsletter, and you know FFA, you probably know that we love fly fishing for carp. Everything you hear is true. The skill involved, the hard fights, the carp’s ability to routinely outsmart and outmaneuver us, and the childish excitement. Fly fishing for giant carp is a gift that Minnesota’s urban anglers have and one that we don’t take lightly. If you have never tried it, make this year your year to chase carp on the fly. When you get hooked for life, don’t say we didn’t warn you. FFA is the only fly fishing service in Minnesota that targets carp on the fly, and our Carp Wade trips are the best way to get after them! 

Musky- The fish of 10,000 casts has driven countless anglers to madness for centuries. They’re smart, finicky, and big. If you’re the type of angler who is ok with not catching a lot of fish, but wants to catch THE fish, this species might be for you. Supersize all your equipment and flies, be ready to work hard, and prepare to strike out. This fish is no joke! Native to both the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers, we are in the musky heartland. Our fish average from 30-40” in the rivers, with some true river monsters out there topping out at 50”+. Our team is ready to chase these mean green machines with you on a musky float trip and our Intro to Musky camp! 

Steelhead- Much like the musky, steelhead are known as the fish of 1,000 casts. This is because when they are in the river, they are focused on spawning rather than eating. They do eat stonefly nymphs, fish eggs, and minnows while in the rivers, but they are mostly on the move and looking to groove- so to speak. In the words of a Brule River fishing guide, “You gotta have faith.” Faith that the spot you’ve been standing in for hours is a highway lane for migrating fish and eventually one of them will eat your flies. And when they do, they will run and jump like there’s no tomorrow! The streams of Northshore, the Brule River in Wisconsin, and the tributaries flowing into Lake Michigan are epic steelhead fisheries that are worth a visit. 

Smallmouth Bass- If I had to sum up the character of a smallie- I’d say some days they’re like a junkyard bulldog, and other days there like a snobby trout sipping size 24 midges. Either way they’ll fight like mad once you hook ‘em! Smallmouth are native to Minnesota and do especially well in the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. In fact, these rivers are world-renowned for their smallie fishing. By age 4 they’ll be 12”, at age 6 they’ll be 15”, and by age 12 they’ll hit 20”. At every age and size, these fish are just plain mean! Whether you like throwing big streamers or poppers, or you want to try tight lining a crayfish or dead drifting a damselfly, these fish definitely deserve your attention. Check them out on a guided bass float trip or join us at a St. Croix Bass Camp!

The Waters We Fish

St. Croix River

The St. Croix is the crown jewel of Minnesota’s warm water rivers. Floating down this river is like visiting a distant northern wilderness. Often black bears, beavers, and deer are seen foraging along the banks as we cast our flies into granite boulder gardens. The bass here are aggressive, opportunistic, and stained a dark bronze from the tannic river waters. Lurking in the shadows behind log jams and deep pools are the apex predators- the musky, a giant golden-green rocket full of teeth.Whether you’re looking for solitude and scenery or explosive fishing, the St. Croix is the place for you.     

Mississippi River

Our favorite section of the Mississippi is the one flowing through the heart of the city. From Brooklyn Park thru St Paul, we can wade and float picturesque sections that run through parks, forests, and gorges, backwater sloughs, and urban corridors. Healthy populations of gamefish like smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, and muskies can be found alongside mega-sized carp, buffalo, drum, and many species. You never know what you’ll catch while fishing the Father of Waters. You can learn more about this river section from Evan’s recent talk at a Twin Cities Trout Unlimited meeting, check out the recorded video!

Minnesota River

The Minnesota River is often believed to be the most polluted river in Minnesota so few people fish its waters. However, the reverse is true. MuCh of the lower river is protected as a national wildlife refuge. In regards to heavy metal contaminants, the Minnesota River is one of the cleanest rivers in the state. Its murky water is caused by high levels of silt from upriver agriculture, and algae blooms from fertilizer runoff can give the silt a greenish tint. Walleye, white bass, buffalo, carp, and monster catfish all call this river home. 

Minnesota and Wisconsin Driftless Region

Between Minnesota and Wisconsin, there’s over 16,500 miles of trout streams to explore, many of which can be found in the Driftless Region. The Driftless Region is an area that the glaciers left untouched during the last ice age. Hundreds of cold water streams gurgle from springs below the rolling bluffs teaming wild populations of trout. You don’t have to go far to fish for brown, brook, and rainbow trout near the Twin Cities. Our favorite streams include Trout Run Creek, Hay Creek, and the Root River system in Minnesota, and the Kinnickinnic and Rush Rivers in Wisconsin.

Lakes and Ponds

Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes after all. The ponds and lakes dotting the state all make for incredible fishing opportunities. Whether you’re after bluegill, bass, and crappie, or northern pike and muskie, lakes and ponds in Minnesota have it all. We primarily fish lakes during the winter through the ice with our intro to ice fishing programs and guided ice fishing trips. We prefer to fish smaller lakes on the outskirts of town that don’t get as much pressure. Our main targets through the ice are bluegills and crappie, with the occasional largemouth bass.

Upcoming Events

Casting Sessions at the YMCA

Cost: $40.00/person

Remaining Open Dates and times: 2/11, 3/11 with two 1hr slots each day from 1-2PM and 2-3PM 

Keep the rust off and come practice your fly casting this winter!

We’ve rented out the gym at the downtown Dayton Minneapolis YMCA at Gaviidae. 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. Pre-registration is required:

Click here to Book Online!

Phone: 612-293-8058

Email: fishing4all.llc@gmail.com  

Learn to Ice Fish Programs!

Fishing isn’t just a summer activity! Once our lakes freeze over, we can venture out and catch fish through the ice. We partner with various parks and rec departments around the MSP area. During our 2hr Learn to Ice Fish programs, we’ll show you how to use all the equipment, find/understand where the fish live in winter, and practice reeling in crappies, bluegills, and bass. All the equipment is provided, including one large Clam pop-up shelter and heaters! Programs are available Jan-March, depending on ice conditions. This is a wonderful winter family activity! 

Here’s a linktree to our ‘22-23 Learn to Ice Fish programs and sign up’s.

This link is to book a private guided ice fishing trip with FFA.

2023 Camps are Open!

Camps are definitely the most fun things we do. Come fish new water, master new skills, eat good food, and join a community of adventurous anglers! Here is a list of our camps coming up in 2023. Book your camp spot here!

Intro to Steelhead 4/13-16 (FULL- taking waitlist)

Come with Fishing For All to learn how to fly fish for steelhead on the “River of Presidents.” The Brule River has a rich angling history and beautiful scenery. The real king of the river is the mighty, lake-run steelhead. These fish thrive in Lake Superior, gorging themselves in the deep before following their spring instincts and forging up the Brule River to spawn. These river warriors grow to heavy sizes, shimmer with a silver glow, and fight like their lives depend on it. Join us as we stay at a modern log cabin on the “Box Car Hole” on the Brule and sleep just steps away from the water’s edge. Our guide team will prepare home cooked meals that shake off the cold and fuel us for the days ahead. Included are two full days of fishing instruction with experienced Brule River guides from Namebini. Arrive Thursday afternoon for a discussion on steelhead fishing the Brule including rigging, tips, and techniques. Spend Friday and Saturday plying the rushing waters with our guides. Then leave the field Sunday morning refreshed and rejuvenated from the adventure. $1050/person. $200 deposit due at time of booking.

