Today I took a little drive East into the Driftless Region of Southeast Minnesota. Apparently, the area has numerous spring-fed creeks that keep the ice off year-round. Oh, and they are full of trout. Naturally reproducing populations residing in some areas, stockers in others. I had my suspicions going on a fly fishing trip to an area termed "Driftless", so a little help from Wikipedia enlightened me.
I settled on Canfield Creek in Western Fillmore County for my first trip. It is a catch-and-release only stream, and only allows artificial lures. I hoped this would give me a better shot at hooking up with a nicer sized fish. Also, it was closer to home and further from the Twin Cities....a better shot at solitude?
As I had hoped, the angler access parking lot was empty and there were no human tracks going to the stream. Without a map, this made finding the stream a bit of a crap shoot. I decided to try downhill first.
After about a quarter mile hike in the new snowshoes, I found the water. The stream was actually quite a bit larger than I had expected, and the water looked perfect....gin clear and an ideal flow for the fly rod.
I sat down on the snow bank and rigged up. With 8 degree weather in early January, I didn't expect much bug activity. Consequently, I started off with a #16 gray Flashback Scud trailed by a #20 Zebra Midge. Initially, I set a white foam indicator about 6 feet up, but removed it after thoroughly working the hole. Shortly after taking off the indicator I hooked into this whale, then another of similar size on the following cast. It ocurred to me that this is the first time my "first fish of the year" has been a Brown Trout, so that's cool. After fishing out the hole I walked up on a high bank directly over the deepest part of the hole. There was a big slow eddy there that looked to be the best spot in sight. Sure enough, when I looked down over the bank I spooked a nice fish. As my eyes focused in on that fish, more and more fish silhouettes started becoming visible. There was a big school of maybe 30 fish in that hole, with 4 or 5 of them looking to be in the 18 inch range. I knew they had me spotted, but I couldn't resist dropping the flies in on them. As expected they slowly eased back into the bottom of the hole. I decided it was time to head upstream. I would hit this hole again on my way back, with a better idea of how the fish would be holding.
I walked upon this great looking run with fairly deep slack water off the main current. I fished it outside-in without any luck. By now the shadows were getting longer. I decided it was time to head back to the first hole (I decided to name "Trout in a Barrel") and see if the fish had settled down yet.
I guess the fish have better memory than I gave them credit for. I put a few perfect drifts right down the seam they were facing earlier and nada.
I took a little detour downriver to do some scouting for next time before I cut back up towards where I hoped the car was. I walked right to it, but for awhile there my confidence wasn't as high as I'd hoped. Maybe I'll take a map and compass next time....and GPS.
Puttin' the miles on the snowshoes is quite a workout. I'm glad I planned ahead and brought along this guy. A beer always tastes better after a day like today. Can't wait to go explore a different stream soon!
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