Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fish on!




A couple of us hit the lower shore rivers yesterday dispite the low water.  It was just to nice of a day to miss out on some fresh air and running water.

Though the water is low, the rain earlier this week pushed fish into the rivers.  We managed to hook more than we landed, but those landed were a wonderful sight.
 We were seeing, and catching, both kamloops and steelhead.  

People often ask us " will this weekend be a good time to fish?"  We are happy to give our opinions, but we believe If you  have the time to go fishing, just go!  When the conditions are less than ideal, learn to adapt and take the time try new tactics and gear or explore new water.   As you see from the photo, it can produce some fine results.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

2015 Running Trap Summary as of 04.14.2015

DATE: 04/13/2015Knife River Flow: CFSIndex River Temp: °F
French RiverSteelheadKamloopsUnclipped Clipped
Number Captured15189  
Total Captured15189  
DATE: 04/13/2015Knife River Flow: CFSIndex River Temp: °F
Knife RiverSteelheadKamloopsUnclipped Clipped
Number Captured00  
Total Captured00  
DATE: 04/10/2015Knife River Flow: CFSIndex River Temp: F
French Trap OpenSteelheadKamloopsUnclipped Clipped
Number Captured00  
Total Captured00 
DATE: 04/10/2015Knife River Flow: CFSIndex River Temp: °F
Knife Trap Open SteelheadKamloopsUnclipped Clipped
Number Captured00 
Total Captured00 

Monday, April 13, 2015

2015 - Steelhead and Stout


Just what is the Meet & Greet?

The Meet & Greet is an annual gathering of like-minded Minnesota steelhead anglers, hosted by Minnesota Steelheader (MS), a non-profit organization dedicated to informing, educating, and entertaining veterans and new-comers alike to our North Shore fishery.


This off the water gathering is a casual way to meet fellow anglers, exchange fishing stories, share tips, techniques & photos.  It also provides an opportunity to ask questions and learn a few new tricks all the while relaxing in the warmth of a comfortable establishment


This event is open to women, men, 1st time steelhead anglers and seasoned veterans - we welcome all.  There is no membership. needed.  This is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow anglers, share tips,  learn some new skills, ask questions, and improve our angling community camaraderie,  wile getting to know the volunteer staff members behind Minnesota Steelheader.   We hope to see you this spring!

Location:
Castle Danger Brewery- Two Harbors
~ Meeting in the bar ~
15 Waterfront Dr  •  Two Harbors, MN  •  218-834-3555

Date:
Saturday,  May, 2  |  2015

Time:
7:00pm - last angler standing

Saturday, April 11, 2015

April Showers, We Need 'Em!

    As of April 11th, 2015, Stream conditions are making life difficult for both man and beast, er... steelhead. Lower Shore rivers are running low, clear and cold; there is still a fair amount of shelf ice along the sides of the streams.

    The clear skies today will go a long way towards getting water temps up, but we think tomorrow's badly needed rain, especially if air temps remain high, might just do the most to jump-start things on the lower shore vis-a-vis rising flow, stream temps and willing fish.










    We've been running the numbers since March 15th and have only recently begun flirting with the run initiation temps observed in North Shore Steelhead and Kamloops. Problem is that one-day's worth doesn't seem to do it, we have to remain above that threshold but when we do, magic... By the way, the significant drop in the Lower Shore index stream flow is the result of some healthy ice-dams breaking up and releasing all that pent-up water, not necessarily high flows themselves.


    To be sure, there are early fish around, it's just really tough sledding right now unless you are fishing the river-mouths and outflows. Mid and Upper Shore are still trying to thaw out...

Regards-
NMF

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2015 MS Creel Project

Whether you are new to Minnesota Steelheader, or simply missed it last year, we need your help!

The Minnesota Steelheader Creel Project is a non-scientific poll of catch information similar to what is provided in the Official MNDNR creel reports.

Your part is very simple - When you fish in 2015, simply record the following information:

Species & Number Caught: Kamloops, Steelhead or Brook Trout

The Region Where You Caught the Fish: Lower, Mid or Upper Shore. It is critical that you get the location correct. MS is not interested in the specific streams, simply the region, so please use this format:
Lower Shore Region - All Tributaries from Mission Creek to Knife River

Mid Shore Region - All Tributaries from Stewart River to Baptism River
Upper Shore Region - All Tributaries from Little Marais River to Pigeon River including those on the Reservation.
The Date the Fish Were Caught: Well, the date....

