June 14, 2009

Sweet home Minnesota

the modern eastern prairie
It's good to be home. Maine has a lot of sweet things to offer, including an endless supply of tastefully crafted micro brews, but Vacationland seriously lacks one thing: brown water. I got in the truck the other day and headed south to the Otter Tail, my first visit in over a month.

First on the agenda was the field trial for my new service weapon, the Echo TR two-handed 5 weight. At 12 feet long, this is just about as long a rod as you'd want for a river the size of the Otter Tail. Packed with plenty of punch, the rod took almost little effort to launch my 380 grain Elixir line into the good stuff 20 yards ahead of me. While always cumbersome with the long rod, landing a fish by yourself can take some strategizing. Your best bet is to try and beach a fish on shore.

The first fish for the virgin rod was a quillback. I was fishing one of those white swimming nymphs I crafted the other day. Fish did seem to like the pattern, so it's a keeper. This golden redhorse also fell victim to the White Knight.

golden redhorse
Flows on the Otter Tail are still quite high; the entire drainage is still in flood stage, since March. Flows dropped off about 500 cfs since my last visit, but were still quite healthy at near 1450 cfs. Water temps have since risen. Carp were in spawning mode, and the occasional leap and splash could be observed. Buffalo were also feeling a little randy and the battle scars from this little guy indicates that he liked it "rough".

bigmouth buffalo
spawning battle wounds
Second on the agenda for the day was to snag a carp in the mouth. The observed activity of spawning carp is never a good sign for the fly rod wielding carp angler. I fished a pink megaworm and after hooking up with some buffalo, finally managed my first cyprinid in a long time.

Even though flow conditions were less than stellar for this time of year, warmer water temps contributed to increased fish activity. A nice warm sunny day, light breeze, and a half dozen fish at hand courtesy of the new rod, is nothing to be disappointed about. As the dry period (hopefully) of summer approaches, flows should resume back to normal in another month or two. I'd like the opportunity to sight fish to a few carp and buffalo, something that is almost impossible to do at high flows. The summer is young and left with plenty of opportunity. Better catch a few more roughies before old man winter begins his push from the north.

another common

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  1. What's the story on that dorsal fin on your quillback? That smacks of special purpose - like it's a fast mover.

    Mother Nature usually has a reason for everything, is there something to the species that gave it such a singular - almost saltwater - fin?

  2. I'm not wholly sure of the genesis of the gestalt of the carpsuckers high dorsal fin. The species share the trait, so there must be some biological reasoning for it. I would suggest that the high fin helps hold the fish in faster water, but most of these fish I've caught in slower reaches of water, out of the main current.

    Maybe someone else out there knows the reasoning behind the morphology.

  3. "I can see for miles, and miles, and miles and miles...."

    Good times!

  4. Good to see you back at it. Interesting note on those all white flies. Never tried anything like that. Should though.

  5. I'm digging those Carp shots!