Lower Kinni 7.24.16

I fished the Kinni for about an hour before dark. I caught six or seven browns, including one around 12″, using a size 16 Euro pheasant tail and size 20 zebra midge. All but one took the midge. There was very little rising until right at dark when there was a pretty good midge hatch. I ran into another fisherman that had luck on scuds as well.

The stream was in great shape after Saturday’s rains. The fishing should continue to be good as we have some cooler weather coming through this week.

A solid Kinni brown.

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Rush River 7.16.16

I fished the Rush tonight from about 8:00 to dark. There was very little rising when I got to the stream, so I started the night nymphing with a Euro pheasant tail nymph and zebra midge. The fish were very willing and I caught fish on probably every two or three drifts. I caught many around 6-9 inches, and one around 13-14. Fish were holding in riffles between 1-2 feet deep. Pocket water was really productive as well. I talked to another fisherman on the way out that had success swinging BWO dries through pools just before dark.

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It looks like last night’s rain didn’t effect the streams very much, so the fishing should continue to be good. Focus on the cooler times of the day. If you’re looking for that big one, mousing after dark should be pretty good as well.

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Upper Mississippi Smallmouth 7.6.16

Back in March I entered our video “Backyard Browns” into the Great Waters Fly Expo Film Festival. I wasn’t able to make it to the expo, but got a call a few weeks later saying we had taken first place. Our prize — a float trip on the Upper Mississippi hosted by Scott Struif of The Fly Angler in Blaine, MN. We were super excited to go after smallmouth, and yesterday was our day to do it.

We met Scott and set off in Monticello, MN. The first hour or so was pretty slow — I caught one and lost another on a deer hair frog — but Andre got on the board with a couple smallies and a small pike on a copper Murdich Minnow, one of which being this dandy 17-incher!

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He also caught this nice 14-incher.

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We took a break to eat at about the half way point, and only had a couple fish in the boat. Scott assured us the best water was yet to come. Regardless, we got to take in some great views while casting.

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As we continued downstream we hooked into a bunch of smaller fish around six inches. They must have had a nice class of fish last year and should have great fishing in a couple years. I think at one point I had seven fish in the boat, with only one over nine inches. I missed quite a few more, though. We switched between poppers, clousers, and TeQueelies. The little guys loved the TeQueelies.

We were working a really good shoreline around some boulders when I noticed a wake behind my silver Murdich Minnow, and quickly the fly disappeared. I set the hook, and felt the strong pull of a river smallmouth. After a couple runs by the fish, I finally got him in the net. He measured 14-inches, my first “picture-worthy” fish of the day.

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Just a bit further downstream, Aric got snagged into some fallen trees. As Scott rowed over to get the fly out, I flicked my fly right along some other trees, not even 15 feet from the boat. After two twitches of the fly, a smallie came out and slammed it! I quickly got him into the boat, and figured if he was bigger than my first I’d get a photo. He measured the exact same size at 14 1/4″ so I quickly sent him back into the river. He was a memorable fish nonetheless.

Scott wasn’t kidding when he said we had great water ahead. The shoreline had plenty of fallen trees and boulders — perfect smallmouth habitat. I cast right next to a boulder with an overhanging tree above it, and after a couple strips of the fly, BANG! I instantly felt a strong tug at the end of my line. He made a big jump out of the water and all three of us realized I’d hooked into a big smallie. Scott anchored the boat so we wouldn’t lose a half mile of water before getting the fish in the net, but this allowed the fish to get downstream of me and into the current. He put a ton of pressure on the rod and took line off my reel. After a few minutes he finally relented and I was able to drag him near the boat and into Scott’s net. He measured 18 inches on the dot. What a tank.

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That fish ended up being our last of the night — not a bad way to finish the float. We fished over nine miles of river in about nine hours and got to take in the sunset as we arrived at the take out point.

