04.14.2011 Fishing Report Plus

I was able to sneak out yesterday with the General for a rare early run fishing opportunity and it was an interesting day...

I apologize in advance, the SD card on my camera apparently fried. I took a whole slug of photos I wanted to post, but all I got when I went to download them last night was a formatting error...

Flows were well up on all the streams we stopped at and some of them are still screaming. Temperatures varied widely, but ranged from 36-43 degrees depending on when we stopped (morning or afternoon). The big baugaboo of the day was the wind which was cold and relentless. Thank goodness for the sun and some sheltered areas because at 15-25mph gusting to over 30mph at times, certain areas were not a lot of fun to fish.

We hit fish everywhere we went, however actually landing one was a different story. I am sure I personally missed a fair number of fish just due to the wind. The gusts made keeping a tight line impossible at times, and often pulled the business end up and out of the zone. That was probably the worst fish-killer since keeping it within a very narrow zone was critical due to conditions.

The most productive presentation/pattern was high-sticking big, bright orange, cerise or gold yarn on mono with either egg scent or a smaller spawnbag. The critical piece again was fishing the right areas and then keeping the presentation in that narrow zone. The Knife was a perfect example: It was 500cfs dropping to about 450cfs, dirty and 39 degrees while we were there. We started looking for quieter water first and then dialing things in. Even in the quieter water, the current was cooking, so we used short tippet sections (under 12").

We also overweighted on shot-droppers to the point that we had almost constant bottom contact as opposed to the every 1-3 foot tick of a more normal presentation. I call it skidding for lack of a better term because that's what it feels like your weight is doing.

The purpose of skidding is two-fold: First, fish will tightly hug bottom in high flows, and with the reduced visibility, they can't see far so you need to put it on their nose. Secondly, skidding slows down your presentation which again, in severly limited visibility, allows the fish to see it for a much longer time.

I'm going to commit steelhead heresy here, but I think it's a fair point to bring up. The accepted wisdom is that your presentation needs to be moving at the same speed as the current or steelhead will reject it. I think that's mostly true, although fishing the chocolate yeti (like the Knife was yesterday), means you need to be a little more flexible with your thinking.

A perfect example of this: I know a person that puts hundreds of hours in on a well known trib each year; in fact, it's pretty much the only place he fishes. He also takes obscene numbers of fish on yarn tipped with waxies. What's different is that he fishes by walking his yarn down through holes, stopping it and twitching it for long periods of time. Nothing at all natural about that presentation, but he's still very successful.

At any rate, we found fish tight to the bottom and hugging well-defined seams between slow and fast water, sometimes really close to the bank. I also got bumped in the legs while wading by several fish that were facing downstream and holding in a large back-eddy. You can fish floats very effectively to take advantage of the back eddies, but I didn't want to run back to the truck. It is another trick to consider though in really high water.

We missed a number of fish and broke several off while fishing the Knife alone, one of which was a really big, really chrome steelhead so the fish were definately around. The increase in temps over the 12th-14th definately kicked off the first push of fish. Check the latest DNR creel report and consider what they are emphasizing against the latest Minnesota Steelheader temp data (Click for Larger Image): Problem is that we're now seeing temps nosedive which is really going to slow down initial returns. This weekend is going to be tough despite the fact that there are fish around. They're just going to be hunkered down without a whole lot of movement going on. Once again, think big,bright, smelly and slow... I'll continue to update the following as information comes in, but it's interesting to watch how temps influence the initial returns of fish until we maintain that magic 40 degree mark. After that watch flow take over (Click for Larger Image): It's going to be a tough weekend for sure, but fish are there to be had and you can't catch them if you're sitting at home! Regards- NMF

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