Saturday, May 22, 2010

Steelhead of th North Shore

For those that have not read the article yet, here is a link to a great article written by a noted North Shore Steelhead veteran angler and author, Michael Furtman. The article appeared in the March/April issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer.

Steelhead of the North Shore
"As North Shore streams swell with snowmelt, anglers can once again fish for supersized rainbow trout. How have these native fish of the Pacific Northwest made themselves at home in Lake Superior and its tributaries?”

Click here to read the rest of the article.



Picture courtesy of the MN DNR

Post Season Analysis

Well, I shouldn't say, "Post Season" quite yet. There are fish around if you know where and when to look. I do have some intesting graphics assembled now that the DNR creel and fishing reports are done for the spring. MANY thanks to the hard-working folks at DNR fisheries, they rarely get enough public credit; usually they are just getting an earfull....

One of the most useful ways I've found of looking at all the numbers has been to use a weekly format as it does a few things:
1. It smoothes out any wild fluctuations in the numbers
2. It allows comparisons between different years along with different State's data
3. It's a bit more intuitive and easy to grasp
Without boring you further with a whole bunch of mental gymnastics used to produce the charts, here's how the Lower Shore combined trap numbers looked through May 20th (Click Thumbnail for larger image):



The blue/green lines are the total returns by week, the yellow is the average Knife River discharge in CFS by week and the black the Knife ice-out date reported by USGS.

If you want to see just how strange a year it has been, here is 2010 compared to the long-term return averages by week. Warning, it's going to look like I was on crack when I produced the chart, but bear with me:



Note that 2010 ice-out occurred nearly three weeks earlier than normal. In fact, the steelhead return peak was in full swing during the time ice is usually going out on Lower Shore tribs. Return peaks occurred about two weeks earlier than the historical average as well. 2010 Kamloops returns are skewed by a couple days, but it's related to the way the graph works, or more accurately doesn't work; it's not a terribly sophisticated graphing program. Close enough though...

And finally, the Lower Shore creel survey numbers:



I've added stream temps to the creel graphics and for good reason. DNR Fisheries has been quietly reporting for some time now that temperatures closely approaching or exceeding 40°F are a critical factor and influence on initial upstream movement of Kamloops and Steelhead. I've since gone back and run numerous years returns against mean temperature and flow, and the correlations are too strong to ignore. Remember, we're talking about initial upstream movement only with regards to the magic 40°F average. Once that occurs and fish move upstream in numbers, it appears that flow once again takes over as the main factor in upstream movement.

Now, that doesn't mean we don't get early forays of fish into the streams at say 33-36°F because we do. I've even seen them running through meltwater over the ice to get to a hole; were really talking about significant numbers of fish. Coincidentally, magic 40°F also seems to be the point at which flies begin to be increasingly effective. Below that bait seems to outfish flies by a wide margin. Keep these things in mind on the North Shore and you'll be a better and a more successful fisherman.

Last but not least, the Mid and Upper Shore creel surveys:



Note that early fishing success/higher numbers of fish caught really didn't get going until temps hit the 40°F average.

Last item- Don't let the low numbers of Upper Shore fish throw you. The Upper shore simply has lower numbers of fishermen/women out and about at any given time so the overall numbers of fish caught are generally lower and there are less folks to survey.



Regards & Good Fishing!
NMF

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fishing Report 5-17-10

The Minnesota DNR creel survey was only run on the Upper Shore this past weekend, and now is over shorewide for the year.

From 5/14 through 5/16, water temperatures ranged from 45-55 on the Upper Shore, and interviewed anglers caught 1 Steelhead and 1 Brook Trout. Flows from the May 13th rain are now decreasing and streams have moderate water clarity. The forecast calls for sunny skies all week, which should push late spawning fish to move in and out of Grand Marais area streams within the next week. Angling pressure continues to be light.

Totals for the Knife Trap are so far are 382 unclipped steelhead, 297 maxillary clipped steelhead, and 26 Kamloops. Totals for the French River are 89 unclipped steelhead, 8 maxillary clipped steelhead and 395 Kamloops.

This is the last fishing report for the spring creel. We thank our friends at the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources for their hard work this spring.