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It was an awesome trip and we can’t thank Scott enough for taking us. Scott is also the manager at The Fly Angler, so if you’re ever in the north metro area, check out his shop. They have the best selection of fly tying materials I’ve seen. With the trout fishing slowing down a bit lately, it was awesome to get out and see some new water. We’ll definitely be doing some more smallmouth fly fishing in the future, and maybe get a kayak or two to float some of the local smallmouth rivers. I’ll be looking for a used drift boat in the meantime.

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Rush River 7.2.16

I fished the Rush tonight from about 8:00 until dark. There was very little surface activity when I arrived, so I started out with a Euro pheasant tail nymph and zebra midge. I caught five or six small browns and brookies on the nymph rig before getting to a deeper pool where there were quite a few risers. It looked like they were rising to midges, and since it was getting dark I didn’t feel like tying on a Griffith’s Gnat and barely being able to see it on the water, so I tied on a hippy stomper. I quickly pulled three browns out of the pool on the stomper before it was too dark to see the fly, including one around 11-12 inches to finish off the night.

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Lower Kinni 6.28.16

I fished the Kinni for a short outing from about 8:15 to 9:15. Like the Rush last night, there was very little rising, so I nymphed with a size 16 Frenchie and size 20 black zebra midge. I ended up catching 8 or 9 fish, and they were all around 6-8 inches. The best fishing was in fast, shallow riffles.

There were a few caddis, sulphurs, and midges out, and surface activity picked up a bit after the sun set. If you’re really jonesing for dry fly action, I’d recommend bringing some elk hair caddis, sulfur and BWO parachutes, and griffiths gnats.

Looking to learn how to fly fish or just learn more about the local streams? Let me host you on a guided outing! I’m offering 20% off rates if you schedule your trip before the end of June!

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Rush River 6.27.16

I fished the Rush tonight from about 7:30 to 9:15. There was very little surface activity when I arrived so I fished with a size 16 Frenchie with a size 18 black zebra midge below it. I ended up catching 8-10 fish, most of them around 8 inches. They did begin feeding on the surface a bit as it got darker on sulphurs, and I talked to another fisherman that had luck with sulphur dry flies.

All of the fish I caught were in shallow riffles under a foot deep. Most of the time it took a dozen or so drifts through a riffle before I could get a take, so make sure to stay patient when nymphing these spots.

Looking to learn how to fly fish or just learn more about the local streams? Let me host you on a guided outing! I’m offering 20% off rates if you schedule your trip before the end of June!

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Rush River 6.24.16

Aric and I fished the Rush from about 7:30 pm until just after dark. I started the night fishing a hopper dropper rig with a red hippie stomper and a Frenchie, and caught two small browns on it before switching to a Euro pheasant tail and zebra midge. Aric fished a pheasant tail with a zebra midge the entire outing before breaking off at dark. I ended up catching around a dozen total while Aric caught 8-10.

The evening started pretty slow until about 8:30 and the fishing continued to get better until I couldn’t see my indicator in the dark. The best fish of the evening was a chunky 12-incher that I didn’t have enough light to get a photo of. There was very little rising with minimal hatch activity outside a couple caddis and midges fluttering around.

Aric working a good looking run. I think we pulled four or five fish out of this spot.
Aric working a good looking run. I think we pulled four or five fish out of this spot.

We are definitely into summer patterns now. Focus on early in the morning or late in the evening. If you want to fish mid-day, find shaded areas for the best fishing. Also, the plastic hatch is in full swing on the Lower Kinni, so don’t expect to find much solitude between 9 am and 6 pm.

Looking to learn how to fly fish or just learn more about the local streams? Let me host you on a guided outing! I’m offering 20% off rates if you schedule your trip before the end of June!

