2019 Driftless Pictures and Reports

pm287

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Wow, I really like this thread. I am coming in May to the Driftless for the first time. Thanks for this wonderful thread!!!!!
Thanks and have a great day
 

ontheflymn

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Things got rolling pretty well mid last week in the Driftless as we were finally able to thaw out a bit. Temperatures were barely above freezing by day and definitely below at night, so there was a lull in the thawing and runoff, so I opted to hit a local stream I knew would clear enough to be fishable as the region prepares for temperatures in the 50's late this week into the weekend making conditions a crapshoot at best.

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Unknownflyman

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Nice Fish!

Totally flooded on the northern driftless, 15x the normal amount of water with temps in the 50’s later this week it’s not going to be fishable for some time. I’m hoping this year class survives. It looked like a good fall spawn.
 

Unknownflyman

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Things are rapidly improving on the northern driftless rivers still high, stained and falling looking good by the weekend. Temps are nice. I`m going to go chase steelhead where its still winter with three feet of snow on the ground.

First BWO`s coming this week, most fish taken by large nymph or big black streamers lately in the high water. Treacherous wading yet, be careful eh.
 

Unknownflyman

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Its been a bit since I've been on one of my home rivers it is steelhead season and my weekends are spent in the north but I managed to get out yesterday before the storm. The trout were behaving like there was a strong pressure change coming in and it went from a windy 60 degrees at lunch to 38 and dropping at 7:30pm dusk.

I had a couple of new things to try my large arbor Sage click on my 3wt Redington and my new Redington 276-4 with new line.

Would the new 2wt be useable with the wind? luckily enough it was at my back fishing down river, it fished better than expected with a bit of timing during gusts. Eventually the wind became constant out of the north and I ate dinner on the river and fished my 3wt the rest of the evening.

Water temp was 48 degrees at dusk and a few risers there were a few blue wing olives hatching but not many with just a couple caddis. It was not stellar dry fly conditions or really great trout fishing for numbers, there were a lot of short strikers on wets but one thing I do know about fishing on the change from a strong front is that large fish tend to feed, not a lot, not heavy action but I always seem to come up with a couple nice fish. Fish mood I would say was apprehensive.

The new line I tried was the airflow super DRI Elite in WF2F and was pleasantly surprised with this line, I bought the 2wt for small streams and dry fly presentation I did swing some small wet flies late in the afternoon and had a couple short strikers on briefly with a dandy brown lost. This is a bigger river than what I bought the rod for but I had to put it through its paces.

I want to squash the internet rumors that ultra light rods won't cast far, that is false. It takes too long to land the fish, I suppose it could if you don't know what your doing but for experienced fly fishers that answer is false as well.

A 2wt will not carry a payload, that answer is true.

A few anglers came by and chatted just a bit, No fish was the story and at that time I had one released on a dry fly which pretty much blew their minds.

The 2wt performed excellent, the presentation was on point and my best delivered, the front taper on the elite made it hard to believe it was a WF line and I could cast as long as my 3wt and do everything that rod can do include land a nice fish readily.

I really lean on fish with ultralight gear, I`m not worried about breaking the rod or fly line and the worst thing is that the tippet breaks or the hook straightens. I`m only using power flex plus at 7LB break in 5X and its size is a must for delicate presentations and strength for a surprise larger fish.

One of the things I noticed with the 2wt is that I could feel strikes and tugs way better and way better presentation with a light rig overall using my drift 3 clicker reel. On a 2wt there is minimal payload, dry flies and tiny wet flies, I didn't attempt anything else, A larger wet fly was noticeable as heavy, its a dry fly rod, and a good one. I have the 3wt with RIO gold for swinging and slightly weighted flies and the extra foot comes in handy for longer casts and mending.

It was my birthday yesterday and a good one on the river, It was cold though, just a tee shirt and thin hoodie fishing in winds out of the north and dropping temps all day but it was worth it.