I was also on the shore from Friday to Sunday - not fishing. The water conditions looked good and I only observed two sets of Anglers from the Beaver to the Brule. What a strange year. The conditions are a bit different that a typical year but the fish are still running. If you are still thinking of steelhead fishing this year I would not hesitate - go now!

Fishing Report 5-14-10

The MN DNR creel survey concluded on the Lower and Middle shores on 5/9/10, and will conclude on the Upper Shore on 5/16/10.

From 5/10 through 5/13, water temperatures ranged from 42-49, and interviewed anglers caught 5 Steelhead on the Upper Shore. As a result of nearly an inch of rain shorewide on Thursday the 13th, flows have increased substantially in all tributaries. The forecast calls for sunny skies both Saturday and Sunday, and angling conditions should be good. Prior to this rain, spawning fish were still being observed on upper shore rivers up to the Flute Reed. Angling pressure has remained light on the Upper Shore, so anglers should be able to select where they want to fish.

Totals for the Knife Trap are so far are 373 unclipped steelhead, 293 maxillary clipped steelhead, and 25 Kamloops. Totals for the French River are 89 unclipped steelhead, 6 maxillary clipped steelhead and 395 Kamloops.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fishing Report 5- 10-10

From 5/7 through 5/9, water temperatures ranged from 46-54 on the Lower Shore, 43-51 on the Middle Shore, and 42-49 on the Upper Shore.

From 5/7 through 5/9, interviewed anglers caught 4 Steelhead, 2 Kamloops, and 2 Coho on the Lower Shore, 7 Steelhead and 1 Brook Trout on the Middle Shore, and 4 Steelhead and 4 Brook Trout on the Upper Shore.

Only the largest of streams from the Baptism to Canada continue to have good water levels with slight color, making good angling conditions. Most moderate to small tributaries are now low and clear. There is a good chance of rain from Tuesday through Friday in the Grand Marais area, which should raise water level and add color to the water.

There are currently, and will be more fish to catch from the Baptism to Canada if the forecast is accurate.

Totals for the Knife Trap are so far are 371 unclipped steelhead, 286 maxillary clipped steelhead, and 25 Kamloops. Totals for the French River are 89 unclipped steelhead, 6 maxillary clipped steelhead and 395 Kamloops

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Fishing Report - Field Staff

Fished the middle to upper shore Wednesday (4/28) thru Saturday AM.

The water conditions on many of the rivers were low and clear. Water temps ranged from 42-54.

Wednesday was slow with my Dad hooking 2 fish, landing 1 on a Chartreuse Sucker Spawn and I landed one, also on the Chart. SS.
Thursday and Friday were quite a different story.
On many smaller rivers fish were visible and podded up but were not interested in any offerings. Paired fish on redds were left alone.

Due to warmer water temps I needed to change it up a bit so I tied on a #6 Woolly Bugger and my third swing was met with a vicious strike. A mean and ugly 26” male was soon in hand. I stuck with bugs and the big brown and black buggers really produced. In those 2 days I went 15 for 22 with only 3 fish not taken on buggers. Those fish were taken on a Freight Train and a unnamed bright colored wet fly.

The majority of the fish were fooled on the dead drift with rest coming via the swing. I used Type 3 and 6 sink tips in deeper pools but due to the low water that was only necessary in one or two areas. Every large fish caught or hooked made no doubt they were after my fly. The strikes were brutal and the fights intense, with one fish leaping 9 times!

I did not see many bright fish most had tremendous color as evident in the photos.
In addition to the Steelhead, many smaller smolt were caught along with numerous Brookies and the occasional sucker. The water was coming up as I was leaving on Saturday.


Go Fish - AB

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Fishing Report - 5-7-10

From 5/3 through 5/6, water temperatures ranged from 49-57 on the Lower Shore, 42-51 on the Middle Shore, and 42-50 on the Upper Shore.

From 5/3 through 5/6, interviewed anglers caught 1 steelhead and 2 Kamloops on the Lower Shore, 8 Steelhead, 2 Kamloops, and 2 Brook Trout on the Middle Shore, and 2 Steelhead and 2 Brook Trout on the Upper Shore.

