April 24, 2009

an exploratory mission

Flows on the lower Otter Tail are still sky high, making fishing with a fly damn near impossible in spots. I switched gears and performed some recon, scouting for spots to fish closer to home. I ended up with a mixed bag.

First stop was the usual spring haunt on the upper Otter Tail; flows were nuts. The current ripping through the area was wicked nasty, and only a few hardened hen walleyes were holding their ground through that reach. Hardly a sucker to be seen, so I moved on down the road. I checked out a spot I visited last week, luckily no one was there. The only problem was that flows had jumped up even higher in this spot, changing the current patterns in the side eddies. Trying to fish the pool where the fish were holding was difficult, as the heavy boils pushed my line aside into the cattails. To add insult to injury, a nasty headwind was blowing dead on, making nearly every cast a joke. Fail. Even though there were fish to be had, they were out of reach. I just couldn't put my fly in the zone, very frustrating. This was one of those times where nothing I could do would go right. I left the scene before I blew my top.

I proceeded to move on to a different river system, and venture to spots unseen. En route to a promising spot I located on my Gazetteer, I noticed a hefty stench in the air. Manure. A couple fields in the area were freshly spread with manure, a surefire sign of spring. Once I overcame the methane essence, I just realized that I passed a stream crossing I missed on the map. Literally brown water. I quickly turned around and checked it out.

brown water recon
I peered down into the culvert and made out a few silhouettes through the murky water. Hell yeah, fish. I grabbed a rod out of the truck and bounced one of my crystilles along the bottom. On my second drift I saw my line hang up so I lifted my rod tip. Contact! I played that suckah beautifully and brought it to hand. I rolled a fly through the zone a few more times with one take and a miss before giving up on the school. They were freshly educated.

I scouted a few more spots but the further north I went, the less fish I saw. Not surprising, since the lakes where the streams were feeding from still had ice. The snow had cleared the ground just a week ago. Give it a few weeks and the sucker run should be booming up here, big time. Until then, I'll be working on getting the manure smell from out of the air intake ducts on my truck.

- the roughfisher

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