August 1, 2009

The sun rises in the East and sets in the West

prairie sun
July went out the way it came, on a big pile of steaming dog $hit. The fishing's been off since April, victim of spring and summer floods, and an abnormally high wet cycle over the past few decades. Last fall's record precipitation finally reached the tipping point, as the lakes and wetlands high up in the watershed swelled to epic levels. These areas have exceeded storage capacity resulting in record river flows and discharge downstream. I knew it was going to be a rough year when flows last winter were three to four times above normal for that period.

I fished the llama nymph with the red thorax. Though the bite was excruciatingly slow, this pattern produced a couple of fish, including a rogue walleye; Damn roughfish.

I seem to come across a disparaged soul at least once a season. When I was swinging a big honking meat pony upstream in vain, I noticed a murder of flies hovering around a dark fleshy object. Upon closer inspection, it was a large bigmouth buffalo that was thrown up on to the rocky bank. I didn't notice an entry wound so bow anglers weren't to blame. Likely this fish was culled courtesy of John Q. Ignoramus who was doing us all a "favor" by illegally ditching this fish on shore to rot, you know, because he "cares" about the health of our fishery. Fucklehead.

A cold, windy summer has resulted in cool surface water temps for this time of year. I swear I saw some carp that are still spawning. Water temps quite a ways downstream on the Red at Fargo indicate 22.2°C, still within carp spawning range. Temps are a bit cooler upstream on the Otter Tail. I ran through a ton of different fly patterns to no avail. Even chucking the big meat didn't pay off, in hopes of enticing an esocid or a centrarchid of the dolomieui variety. I tossed out a nondescript rubber legged nymph in a known smallie hole and was aptly rewarded with an average sized runt. I went back to my llama nymph and searched the shallows for feeding fish.

The problem this summer is that I have been finding fish, plenty of them in fact, but due to the cooler water temps, many of them are not actively feeding, stymieing any efforts I throw their way. No dice in the shallows finding active fish so I went back to the main channel and worked the current seam. After a few pathetic drifts, I finally half-assed a semi-decent drift across current and managed to find some tension on my line. When I set the hook, the little bastage held tight to the bottom without much fight, so the first thing I thought was a channel cat. I was wrong, a little melanistic cyprinid was enticed enough to take the llama nymph. Finally, the skunk was off.

To say it's been a brutal summer is an understatement. Besides dealing with my own inadequacies and shortcomings on the water and failed attempts at finding new spots that hold fish, it's been tough turning down clients for trips. I sure as hell wouldn't charge anyone if I can't even get a fish to move to a fly. Damn this weather. If only I could ship some of this water over to Cali where Singlebarbed and his cohorts are in desperate need of some flow. Let's hope August brings change.

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