Showing posts from 2013

Is There a "Typical" Run Picture?

This question is one of the big ones we're trying to answer with the Creel Project. It's big because if we can get a general idea of what a typical run looks like, we can theoretically utilize current data to establish a baseline and visualize what's likely to happen over the course of a given regions run. It becomes both a planning tool as well as a general question answering tool.

    This is of course, an oversimplification. Conditions vary greatly from stream to stream with respect to stream size, length to barrier, rate of warming, rate of returns, flows, angling pressure etc. Still, gathering and validating that general picture certainly helps clarify our understanding of just what does tend to happen from year to year over the course of the returns.

    Probably one of the best data sources to use with respect to that typical run picture is the Minnestota DNR's French and Knife River trap data. The traps intercept up bound fish and the data is captured in re…

Building the Historical Context

The last thing we do as part of building the Creel Project framework, is to nest all of the regional data into what you might think of as a historical picture for the runs along the entire North Shore.

Shorewide Snapshot     What you see here is a sort of visual representation of the data nesting. The green line is the actual 2013 Upper Shore Creel Project data. This was combined with the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Upper Shore Creel Project data to create the blue line. The blue line represents all of the historical data for the Upper Shore Region. This is in turn combined with the Lower and Middle Shore historical data to create the red line for a unified historical snapshot of the entire North Shore.     Over time, a picture should develop for each region as well as the entire Shore. This should allow us to begin answering questions people ask about fishing North Shore Steelhead. It should also allow you to look at all of the posted data to draw conclusions about what you want to do and…

Even more 2013 Creel Project Analysis

As we continue to build the foundation for future data, one of the things we are doing along with gathering all of the specific annual data, is to start creating longer-term historical data for each region of the North Shore: Lower Middle and Upper. Annual data helps us see the direct interactions between flow, temperature and fish movement. Placed into a regional historical context, we begin to see the larger patterns in start, peak and end of run. We also begin to get a peek at the length of the run for given regions.

    Now, you have understand a few things about this larger picture; fluctuations in year to year weather have all kinds of effects on the run. Early warmups kick it off sooner, late warmups kick things off later, rapid warmups tend to compress the length of the run, while more gradual warming seems to expand or lengthen the run. So far this is the general picture developing in the data.

    We'll talk about what the relationships are later between the annual, …

More 2013 MS Creel Project Analysis

Very late, but trickling in as promised...

    Minnesota Steelheader would first like to thank YOU! Without your voluntary participation in the Creel Project, we would not be able to put together information that benefits us all. MS followers rose spectacularly to the challenge in 2013, and it is beginning to pay significant dividends with respect to the who, what, why, where, when and how of North Shore steelhead fishing.

    I think once all of the 2013 results are in, we'll put together a sort of executive summary that places all of the data into a historical, current and future context. That way all of you data-junkies can pick it apart, make suggestions, tell us we're full of beans, whatever. That kind of thing is important because it helps us make the content that much better, and more understandable for everyone.

    So without further typical rambling on my part:

2013 Lower Shore Results       One of the problems we had in 2013 from an analysis standpoint was that…

Preliminary 2013 MS Creel Results

     Ok, I'm cheating a little bit here with just a teaser, but it's been an extraordinary year for many of the MS staff with ups, downs and everything in-between. Bottom line is we're all volunteers with responsibilities outside of MS and it has been BUSY!

    I still have some more heavy lifting to do, but what you are looking at are the preliminary results of both the cumulative creel as well as the means or average returns to creel. All of the granular detail for 2013 is still being prepared, but there is still enough interesting stuff here to talk about.

    Some of the questions we're trying to answer with the creel project are pretty basic at first glance. They are also the first questions we get asked by folks new to the North Shore steelhead fishery: When do they run, how long do they run etc.? Those are also consequently the same questions vets ask when they venture to new water in WI, MI, OH, PA, NY and the West Coast, so it's not a bad review because …

A great volunteer opportunity!

Coaster brook trout research work - volunteers needed!

You have an opportunity in the coming weeks to assist with coaster brook trout research work on our North Shore streams.  Beginning the week of October 7 and continuing through early November, the Gitche Gumee Chapter of TU will assist the MNDNR as it conducts population surveys on major North Shore tributaries.  They have reached out to us to help round up interested volunteers.  You do not need to be a member of TU to volunteer!  This opportunity builds upon the genetic research and population survey work which the Gitche Gumee Chapter did with the MNDNR in 1997 and 1998.  The population survey involves electrofishing North Shore streams below barrier falls when brook trout are likely to be in rivers for spawning. This is a truly unique opportunity to advance the knowledge and restoration of coaster brook trout.The “work” involves participating on an electrofishing crew on weekdays this fall.The DNR will provide training.Volunteers…

New window decal

For those who are not familiar with Minnesota's North Shore steelhead rivers, they all flow under the renown Hwy 61, though on occasion a couple have been known to flow over the highway.

