Thursday, May 30, 2013

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 spinning all of the data and literature I could get my hands on. Those were the early years before I got my act together and built the front-end analysis tools I use now, but.... sorry, I'm probably boring you to tears already. GET ON WITH IT CLAVIN!

    Anyway, long story short, that was the point where I started paying very close attention to the MN DNR's trap data and literature.

    The result was that it explained the whole reason why you would get those odd years which just could not be explained by the "Flow is the Thing" school of thought.

    Rather than explain, I'll let the data do the talking. Here's the day-by-day breakdown of the Upper Shore creel project:
    Don't get too wrapped up in the gaps in the fish numbers caught. What's important is the point where the avearage daily trib temps hit the initiation threshold. The catch trend (magenta line) just makes things a little more intuitive. Note that catch doesn't really get cooking until the stream temps hit that point.

    There's a slight lag between initiation and catch numbers simply because the sample stream is small and tends to warm more quickly than the Upper Shore region in general.

    At any rate, with respect to fishing in the tribs themselves, temperatures reaching the initiation threshold trigger the primary upstream migration of adult steelhead. Once temps maintain above this point, subsequent bumps in flow will bring in succeeding runs. You can see this to a degree with the bump on the 18th and 19th of May.

    The working theory now is: "Temps are the thing, until they're not, and when they're not, it's flow baby" or something like that...

    What does that mean to the average steelheader? Probably not much if you can get out there every day. There certainly are fish around prior to that point, it's just that numbers are much lower than after the point where temps hit. For the steelheader with limited time on their hands? Makes a huge difference knowing when your best shot at fish is, particularly if you have a short window and have to both plan as well as travel.

    More to come as soon as I get some more data, but I thought that you might be interested to see why I continue to post these charts and blather on about this topic from year to year. What I'd really like to know is whether this same phenomenon applies to say, WI tribs and steelhead as well as the North Shore fish.

Professor Frink signing off for now-

Friday, May 24, 2013

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.

    That's not to say we don't get early steelhead moving in and out of the tribs, we are really talking about initial numbers. Note too that kamloops have a slightly lower threshold which is a big reason why we see a lot of loopers being caught earlier, with steelhead making up the bulk of the catch slightly later.

    At any rate, here are the updated Mid and upper Shore graphics:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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:

Friday, May 17, 2013

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 pool you're working; Explain to him, politely the error of his ways. If that fails and he (or she) decides their fishing is more important than yours. Do not stoop to their level. Hard as it seems, I recommend you move on. First you're less likely to catch anything with a bozo (or bozette) like that in the pool. Second the stress of having to be around this kind of clod is not worth the trouble.

If you're working your way downstream and come across someone working upstream, yield to the angler working upstream. This is an old rule from the time of Hewitt and Gordon.

If you are working your way upstream, and come across someone working upstream only slower than you, get out of the water before entering their pool. Walk at least as far as you could fish in half an hour upstream. Give them plenty of undisturbed water to work. If you know, tell them how far up you expect to go. "I'll leave the water up to the old fence row to you." That way they cannot blame you for not having caught anything. They might also let you know if twenty other guys just traipsed through. They might be on their way out and tell you to go ahead and put in.
In the event you find yourself sharing a pool with one or more anglers, give yield to anyone fighting a fish.

Do not laugh at casting flubs, unless they are your own.
Never second guess another angler's selection of fly.

Avoid using the stream as a path. Walk from pool to pool on the bank. Leave a pool as quietly as you entered it. This means the pool needs less rest for the next angler that comes to it, if you are lucky it may be you.

If you see someone working a fish, or waiting one out, give them a wide berth, preferably by going to the next pool.

Talking to another angler is acceptable, and quite proper.

Not talking to another angler is acceptable, and quite proper.

Do not litter, and do not tolerate litter around you. Pick it up.
If you smoke, take your matches and your butts out with you. Forest fires should happen on their own not with your help, so pay attention.

Respect fences, leave gates the way you found them, close the ones you opened and leave the open ones open.

Show the same respect to spin fishers as you do to fly fishers. Elitism has no place on our rivers. If you really think fly fishers are better, prove it by living up to a higher standard not by expecting less of others
Offer advice only if asked, ask only if willing to listen.

No trespassing means no trespassing. If you really want to fish there, ask permission. You will be surprised how many folks say yes. But NO means NO.

Cellular phones, beepers, radios and television have no place on the river.

Be especially mindful of your manners and language around youngsters. They learn best by example.

Swearing, farting and burping are at the discretion of the angler, and quite acceptable. (Note previous rule.)

Lying is still acceptable, even expected, if asked how you did, or where you were. Lying about the hatch is not as decorous, but tolerated. Lying about your residency is illegal when purchasing a license. Lying in the grass and taking a nap is one of life's great joys.

Never interrupt a lying fisherman.

Enjoy yourself, but not at the expense of someone else's enjoyment.

Catch and Release.

This fantastic article is from our website and written by friend,  Agust Gudmundsson  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Data is Rolling In!