That's it! Species, Region and Date, how simple is that? There is one other important ground rule.

Please make sure that you only report steelhead, kamloops and brook trout numbers once. If you fished with a group, put your heads together and pick one person to report the TOTAL numbers, OR, only report fish you personally caught. This helps prevent duplication in catch data.

Example: If you and your fishing partner caught a total of two steelhead on April 24th, please do not both report back that you caught two steelhead, otherwise it will look like four steelhead were caught that day and it will skew the numbers.

Click Here to
enter your data OR, send your information directly to: mnsteelheader@gmail.com
The data collected in our Creel Project ultimately provides us all with an increasingly better picture of steelhead fishing on the North Shore. MS publishes the information for you to think about and use whether you are brand new to the sport, or a veteran of 40 seasons. It's good stuff.
 
Last item is that we could really use more data on the Upper Shore, particularly late-season; so if you head up that way and have some success, please keep us in mind. We'll also take data from any time during the year, you'll be helping everyone out when you send it in.

Regards-
NMF

Monday, March 30, 2015

Current State of the Steelhead Union

    In a word, Ice...

    I took a whirlwind spin with a fishing buddy down the Lower-Shore from Two Harbors to points south, and the story right now is ice and ice cover. Here's a picture looking both upstream towards the new Knife River trap, and downstream from the same vantage point:



    It was the same story everywhere. Water temps, even in the smaller tribs, are still low. And while there are occasional open slots here and there, and the mouths are open (sort of), there is still quite a bit of ice cover.

    Currently the best game in town is shore-fishing for staging kamloops, steelhead (and the coho which are just after lunch). For a great rundown on shore-fishing, check out this previous post by MS board member LM: Shore Casting for Winter Kamloops 

Regards-
NMF

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2015 March News Flash

AP - North Shore, Minnesota
March 14th, 2015
A certain Staffer at Minnesota Steelheader was nearly brought up on dereliction of duty charges today...

    Mea culpa, this is what you get when you have a full-time job with too many irons in the fire on a direct collision course with steelheading. Quick update for now, but more regular reports coming because things are a' movin' as they say.

    The intense warmup has brought about an astonishing brownup along points north. What you are looking at is a 250m resolution satellite photo of Gichi from March 9th:


...And now from March 13th:


    This is important because the process of opening the streams and warming water temps accelerates significantly once the snow-pack is gone. The danger now actually becomes low flows if/when we lose our snow-pack too quickly; drought could be a real problem at this point.

    One thing we are not seeing are those all-important sediment blooms out in front of the rivers, at least they are not apparent in the photos yet. Those sediment blooms are part of the process which call the fish home.

    The rivers are showing signs of throwing off their winter cloaks as well. You can see the effect of daily warming and increased melt runoff on the Lower Shore here on the 8th, 9th, and finally a classic ice-dam signature on the 10th as large volumes of snow-melt are dammed and held back by the remaining ice.

 
     Same story further along on the Mid-Shore:


    Upper-Shore shows signs of a much more reasonable schedule:


    That classic heartbeat signature represents increased meltwater entering the stream following the daily cycle of the sun. The animals are all talking about impending steelheading as well: The male chickadees, cardinals and jays are all doing their best to impress the ladies in the morning, bald eagles are returning following ducks and geese, my masked bandit is back after a winter snooze and robbing the Bank of Black-oil Sunflower hanging from my deck. I won't be surprized if the toms in my area start gobbling and strutting soon, if they haven't already.

    We at MS will keep our eyes peeled and report as necessary. If we keep on this pace, we may see a season similar to 2012 where the trap opened on March 25th. And while we don't like saying the "B" word here because, after all we are MINNESOTA Steelheader and it's someone else's gig, the Brule gage went live here the other day which means it's open for quite a ways down.

Regards and more to come-
NMF

Friday, February 13, 2015

Take a kid fishing

One of our staff took this picture several years ago.  Who has a good caption for this?  Please send your suggestions via our comment link.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Healing through fly fishing


U.S. Navy veteran Chad Brown deals with his PTSD through fly-fishing. Now he's bringing the art of fly-fishing to urban youth who lack access to nature and have their own issues to deal with.