Most streams from the Baptism to the Flute Reed have good water levels with slight color, making good angling conditions. There are still lots of fish to catch in this section of the shore. Angler pressure remained light this past week, despite favorable conditions??? Anglers should continue to select natural presentations due to water clarity. We expect a cold afternoon and evening tonight with rain and snow, but predicted weekend weather will be 50 and sunny. Last call before walleye opener, go fishing.

Totals for the Knife Trap are so far are 364 unclipped steelhead, 285 maxillary clipped steelhead, and 25 Kamloops. Totals for the French River are 87 unclipped steelhead, 6 maxillary clipped steelhead and 394 Kamloops. Smelting is over for the year.

Fishing Report - 5-3-10

Go Fishing! There are still fish on the Upper Shore Rivers.

From 4/30 through 5/2, water temperatures ranged from 49-50 in the morning on the Lower Shore, 45-47 on the Middle Shore, and 44-46 on the Upper Shore. In the afternoon water temperatures ranged from 53-54 on the Lower Shore, 49-51 degrees on the Middle Shore, and 49-54 degrees on the Upper Shore.

From 4/30 through 5/2, interviewed anglers caught nothing on the Lower Shore, 1 Steelhead, 1 Kamloops, and 1 Brook Trout on the Middle Shore, and 6 Steelhead and 1 Brook Trout on the Upper Shore.

Rain accumulation in most watersheds from the Baptism to the Flute Reed was greater than 1 inch over the past four days. Most stream water levels rose and became slightly turbid. The run is still on in this section of the shore, and there are fish to catch. Slightly higher and more turbid conditions should be good for angling. Angler pressure remained light in the Grand Marias area over the weekend, despite favorable conditions?

Totals for the Knife Trap are so far are 349 unclipped steelhead, 273 maxillary clipped steelhead, and 25 Kamloops. Totals for the French River are 87 unclipped steelhead, 4 maxillary clipped steelhead and 383 Kamloops.

Report courtesy of the MN DNR

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Fishing Report - 4-29-10

If you are still thinking of heading up the shore for steelhead this spring - GO!

By now you probably have all heard that the shore needs rain. You may have also heard that there is "no water". Well it is true that the shore could use some rain and it is true that some of the rivers are very low but that does not mean fish are not there.

After speaking with some people on Friday there are still a lot of fish in the rivers considering the conditions. We have had reports of fish being caught from the Knife all the way past the Brule. The key is that you need to find the bigger water or use some stealth on the rivers with lower water.

The myth that low water will not produce a quality run is just that - a myth. It's similar to telling a mother-to-be that she can't give birth because it is a blizzard outside, it simply has no effect. She may not drive as far or deliver where she wants to but she will have her baby. Same holds true with a hen Steelhead. She may not swim to the ideal spawning waters, or stay in the river very long but you can count that if she has eggs she will spawn.

Here is a report from the MN DNR:

From 4/26 through 4/29, water temperatures ranged from 49-53 in the morning on the Lower Shore, 46-47 on the Middle Shore, and 43-45 on the Upper Shore. In the afternoon water temperatures ranged from 53-59 on the Lower Shore, 49-52 degrees on the Middle Shore, and 49-55 degrees on the Upper Shore.

From 4/26 through 4/29, interviewed anglers caught 6 Steelhead, 2 Kamloops, and 2 Brook Trout on the Lower Shore, 2 Steelhead on the Middle Shore, and 8 Steelhead and 1 Brook Trout on the Upper Shore.

Most watersheds on the North Shore received less than ½ inch of rain over the past few days, and all streams are still low and clear. The run is still peaking in the section of the shore from the Baptism to the Brule, and fish are present and visible in all streams in this section. Successful anglers fished early and late, used flies or worms, spotted fish, snuck up on them, and made accurate casts. There are very few anglers fishing. Go fishing; there are still lots of fish to catch from Silver Bay to Hovland.

Totals for the Knife Trap are so far are 349 unclipped steelhead, 273 maxillary clipped steelhead, and 25 Kamloops. Totals for the French River are 87 unclipped steelhead, 4 maxillary clipped steelhead and 383 Kamloops.