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Rush River 6.18.16

Aric, my dad, and I fished the Rush this morning from about 8:00 to noon. The stream was a little high and had a slight stain — perfect fishing conditions. I fished a hippie stomper with a Frenchie nymph two feet below and caught around 20, with the biggest around 13″. I had my best success in shaded areas adjacent to deeper pools, especially as it got later in the day. I’d cast near the bank in slower water and just wait for the hippie to sink and set the hook; it reminded me of fishing for bluegills with a bobber. I did catch three or four on the hippie and had quite a few come to the surface to investigate. There was sporadic rising throughout the morning to caddis.

This fatty was one of Aric's bigger fish of the day.
This fatty was one of Aric’s bigger fish of the day.

Aric and my dad fished with nymphs (pheasant tail with a zebra midge dropper) and caught about ten each in the riffles, with Aric’s biggest near 13″ as well.

If you’re interested in buying some hippie stompers as we approach terrestrial season, please contact me here or through Facebook!

Another nice fish for Aric.
Another nice fish for Aric.
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St. Croix River Smallmouth 6.11.16

Yesterday I was invited by Brian Elwood and his brother P.J. to float the St. Croix River and fly fish for smallmouth. Going after smallies has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, so I quickly jumped at the chance to join them. I spooled up one of my reels with some 8 wt line for my recently acquired Limit Creek 8 wt Fly Rod and was set to go. We met at the landing at 7:00 am, dropped off my car, then headed a couple miles upstream to put the boat in.

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After going the first couple hours with many takes but no fish in the boat, Brian got on the board with this smallie. He did most of his fishing on streamers using a sinking line, while I mostly used poppers and other flies near the surface on a floating line.

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We fished through a small side channel where they’ve had success before, and soon I got on the board myself. I thought it was my first smallmouth on a fly, but remembered I caught a really small one in Southeast Minnesota last year while going after trout. We’ll just put an asterisk on that one since it was about 5 inches.

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As we went through the side channel we could see smallies chasing baitfish right where it dumps into the main channel again, forming a nice dropoff. When we got to that spot, I made one cast with my popper, and after a few swipes from a smallie, I finally hooked him. This one was a little bigger than my first, around 12-13 inches.

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We could still see the baitfish being chased around and Brian had a follow or two on his streamer, so P.J. was nice enough to row back upstream so we could get another shot at them. My first cast back into the area got me another fish. I could now see why people get so obsessed with smallie fishing!

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We eventually made our way downstream and into another side channel, and Brian was able to bring a couple more fish to hand, while I lost a few myself.

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What a beautiful place, minus the hundreds of kayakers.

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We kept pounding the banks as we floated downstream and found another area around a couple fallen trees where the smallmouth were chasing baitfish. Brian tossed his streamer into the logs and hooked into what we thought was a pike. Nope, it was a gar! He put up quite the fight.

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P.J. with the great net job.

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About 20 yards downstream I hooked into another smallie. I could immediately tell he was bigger than the others I’d caught. After losing a couple earlier in the day, I stripped the fish in as quickly as possible and didn’t give him time to shake free. “Just get it in the boat,” P.J. would always say. We got him in the net and measured him at 17 inches, the biggest of the day. It was caught on the “Swingin’ D” by Mike Schultz.  You can bet I’ll be tying a few of these up in the near future.

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As we got closer to our takeout point we drifted by some more fallen trees where P.J. lost a big one the day before. Brian and I had cast after perfect cast into the logs, and I kept thinking (and probably even said) it would be a shame if we couldn’t pull one out of here. Right after that crossed my mind, Brian hooked into a nice fish. We got it in the boat and it measured 15 inches, his biggest of the outing. It was a great way to end the day.

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We soon got to the landing to complete our day of fishing. Brian and I each ended up with 5 or 6 fish in the boat, and gave a long distance release to numerous more. I can’t thank Brian and P.J. enough for inviting me to join them, and P.J. for guiding us the whole way. P.J. guides fly fishermen in Southwest Wisconsin as well. If anyone is looking for a guide in the Westby-Viroqua Area, check out P.J.’s Guide Service!

Anyone know of a good deal on a drift boat?

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