Trout On The Mind | Recap of Spring Trout Fishing in the Driftless

2020 Weeks 14-19: Trout

April 3 – May 10: Trout

Spring is a great time to be in the midwest. You can literally see the conditions change daily as the temps warm up and the landscape turns green. In April I spent a lot of time traveling around the Driftless and some time up north. I found some big fish when I went after big fish and found lots of fish went I went out to catch a lot of fish. Hard to beat that!

This entry is part of a two part post, this part highlighting trout fishing done between 4/3-5/10. You can find the other part of this post here: Chasin’ Tail

April 5

My friend Andrew from Fly Fish Finder wanted to get after some brookies so I took him to a creek where I had had a stellar day last fall. When we got up into the valley it was apparent that today wouldn’t be as easy. The water was low, gin clear, and the sun was high in the ski. Needless to say the fish were very spooky. We ended up doing decently well considering the conditions.

April 6

Today was a big fish search day. The conditions were primo. Warm and overcast with a chance of rain. I fished a new stretch of water that I had been waiting to fish under the right conditions and today they were just that. I was reward with my first 3 fish going 19″, 21″, and 19.5″. All within about an hour window. Fish were hanging ultra tight to cover and I caught all of these fish dunking an xl extra weighted fix deep into log jams.

April 7

Met up with a new fishing buddy Kyle to check out a stretch of water that neither of us had fished before. I arrived to the spot about an hour before he could make it and fished my way downstream for a while. I found a good fish to start the day off and found that this big water would be a fun challenge to fish.

When Kyle arrived we started fishing upstream and fished the entire upper section of easement that this river had. We found fish here and there along the way as we fished and saw the potential that this stretch of water has to produce big browns. Close to the top of the easement Kyle had to leave to be somewhere so I continued fishing my way up to the top. It was about 2 in the afternoon with fully sunny skies when I launched an xl fix across a wide run and thought that I got snagged on something right when it landed. The thing I “snagged” began to fight back and I knew it was a good fish by the headshakes. I got the fish to hand and was stoked to tape the fish at 20″.

April 8

After fishing the Mississippi earlier in the day with a couple of buddies I drove inland and hit a trout stream for the golden hour. I found a number of fish willing to rise to a chubby in moving water (chubbies in April?!) and had a great time.

After the sun set I began making my way north and decided to try my hand at some trout after dark. While trying to stealthfully sneak towards the first pool I planned to fish I was rudely startled by a beaver slapping its tail into the pool. If you have never experienced that situation before, imagine being in the pitch dark where it is almost completely silent then somebody dropping a bowling ball into the water 10′ from you. Dang beavers. Despite the beaver I tried my hand at this pool and actually had a fish hit a streamer still. I didn’t land that one but was surprised to still get a bite after the beaver made his presence known. I moved on and fished another pool downstream. While sneaking into this spot, I noticed something on the ground resembling a crouching or sleeping dog. I was a little started but after a minute I could just barely make out that it was a dead coyote (I verified this later after fishing the pool). After I identified the object close to me (the coyote) I threw in a few casts and stuck my first trout after dark in 2020. I landed that fish at 10:52pm. MN only lets you fish for trout until 11pm so that was about all the fishing I was able to do.

April 9

Met up with my buddy Brock for a day of hiking and exploring a cool spot that I try to make it to a couple times a year. We found some crazy weather as we adventured into this beautiful canyon.

One minute it would be sunny and warm and the next it would be grey, cold, and snowing.

It snowed heavy for almost an hour at one point then cleared up and got sunny in a matter of minutes. The sun shining on the new snow was absolutely beautiful! The fishing on this day was subpar (couldn’t buy a fish with a streamer) but we ended up doing well nymphing runs and pools.

April 13

After spending a few hours whipping up an order of dungeons for a buddy of mine I hit the road to check out a new stretch of river that I have been eyeing up for a while. I bushwhacked my way a couple miles up into the valley before I started fishing. It was pretty sweet up in there off the grid. The fishing was so-so.

April 16

Met up with an old Winona State On The Fly buddy for a morning of chucking meat. Nick had been itching to hit some big water and look for some big fish and we did just that. Conditions were far from perfect with low, clear water, bright skies, and coldddd air temps in the 20’s when we started. We ended up having a great time fishing together and finding a few fish. Nothing huge but some very healthy fish.

April 17-19

STEEL

My friend Jake had been trying to get me to make it up north for the spring Lake Superior steelhead run for a couple years now. This spring I finally hit him up on the offer. It did not disappoint…

On the first day Jake and I fished together in the morning and I found my first spring steelhead, a solid hen.

Around noon we met up with a few fellow Sasquatch Fly Fishing coworkers of mine. Ben, Jess, and Nate fished with us for the afternoon bite and we had a great time.

The next two days Jake and I fished with his buddies Monti and Kevin. Our group of 4 was one of the fishiest groups I have been a part of in a while and we put a pounding on the steel!

April 21

Went out on an afternoon outing with Andrew. We had a good time picking off small browns in beautiful Driftless pastures.

April 22

Fished with my buddy and current Winona State On The Fly president Fisher. Yep, his name is actually Fisher. We fished a longgggg stretch of river that I hadn’t fished before. It was a tad disappointing that it wasn’t more productive. The water was beautiful but we just didn’t see many fish. Despite the lack of fish, the fish we did see we had a lot of fun with. We spend the last 2-3 hours taking turns and sight fishing. It was some of the most fun fishing I have done in quite a while.

April 24

My dad and I made a quick afternoon trip. We just barely caught the tail end of a solid caddis hatch and were able to land a number of fish on the surface. Where we couldn’t get them to come up we were able to nymph up fish with hares ears. Great time on the water with the guy who gave me my love for fishing!

April 26

After spending some time around Winona, I took my buddy Andrew fly fishing for his first time on a nearby creek. He had a fun time watching me catch fish while he caught a lot of stream side vegetation. All kidding aside, it was awesome to show him my passion and show him the ways! In hindsight, taking him to a different creek that is a little wider with less spooky fish probably would have been a good idea. Around noon Andrew and I split ways. I continued fishing and hit a different stretch of water downstream from where him and I had fished. I was super stoked to find and sight fish a new personal best brown from this stream. That unpictured fish was ~17″.

May 2

After fishing in the Mississippi River and its backwaters earlier in the day, I took my former college roommates Tyler and Austin to an area trout stream. It was a solid afternoon bite and I did really well with a Frenchy.

May 6

Took my college buddy Sam fly fishing for the first time. He used his stimulus check wisely to pick up a 5wt and 8wt so we split our time that day between a trout stream and the Mississippi River. We found a good caddis hatch and Sam caught his first trout on the fly with a dry then we went to the Mississippi and he stuck a pike with a streamer. Doesn’t get much better than that for your first day fly fishing!

May 10-11

Met up with my good friend Nate for one last trout fishing adventure in the driftless before I headed out west for the summer. We met up in the evening of the 10th and fished until dark then camped out and fished most of the next day. It was a great time soaking in the vibrant green of spring in the driftless, hooking into more fish than we knew what to do with, and catching up with an old friend. Thankful for times like these! Colorado here I come.

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