Some anglers are territorial, believing the river belongs to themselves and maybe just a buddy are two. Others recognize the healing powers of the great outdoors and see the river as an opportunity to selflessly share with others.  Which are you?
WATCH HERE

Friday, January 23, 2015

North Shore fishing poll

We are conducting a poll to see what species MN North Shore anglers are specifically targeting when it comes to rainbow trout in Minnesota streams, rivers and shoreline along Lake Superior.

Please see the side bar to the right for our poll and please share with any anglers you know!

The top picture here is of a nice big kamloops rainbow trout. Currently these are the only area rainbow trout an angler can take home for the table.

The bottom picture is of our famed steelhead, currently catch and release only.  You can learn more about each of these fish on our website: www.minnesotasteelheader.com


Friday, August 29, 2014

Fall stream-side clinic is scheduled

Our fall streamside clinic is finally scheduled and registration has begun.  If you are interested in participating we recommend you sign up ASAP as angler space is limited.

Date: Saturday, September 27th, 2014
Time: 9:30am to 12:30pm - after our adopt-a-river clean-up
Location: an awesome middle shore river*

How do you register?

What is the Streamside clinic?
We developed this clinic in 2011 as way to teach beginners and intermediate steelhead anglers the fundamentals of fishing our North Shore streams and rivers.  Timing the clinic in the fall was easy.  The pink salmon migration is in full swing,  the weather conditions are fairly stable and the rivers are running lower than the levels during the spring steelhead migration making them much more manageable.  Pinks also utilize some of the same migration and spawning waters as our steelhead and most north shore steelie flies can catch pinks.

What will you learn?
Our all volunteer staff of seasoned anglers will teach you all about pink salmon; how they got here, why they were able to naturalize, and how their habitat/life-cycle is similar to steelhead.

• We teach a little on how geology and limnology impact steelhead and pink salmon.

• We review fishing equipment that is suitable for both steelhead and pinks including: rods, reels, line, knots, flies, and misc extras.

• We give a brief summary on all the trout and salmon that swim our waters.

• We also go into detail on how to read water and the terminology for the different types of water/current within our rivers and streams.

• The above might seem time consuming, but we run through it pretty quick and give each of you a nice written outline jammed with everything we teach... now we fish!

• After some general overview our staff of male and female instructors will split the group in two - guys and gals.  Each group will have some hands on instruction on locating fish, fly selection, and presentation.  Note this is not a casting class, but some assistance can be provided.

What is new for the 2014 clinic?
Steelheading is pretty much the same these days, but the anglers are changing. We are noticing more and more diversity on the water these days so to help the momentum we are encourage parents and children to sign up for the event this year. We are also encouraging husbands to bring their wives, or wives to bring their husbands. Couples are encourage to participate, but this is for individuals too!

What will you need to bring?
First and foremost bring a positive attitude.  You will also need to supply yourself with your own fishing equipment (rod, real, line, flies, waders, rain gear, etc.). We also strongly suggest polarized glassed and a camera. 

What will MS provide?
We will have some water and a snack on hand but feel free to bring your own as well.  We will also be providing a clinic outline packed full of valuable information, a basics to fly fishing guide, and a north shore river map booklet.

Who can attend?
This clinic is open to all who are able to freely maneuver the root covered dirt and rock trails along the banks of the river.  The trails are the easy part, it is the walking on rocks and light wading that requires a good sense of balance.  Note too that we focus on entry level wading - no crazy deep water, most is less that knee high.
We strongly encourage kids to participate in the clinic, but they must register with an adult.

What does the clinic cost?
Our clinic continues on at no cost to participants, but we are encouraging participants to help us keep this great program alive and growing buy donating to Minnesota Steelheader.  You can learn more about donating here or simply click on the link below to place your donation.

Visit our donations page to learn how to support us!



* river location to be determined.  All participants will be updated on river and meeting location.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Creel Project - The Beginning

    To better understand why Minnesota Steelheader went off the deep end so to speak with regards to looking closely at temperature and its influence on the initial upstream migration of steelhead and kamloops, we have to go back to the beginning.

    The true genesis was born out of sheer frustration, and a manic quest for information on fishing the North Shore. At the time, the frustration arose from the conventional wisdom that flow was the be-all, end-all factor in steelhead and kamloops movement: Flow goes up, fish start moving; only significant anecdotal evidence suggested otherwise.

    Over the course of many years of North Shore steelheading, conventional flow-wisdom proved itself over and again, but there were also far too many outings where, at the end of the day, you wanted to snap your rod in half, chuck it far out into Lake Superior and take up anything but steelheading; knitting for example...

