Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 Creel Analysis

    Well, I've been scrambling to try and find at least ONE data source for temps on the Lower Shore. THE problem has been the havoc wreaked by the 2012 floods on the in-stream data packages. It's important to have these sources because it helps us show you some of those relationships between temperature, flows and our steelhead fishery.

    What's really interesting is watching how the stream temperatures change the daily fishing dynamic in that stage right before things really kick off. We know from the DNR technical literature and historical trap data that there is a temperature threshold which seems to initiate upstream migration of adult steelhead. In kamloops, that threshold is just slightly lower.

    What we're trying to illustrate here is the catch trend against the stream temperatures. We won't be as concerned with flows until after that initiation temp threshold is met and maintains. Once we get past that point, it's all about the flow. Certainly temps play a big part at that stage with respect to where in the stream you'll find fish, but we are not there yet.

    Here's the picture of recent conditions: Yellow line is Knife River daily flow divided by 10 for the purposes of finer illustration. Red line is daily high temps in our index stream. Blue line is daily average temps. Black line is the temperature initiation threshold for that first big migration push in adult steelhead. Purple line is the creel/catch trend as reported by the DNR and Minnesota Steelheader's creel project.

    Couple items to note: It's tough to illustrate it given the raw flow numbers (even when divided by 10), but you see the temps climbing as flow drops after ice-out. Air temps at that time were high which caused a lot of cold runoff to dump into the streams from snowmelt; this in turn caused temps to tank. As flow is dropping again, stream temps are trying to creep back up there, but we need some clear sky and sun to move things along again. Preferably not too warm or we'll get another massive dump from melting snow and temps will tank; not to mention we'll all be battling the chocolate yeti...

    Creel trends are essentially flat-line. There are fish around, but it's tough sledding unless you have the time to put in and fish every day. What we are looking for now is for the daily average stream temps (blue line) to get above the initiation threshold. If daily stream temp highs (red line) exceed and maintain above 40 degrees as well, so much the better.

    We've never claimed to be able to predict when the run will start in any given year, but so far, watching the temp trends on an annual basis early in what you might call the pre-run stage, would be about as close as it gets. We'll post more about this as more data comes in.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Annual Creel Project has started

If 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 2014, 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 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.  You can also send your information 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. You'll be helping everyone out if you do.


Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Meet & Greet

Just what is the Meet & Greet anyway?

The Meet & Greet is an annual casual "come when you're done fishing" gathering of like-minded Minnesota steelhead anglers, organized 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 and photos, etc. 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.

The gathering is open to women, men, 1st time steelhead anglers and seasoned veterans - we welcome all. This is a great way to get to know your fellow anglers, improve our angling community camaraderie, and meet some members behind Minnesota Steelheader.

We hope to see you this spring!

Blackwood's - Two Harbors
~ Meeting in the bar ~
 612 Seventh Ave • Two Harbors, MN • 218.834.3846
Date: Saturday, April 26th, 2014
Time: 7:00pm - last angler standing

Fishing Report 4-18-14

Spring is here, we think.  We will start posting fishing reports here with as much regularity as possible.

Rivers along the North Shore are flowing, but deep snow in the river valleys and shelf ice along the
margins of the rivers makes access to many rivers very difficult and dangerous. Water temperatures
remain very cold, only in the low 30s. Warmer air temperatures are forecasted for early this week,
which should help melt the remaining ice. Shore angling for Kamloops remains difficult due to the ice in
Lake Superior getting pushed around the lake by the winds, often eliminating any open water for fishing.

Info provided by the MN DNR

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Things are Moving!

Our apologies, we've been very busy elsewhere and have neglected our steelhead duties, so it's time to get back on track.
    Where to start???..... All kinds movement going on up and down the North Shore. The Knife had a pretty classic ice-dam signature which shows all the indications that the ice pack is finally breaking up. It's always a bit of a crap-shoot with the flows when you see this kind of signature, but our best estimate given the data we have is that the Knife is now running around 275CFS under all that ice.
    Mid-Shore streams are moving as well. The Baptism must have a fair amount of open water in and around the upper reaches. Water temps in the lower river were climbing into the mid-33F range which usually indicates open water somewhere. We only see this starting during the initial stages of ice-out when the stream-bed is exposed and the sun is heating the bottom. The bottom absorbs solar radiation and re-radiates it into the water helping the water temps to climb. 
Upper-Shore streams are showing the same thing. We have first-hand reports of open water, and the temp readings have also been climbing into the mid-33F range during the day.
    The only thing slowing things down at this point is illustrated in the graphic above. The magenta line shows stream temps climbing and peaking on a daily basis following the solar cycle. Basically you get the most heating between late morning and mid-afternoon. Not only does this warm the streambed, and consequently the water from re-radiation, it also accelerates snow-melt in the river valleys. The problem until we get rid of the majority of the snow is that the meltwater entering the streams is still very cold. You can see the effects of this in the graphic, The increase in flow (the blue line) from increased snowmelt is pumping cold water into the river which is bringing the temps (magenta line) down.
What we're waiting for now is for the avreage daily stream temps to hit that roughly 38 degree F mark with daily high temps in the 40+ range. We know from the literature that this, at least with respect to the North Shore Steelhead fishery, is the trigger for that first initial upstream migration push of adult steelhead.
    Of course, none of that is to say you should wait. If you can find open water, whether it's in the stream or out off the mouths and you have the opportunity, it looks like it's time to dust off the rods and hit the water.
    Oh, and I almost forgot: That river on our neighbors over to the east has fish in it and is running at around 270CFS at the moment. Lots of nice fish being caught.