Check out a new window decal design we came up with.  What do you think?  we will be test driving these with our volunteers at this Saturday's Adopt-A-River clean up along the banks of the Sucker river, the parking lot and, of course, along HWY 61.

For more info on our clean up project please visit our facebook events page, give us a like while you are at it too!


Salmon clinic update

Well, that was pretty quick!

The guys group of the clinic is full, though feel free to register and we will list you as an alternate should someone cancel.

The gals group still has angler availability for women and any youth they wish to have join them.

If you know you will be on the shore the weekend of the 21st please stop by the Sucker River for our annual river clean up.  It usually does not take more than an hour or so with a good group of volunteers.  This is a great way to give back.  Here is a little secret too, you can tap into our staff  for current fishing reports, tips, and regions to focus on for fishing success.

We are also looking at an after (angling) hours meet and greet to catch up on the days catches, share stories, and help direct Sunday anglers to fish.


Fall Streamside Clinic is set!

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 to 16 (8 guys and 8 gals).
Date: Saturday, September 21st Time: 10:30am to 1:30pm Location: an awesome middle shore river*
How do you register? Simple.  CLICK HERE  or try this link:
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 l…

Cloquet artist wins 2014 trout and salmon stamp contest - MN DNR News Release

(Released August 12, 2013) Cloquet artist Stuart Nelson’s painting of a rainbow trout leaping to consume a mayfly has been chosen for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2014 Trout Stamp.
The painting was selected from 13 submissions for the annual contest.

Nelson won the 1999 trout stamp contest with a painting of a brook trout but hadn’t submitted an entry since, instead choosing to paint other subjects. Asked why he chose to enter this year after the hiatus, Nelson said fans of his previous work wanted to see him paint another trout, and he decided to oblige.

Four entries advanced to the final stage of judging during the contest. Other finalists were Stephen Hamrik of Lakeville, second place; Nicholas Markell of Hugo, third place; and Timothy Turenne of Richfield, fourth place.

The five member panel of judges this year were Amy Beyer, DNR creative services graphic designer; Ron Anderson, Outdoor News graphic designer; Bruce Vondracek, University of Minnesota profes…

Why Do We Do It?

If you were to ask a non-steelheader to look at what a steelheader does, and then have them repeat what they are seeing, it would make for some interesting commentary-
    “So there’s this woman or this man. They’re all decked out in long boots and a bulky vest jammed so full of stuff that the 50 or so pockets are absolutely bulging. I’m guessing it’s really heavy too because every so often, they put their hands on their low back, straighten up and stretch."      "They’re wearing a knit cap over a baseball cap, a neck warmer, a heavy jacket and fingerless gloves because they’re standing in the middle of a roaring stream that’s full of frozen foam and ice chunks. It’s pretty cold out to be standing in the water like that, there’s a sleet/snow mix coming down out of a leaden sky, and it’s making icicles on the net hanging off their back. They also keep blowing into their hands, and every so often, they hold the pole with one while they put the other into a pocket. What I can’t f…

It’s the Off Season – Now What?

As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", and it’s just as true for a Minnesota Steelheader. Now’s a good time to start going through your gear since you’re probably not using it frequently. Summer is busy Family time with activities and vacations, which pushes fishing to the back burner. Being an old-school Minnesotan through and through, I get groggy and disoriented any time the temperature or humidity is above 75 – I can barely function and move at turtle-speed; so a task where I can stay stationary in the heat is just my speed. The trout streams are bug-infested tropical jungles overgrown with nettles at this time of year. If you’ve ever been hot and sweaty, then blundered through a nettle patch in a tee-shirt, it’s a whole new class of misery and I avoid it like the plague. Could I have some cheese with my whine please?
    But there’s a good reason to get active and start doing some prep and prevention. Again, you can head off a number of i…

No Treble Hooks!

 Years ago all an angler had was a paper regulation booklet and the word from fellow anglers and DNR officials stating that treble hooks are not allowed in our north shore tributaries below the posted boundaries.  This should be enough, right?