    The final straw was a trip in which I took a number of North Shore neophytes on what became a grim, three-day, wholly unsuccessful quest. We drove endlessly, froze our hands and feet, hiked and waded countless miles, and made equally dangerous descents and ascents of some of the most notorious North Shore canyons. Not once did we ever touch a fish. Fortunately the group was comprised of hard-core steelheaders with plenty of experience outside of Minnesota because to this day, they still refer to that trip as, "The Devil's Track Death-March".

    All of us agreed that conditions were ideal: Flow was up, the water was somewhat off-colored and it was spring; what else could a steelheader ask for? Even a bona fide steelheading shaman rolling his spawn-bag amulet between rod-calloused fingers and throwing the bones would have said the time to fish was now.

    I spent the remainder of the following summer poring over Minnesota DNR technical research, but it was a single line in one paper, and the chance organization of old fishing logs, which pointed us in what we believe now was the right direction.

    As it turned out, a pattern appeared where despite ideal flow, catch rates were consistently low or non-existent. There were also numerous entries where despite what you might describe as anemic, heck pathetic flows really, catch rates were all a steelheader could wish for. When you lined things up, these events all occurred during the initial or early portions of the run. They also seemed to align around certain temperature readings recorded in the logs, and that is where the proverbial light-bulb went on.

    At that point I took a deep dive into the DNR's trap data, and here is what I found:

 
 


    Given a represented sample size of nearly 22,000 fish returning to trap, the temperature evidence seemed pretty clear. Four years on now in the Creel Project with roughly another seven years of other data has yielded even further evidence regarding both temperature and flow factors; all of which we hope will make you a more successful North Shore steelheader. With your continued support and reports, we'll keep posting the information with the goal of giving back, and making us all more knowledgeable, effective and conservation-minded steelhead anglers.

Regards-
NMF and Minnesota Steelheader         

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2014 Upper Shore Creel Project Results

2014 Upper Shore Daily Trends

We use the daily trends as our primary means of:
  • Looking at pre-run conditions
  • Assessing when significant upstream migration is likely or about to occur
  • As a way of illustrating all of the granular interactions between the fish, the flow and the temperature on a daily basis.
    Note the red arrows at various points on each chart, these will be discussed, and each point will be noted by a corresponding text highlight at the start of the paragraph. In other words simply jump from the discussion to the chart, find the corresponding date, look at the humps and bumps in the data

    Annually, once we start seeing signs of ice-pack movement on index streams in February and/or March, we begin tracking the stream temps. As Creel reports start rolling in, we track those trends against the daily temperature and flow values which results in the Daily chart below.

    2014 Upper Shore tracking began in early April with the first creel reports coming on until April 12th; apparently this was a popular date all across the Shore. These were all early fish comprised solely of steelhead.

April 26th and 27th was our first weekend of heavy Upper Shore fishing traffic based on various reports, and catch rates of fish in the streams increased accordingly; and while numbers were low, the reported fish were all steelhead.

On May 4th, daily high stream temperatures hit the low 40°F mark and stayed there although average daily temps remained in the 35°F-37°F range. This appears to have triggered some activity although temperatures did not maintain above the initiation threshold until May 9th. Throughout this period, flows were very high, likely above the limiting flow threshold. Although it is not flagged, you can see a bump in the catch trend on the 12th and 13th as flows on our index stream dropped into the 800cfs range, Again this suggests that the limiting flow threshold for up bound movement there is right around the 800cfs mark

On May 15th and 16th, flows decreased below the 800cfs range and catch rates increased dramatically until the 19th when a precipitation event again spiked flows. Catch trends decreased through the 24th as flows remained high.

By May 25th, flows had again dropped below the 800cfs range and catch increased significantly. These were likely new adult fish taking advantage of the dropping flow to begin their upstream migration and the numbers were quite high. I put question marks there simply because we don’t see this kind of spike with a flattened peak very often and suggests a sustained run of fish for several days.

By June 1st, flow-values were climbing again due to precipitation with the catch trend falling correspondingly. We’re still a little unsure as to why there was the spike in trend on June 3rd given flow values were so high. You have to remember that each region of the Shore is fairly broad geographically, but we are typically using a single index stream within each. While you can use these streams to infer conditions on other streams in the area, it could simply be that this precipitation event was highly localized, and that fishing conditions were much better elsewhere in the Upper Shore region.

    One last note regarding the Upper Shore creel: We know from other reports that fishing remained decent for another 10-14 days after our creel reports stopped coming. We encourage you all to continue reporting catch whenever possible as this helps us to flesh out the entire picture. The tail-end of the Upper Shore runs are a little data-poor in particular, so whatever you care to send is greatly appreciated!
 
 

2014 Mid Shore Weekly Averages

We use the weekly averages to:
  • Illustrate average flow, temperature and creel catch for each week during "The Run"
  • Filter out the "noise" in the daily charts in a way that is more intuitive to see and understand
  • Illustrate fish movement post-ice-out, pre-initiation and post initiation
  • Illustrate the overall current-year run picture for each Region of the Shore: Lower, Middle and Upper
  • Use each year's weekly average to produce a historical run picture for all the years we have data, the "Big Picture"
    Full ice-out occurred in very early April. Following May 11th when the initiation temperature threshold was met, catch trends for both steelhead and Kamloops increase, but as with the Mid Shore, you can see the probable suppression of up bound movement due to the average flows most likely being above the limiting value for the week of May 7th. As flow values drop, we see peak creel occurring the week of May 21st. Both Mid and Upper Shore kamloops numbers remain low. This illustrates the effectiveness of the Minnesota DNR’s kamloop stocking methodology. While there clearly is some straying occurring, limiting stocking of kamloops to Lower Shore locations with the goal of reducing genetic introgression (kamloop-steelhead cross-breeding) appears to be working given the low numbers returning to creelin each of these two regions.

 

Historical Upper Shore Creel Data as of 2014
 
We use historical creel numbers to:
 
  • Paint the "Big Picture" of returns to creel over the long term
    In the simplest terms, the historical data illustrates the earliest and latest dates fish have (reportedly) run for each region of the shore. While it's not a crystal ball by any stretch of the imagination, it does give you a framework for when to expect things to happen from year to year. Given enough time and data, what you also see are some well defined markers for peak returns. All we do here is to smoosh all of the annual data we capture for each region of the shore into a unified historical picture.
 
    As of 2014, we still don't have enough data for this to be illustrated with any clarity. The Upper Shore is probably the one region where we have a somewhat accurate picture – at least for now. The one caveat being that we are still data-poor on the tail end of the runs for this region which is why you see such a significant decrease as things move into June. Lastly, the whole point of the historical chart is to present a one-stop shop for:
 
  • When do things typically start
  • When do things typically peak
  • How long does it typically last
  • When do things typically end
 
 

Historical Upper Shore Run Progression as of 2014
 
We run progression numbers to:
 
  • Illustrate and define what the theoretical run progression is with respect to up bound movement in adult fish

The Historical means show you what to expect in any given year as you look forward. The annual creel and trap validate ideas regarding initiation temps and are the basis for other information. The Daily data shows flow, temps and their affects on fish movement. It also gives you a very good indicator of what is occurring and what is about to happen locally in any given year. The progression is a planning tool for you to use to position yourself to be a more effective North Shore Steelheader. Upper Shore appears to be different than Lower and Middle at first glance, but you can read why we think it looks this way here:
 
 

More Project data on the way. Special thanks to the Minnesota DNR Fisheries Section and Don Schreiner; Good Luck Don!
Regards-
NMF and Minnesota Steelheader 
 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 Mid Shore Creel Project Results


2014 Mid Shore Daily Trends

We use the daily trends as our primary means of:
  • Looking at pre-run conditions
  • Assessing when significant upstream migration is likely or about to occur
  • As a way of illustrating all of the granular interactions between the fish, the flow and the temperature on a daily basis.
    Note the red arrows at various points on each chart, these will be discussed, and each point will be noted by a corresponding text highlight at the start of the paragraph. In other words simply jump from the discussion to the chart, find the corresponding date, look at the humps and bumps in the data

    Annually, once we start seeing signs of ice-pack movement on index streams in February and/or March, we begin tracking the stream temps. As Creel reports start rolling in, we track those trends against the daily temperature and flow values which results in the Daily chart below.

    2014 Mid Shore tracking began in late March but as with the Lower Shore, our first reports did not come in until April 12th. These were all early fish comprised mostly of steelhead.

On April 19th, the daily high stream temps began flirting with 40°F and generated some steelhead movement. To be sure there were already fish in the streams, but we had reports from the area of several stream mouths where anglers observed fish entering the stream and moving up.

On April 23rd, both daily high and average stream temperatures dropped with a corresponding reduction in catch trend. Absent any studies of flow and adult fish movement on our Mid Shore index stream, we are unsure of the flow values above which limit up bound movement; it appears the decrease in trend is solely due to reductions in water temperatures. We just cannot say for sure.

On May 1st, daily high stream temps again crack the 40°F and generating both steelhead and some Kamloops movement with catch trend increasing accordingly.

On May 6th, the average daily stream temps finally maintain the initiation threshold, and catch rates of up bound fish begin increasing from that point on. A significant precipitation even occurred between the 8th and the 10th with discharge reaching the 1,950cfs range. This likely is above the limiting value for up bound migration because we see a slight reduction in catch rates. However, as is typical with our North Shore spate-streams, up bound migration wasn’t suppressed for long.

On May 11th, flow-values were falling through roughly the 1,200cfs range and catch trends increased. Another precipitation event occurred which probably increased flows above the limiting value. This suggests at least for this stream that the up bound limiting value is roughly in the 1,300cfs range. By the 14th, flows had dropped below 1,300cfs and we saw another spike in catch trend. Again you can see the sharp effects of precipitation on a spate-stream in the chart as flows tend to rocket up and down with precipitation.

On May 19th, we see another precipitation event which presumably triggers a wave of new fish. Flow and catch rates begin to decline from this point on with our last reports coming around the 31st. As with the Lower Shore daily chart, the creel catch is a trend, and not actual numbers of fish caught. In other words the spike on May 9th doesn't equal 40 fish reported, the actual number of fish caught and reported was actually much higher.

 

2014 Mid Shore Weekly Averages

We use the weekly averages to:
  • Illustrate average flow, temperature and creel catch for each week during "The Run"
  • Filter out the "noise" in the daily charts in a way that is more intuitive to see and understand
  • Illustrate fish movement post-ice-out, pre-initiation and post initiation
  • Illustrate the overall current-year run picture for each Region of the Shore: Lower, Middle and Upper
  • Use each year's weekly average to produce a historical run picture for all the years we have data, the "Big Picture"
    Full ice-out occurred in very early April. Following May 7th when the initiation temperature threshold was met, catch trends for both steelhead and Kamloops increase, but here you can see the likely suppression of up bound movement due to the average flows most likely being above the limiting value for the week of May 7th. As flow values drop, we see peak creel occurring the week of May 14th.

    On a side note, both Mid and Upper Shore kamloops numbers remain low. This illustrates the effectiveness of the Minnesota DNR’s kamloop stocking methodology. While there clearly is some straying occurring, limiting stocking of kamloops to Lower Shore locations with the goal of reducing genetic introgression (kamloop-steelhead cross-breeding) appears to be working given the low numbers returning to creel.


 
Historical Mid Shore Creel Data as of 2014

We use historical creel numbers to:
  • Paint the "Big Picture" of returns to creel over the long term
    In the simplest terms, the historical data illustrates the earliest and latest dates fish have (reportedly) run for each region of the shore. While it's not a crystal ball by any stretch of the imagination, it does give you a framework for when to expect things to happen from year to year. Given enough time and data, what you also see are some well defined markers for peak returns. All we do here is to smoosh all of the annual data we capture for each region of the shore into a unified historical picture.

    As of 2014, we still don't have enough data for this to be illustrated with any clarity. The Mid Shore is also a bit of an enigma, there are things going on in the historical numbers which simply leave us scratching our heads which only time and data will clarify. Again, the whole point of the historical chart is to present a one-stop shop for:
  • When do things typically start
  • When do things typically peak
  • How long does it typically last
  • When do things typically end
 

Historical Mid Shore Run Progression as of 2014

We run progression numbers to:
  • Illustrate and define what the theoretical run progression is with respect to up bound movement in adult fish
    The Historical means show you what to expect in any given year as you look forward. The annual creel and trap validate ideas regarding initiation temps and are the basis for other information. The Daily data shows flow, temps and their affects on fish movement. It also gives you a very good indicator of what is occurring and what is about to happen locally in any given year. The progression is a planning tool for you to use to position yourself to be a more effective North Shore Steelheader. Without rehashing too much, and since this is a crazy-long post already, you can read the nuts and bolts here:


Upper Shore Project data to come shortly. Special thanks to the Minnesota DNR Fisheries Section and Don Schreiner; Good Luck Don!
Regards-
NMF and Minnesota Steelheader

Saturday, August 16, 2014

2014 Lower Shore Creel Project Results

 
    Once again in 2014, Minnesota Steelheader followers stepped up to the plate; without your continued support and reporting, none of this is possible. We here at Minnesota Steelheader say, "Thank You!"
 