Finally have enough data to analyze... A HUGE thank you! to all those who have contributed to the MS Creel Project so far, the data is invaluable. Unfortunately I don't have any Lower Shore temp data to include, but the Mid and Upper shore charts are coming soon. Here's what things look like for combined Lower Shore MS and DNR Creel data so far:

Fishing Report - 5-14-13


Water levels along the lower shore have been in great shape this past week with fish being caught daily. Stream temperatures were in the mid 30's most mornings and the lower 40's by the afternoon.
Middle shore, river levels were on the high side but coming down.  Lots of fish and moderated fishing pressure.  Water temps averaged in the high 30's to low 40's - prime steelhead temps!  There has been a lot of success on the Middle shore and plenty of fish lost as well.
Upper shore rivers still had really high water last week with some rivers still a bit dangerous to fish.  Fishing pressure was pretty light.  Water temps were pretty similar to the middle shore, though some rivers stayed a bit  cooler due to the continued snow meld in the inland headwaters regions.  Water levels are coming down and fishable.
The DNR reports the French River trap totals through 05/13 are 726 Kamloops and 62 steelhead.
If you are thinking about fishing, quite thinking and go.  This could be an awesome next few days.
Good luck and tight lines to all!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fishing report 5-11-13

Water levels are still high along the entire shore.  Very fishable on the lower and middle shore,  though those river crossings that you like are unlikely. Upper shore rivers are high.  Some to high for my liking - passed on a few yesterday.

Temps are great.  Right now I am in 39.6f water.  Fishing is slow but TU has one on the board.  

Stay tuned for a post on stream etiquette - at least one of you.  Low holing 2 guys working a run is pretty lame, especially when your upstream cast is crossing my downstream swing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Spring 2013 Trap Data

DATE: 05/13/2013Knife River Flow: 188cfsSucker River Temp: ??°F
French RiverSteelheadKamloopsUnclipped Clipped
Number Captured22349
Total Captured72662
DATE: 05/09/2013Knife River Flow: 827cfsSucker River Temp: ??°F
French RiverSteelheadKamloopsUnclipped Clipped
Number Captured6145??
Total Captured40377??
DATE: 05/06/2013Knife River Flow: 724cfsSucker River Temp: ??°F
French RiverSteelheadKamloopsUnclipped Clipped
Number Captured34232??
Total Captured34232??
DATE: 04/29/2013Knife River Flow: 1560cfsSucker River Temp: ??°F
Knife RiverSteelheadKamloopsUnclipped Clipped
Number CapturedTrap Closed 2013Trap Closed 2013Trap OpenedFrench River
Total Captured0005/06/2013
DATE: 04/29/2013Knife River Flow: 1560cfsSucker River Temp: ??°F
French RiverSteelheadKamloopsUnclipped Clipped
Number Captured00Sucker Gage
Total Captured00Not Operable 2013

    Trap Numbers are rolling in for 2013. Unfortunately we are still seeing residual fallout from the massive floods of 2012.

    The floods in June of 2012 did a number on everything from the streams themselves, to knocking the Sucker Gage and Knife Trap out of commission. This makes our job at MS that much more difficult to provide you with the best information possible. It represents, more even more critically, a significant loss of fisheries data to the hard-working folks at the DNR. This impacts us at MS because the DNR is one of our most important and heavily relied upon information sources for raw data.

    At any rate we'll do what we can. We'll just have to get up, dust off and keep on movin' on. I'm still working on the DNR and MS creel data. I hope to have something for you soon.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Mother Nature at work

Many of you visited the North shore last summer/fall and noticed the Stewart River along with a few other rivers, were completely closed off to fish migration due to the awesome spring flood of 2012.  Pictured here is what that bar at the Stewart looked like.  As you can see, nothing that swims was entering this river for a fall migration. 

As time went on this area gathered snow and ice, and more snow and ice.  The massive power of the great gitche gumee further increased the size of the sandbar by bulldozing more and more sand and gravel to the blockade.  The combination of ice and gravel over the winter months was nothing short of impressive work by mother nature.

In the weeks and months that followed the original post of the sandbar picture back in October of 2012, there were many of you that expressed concerns about how this would affect the 2013 spring run.  As we expected Mother nature took care of herself just fine. 
Here is a picture from 5-3-13 of the same mouth area of the Stewart River. The Stewart, along with several other North Shore rivers, is very much able to once again welcome steelhead for another spring season.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Fishing Report: 5-2-13

Fishing report: 5-2-2013

Our North Shore rivers from Duluth up the shore are flowing hard and strong. Most of them are ice free. Cool air temperatures the past few days have reduced runoff and river levels are dropping, but
are high and very turbid. There is still a substantial amount of snow in the woods which will cause rivers
to rise when the weather warms up and the snow melts. Water temperatures are very cold at 32-34

The lower shore DNR clerk interviewed shore anglers the past few days and anglers caught 16 Kamloops, 3 steelhead, and one coho salmon. All three of the MNDNR creel clerks will be out interviewing anglers starting May 3rd, so a more detailed report will be posted on Monday. Please be respectful of the clerks.  providing them with your catch information provides extremely valuable information for the fishery.

Reminder to that we are conducting our own Creel  Report (MSCR) along the North Shore this year. The information we gather will provide MS with some valuable data for our not so scientific, but pretty awesome study.  Visit our website for more information.

some report info provided with the help of the MNDNR

MS Creel Project - Online

The Minnesota Steelheader Creel Project (MSCP) is under way.  Please click on this link  to add your 2013 catch!  the form is simple and you should be able to access from mobile devices as well.

Your part is very simple- When you fish the North Shore in 2013, 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.

Check out a previous post for a bit more information: