It's been a couple days since our October snowstorm, and there's still snow on the ground. Drifts in some of the ditches and field approaches are still 3' to 4' deep. Sloughs, ponds, and shallow lakes even had a skim of ice on them, some lasting throughout the day. You gotta love Minnesota. Where else can a flatlander experience snow and ice 8 months of the year?
Air temps were a crisp 25 degrees this morning, a plus, since the forecast was supposed to be a balmy 15 degrees. The sun was shining with a slight breeze at hand; the day was supposed to warm up fairly quickly with a high near 50. I was hoping a warm front from the SW would shake things up today. The fish must have been on Fall Break.
I got my 8 weight back from Scott last week and hoped to put it through its paces. Flows on the river are still well above the 80th percentile. I was optimistic that the higher flows would bring some fish upstream and up onto the shallows. Not the case, as cold water temps kept the fish at bay (near 41 degrees). I could not find any fish schooled up, and turbid flows kept sight fishing out of the cards. It was tough.
I really had to work for these fish, and bites were few and far between. There was no standout pattern on the water today, lord knows I about tried them all. With water temps as cold as they were, I knew I'd need to slow the presentation down quite a bit. Difficult to do, considering all of the current I had to now deal with due to high flows. I tried to downsize my offerings, but with low fish numbers in this section of river right now, it just didn't make a difference.
It was nice to get back on the water; it had been nearly a month. I tried overlining my 8 with a short, heavy head line, in efforts to improve the performance of my single-handed skagit casting. I was a bit rusty on my first few casts. After several failed drifts, I switched to my 6 weight, and a different fly pattern. My casts started to come back together, and eventually I managed to land a a few fish on the 6. Even though I eventually switched back and forth with my 8, I was blanked on it. It did, however, cast just as well as it had with the original rod sections.
I was lucky to end up with the catch that I did. At least I had variety. I may try to get out one more time this season, later in November. Hopefully flows will subside by then, and the water less turbid. I should have a decent shot at some redhorse and quillback, the only species I predominantly find during the coldwater season. Maybe I'll find a random carp and snag him in the mouth. Until then, I'll be getting my fly tying operation under way, and will be busy gearing up for the hard water season.
- the roughfisher