2014 Lower Shore Daily Trends
   
    We use the daily trends as our primary means of:
  • Looking at pre-run conditions
  • Assessing when significant upstream migration is likely or about to occur
  • As a way of illustrating all of the granular interactions between the fish, the flow and the temperature on a daily basis.
    Note the red arrows at various points on each chart, these will be discussed, and each point will be noted by a corresponding text highlight at the start of the paragraph. In other words simply jump from the discussion to the chart, find the corresponding date, look at the humps and bumps in the data
 
    Annually, once we start seeing signs of ice-pack movement on index streams in February and/or March, we begin tracking the stream temps. As Creel reports start rolling in, we track those trends against the daily temperature and flow values which results in the Daily chart below.
 
    2014 Lower Shore tracking began in late March, but our first reports did not come in until April 12th. These were all early fish comprised mostly of kamloops with a few steelhead mixed in. Interestingly we now have enough of a sample size to begin disproving or proving some of the ideas regarding initiation temperatures, as well as to begin calculating percentages of fish returning to creel -  both pre and post initiation (See the last chart).
 
    On April 20th, the daily high stream temps finally cracked 40°F, which likely generated some steelhead movement. The reason we say "likely" is that we're still not 100% sure if these were new up bound fish being reported, or simply that catch rates of fish already in-stream increased due to the increased temperature; it's probably a little of both. You have to remember that these fish are creatures of metabolism, and cold water changes where, how, and how often they are feeding on any given day. Sometimes finding pockets of water with even a 1-2 degree increase makes all the difference while fishing early in the run.
 
    By April 22nd, stream flows were sharply climbing through 1300cfs which effectively froze up-bound movement (note the decrease in trend). Studies on this index stream indicate that upstream movement effectively ceases at around the 500cfs mark, and fishing becomes all but impossible due to high flow velocities as well as suspended sediment loads. We're talking yoo-hoo, blown-out, chocolate yeti conditions, and the creel rates reflect this.
 
    On April 28th, catch rates again began to increase as flows began dropping back into that 500cfs range. We had about three days of respite from the brown maelstrom before flows rocketed up again.
 
    On May 3rd, the average daily stream temps finally hit the initiation threshold, but there was a roughly 3-day lag before catch rates of up bound fish increased significantly due to the high flows. As soon as flows began dropping into the 500cfs range, it was game-on. Past years data demonstrates that ordinarily, the majority of upstream movement of steelhead increases significantly, and almost immediately, upon that threshold being achieved and maintained barring any significant high-flow event. What this also illustrates is that once initiation temperatures are achieved and maintain, steelhead begin upstream migration in earnest. Subsequent to the initiation threshold, flow takes over as a primary influence on the remaining upstream movement. I suppose the working short-hand model at this point, at least until subsequent years of creel data prove the idea to be wrong is:
  • Early run primary influence = Temperature
  • Post initiation primary influence = Flow
    Probably a concept you'll want to keep in mind as you are planning and trying to put yourself into the best position to be a successful steelheader on the North Shore. Well, unless you can fish every day, or at least several times a week, which unfortunately a lot of us can not.
 
    The spike in creel on the 9th actually occurred just after the 1300cfs peak as flows were dropping again. You can see the sharp effects of precipitation on a spate-stream in the chart as flows tend to rocket up and down with precipitation.
 
    The peaks in creel on the 12th and 19th are both subsequent waves of new fish entering the stream on increasing flow due to further precipitation events. Catch rates continued to be good through May 26th, but as soon as flow dropped into the 150cfs range, these rates decreased sharply.
 
    One last item to note about the chart, the creel catch is a trend (I won't bore you with the statistical math involved), not actual numbers of fish caught. In other words the spike on May 9th doesn't equal 25 fish reported, the actual number of fish caught and reported was actually much higher.
 