Intro to Trout 4/28-30 & 9/15-17

Looking for an unforgettable adventure to learn about fly fishing for trout? Look no further than our Intro to Trout Camps! A full day and a half of fly fishing instruction, plus an overnight stay in a quaint streamside cabin, and home-cooked meals sure to make you dive in for seconds. We will work on trout fishing basics including casting techniques, insect ID; dry fly, nymph, and streamer techniques; and fighting and netting fish. These trips are great for new trout anglers as well as intermediate anglers looking to take their trout fishing skills to the next level. Our expert guides will be there for instruction and assistance when you land your first fish whether its first for the trip or first trout ever. This trip is sure to get you hooked on the wide and rewarding world of fly fishing for trout. Our camp is hosted at “Troutopia”, a quaint fly fishing cabin owned by our guide Ricky and his partner, Jen. This two bedroom home has all the amenities of home and is steps away from MN’s best trout stream- Trout Run Creek. This location is also only 20 minutes from Chatfield, Lanesboro, Preston, Rush Creek, and Whitewater State Park. Our camps are maxed at 6 people for a 3:1 guide to client ratio for maximum instruction opportunities. $700/person. $200 deposit due at booking.

“Dry Fly or Die” Trout Camp 5/12-14 

Many fly anglers have been puzzled by runs full of rising trout who won’t give their dry fly a passing glance. The fish rise around, behind, and in front of every fly they try. There’s so many factors to take into consideration when choosing and using a dry fly. Sometimes when an angler gets it right- the fly, the drift, the hook set- they can be rewarded with fish after fish. Dry fly fishing is the epitome of the sport. Some anglers develop a special fondness for dry fly fishing and swear off all other forms of fly fishing completely to become “Dry or Die” anglers. Fishing For All’s “Dry or Die” trout camp evokes the spirit of match the hatch dry fly trout fishing. You will work with our expert fly fishing guides to find the perfect dry fly patterns that the fish can’t refuse. Along the way we’ll teach you all about various casting techniques, drag-free drifts, and insect identification to take your dry fly skills to the next level. This trip is hosted at “Troutopia”, a quaint cabin owned by our guide Ricky and his partner, Jen. This two-bedroom cabin has all the amenities of home, including a very short walk down to Trout Run Creek. This location is also only 20 minutes from Chatfield, Lanesboro, Preston, Rush Creek, and Whitewater State Park. This camp is timed perfectly for the best mayfly and caddis hatches! 6 people max with a 3:1 guide ratio to maximize learning opportunities. $700 per person. $200 due at time of booking.

St. Croix Bass Camp 6/16-18 & 7/14-16 & 8/18-20

The wild and scenic St. Croix is the crown jewel of big rivers in Minnesota. Once a pipeline for running logs, heavily dammed and dredged for various industries, the Croix is now federally protected and has been restored to a near-wild state. Strewn with boulders and lined by wild forests, the Croix is a smallmouth bass fishing paradise. We highlight this awesome watershed and its fish on this one-of-a-kind weekend adventure. Spend a full day and a half floating with our seasoned guides from their drift boats, covering miles of smallie territory. We’ll be staying at “River Pig Landing” in glamped-out canvas tents on a beautiful stretch of hardwood forest property owned by Evan Griggs and his wife, Gretchen atop the St. Croix. The tents are outfitted with xxl cots with memory foam pads, lights, fan, a power station to charge your electronics, and more to ensure your stay is comfortable yet rustic. Arrive Friday afternoon,and  fish hard all day Saturday and Sunday morning with streamers and poppers. All meals and fishing gear is provided. Clients should plan to bring their choice of bedding. Due to popular demand, additional dates have been added this season- but the cult classic date is July 14-16. You won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind weekend fishing adventure! 6 people max. $700/person. $200 deposit due at time of booking.

Intro to Musky 10/12-15

You’ve heard the fable about “the fish of 10,000 casts.” Maybe you’ve seen pictures of giant 50 inch muskies with their toothy grins and thought, “They can’t really be that hard to catch.” Truth is, a muskie is at the top of the food chain. They are not only few in number, they are also finicky eaters too. In order to catch one, you need to put the right fly, at the right time, in front of a hungry muskies face, then you need to land it. This bucket list species can be difficult to fish for, so this camp offers the chance of a lifetime to aspiring muskie anglers who want to learn more about this unique species, and who want to put in the hard work to try and get one. This trip includes two full days of floating on the wild, upper St. Croix River known regionally as one of the best muskie fisheries around. We will stay in glamped-out canvas tents on property owned by Evan Griggs and his wife, Gretchen, that are outfitted with wood stoves, XXL cots with cushy memory foam mattresses, and eat meals courtesy of our guide’s seasoned culinary skills. The site includes power stations for all your electronics. You’ll arrive Thursday night, spend all day Friday and Saturday floating on the St. Croix River, and head home Sunday with stories to tell around the next campfire. $1050/person. $200 deposit due at time of booking. 6 people max.

*NEW Lake Michigan Tribs 11/2-5

The rivers flowing into Lake Michigan through Milwaukee, WI are world-renowned for their fishing. Each fall, trophy-sized coho and king salmon swim upstream from the great lake through the heart of the city to spawn. Following right behind them are lake-run brown trout and occasionally steelhead that routinely grow to 30” and get fat from gorging on salmon eggs. The real beauty of this camp: you can catch a 20lb salmon, then a 30” brown trout, then walk to a brewery down the block. What’s not to love about that? We’ll practice tight line nymphing and spey casting for these behemoth fish. But be warned, they can easily bust rods on their blistering runs! We’ll be staying in comfortable accommodations near the river so we can get to the water and start catching fish fast. All meals, equipment, and transportation in Milwaukee are provided by your guides. Arrive Thursday afternoon, fish hard all day Friday and Saturday, and head home Sunday morning. 6 people max. $1050/person, $200 due at booking.           

Book your camp spot here!

Book your 2023 Day Trips!

The prime season is just four months away, and it will be here before you know it! We are now taking 2023 reservations for trout wade trips, carp wade trips, and bass-pike-musky floats. If you’re curious about winter trout fishing, we can help you out there too. Book your trip here!

Beginner Trip

This trip is designed for novice anglers looking to gain on-the-water experience with individual attention from a guide. Our guides will fine-tune your skills: casting, reading water, fly selection, and more. You’ll also learn good spots to fish on your own! Perfect trip for families who want to learn a new hobby. Available as a wade trip for trout or urban lake fish, March-Oct. Half of the trip is dry land instruction, the other half is spent on the water. 2.5 hours- $200. $50 deposit due at time of booking.

Trout Wade 

When someone imagines fly fishing, this is what they picture. The Driftless Area in Minnesota and Wisconsin is home to hundreds of spring creeks. We routinely guide the Kinnickinnic and Rush rivers, Trout Run Creek, the Root River system, and several other small streams. All the streams we fish have remarkable trout populations, beautiful scenery, and are all easily accessible by foot. Our guides will help you catch brook, brown, and rainbow trout. This trip can be tailored for any skill level. Available Year-Round. 4 Hours- $350, 6 Hours- $450, 8 Hours- $550

Bass, Pike, Musky Float 

Minnesota is a warm water fishing paradise! If you’re interested in catching smallmouth bass, northern pike, or muskies on the fly- this is the trip for you. Fishing from our drift boats or rafts allows you to fish many miles of the St. Croix or Mississippi Rivers, and their tributaries while being comfortable and stable through rapids. These rivers are truly wild and scenic, and relatively unpressured. The bass and musky fisheries here are world class, and are the envy of upper Midwest fly fishing. This trip can be tailored to any skill level. Available May-Nov. 4 Hours- $350, 6 Hours- $450, 8 Hours- $550

Carp Wade

Fishing For All is proud to showcase the fishing found in the heart of MSP! We target trophy-sized carp (and other rough fish) with fly rods in the waters within city limits. We’ll wade the Mississippi, its tributaries, and numerous small ponds or lakes for fish averaging 10-30 pounds. These fisheries are a true mixed bag opportunity and you never know what will bite next! Available Apr-Oct. 4 Hours- $350, 6 Hours- $450, 8 Hours- $550

Book your trip here!   