My first trout on the 2wt, 16" wild Brown hooked on the far seam by the bank in that last picture, Difficult and technical. A fine fish, A fine battle.




One of the things I noticed is that the spring high water snow melt really cleaned the river out of silt and old weeds and wood, water clarity improved towards dusk and I noticed fry by the banks on the river.



Landed this guy after the light reduced in the evening on a CDC caddis on my 3wt, I enjoyed my new large arbor click reel to say the least.
A nice fish, chunky and strong, a singing clicker needed some palming.





A lot of wild life about, seen many osprey and eagles, they kept putting the trout down, I`d clap my hands to try to get them to go away, turkey, and plenty of deer. Its amazing to me that anything wild lives through the winter up here.



lots of waving goodbye at the end of a great birthday on my home river.

 
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Ard

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Well happy birthday Steve, I didn't know... Great series of photos! The water looks great from the images, glad you had a nice day of it.

Ard
 

weiliwen

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Thanks for the trip report! I wish the rivers here at the southern end of the Driftless were that large.

I fished a nice stream near me on Monday, but it was only 10 feet across in most places. Not exact trout spey country! I also used a lighter-than usual rod, my 376 Winston GVX, which I like because the line I have on it AirFlo River & Stream, sort of a Triangle Taper style line - fits the rod more perfectly than any other rod-line combo I own. It was really windy when I started, but one just makes adjustments for that, and my casts were always going to be a bit short on a stream this size. Around 5:45 the wind stopped like it had been turned off with a switch, and it sprinkled for a few moments. I always find it interesting how suddenly the weather can change. Anyway, I only caught a couple small browns, but I know for a fact there are fish measured in pounds on that stretch of water.
 

Mcbeck

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"A fine fish, a fine battle." Beautiful sentiment.
Then I thought, is there any other way to describe fishing, and the enjoyment there in?
I think not...
 

Unknownflyman

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Got out yesterday, northern driftless rivers were high running hard and chocolate milk. More like spring steelheading than anything. Swung a black bugger caught one 3” brown trout. Sparse BWO hatching zero risers. 2” or more of rain today, it’s all going to run off. Maybe fishable in a week or so. I drove up to the headwaters, skinny water not much better clarity.





 
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weiliwen

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I will head out from my Madison apartment this weekend, first on Saturday to some nearby (to Madison) streams, then on Easter a bit farther afield to Blue, Big Spring, Castle Rock, that area. We just got a little rain here, so I expect the streams to be okay.

Update: Here is a river I fished this weekend. Beautiful weather and streams. I did better Sunday than Saturday. Yup, this stream meanders something fierce - a bend in the river every 50 feet or so!
Curvy.jpg
 

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Unknownflyman

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Got out last week just for a 5 hour shot after work. Its been so hit and miss with weather. Thankfully the Mn and Wi walleye opener are the next two weekends and I see river traffic go down dramatically after that. Cabin season is here again.

Had a gorgeous afternoon and evening skating caddis and swinging Micky Finn`s. Hardly any risers and really only midges hatching with a couple BWO and I saw like five caddis.

Fishing the new 2wt getting and used to that, I really like it the rod performs great. It was a warm day and the river was 49 degrees and fairly clear, not gin but nice. Lots of fish came to hand and many lost. Here are a few that came to the net.

Still waiting on Caddis, its still cold over the next few weeks things will get better. They are in fact taking caddis again with some work.










 

Unknownflyman

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Woke up in the dark and started tying dry flies and came home in the dark after a wonderful spring day on the river. The temperature was 70 degrees and the water temperature was 56 degrees. I fished my 2wt fly rod and 5x tippet with dry flies and drifted a bead head scud.

I knew it might be busy with the trout opener so I ventured far away from people in the areas that are only accessible by hiking. Surprisingly there were not many cars anywhere at the access points.

One of the things I love about my home rivers is that there are few access points and 40 miles of river, If you want to disappear you can. I love exploring although it might not result in many fish, I can say that yesterday it resulted in many fish of all year classes from tiny 3" browns to the beast pictured.