 
2014 Lower Shore Weekly Averages
 
    We use the weekly averages to:
  • Illustrate average flow, temperature and creel catch for each week during "The Run"
  • Filter out the "noise" in the daily charts in a way that is more intuitive to see and understand
  • Illustrate fish movement post-ice-out, pre-initiation and post initiation
  • Illustrate the overall current-year run picture for each Region of the Shore: Lower, Middle and Upper
  • Use each year's weekly average to produce a historical run picture for all the years we have data, the "Big Picture" 
 
    This is a fairly simple chart to understand which is why we like it. You can quickly see that post-ice-out, flows increase (largely due to snow melt) and that fish are already in the stream. Things don't really get cooking until average stream temperatures achieve and maintain above the initiation temperature threshold the week of April 30th. The bulk of returns illustrated in the creel catch doesn't occur until after the threshold is met, and we had roughly 3-1/2 weeks of reported creel before catch-rates tapered off. That and we had some crazy flow which suppressed overall catch throughout the run, it was tough sledding to a degree.

 
2014 Lower Shore Trap Numbers

    We use the trap numbers to:
  • Compare returns to trap against return to creel
    You need some sort of control data for the Creel and the trap numbers are it. The critical point regarding trap numbers is that the trap operates largely independent of conditions. All discussions regarding trap efficiency during high flow aside, the trap will capture some up bound fish under any condition. Your chances however of catching a fish on the Knife at 2 a.m. in 700cfs are about as good as your chances of surviving a 12,000 foot skydive without a parachute. Not to mention I know some C..O's who would be very interested in your illicit nighttime activities, so I don't recommend either...

    Here too though, we see the same general pattern as we see in the creel, and that helps to validate the creel data. If we saw a wildly different picture, we'd have to go back to the drawing board on our ideas regarding initiation temperatures.

    Things are a bit more cut and dried with the trap data simply because there is a well-defined start and end date for the numbers reported by the Minnesota DNR. There's a little catch to this however because the trap operates for some period of time after the DNR stops publicly reporting numbers via the North Shore Fishing Report. This is why Minnesota Steelheader is so interested in receiving your creel reports no matter what time of the run or the year; it helps to build a much better overall picture.

    With respect to the chart, here again we see returns to trap climbing sharply once the initiation thresholds are met, and peaking post-initiation. This is probably the truest picture of up bound migration patterns in the adult fish. Creel data gives you a picture of fish from anywhere and any time they are in the stream, whether they are at rest or on the move. The trap data is all about fish movement past a given geographical point and illustrates how and when they move, in other words, the run progression.

    Run progression, and if there is such a thing as a "typical" progression, is one of the questions we want to answer with the creel project. The trap numbers have given us a window on this, and now with enough creel data, we can begin to illustrate that (see last chart). 


 
Historical Lower Shore Creel Data as of 2014

We use historical creel numbers to:
  • Paint the "Big Picture" of returns to creel over the long term
    In the simplest terms, the historical data illustrates the earliest and latest dates fish have (reportedly) run for each region of the shore. While it's not a crystal ball by any stretch of the imagination, it does give you a view of when to expect things to happen. Given enough time and data, what you also see are some well defined markers for peak returns. All we do here is to smoosh all of the annual data we capture for each region of the shore into a unified historical picture.

    As of 2014, we still don't have enough data for this to be illustrated with any clarity. We also have a number of years in the data in which things kicked off very early and very late, which is why you see a bit of a hodge-podge here. There are other lines of evidence you can use (and we do), such as any number of DNR Fisheries Investigational and Technical reports to get at that kind of thing, and we are starting to see correlations to that information in the charts. The whole point though is to present that one stop shop for:
  • When do things typically start
  • When do things typically peak
  • How long does it typically last
  • When do things typically end
    Only time and data will tell, but we are building the foundation and your contributions to the Creel Project are a critical part of the process. 


Historical Lower Shore Run Progression as of 2014

We run progression numbers to:
  • Illustrate and define what the theoretical run progression is with respect to up bound movement in adult fish
    The Historical means show you what to expect in any given year as you look forward. The annual creel and trap validate ideas regarding initiation temps and are the basis for other information. The Daily data shows flow, temps and their affects on fish movement. It also gives you a very good indicator of what is occurring and what is about to happen locally in any given year. The progression is a planning tool for you to use to position yourself  to be a more effective North Shore Steelheader. Without rehashing too much, and since this is a crazy-long post already, you can read the nuts and bolts here:
Run Progression


    Mid-Shore Project data to come shortly, whew!, that was a long sucker... Special thanks to the Minnesota DNR Fisheries Section and Don Schreiner; Good Luck Don!
Regards-
NMF and Minnesota Steelheader