Today we still have those regulation booklets and honestly they have come a long way in clarifying the dos and don'ts regarding our north shore fishery.  We also have dozens of signs along our rivers explaining the dos and don't as well as specifically stating the use of treble hooks.

If that was not enough, anglers can simply search the internet.  Heck, these days, you can search stream side right from your phone.  In fact this post will be available streamside to anyone willing to take the time to search the web or scan the UR code from our report cards that went out this spring.

Pictured above is a photo of a a crankbait that is in many o' bass anglers tackle arsenal. Heck, I have a few myself. The problem here is this was pulled …

Creel Project Update

Latest Creel Project updates:

    Things have pretty well wound down on the Lower and Mid Shores although there are still probably a few fish around. You're really going to have to work for any remaining fish there.

    Upper Shore, hard to say. It has undoubtedly turned the corner, problem is there are very few folks out fishing, and even less reporting so the numbers are likely lower than reality. MS got our last report a couple days ago, but that person hooked four, landed three and one bonus coaster fishing only two tribs. One of the hens was dropping eggs so you be the judge.

    At any rate, here it is. Dailies from the Mid and Upper coming soon:

Regards- NMF

More Updated Creel Data

Latest creel numbers updated as of 06.03.2013:

    Unfortunately we don't have any temp data available for any of the Lower Shore stations. We also lost the Baptism right smack in the middle of things. Fortunately we were able to catch the front-end of the Mid so to speak, so we have some good data there.

    Note that the Mid Shore creel numbers didn't increase until we hit the threshold despite flows being there; and again the trend depicted in magenta just helps to visualize a bit better since there are gaps in the daily catch data.

    Still fish around for sure. Things are winding down on the lower and Mid Shores, looks like Upper Shore has just turned the corner; but again, there are still fish to be had. Look for flow bumps on the Lower/Mid for your best shot at remaining fish in those regions.

Regards- NMF

A Little upper Shore Creel Analysis

While I'm waiting for some more creel data to come in (COUGH, Davin...), I thought I'd do a little more in-depth number crunching.

    One of the things that took me a long time to get my head wrapped around was that in my early steelhead formative years, I operated exclusively under the idea that flow was it; like flow was THE THING baby! Flow goes up, go fishing was my mantra.

    Now that is a fine rule to live by, except there were these years where I'd be out early in the season, the flow would be killer, and I couldn't buy a fish to save my life. And then there were years where, again early in the run, I'd be fishing out of necessity. Given a choice based on flows, I never would have been out there, but you fish when you can when it is your only opportunity. So given the absolutely dismal flow, and I'm talking like in the 50cfs range on the Knife, steelheading was gangbusters. So what gives?

    Being the data-junkie/techno-geek I am, I started spinn…

Creel Results Updated 05.25.2013

Couple quick notes. I was finally able to run the temperature numbers for the Mid and as of May 25th, Upper Shore. Once again we're seeing the strong correlation between rising temps during the initial stage of the run and the point when upstream migration really kicks off. It's not quite as apparent in this chart because you are looking at the weekly means for Creel numbers, temperature and flow. When you break it down day by day, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

    The point being that, as has been demonstrated by many years of MN DNR trap data, primary upstream migration of adult steelhead in numbers seems to be strongly correlated to average daily stream temperatures reaching approximately 38 degrees F, and that this is mostly independant of flow. So initially it appears that it is temperature which dictates upstream migration regardless of what the flow is. Once temps maintain above this initial threshold, subsequent pushes of fish are then dictated by bumps in flow.

Creel Results as of 05.21.13

Latest results have been analyzed. I'm still working on the temp and flow data, but that should be done soon. Again a HUGE thank you to all who have participated! For now:

Stream Etiquette

Rules for the River All rules subject to the judgment of the participants
I think the most important rule to remember is to respect the other angler's space. As to how much space that is, a good rule of thumb is twice as far as you think. On a small stream it might be as far as a mile or more. On a big river 100 feet is good. Unreasonable you say? Bull! Move to the next pool, or down to the riffle leading out of the pool. Distance can be your greatest ally on a stream. That big famous pool with thirty guys beating the water chasing the 10 rising fish, pales when compared to the empty pool with only one or two risers.

If after that long drive, and longer hike you find someone fishing the pool you came all this way to fish, feel free to be disappointed, but do not feel free to wade in. If you are determined to work that favorite stretch, sit on shore and wait till the other guy is done. Better yet go elsewhere.
If some ignorant clod comes into the po…