FFA Guide Food

The FFA guides shun the stereotypical guide lunch: cold lunch meat on soggy wonder bread. Instead, we proudly prepare delicious meals hot off grills and griddles streamside! Good food is our love language, and it’s our way of showing how much we appreciate you. Our team believes there’s little better than a good meal to compliment one of our day trips or hosted camps. Here’s some highlights from our menu! 

Smash Burgers- Two ¼ pound ground chuck patties smashed on a hot griddle, topped with caramelized onions and pepper jack cheese, smothered in secret sauce, and served on a toasted brioche bun. 

Kalbi Ribs- Cross cut, thin sliced beef short ribs marinated in homemade korean bbq awesome-sauce, grilled over charcoal for extra flavor, served with jasmine rice and kimchi.

Chicken Gyros- Chicken thighs marinated in greek yogurt and lemon juice, grilled over charcoal, served on warm pita bread with fresh greek salad and homemade tzatziki sauce.

*Coming in 2023, Crawfish Boil- Crawfish, shrimp, corn, potatoes, onions, garlic, celery, lemons, and andouille sausage all boiled together in cajun spices. Dig in and enjoy! 

Thank you to all of those in the Fishing For All community! Without you, we wouldn’t be able to make the memories, share the fish stories, or grow the awesome world of fishing for new and veteran folks alike. 

Fishing Journal 12/15/22

Fishing Report

METRO ICE FISHING-

  • The ice is getting thick enough that most lakes have had some ice fishing activity. Always carry a spud bar and check as you walk. 
  • Early season ice fishing is a great time to try attractor patterns like a rattling spoon or spoon and dropper combination.
  • Northern pike on tip-ups using medium suckers and fatheads has been consistent across the metro.
  • When you can find them, look for transition zones with access to deep and shallow water, bluegill and crappie are heating up. These fish love tungsten jigs tipped with waxworms or soft plastic baits.

Overall, metro ice fishing is heating up with most lakes covered in enough ice to explore them thoroughly. Most small-medium sized lakes have 6-8 inches of good ice. The big lakes should have a 4-6”, focusing on small bays will still be best. Seeing more atv’s and snowmobiles out there on the small lakes. We found fish in less than 10 feet of water on a small and shallow lake in the north metro and had the best luck on tungsten jigs with waxworms. The fish were interested in shiner minnows on a tungsten jig and a simple hook and split-shot rig but did not want to commit to a bite. 

The fish liked a lot of jigging action and rarely hit deadstick rods or jigs on the pause. So keep those jigs dancing to solicit a strike!  

The best technique: The availability of high level flashers at accessible prices has made ice fishing a mobile activity. Drill holes and check them with your electronics until you find active fish. If there are fish but they aren’t active, move around them until you find an active school. Then, continue to hole hop and pick up fish as you move. During the early ice season, fish move a lot, so having the ability to stay mobile will produce the best results. If you don’t have ice electronics, the same rules apply- Move and jig until you find the fish.

DRIFTLESS TROUT FISHING- (winter conditions remain consistent)

  • Downsize your flies and tippet. Water levels are very low and clear. The recent rain and snow may help increase flows a little bit but not much. 
  • Keep an eye out for midge or stonefly hatches on warm days. Snowy, warm days may still produce a few small Blue Wing Olive mayflies. 
  • Try using a shorter rod (7-8’) and a click & pawl reel to make removing ice easier. 
  • Winter C&R Season opens on Jan 1st in MN and Jan 7 in WI!

Our guide Ricky went down to Forestville State Park last week and reported extremely low and clear water on the Root. This will be the case for all our trout streams. These conditions require very long leaders with 6x tippet. He found success on swinging soft hackles and small midges. The bite window is late morning to early afternoon during the warmest parts of the day. Fish have moved into their winter spots, deep slow runs and pools. The most active fish will be sitting in the heads and tails of the pools. 

Winter C&R Season opens soon in MN and WI! In MN season opens on Jan 1st, and all streams is SE MN (Except Dakota County) will open to catch and release fishing. All streams in WI open up on Jan 7th for catch and release. This is a great time to explore new water in the Driftless area!     

If you venture out this time of year for fishing, you’ll have to contend with line and eyelets freezing. There’s lots of tricks to try to keep your eyelets from freezing- spray cooking oil or chap stick seems to work well enough but aren’t perfect. Another option to make life easier is to use a shorter rod (7-8’) to make reaching to top eyelets a breeze. Also try using a click and pawl reel which has no drag system. This makes it easy to pop the spool out and break up any ice build up. Often when sealed drag reels get wet they will freeze solid.  

MISSISSIPPI & ST. CROIX FISHING- (winter conditions remain consistent)

  • Winter on the major rivers is a deep and slow affair. Fish are particularly lethargic and will only move a foot or two to take the bait, fly, or lure. Concentrate on the large, deep pools. 
  • Live bait is particularly effective. 
  • When fishing with flies, go with heavier flies, sinking lines, and even split shots. If you’re not ticking bottom, it’s likely you’re not fishing deep enough.

Fishing spots are getting pretty limited out there now! Your best open-water spot on the Mississippi is between the nuke plant and Ellison park in Monticello because the water is warm. Sucker minnows or large white, tan, or olive streamers will still catch bass, pike, and walleye on the Miss. The Croix is mostly frozen over nowadays. Some folks have been ice fishing on it already below Stillwater, but we would recommend giving it another week or two to get really solid. River ice is even sketchier than lake ice!   

Regardless of the area you’re fishing, fish species, or the method used, fish strikes are often very light. Be on alert for subtle takes, and remember- hook sets are free!

Safety should also be of utmost concern this time of year. Getting hypothermia is a big deal and can happen easily when you’re in or around water in the winter. Keep a pack of dry clothes and extra warm layers handy, fish with a friend or tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back, and bring a thermos of hot cocoa, soup, or cook a hot meal to warm you up mid-day. (Whisky is good for the soul, but actually makes you colder.) Stay safe and have fun! 

Bragging Board

Hiro and Evan scouted some lakes this week for guided ice fishing trips coming soon! We found schools of good-sized bluegill and managed some solid fish alongside a mix of yellow perch and largemouth bass. 

Upcoming Events  

Casting Sessions at the YMCA

Cost: $40.00/person

Remaining Dates and Times: 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 Dayton 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. Pre-registration is required:

Click here to Book Online!Phone: 612-293-8058Email: fishing4all.llc@gmail.com

We got this awesome review from a participant at our last casting event! “Hey Evan! Just wanted to give a shout out to your instructors today. This was my first casting lesson and it was a blast! Your instructors (I spent the majority of my time with Hiro and Rick) were awesome. They knew their stuff, were patient and gave us tips that we can work on in order to become better fly fishermen/women. I love what you are doing with Fishing For All and am a big fan!!!! Happy holidays”

Learn to Ice Fish Programs!

Fishing isn’t just a summer activity! Once our lakes freeze over, we can venture out and catch fish through the ice. We partner with various parks and rec departments around the MSP area. During our 2hr Learn to Ice Fish programs, we’ll show you how to use all the equipment, find/understand where the fish live in winter, and practice reeling in crappies, bluegills, and bass. All the equipment is provided, including one large Clam pop-up shelter and heaters! Programs are available Jan-March, depending on ice conditions. This is a wonderful winter family activity! 

Here’s a linktree to our ‘22-23 Learn to Ice Fish programs and sign up’s.

This link is to book a private guided ice fishing trip with FFA.

2023 Camp Sign-Ups are now available!!

Come fish new water, master new skills, eat good food, and join a community of adventurous anglers! Here is a list of our camps coming up in 2023. Click the links to sign up!

