September 25, 2015 - I hit that same beat on the St. Croix again. This time things had changed in a huge way. A big storm hit the region. The river flow had increased from 1200cfs to 1800cfs. Also the temperature dropped 10 degrees. Usually these huge changes shut things down for a few days. This time the fishing stayed pretty good. We had to abandon the poppers and Murdich Minnows in favor of Fire Buggers, Tequilies and Sparkle Minnows, but in the end we landed 26 smallies, two walleye and a northern. 3 of the smallies were in the 2 to 3 pound range. I am curious to see when the bass will migrate south to the St. Croix Falls dam.
September 23, 2015 - Fly Fishing "Versus" Spin Fishing
I guided trips the last two days on the same stretch of the St. Croix between Danbury and Grantsburg. Both outings included two guests. All were experienced fishermen. The water and weather conditions were the same. Both trips ran similar lengths of time. The main difference was that the first pair consisted of spin fisherman and the second pair was fly fishing. The outcomes for the trips were both good, but very different. The spin fishers caught an estimated 60 smallmouth (after 2 dozen, I don't keep a particularly careful score) and a couple small northern. There were 2 muskie bite offs at boat side and two follows. They caught mostly smaller fish. The fly fishers caught 38 smallies, one northern and saw no muskies. There were a couple that topped 1.5 pounds and one that looked to be about 2 pounds. Team Fly generated (on average) decidedly larger fish, with several in the the 2 pound class. The largest was a 19" fatty that weighed 4 pounds. Look to my "Stories" page if you are curious why the catches were so different.
September 18, 2015 - Too long since my last comments. It has been a fun year, but a bit odd as well. The St. Croix has been up and down quite a bit. As a result, the bass have not really pooled up much. The bite has been very reliably on shore for most of the year. Just when they start to come out to the rocks and pools, the river shoots up and the temperature drops. That means that you needed to drop your cast right near (within inches) shore or your odds of catching bass went way down.
I have been guiding part time (20+ outings) for a private club on the St. Croix. They keep meticulous records of what is caught and of the large (3.5 lbs+) bass. Overall, total bass caught for the year is down a little but the numbers of big bass has gone through the roof. The largest in my boat was 4.5 lbs. That was far from unique. The primary fly of choice for the members is some version of a deer hair floating popper and the occasional hard popper. (Dahlburg Divers, Froggy Poppers, BoogleBugs, etc) There have been some streamers (Murdich Minnows, Clouser Minnows) thrown in moments of desperation. These have produced well also.
The FlyDog customers tend to vary more in the choices of lures. In addition to the above mentioned flies, Swimming Minnows, Edgewater Wigglers and plain old Wooly Buggers have produced. The spin fishers have had some fun top water success, but the jig and twister tail has been the hands down winner. Bass have been pounding the jig and tail every time out. The only trick is figuring out the preferred color combo for the day. It changes, and they never send me the text telling me what they are willing to eat. A few walleye and one muskie have been landed as well. They are not often targeted. We are coming into muskie season now though.
July 25, 2015 - Busy time just now. I have had two groups of people out on Big Rock Creek for Fly Fishing 101, the St. Croix (both fly and spin groups), Green Lake and Little Siss. The bass have been only mildly active on the surface....Dahlburg Divers, Froggy Popper, BoogleBugs....but are really liking the minnow imitators. Orange and brown jigs are doing really well on smallies for the spin fishers. Tiny Torpedos have been OK, and everyone loves that action. Green Lake is a novelty act for me. A father and son team visiting from Nebraska don't like rivers. The son is 12ish. Green is a numbers lake full of small crappies. As expected, we pounded a bunch of panfish, but at the end of the outing Dad caught a 5 pound large mouth. Go figure.
April 14, 2015 - The Brule got a good dose of rain two days ago and the flow spiked to 250fps. As a result, the river became high and muddy. Yesterday was a waste of time with fast water and 3 inch visiblity. Just one day later though, the water (south of FF) has cleared up to about 18 inch visibility. While I did not bring a thermometer, it also feels much warmer than last week. Allen, Mike and I fished for 6 hours. We all hooked steelhead. Two were landed. One finned us off. They hit both nymphs and yarn. Last week's beads went cold. We also brushed many fish that did not hit our flies but had clearly been touched by either the fly or the line. I ran into a friend from Bahamas fishing. Ryan had just landed a beautiful fat hen. No chrome came to the net, but after that rain, it won't be long.
April, 7, 2015 - The Brule is on fire! David and I met for a day of steelhead fishing and were we in for a surprise. We started strong and it never stopped. Correction! David started strong and I flailed about all day trying to catch up. Let's get right to the punchline and say that the fish were taking peach colored beads mostly in the deeper holes. A couple came out of runs. We stayed off the reds.
I hit the road at 5:00am to get in a full day. Upon arrival, I found that I had grabbed the leaky old waders, not the dry new ones. David climbs into the river while I dash off to Poplar Hardware to find a messy but effective solution. By the time I return, he has landed two and a lost a third on some odd looking orange nymph he bought from a Ukrainian based Amazon vendor. Nothing more happens (other than a few trout and smolt) for a couple hours, so we switch areas. He puts on the afore mentioned bead at the new location and proceeds to hook four more. My exquisitely similar yarn egg gets nothing, so he graciously gave me a few beads. I promptly land one and early release another. David hits the road while I check into a room.
An excess of whiskey while watching the Badgers topple at the hands of the Blue Devils keeps me in bed until 8:00. I hit the river at 9:00. By 11:00, I have landed three of four hooked and given a rookie steelheader a 30 minute on-water crash course in everything from casting to hook sets. Tim; You're a natural.....remember, set downstream. His veteran buddy Ken stuck a good one on a spawn sack and slinky rig. I moved along and landed two more about an hour apart from each other. One was the single most beautiful steelhead I have ever seen. Her sides and cheeks were more florescent violet than pink. The enclosed selfie (defined as a fish with no fisherman) fails to do justice to her. So far, the fish have been in the low to mid-twenty inch range and fairly fresh to the river.
Now a nagging thought overcomes me. I switch to swinging a big-ass Kelly Galloup articulated streamer. I fumbled the first hit but stuck the next one a short while later. It was a 28 inch, darkly colored, battle scarred buck that rose up out of a big hole to slam the streamer. He was missing 3/4s of his tail and a big chunk of his dorsal fin. His sides were scarred up and actually dirty from nest building (I assume). He was a stunning display of what these animals go through to reproduce. He did not have the energy for jumping or even a very strong battle. To my relief, he did swim away well.
I hit another stretch of the river to end the day. Nada.
November 16, 2014 - Well, that was a strange steelhead season. Sadly, the fishing was tough overall, with occasional periods of good action. Eggs (yarn flies) and stonefly nymphs never really turned on for us. Small lighter colored nymphs were the saviors. I caught a few on a fly I call a Stacked Blonde Nymph That Goes Down Easy (left), which looks like a Hare's Ear Soft Hackle. The dubbing is my yellow lab's fur, the tail is pheasant tail fibers and the soft hackle is partridge. The fun discovery was a lot of action on a small (#10) no name trout nymph (right)....yellow dubbing, sparkle legs,brown biot tail, and a black wing case.
The other novelty was the end of season ice. Night time temperatures went sub-zero on the 13th and 14th of November. Day time temperatures got high enough (low 20s) to fish. Not surprisingly, there was some slush in the water the day of the 14th. By the 15th, there was a lot of slush and some ice floating along. The odd thing was that there were large sheets of slush forming on the bottom of the river as well. How does that happen? Slush floats. How does slush form (I assume at the very cold surface) and then accumulate in sheets on the bottom? The enclosed video was shot just below the Hwy 13 bridge. It starts just above water, shows some sandy/rocky bottom and then pans right into the slushy area. Very odd. I had hoped to catch a shot of a steelhead in the deep hole, but no such luck.
September 15, 2014 - Bass fishing has been fun. The pattern on the St. Croix has been consistent all year long. The later part of the day has been better than early. I have fished here 40 years, and can testify that has not always been the case. The tricky question is why the pattern has held? It doesn't really matter. Numbers and size have been pretty good. I have seen several walleyes, northern and a big catfish along with the targeted smallies and muskie. Poppers are always the preferred bite, but white streamers have been the bread and butter flies. The pond at Big Rock Creek started hot early in the year, but went cold by mid-summer. The upper levy has been kicking out lots of Brookies and even a couple big Rainbows.
November 30, 2013 - All the experts (my wife, friends, dogs) said I have to start a website. Here it is folks. I hope you like the results of all the hard work put in by kids much smarter than me. 2013 has been a fun and sometimes confusing fishing year. The bass season started cold and stayed that way far too long for any sane person's tastes. Stranger still, the rivers flowed at "flood state" levels pretty much through the end of June. That made the bass fishing tricky. If you could place the fly within an inch of the shore/log/rock the bite was great. Miss your target by a couple inches and you may as well be in the next county. The smallies were tucked into their cover like kids into their beds on Christmas Eve. Muskies were the playful ones. What a great year for catching muskies. Hanna gets the big fish of the year award for her 42" beauty pulled out of the St. Croix in July. While bass and muskies are almost always the main events, we enjoyed some delightful side trips for northern, trout, steelhead, and even (purest forgive me) drum on the Mississippi. Thank you to all the friends who fished with me this year. I especially hope to have the Chardonnay Twins grace me with their presences again in '14.
Copyright FlyDog Fly Fishing. All rights reserved.