July 11, 2019:
Welcome Back to the NTC’s The Voice of the Driftless. The fishing outlook is great despite the hot weather forecast. All local trout streams are now clear or clearing by the weekend and hatching insects should make for great trout fishing action over the next week. A light rain last night in Fillmore and western Winona County won’t impair the fishing and there are no big storms in the forecast for the next few day. It will be hot, so make sure to bring water and stay hydrated.
Since late May fishing conditions have been erratic with periodic heavy rains causing high, dirty water in the Root River and Whitewater Watersheds. Some of the events have caused flooding and bank-full stream conditions have been common.
A look at the hydrograph from Lanesboro below shows the situation for the last 90 days since the start of this years Trout season on April 13. Since then half of the weekends have had fishable water in the larger streams and there have been 53 decent fishing days versus 37 muddy water days which seems pretty good. But since mid-May to July 11 only half of the days have had fishable water.
Of course the small first-order streams clear up faster and provide more fishable days. So if you want to go trout fishing don’t be discouraged, there is almost always some place nearby to have good fishing.
As always watch the weather report and if it does rain in the region check out the daily precipitation maps.
North Shore Fishing Report:
I reported last week that over the 4th I was going to be a refugee trying to avoid the last week of high muddy water. So, I packed up and went North. I took my Ray rickets cedar strip canoe and set up camp in a State Forest campground in Finland on the Baptism River and I fished lakes and streams up and down The North Shore above the Lake.
I fished the Devils Track, Cascade, Baptism and Manitou Rivers and I caught small Brook Trout everywhere, but was vexed by warm water, some as warm as 74 degrees, where I caught chubs: too warm for trout.
I did some night fishing on Hogback and Scarp Lakes for rainbow trout hoping to find big Mayflies and I got eaten alive by mosquitoes. I saw lots of midges, a few big Stone Flys and only two Mayflies, but the mosquitoes will own you if you are not prepared. I only caught one small RBT. I still had a great experience as the lakes were like glass and it was really dark and quiet and I was the only one on the lake that night.
I fished two warm water lakes during the mid-day including Dumbbell Lake by Isabella where I caught over 30 smallmouth bass in four hours and sighted one Muskie: I took two smallies home for dinner, Then on the last day I fished Lax Lake near Finland and found spawning Pumpkin Seed Sunfish and took a mess of sunnies back home to the Elba Farm for dinner. I caught fish on every river and lake I tried! But, it was a challenge as the days were warm and bright and the nights were very cool. There was no Hex hatch as I hoped.
My trip proved what I already knew: For trout you have to find the cold water and the big hatch. The north shore streams are not spring fed along the entire stream like our southeast streams and the black volcanic rock are big heat collectors that rapidly warm the water during the day and radiate heat into the water at night. To be successful you have to know where the springs are (I know a few, but not enough), or to find the deep holes in the streams where the trout find refuge in the colder oxygenated water. Beaver dams warm the water and slow the water. Black rocks warm the water so fast that the trout just don’t hang out there in the summer.
My advice for those who want to venture north for summer trout is to hire a guide or go with some experienced anglers. Learn some spots with cold water. It also is hazardous wading with big cobble and boulders so make sure to bring a wading staff and use wading shoes with good steel cleats…don’t fall down and ruin you gear or bust up your knees! And as always bring a bug suit and effective mosquito repellent, biting insects own the night!
The streams are starting to look great again! On July 8th we had a transparency level of 35cm at Trout Run. Also on July 8th we had an even better reading at 53cm over at Rice Creek. Today I went out and took the levels at the three usual streams. At Camp Creek the transparency level was at 35cm. In town here at the South Branch Root River the level was at 39cm. Up the road a little bit at Mill Creek the reading was also 35cm.
As the chart shows the flow(Blue) has gone down drastically over the past week which resulted in cleaner streams this week. The precipitation(Green) of the past 2 days were minimal enough that they did not affect the streams. All of the streams should be great for fishing this weekend with no rain in the forecast, so get out there while we finally have a good weekend for fishing!