Come learn to fly fish for steelhead on the Brule River. Fishing For All is partnering with experienced Brule River guides from Namebini. Stay for two nights in a beautiful, modern cabin overlooking the river, and eat hearty meals courtesy of our guide’s culinary expertise. You won’t want to miss this steelhead fishing trip! 

Are you new to fly fishing or an intermediate angler hoping to deepen your knowledge of fly fishing for trout? These trout camps are hugely popular and for good reason: we not only practice new skills and develop our repertoire of techniques, but also engage with a group of like-minded anglers on this multi-day fly fishing adventure. 

Our new Dry or Die trout camp celebrates dry fly trout fishing as we hit the waters using only dry fly patterns to match the hatch or bust! This adventure is also great for those wanting a new challenge to take their dry fly fishing and bug identification skills to the next level. 

Enjoy a weekend camping, floating, bass fishing adventure on the wild and scenic St. Croix River! Join the FFA guide team as we experience a day and a half day of world-class smallmouth bass fishing while camping in Minnesota’s hardwood forest. 

The fish of 10,000 casts is only a trip away. Join Fishing For all on a muskie fly fishing adventure while camping near the shores of the river that holds our quarry. This trip includes two full days of fishing and learning how to fish for these incredible apex predators. 

**Dates and sign up’s coming soon for two new camps- Rainy River Sturgeon Camp (Spin Fishing) & Milwaukee Lake-Run Trout Camp. We’ll also do Louisiana Redfish and Ice Fishing Trips next winter!   

2023 Guided Fly Fishing Day Trips

Beginner Wade

Crash course in basic fly fishing! Learn how to cast, choose equipment, tie knots, select flies, read water and do some fishing. *2.5hr, $200 for 1-2ppl, $50 deposit.

Trout Wade

Wade a scenic trout stream in the Driftless area of Southeastern Minnesota or Western Wisconsin for wild brown and brook trout.

Bass, Pike, Musky Float

Float in a drift boat down the St. Croix or Mississippi River for aggressive smallmouth bass, northern pike, or muskies.

Carp Wade

Wade the Mississippi River and other urban waters to test your skills on the hardest fighting fish in freshwater, the common carp.  

Book your Guided Fly Fishing Day Trips Here!

Guide Trip Prices for 1-2ppl: 4hr $350, 6hr $450, 8hr $550

$125 deposit due at booking. *Please tip your guide.

Terminal tackle included on all trips. Hot lunch on 6-8hr trips. Wader rentals- $30/pair.

Additional anglers & large groups can be accommodated for an extra fee.

2023 Guided Spin Fishing Day Trips

Big River Bank Fishing

The excitement of big river bank fishing is not knowing what you’re going to catch. Cut bait and other options like worms, leeches, and minnows can catch anything from walleye to carp and catfish. Specifically, carp, catfish, and buffalo suckers are among the largest fish species in our Minnesota big rivers. In fact, there are plenty of fish above 15 pounds with the largest members ranging 30-50 pounds willing to battle it out on a rod! Join our guides on a monster quest fishing for Minnesota’s largest fish species!      

Book your Guided Spin Fishing Day Trip here!

Prices are for 1-4 people: 2.5hr $200, 4hr $300, 6hr $400. 

$100 deposit due at booking. *Please tip your guide.

Terminal tackle included on all trips. Hot lunch on 6hr trips. Wader rentals- $30/pair.

Additional anglers and large groups can be accommodated for an extra fee.


From the FFA Guide’s Tying Tables

FFA Guide Ricky Phetsavong takes us through thread control tips for the next time we sit at the tying bench. Hit the link to watch the video featuring our brand new FFA guide reel!


Cool Resources

MNDNR Lake Finder Mobile

    The Lake Finder Mobile app by the MNDNR is a great web app to check lake information by the MN DNR. They tell you the species that have been sampled in fishery surveys, the amount and size sampled of fish, and many other data points that will help you find the fish.

      Evan used this app this past weekend when we scouted new lakes for guided ice fishing trips. As guides, our goals to teach, educate, and entertain are best fulfilled when we know what waters we’re fishing, what to try, and where to go. This app is another indispensable option for Minnesota anglers!

Fishing Journal 12/1/22

Fishing Report

METRO ICE FISHING-

  • Here’s a hilarious, but true comment from one of our instagram followers: “Bro it sucks how there’s like a buffer time where 95% of open water fishing isn’t even possible or worth going out, yet you can’t ice fish.” We feel you, buddy! This is a hard time of year to be an angler in MN, but not all hope is lost. 
  • Welcome to winter everybody! We made it to December which means many of us are thinking hard about how much ice really constitutes “4 inches.” As always, be safe when thinking about going ice fishing and make sure there is at least four inches of clear ice before venturing out. 
  • The biggest factors for making good ice are consistently cold temps, low winds, and no precipitation. Small, shallow lakes will freeze over first. Be very mindful of these conditions before you go, and use extreme caution when out in early ice season. 

Early season ice fishing can be very good. The fish are still in their fall feeding holes and eager to put on ample feed bags before we go into deep freeze. This means larger presentations and live bait are particularly effective. Consider testing small soft plastics and tungsten ice fishing jigs this year. If you haven’t already experimented with these options, you’ll be quick to notice how effective this material combination is. Wax worms and crappie minnows are always good options for early ice too.

Be very, very careful on the early ice around the metro. It usually takes until mid December before we can safely fish near MSP. Evan went to Moore Lake in Fridley this Monday and found 2.5” of ice. Things that contribute the most to making early ice: consistently cold temps, low winds, and no precipitation. We need a long spell of very cold temps to get things rolling (like we did.) We then need those temps to stay cold to maintain the ice. If it warms up even for a few days (like we just had the other week) it can make the freezing inconsistent and create weak spots. Wind is a major factor on large lakes because wind makes waves, and waves don’t freeze. Waves can also shatter or pile up any freshly formed ice. “Precipitation on early ice- especially snow,” Evan says, “can act like a koozie on a beer can. Snow will insulate the water and ice from the cold air and slow down the freezing.” As long as it snows and stays really cold, then the ice will keep growing at a slower rate. We expect to have fishable ice in the next couple weeks in the metro, judging from the 10 day forecast. Know before you go, and trust your gut if you don’t think it’s safe. Floating bibs, spud bars, and ice picks should be utilized to check ice thickness as you go and help you get out if you break through.     

DRIFTLESS TROUT FISHING-

  • State Parks and town sections have been fishing very well- if you’re stealthy! Common patterns for winter fly fishing for trout: copper john, zebra midge, disco midge, pheasant tail, rainbow warrior, purple or olive perdigon, san juan worm, and a squirmy wormy.
  • Sometimes during warmer or snowy days, a winter midge hatch can occur. If this happens, throwing tiny, dark dry flies like an RS2 or Griffith’s Gnat can garner a strike. 
  • Use small and/or light strike indicators while fishing to minimize splashing on the surface. 

Current conditions on the trout streams require small flies and thin tippets. Without these, it can be hard to get a fish to even look at a fly. The water is very clear and low from the lack of runoff, so fish are on high alert. Keep your profile low and wear drab colors to prevent spooking fish. Also, pay extra attention to other aspects of your approach: your cast, fast movements, wading route, your shadow, and dislodged sediment floating down river. On some days, any of these things can spook a fish. Bite windows will start to become very short, mostly during the mid-day. No need to get out early or stay late this time of year! 

MISSISSIPPI & ST. CROIX FISHING-

  • Winter on the major rivers is a deep and slow affair. Fish are particularly lethargic and will only move a foot or two to take the bait, fly, or lure. Concentrate on the large, deep pools. 
  • Live bait is particularly effective. 
  • When fishing with flies, go with heavier flies, sinking lines, and even split shots. If you’re not ticking bottom, it’s likely you’re not fishing deep enough.

The Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers are cold, cold, cold, but look for deep holes or warm water influxes that concentrate the fish and throw live bait or really slowly fished streamers. You might be able to pick up a couple fish including those that love the cold like pike, walleye, and crappie. Certain pockets attract many different fish species so be ready for anything to hit a rod. Heavy jigs, split shots, or sinking fly lines will be your friend. 

Regardless of the area you’re fishing, fish species, or the method used, fish strikes are often very light. Be on alert for subtle takes, and remember- hook sets are free! 

Safety should also be of utmost concern this time of year. Getting hypothermia is a big deal and can happen easily when you’re in or around water in the winter. Keep a pack of dry clothes and extra warm layers handy, fish with a friend or tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back, and bring a thermos of hot cocoa, soup, or cook a hot meal to warm you up mid-day. (Whisky is good for the soul, but actually makes you colder.) Stay safe and have fun! 
 

Bragging Board

FFA guides Ash, Evan, and Hiro recently went on (probably) the last float trip of the year on the Mississippi. They each got a few smallmouth bass on flies and live bait! Also- check out the new Fishing For All swag Evan is rocking. 

Upcoming Events

Casting Sessions at the YMCA

Cost: $40.00/person

Remaining Dates and times: 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 Dayton 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. Pre-registration is required:

Click here to Book Online!   Phone: 612-293-8058   Email: fishing4all.llc@gmail.com  


     Learn to Ice Fish Programs!

Fishing isn’t just a summer activity! Once our lakes freeze over, we can venture out and catch fish through the ice. We partner with various parks and rec departments around the MSP area. During our 2hr Learn to Ice Fish programs, we’ll show you how to use all the equipment, find/understand where the fish live in winter, and practice reeling in crappies, bluegills, and bass. All the equipment is provided, including one large Clam pop-up shelter and heaters! Programs are available Jan-March, depending on ice conditions. This is a wonderful winter family activity! 

Here’s a linktree to our ‘22-23 Learn to Ice Fish programs and sign up’s.

This link is to book a private guided ice fishing trip with FFA.
 

     2023 Camps Coming Soon!

Camps are definitely the most fun thing we do. Come fish new water, master new skills, eat good food, and join a community of adventurous anglers! Here is a list of our camps coming up in 2023. We will post camp sign up’s in the next Fishing Journal on Dec 15th. Then the dates will go live to the general public on Jan 1st. Let us know which camps you’re interested in!

  • Intro to Steelhead 4/13-16
  • Intro to Trout 4/28-30 & 9/15-17
  • Dry Fly or Die Trout Camp 5/12-14
  • Bass Camp 6/16-18 & 7/14-16 & 8/18-20
  • Intro to Musky 10/12-15. 

We may even add a couple more overnight camps! We also plan to do some “Day Camps” for Downtown Carp, Hopper-Dropper Trout, Spey Casting, and more. Stay tuned!

      NEW Fishing For All Lodging!

If you’re looking for a fishy weekend getaway, private camp experience, or a place to stay after your guide trip- we’re super excited to offer Fishing For All Lodging next season!
CAMP RIVER PIG

Evan and his wife, Gretchen, will be hosts of Camp River Pig on the St. Croix River! Just 1hr north of the metro and down the road from the HWY 70 landing, this property is the perfect jumping off point for all your St. Croix River adventures. Relax in one of our glamped out canvas tents which are outfitted with a wood stove, XXL cots with cushy memory foam mattresses, power stations to plug in your devices, and more. We want to ensure your stay is comfortable yet rustic. This is where all our Bass and Musky Camps will be held.

TROUTOPIA

Ricky and his partner, Jenn, will be hosts of Troutopia on Trout Run Creek! 2hrs south of the metro, and just steps from the banks of Minnesota’s premiere trout stream. This quaint, two-bedroom house has all the amenities of home. You cannot beat its location: right on Trout Run Creek, and just 20 mins to Chatfield, Lanesboro, Preston, Rush Creek, and Whitewater State Park. A true Driftless trout fisher’s dream! All our trout camps will be held at this amazing property. 

Booking for these properties will be available soon!

Bret’s Tying Table

By Bret Oeltjenbruns
Watch Bret tie up his Skinny Jig Frenchie nymph pattern. It’s quick, easy, and stupid effective!

Hit the link to check out our first installment of Bret’s Tying Table fly tying videos!

Highlight a Watershed

Montissippi Regional Park

Okay, this one isn’t really a watershed. But it is a locally known favorite during the winter months when the water is cold and the days get colder. Just upstream from the park sits the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant. The cold river water is used to cool the plant and the resulting discharge is many degrees warmer than the water up or downstream from this location. This section stays ice free year-round and is easily accessible from shore for wading.  This area is also known as the Mississippi warm water discharge area. The fish will congregate here in the winter because of the warm water. On below zero days, the water and fishing will still be great. We’ve even seen blue wing olive mayfly hatches here in February on sub-zero days!  

It’s very popular, so expect to fish with plenty of other like-minded folks who frequent the waters. This is the last, best open water fishing spot before the lakes freeze over enough to ice fish. After December, fishing pressure here drops dramatically. 

Jerkbaits and soft plastics are very common lures used here.

For flies, any of your summer favorites should get a strike or two, especially white or olive streamers. It’s best to use a heavy sink tip fly line or add 1-2 large split shots onto your leader to get your fly near the bottom.

For the best results, medium sized suckers or fathead minnows on a jighead or split shot rig can be the ticket on days when the fish only want live bait. 
 

Tyler Winter’s Rough Report

Story and photos by Tyler Winter Instagram and Linktree

I was invited to contribute a monthly segment for the Fishing For All newsletter despite being underqualified. Maybe, underqualified is too harsh. I have exactly three qualifications. First, I fish obsessively. Second, I am an environmental scientist monitoring our region’s rivers and streams. Third, I believe fishing should be accessible, simple and productive.

The fishing world is full of salespeople, gatekeepers and influencers. They tell us to buy stuff, join a cult and travel to really, truly fish. But, all you really need to catch fish is a #8 hook and some line. You don’t have to join a catfishing, sturgeon, bass or trout fishing cult. Anglers who move between different fishing genres are rarely skunked because they switch to what is working. And, Minnesota’s changing seasons challenge anyone who is dogmatic about their fishing.

Minnesota has 165 species of fish (143 native) and 4,600 square miles of surface water. How far do you need to travel to find a place to fish?! Don’t get me wrong, I go to the BWCA every year. But  I only have time to fish there for about 4 or 5 days. We live in a state with 11,842 lakes and ~90,000 miles of rivers. That is a lot of shoreline! If you can find a bit of shoreline between work and home, you can fish any day the weather is good.

Fishing more obviously means you’ll catch more fish. But not exactly in the way you might expect. If you fish the same water every week, you’ll notice patterns. Capitalizing on the patterns is what increases catches.  I often explain this as “playing Clue”. Replace Colonel Mustard, a candlestick and a library with a redhorse, a creek and warm spring weather. Eventually the pattern will fail, and I make a mental note. For example, June of 2022 high water covered my favorite river spots. We called an audible and fished a place that was dry in 2021. We quickly got into the shorthead redhorse, and we had a new pattern: post-spawn redhorse, by the bridge, in high water.

That pattern held for a month until river levels dropped. One day the river was too low. After an hour without a fish, we went back to our old summer spots. A few minutes later, fish on.

Patterns are usually seasonal, although you may find patterns around weather or river flows. It doesn’t matter what clues you include in your patterns. What matters is they help you catch fish. And why do I track these patterns? Because fishing should also be productive. If you disagree, throw away your fish hooks. I’ll wait.