I just kept wading and casting fishing the best I could with all the grace I could muster, a moving meditation. The joy of the glorious day and the freedom and excitement of adventure. One would venture that it was not great trout fishing weather or river conditions, it was gin clear but who cares, the wonder of what was around the next bend, wildlife and birds chirping, two angry geese that charged me, casting a dry fly to fish that weren't exactly feeding in the gin clear water and then after refusal moving on.

I fished dry flies, and drifted some deep green pools which I happened upon, with green bead head scuds. It pays to be flexible to the conditions and the river. It resulted in two nice browns.

The surprises were just casting a dry fly to pinpoint locations where fish might be, getting a good drag free drift and moving on. I caught the largest fish this way, I learned so much about dry fly fishing yesterday, my preconceived notions were shattered.















 

ia_trouter

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Sounds like a great day. Your pics are awesome as always. I bet that stream is just gorgeous in a week or two when the leaves pop.

I've been thinking I would like to get up there for a northern Driftless dry fly lesson. We could always cheat and just swing some streamers. I'd have to work it around the Twin's home schedule and my wife is surely going to want to hang out at Mystic Lake while I am at work on the stream lol. If you're up for that let's see if we could make it work? My time off from work is going to be limited so I need to pack a lot of family fun into just a couple days. Otherwise I'll drag the boat up and fight the crowds on Minnetonka. Best New York city style lake I ever fished lol. IT will be awhile before I can take some real time off work so I have to pack a lot of family fun into a few days.

If that sounds good at all pull up the Twins June schedule. Lot's of choices. We can chat offline of course.
 
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Unknownflyman

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Sure Dewayne we can meet up and fish, it would be great! I can put you on some good fish, it’s up to you to get them out of there. June is a good time just let me know. I need to talk to Tim we were talking about swinging the St. Mary’s for steelhead and Atlantic’s but I can’t remember if that was early or late June.
 

ia_trouter

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Sure Dewayne we can meet up and fish, it would be great! I can put you on some good fish, it’s up to you to get them out of there. June is a good time just let me know. I need to talk to Tim we were talking about swinging the St. Mary’s for steelhead and Atlantic’s but I can’t remember if that was early or late June.
Seriously, nothing amazing is required. A quiet day fishing for some wild browns would be quite sufficient. Don't make this hard as it isn't necessary. Seriously just look at the June Twins home schedule. That is when we are coming up and let me know if I need to buy a third and or fourth ticket that evening. I'd be quite pleased if you'll hang out with my wife Carol and I before or after we fish. I just told her and she is pretty excited to visit the twin cities for a couple days. We didn't get to do that last year which is the first time in a very long time.
 

mr mike

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I'm planning a trip to Minneapolis with my wife July 4 weekend and considering working in a day in the Driftless. My wife doesn't fish, but enjoys being outdoors and is a great sport putting up with my obsession(s), so I am trying to figure out a way to work in a day outdoors that would be somewhat interesting to her. I found a fly shop in Preston that does canoe rentals on the South Branch (although there is a reference to a smallmouth float that looks to me like it most be on the North Branch?). Also, I see there is a Root River Trail that appears to mostly parallels the stream, so renting a couple of bikes and meandering along with occasional stops for me to fish a little is another option I plan to investigate. Third thing that occurs to me is for us to do a day hike if there is something scenic that would get me to some water. Under all options my wife is happy to spend an hour or 2 at a time reading her Kindle or napping while I fish. I'm aware that it will be crowded that weekend and that crowds will negatively impact the fishing. I don't have high expectations but just want to get outside and see an area I have never visited.

I'm an experienced stream angler for both trout and smallmouth and have (too much) gear to allow me to do either. Plenty of experience paddling, and while aging resentfully into middle age, still fit enough for long hiking or biking excursions.

Any recommendations for me? PM if you don't care to post info online.
 
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