I lied at the beginning when I said I had three qualifications. It is actually four. I am also a native (rough) fish conservationist. Minnesota has 27 species of native “rough” fish. Historically these native fish were overlooked, if not maligned, by anglers and managers. Sometimes they are called “non-game fish”. However, I am here to tell you they are “game” for the avid angler. The northern hogsucker is probably Minnesota’s smallest sucker species and it can top two pounds.

The author and son with a northern hogsucker.
The largest sucker species, the bigmouth buffalo, can top 50lbs in Minnesota. They typically feed on zooplankton, so catching one of any size requires stealth and finesse.

Because these native “non-game” are often overlooked, they can provide some amazing unpressured fishing in the heart of the Twin Cities.

A freshwater drum caught below the Minneapolis skyline.
Targeting our native fish is fairly simple. Put half of a nightcrawler on a #8 hook. 12” up from the hook you’ll need a sinker. The sinker should be large enough that you can feel the bottom of the river. It can be fixed, but I prefer slip sinker rigs.
Over the course of this series, I’ll share seasonally relevant patterns, reports and fishing tips intended to make fishing simple, accessible and productive.

Cool Resources

Trout routes

    While no doubt many of you are familiar with trout routes, it bears mentioning for folks that haven’t used this mapping software before. Trout Routes allows you to explore trout streams in your area and even provides access points and other information so you spend less time looking for a spot and more time on the water. 

Ice Report

     From their website: “Ice Report is a mobile app that lets anglers in Northern climates share frozen lake ice data instantly. Stop scouring internet forums and Facebook Groups for information and join the Ice Report community to view and share vital ice measurements from lakes in your area!”

This app has filled a huge gap in the ice fishing community- staying up to date on current ice conditions. I’m sure we’ve all sought fishing advice on Facebook groups before, and are still recovering from the trauma and harassment we received. Avoid that all together and just use Ice Report! We’ve found it to be very reliable and offers the most up to date info on ice thickness. And it’s free! Like Evan always says, “Rule #1 is looking cool,” and you look really cool if you don’t fall through the ice.     


Ricky’s Riverside Recipes

By Ricky Phetsavong

Streamside Dumpling Soup

The follow up to a winter stream side meal!  Hot soup but with a twist.  A simple dish that will take 5 mins to prep and 10 mins to cook on a jet boil!


Ingredients 

  • 3-4 frozen dumplings of your choice 
  • Frozen vegetables 
  • 1/2 a block of Chicken Bouillon seasoning 
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Soy sauce 
  • 16 fl oz Water 

Tools

  • Bowl
  • Silverware or chopsticks 
  • Jet boil

 The prep work is simple.  Mix the bouillon, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a container and mix it up.  If you want to spice things up, just simply add the chili oil of your choice. In another container add your frozen dumplings and frozen vegetables.

Since this is going to be an easy one-pot dish, let’s make an easy broth to get started. 

Start by adding water to the jet boil.  When you see the water start to boil add the bouillon mix.  Stir until the season is dissolved and the water is at a rolling boil.  From here just simply add your dumplings and veggies to the broth.  Turn your heat down and cook the dumplings until the are tender.  

A simple stream side meal with minimal prep work that will keep you warm and feed on your next fishing adventures 

Thank you to all of those in the Fishing For All community! Without you, we wouldn’t be able to make the memories, share the fish stories, or grow the awesome world of fishing for new and veteran folks alike.

Fishing Journal- 11/15/22

Fishing Report

  • The up and down temperature swings are making the fish turn on and off with the weather. The bite windows (times when fish are most active) will become shorter as temps continue to drop. Take advantage of any sunny, warm days from here on out! The temps are taking a sharp downward turn for the rest of the month. Fish will become even more sluggish and move to deeper water (which is warmer) or seek out warm water influxes.
  • Two clear strategies emerge this time of year: throw the biggest or smallest patterns you have! As fish prepare for winter, their feeding behavior changes. Depending on the species and size of the fish, some will target large minnows, suckers, or other bait fish to put on some extra pounds. Though the drawback of this strategy is that chasing baitfish takes a lot of energy. Fish being cold blooded, they will want to conserve as much energy and calories as possible in the colder months. An easier approach for fish in the winter is to hunker down in deep water and slurp tiny insect larva like they’re m&m’s or peanuts. By not using a lot of energy/calories, they can easily supplement their diet with smaller food.  Whichever strategy you choose, remember to move things slowly! Make their food easy to catch and hard to refuse.  
  • Consider doing some scouting for ice fishing. It will be here before you know it! Early season spots are shallow vegetation and drop-offs that concentrate fish as they head deeper throughout the winter. 

      The FFA team fished several trout streams in northeastern Iowa and found hungry trout willing to take a variety of patterns. We waded and floated through some less than desirable weather conditions but had great fishing regardless. It was extremely fun to fish nearly every style of fly: indicator nymphs, euro nymphs, swinging soft hackles, stripping streamers, and drifting dry flies! Iowa has a year round fishing season and is a great option to try while Wisconsin and most of Minnesota trout streams are closed. Streams are still very low and clear across the driftless so 6-7x tippet was required to catch fish.   
 

       A few bass, pike, and muskies are still active in the lakes and rivers. The sharp decline in temps have got them hunkering down in their deep winter holes. Larger streamers, jigs with paddle tail soft plastic minnows, tube jigs, or live minnows/suckers are the best way to elicit a strike from them. It won’t be a numbers game, but your chances of getting a true giant are pretty likely.  The recent rain and snow have raised water levels on the St. Croix, Mississippi, and their tributaries a good amount.


      The Brule received a much needed drenching of rain, just as the fat lady is singing for the season! Flows rose to prime levels around 250 cfs. This bump in flows will inspire a big push of steelhead to swim into the river and help them travel upstream throughout through the winter.  Steelhead season closes on the Brule on Nov 15. 

Bragging Board

               Take a look at these braggin’ board photos from Iowa Camp that took place November 4th-6th!

Upcoming Events

NEW! Casting Sessions at the YMCA

     Cost: $40.00/person

     Dates and times: 12/10 (1 spot left), 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 Dayton 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. Pre-registration is required:

Click here to Book Online!

Phone: 612-293-8058

Email: fishing4all.llc@gmail.com  

Learn to Ice Fish Programs!

     Fishing isn’t just a summer activity! Once our lakes freeze over, we can venture out and catch fish through the ice. We partner with various parks and rec departments around the MSP area. During our 2hr Learn to Ice Fish programs, we’ll show you how to use all the equipment, find/understand where the fish live in winter, and practice reeling in crappies, bluegills, and bass. All the equipment is provided including one large Clam pop-up shelter and heaters! Programs are available Jan-March, depending on ice conditions. This is a wonderful winter family activity! 

     Here’s a linktree to our ‘22-23 Learn to Ice Fish programs and sign up’s.

     This link is to book a private guided ice fishing trip with FFA.

2023 Camps Coming Soon!

      You’ve been emailing, you’ve been calling, the wait is almost over! We are finalizing our 2023 camp dates this month. We expect to release camp dates and registration in early December for our existing clients, so you all can get first dibs. Then we’ll open them to the general public in early January.
     
     If you have camp suggestions or ideas, let us know. These camps fill up super fast, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our Fishing Journal in December. We are very excited to be offering some new camps and lodging options in 2023! 

Tips and Tricks!

               Euro Nymphing (Link to a great article by Nomad Anglers)

     Nymphing carries some contention in the fly fishing world. You either love it, hate it, or do euro style. I personally believe if you want to catch numbers of trout, that nymphing is the way to go. I love nymphing because trout love nymphs. In fact, so do panfish, bass, and carp! No matter where or when you are on the water, there are going to be nymphs (or insect larva) in the water and fish will eat them. The conventional method of drifting nymphs under a strike indicator (ie: bobber fishing- but you didn’t hear that from me!) can feel tedious or even monotonous, and isn’t always the most effective way to do it. Not so with euro nymphing! I am a recent convert to euro nymphing, thanks to the tutelage from our guides Bret and Ricky. After just two days of using their equipment while scouting for Iowa Camp, I immediately ordered my own and will absolutely be adding this technique to my guiding repertoire. 

     Euro nymphing is a tight line nymph fishing method, also known as czech nymphing or tight line nymphing. The actual origins of the method vary depending on who you ask, but the technique is known by the rod’s constant line tension, lack of strike indicators, and drag free drift. Instead of watching a strike indicator and misidentifying strikes or missing them due to waters that make line mending difficult, the euro technique simplifies fishing with nymphs. 

     Euro rods are typically 3-4wt, 10-12 feet long and utilize a very long leader of 15-20lb monofilament fishing line that connects to 5-7x tippet. Using just mono allows our heavy tungsten flies to drop fast through the water column and stay deep. You don’t need a heavy reel or fly line because you just cast the mono. There’s also no mending needed because the mono will be straight and tight, controlled by the raising or lowering of your arm. 

     The most fun part of this setup is watching the “sighter,” which is leader material that is red and green. This is your euro “strike indicator.” You watch the sighter line to determine how deep or fast to drift, or when a fish bites. This is all controlled by where you hold your arm. Proper form calls for there to be a slight downstream angle from your rod to “lead” the line as you’re drifting. This creates a slight droop in the sighter which will hesitate momentarily or straighten when there is a bite. The long, light weight rods are also extremely sensitive allowing you to FEEL when a fish bites your fly!

     It’s best to tie a tippet ring to the end of the sighter, then put on your tippet. Having a tippet ring will save you a bunch of material and headache overtime. Typically, euro fishing uses tungsten jig flies. Depending on where or how deep you’re fishing, this rig can be a single or a tandem set up. If they are barbless hooks, we recommend tying on your dropper fly to the hook eye of your lead fly or leave long tag ends from a surgeon’s knot if doing a drop shot rig (heavy fly as dropper with smaller fly on top.)

     Tangles do seem to happen often with this set up, though that could just be my lack of experience with it. Because your main line is regular monofilament, it can be hard to see and control, especially in wind. Casting also takes some getting used to. Practicing a tuck cast will save you some headaches. Essentially, you water load your line at the end of the drift, lift and swing the line up over your head, then forward swing. The tuck comes from a slight upward flick of the wrist on the forward swing. If done correctly, this flick of the rod tip will let the flies land before the belly of your main line. This flick lends to better accuracy with the light mono and helps the flies sink faster. Because you don’t cast a heavy weighted fly line in euro nymphing, the cast can feel wobbly and inaccurate at times. A couple other drawbacks are that you can’t fish past a certain distance, and it can be hard to switch to a dry or streamer due to the long mono line.

     That all being said, this style of nymphing routinely outfishes the standard indicator rig, even up to 10:1 in my professional opinion. That constant and instant contact between you, your flies, and the fish is what makes this technique produce. 

     So if you’re a salty old fly fishing dog like me, you know the true joy of this sport is knowing that we will never master it. It’s fun to feel like a newbie again after 20+ years of fly fishing. There are simply too many nuances everywhere you go to ever claim to be a master. You can only hope the skills you do have can be adapted to whatever scenario you encounter. For me, euro nymphing is a fun combination of all styles of fly fishing. The effectiveness of nymphs, the visual focus on the sighter like dry flies, and the physical tug on the flies like streamer fishing. I’m very excited to continue learning and sharing this technique with newbies and salty dogs alike, because it’s just silly how effective it is!

     Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop is starting to carry more euro equipment and supplies too, so be sure to swing into the fly shop and check it out.   
 

Highlight a Watershed

               Iowa Driftless Region and the Upper Iowa River

     Yes, though this watershed is well outside of the twin cities area, our experiences fishing here compel us to share it with you! Especially because we held our first ever Iowa Driftless Trout Camp just last weekend and had an awesome time on the water. The Iowa Driftless is connected to the same driftless region as Minnesota and Wisconsin, so spring creek anglers will be very comfortable fishing in NE Iowa. Steep limestone cliffs and outcrops, indigenous history, and amazing trout fishing all call this area home. 

     The largest waterbody in this area is the Upper Iowa River. This is a tributary of the Mississippi River and has many different species of fish in it very akin to the Root River in MN. Depending where you go, you can catch trout, walleye, smallmouth bass and pike all in one outing. The Upper Iowa is navigable by kayak and drift boat, though most access sites are best suited for carry-in watercrafts. This region also has several great smaller trout streams, notably North Bear, Big Paint, and Waterloo creeks. The smaller streams are easily waded and the easements are well marked and maintained. Most of the streams in NE Iowa receive regular stockings of catchable-sized rainbow trout (12-14”) and have a healthy population of wild browns.

      Due to the differing sediment layers and land use practices/regulations compared to MN or WI, Iowa streams tend to have muddy banks and sandy stream beds. Public access is also more tightly regulated. In Iowa, landowners own the river bottom, so angling access is limited to only easemented sections or state land. As always, know before you go! The best thing is that crowds are usually lighter than other nearby fishing areas of Lanesboro, MN and Viroqua, WI.    

      The fishing season is open year-round, so watch the weather for a warm, sunny weekend this winter and head down to the Hawkeye state! Feel free to reach out to us with questions about fishing in this area or to book a guided trip. 

Click here to Book Online!

Phone: 612-293-8058

Email: fishing4all.llc@gmail.com 


Cool Resources

     With Give to the Max Day coming up on Thursday Nov 17- Fishing For All wanted to take this opportunity to endorse a few Minnesota Nonprofits who we align with for this day of showing support. Please join us in giving generously to these fine organizations who do good work protecting and restoring our favorite rivers! 

      Friends of the Mississippi River

  • Why we endorse: FMR is a group dedicated to protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Mississippi and its watershed in the Twin Cities. FFA is the only fishing service operating on the Mississippi in downtown MPLS. The river through downtown is an unsung, world-class fishery that deserves recognition and protection. We fully support FMR’s vision for the river and their hard work in maintaining/increasing access and habitat restoration. FMR is also facilitating conversations around removal of the Ford Dam and Lock & Dam No. 1. 

     Wild Rivers Conservancy

  • Why we endorse: We believe the crown jewel of warm water rivers in Minnesota is without a doubt the St. Croix and its tributaries. WRC is the friends group of the national park service, working in tandem to ensure the preservation of the river’s ecology. They enable and perform habitat restoration, forest management, invasive species removal, land protection/preservation, and water quality sampling across the watershed. Without their oversight, the St. Croix wouldn’t be wild or scenic or have such great fishing. 

      Minnesota Trout Unlimited

  • Why we endorse: Trout Run, Hay Creek, Sucker River, Rush Creek, Garvin Brook, Whitewater- if you fish any of these streams, or many others across the state, you can thank MNTU. They are committed to conserving, protecting, restoring, and sustaining Minnesota’s coldwater fisheries. This is the state council overseeing big habitat restoration projects, having now completed over 82-miles of restoration work across the state. They also do state-level advocating for regulations to benefit trout, and oversee state-wide fishing and conservation education programs.  

Ricky’s Riverside Recipes

The winter chill is upon us. Hiking into some of our favorite trout spots can be cold and feel like a lot of work.  Here is my partner Jen and I’s favorite streamside ramen recipe to keep you energized and warm while fishing and hiking!

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of your favorite instant ramen
  • Beef meatballs
  • Green onions 
  • Cilantro
  • Bean sprouts
  • Water 


Tools 

  • Bowl
  • Silverware or chopsticks 
  • Jet boil

      A lot of the meal can be prepared ahead of time. For the meat balls, I like to chop them so they reheat fast. You can substitute shrimp, pre-cooked chicken, or whatever you like for the protein. The onion, cilantro, and other veggies will be chopped as a garnish and can be put in a separate bag.

 Grab your jet boil and get that water boiling. Start by cooking the meat balls since they will take the longest to cook. You can usually tell they are ready when they puff up.

     Take your ramen packet contents and put those in the bowl. Cook the noodles to your desired firmness and shut off the jet boil. Add your veggies.

     This is an inexpensive meal that is warm and delicious on any cold winter stream.  The next time you are packing it in on a winter fishing adventure, leave the cold sandwiches at the gas station and treat yourself to something warm!!

Fishing Journal- 11/1/22

Fishing Report

  • 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! 

Bragging Board


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. 

Upcoming Events

NEW! Casting Sessions at the YMCA

Cost: $40.00/person

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.

Click here to Book Online!

Phone: 612-293-8058

Email: fishing4all.llc@gmail.com  

Guide Tips!

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

Whitewater State Park

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!

Cool Resources

Minnesota Trout Unlimited’s Habitat Maps

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! 

Introductions

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. 

Fishing Journal- 10/12/22

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 guide@bobmitchellsflyshop.com


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!

Fishing Journal- 7/26/22

Mid-Summer Fishing Report
It’s been an epic fishing season so far this year! Our guide team has been busy running trips of all types, classes, and camps. Clients have been sending me lots of fishing pictures and stories from their own adventures too. Across the board fish are happy, waters are level, and things have been going swimmingly. 

Trout anglers rejoice! This is a great time for dry fly fishing with a smattering of bugs hatching throughout the day. If you’re heading to a trout stream soon, be sure to keep an eye out for tricos (which are a tiny mayfly species). This species is a big deal for trout fly anglers! This hatch is extremely consistent and happens almost daily from 6am til 9/10:00am from July through September. Temperature does affect these hatches, the warmer it gets the shorter the hatch window is and vice versa. These are super tiny bugs, between hooks size 18-22. Grasshoppers and other terrestrials will also be effective now.

Another thing to watch out for during the dog days of summer on trout streams is the water temperature. Trout require high levels of dissolved oxygen to survive and do best in water temps between 55-65 degrees. But when air temps start hitting the 90’s during the day and stay above 70 degrees at night, the water temps and dissolved oxygen levels can become unsafe for trout fishing. When water temps get 70 degrees or above, trout become lethargic and the ones that do eat a fly have a lower chance of survival after being released. So try to keep a thermometer handy to check water temps in the afternooon.    

Or you can target fish who can take the heat! Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass love warm water and the fishing has been awesome lately. The St. Croix River is super low and clear, making for some great sight fishing and wading opportunities. The Mississippi has dropped to normal levels and is fishing very well. If you like topwater eats from river smallies, this is the time to go. Almost any type of popper or diver fly is working on the rivers and lakes right now. Panfish and largemouth bass are also a great hot summer day species to target on the fly in our lakes. If you’re looking for the hardest fight in freshwater, carp and catfish can be caught on the Mississippi through downtown right now as well. Take your pick of water or species, everything is hungry! 

It’s crazy to think we are already halfway through our season, but the fishing has been awesome so far and there’s still lots of time left for some great fishing! Smallie and Carp fishing will be good on the rivers through Sept. Trout, pike, and muskies will really pick up in Sept and continue into the fall. If you want to get out before fall or have any questions, you know who to call!

Shout Out Section!
We received this awesome note and picture from, Jenny B and her son Ryan, who were students in a Fly Fish College earlier this spring. Major shout out to them for sticking with it and creating memories:
Thank you for the great fly fishing college this past May.  My son Ryan has been working hard on practicing with his fly rod, he wanted me to send you this picture and let you know he caught it with a fly from your shop ( :  We’ll have to book guided time in the future to help anchor down some trout fishing skills.  Thank you again, and we hope you are enjoying your summer!”

Fishing Journal- 5/30/22

Summer Fishing Report
Wasn’t that a nice week of spring weather we had? Seems like we have been catapulted into the summer season: thunderstorms, humidity, mosquitos, and all! The last major spell of storms that went through a few weeks ago did a number on our local watersheds. Trout streams were flooded and fishing spots definitely got moved around. That’s not all bad though, as flooding can flush silt out of the systems. Silt is very fine, sticky mud particles that settle on the bottom, cover up gravel/rocks, and suffocate the bugs and trout eggs. By flushing the silt out, it can expose gravel and cobble sized rocks again, which are very good for bugs and fish. Think of normal spring flooding like a golf course rearranging its holes. We’ll all figure out the new layout soon enough!

Streams have returned to their normal clear and cool. Caddis hatches have been EPIC so far this year, and the next a month we’ll see a variety of mayfly hatches. A good resource to help you know what bugs you might see hatching on the stream is the MNDNR hatch chart. Be cool, and nerd out on bugs here: Hatch Chart for Southeast Minnesota Trout Streams (state.mn.us)

Fishing Opener was May 14th! Don’t forget to show those bass, pike, and panfish some love too. Our warmwater rivers were affected by flooding as well. It’s taken nearly three weeks, but now most of the tributaries of the Mississippi are at fishable flows, including the wild and scenic St. Croix. The Sippi itself is still pretty high and, barring another major rain event, it should be good to go in about a week. Due to the flooding, we’ve been spending a lot of time chasing largemouth bass, panfish, and carp in the lakes and ponds around the metro. With warmer temps finally here, these fish are ready to eat your streamers in those shallow bays! Reports on river smallmouth bass and pike have been more varied, but success has been had using heavy black streamers in deepish water. With warming temps and rapidly dropping water levels, the smallie/pike fishing will greatly improve.     

Shout Out Section!
Our guides have been busy out on the local waters! There’s been so many great fishing stories coming in from happy clients and guides alike. Below are a couple photos of Shout Out worthy fish from recent trips:

Adam with his first fly caught smallmouth bass on a recent float! 

Bob with his first carp on the fly! 

Guide Tip
Summer is a great time to chase bass, pike, and muskies. And these species like eating MEAT! To imitate their desired cut of steak, we use various sizes of streamer patterns. (Big trout will eat streamers too!) Our guides use the non-slip loop knot to tie on these patterns, because it allows the fly to swim/wiggle more as its being fished. Try it out and let us know how you like it! 

Fishing Journal- 4/12/22

Spring Fishing Report
The snow is finally gone, though winter seems to be holding on as long as it can. (Sounds like a typical April to me!) Because it’s been a relatively dry spring, our trout streams are in great shape. Water throughout the area is just slightly higher than average, but clear and crisp. This combo makes for very happy and hungry trout! If you want large trout, spring is a great time to find them as they beef up after eating midges all winter. It’s also a great time for dry fly fishing. Blue wing olive mayflies are hatching on the cloudy days and, starting in May, we’ll see caddis on the sunny days. These are two of the best hatches of the season in my opinion! Knowing your hatches is what separates casual anglers from the true nerds. Ha!

Most of the lakes in the metro have also started to open up. Once we get a nice spell of temps in the 50’s-60’s, this will kick the carp, bowfin, and panfish into high gear. The best places to find these guys in spring are shallow ponds, marshes, or bays with muddy bottoms. These areas warm up fastest in the spring and attract all sorts of activity.

Steelhead are also running up Lake Superior tribs! Though the region had an epic snow year, so high water will likely be a concern for the next couple weeks. Big dark colored stoneflies, egg patterns, or swinging streamers are your best bet. 

Walleye, Bass, and Pike opener is on 5/14, just a month away! Whatever you’re chasing this spring, we wish you good luck and tight lines! Feel free to ask us questions. 

Bragging Rights
Major props to Andrew who went on a recent guide trip with us. He caught many of his first and largest trout on the fly while fishing the Rush River with our guide Evan!   

Fishing Journal- 2/16/22

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.