Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lisa's Journey to Becoming a Woman on the Fly:

As we prepare to share stories and experiences of steelheading ladies, I figure it's time to provide a glimpse into my own journey.

Many folks envision a successful steelhead angler as someone with a particular grace with a fly rod.  An example of intense focus and patience.  A person at ease on the rugged terrain that must be traversed through dense forest and swift, flowing rivers.  An individual who exudes that special sense of peace when in nature...

There I stood one April morning on a North Shore stream for the first time.  The cute guy I had convinced to take me fishing had provided a couple lessons in casting, drifting, knot tying and yarn cutting but that was the limit of my training. As gentle rays of the new day's early light peered delicately through the trees, we began to fish.  After a few unfruitful drifts we trudged further upstream and again I presented that little snippet of yarn, while in the back of my mind wrestling with the rationale of expecting a fish to strike the tiny bundle of fibers.  Within seconds however the proof
was right there, ripping line from my fly reel, testing the strength and flex of the 9 ft., 8 wt. rod and jumping through the air, putting on an impressive display. That quiet, serene morning took a turn very quick when I hooked that steelhead.  I froze in both shock and awe at the utter power of the fish while Jared and his buddy started yelling instructions.  Mind you, until this moment my battles as an angler had been with pan fish, walleye and the occasional pike on walleye rods and spinning reels so most terms being hurled at me were completely foreign.  Despite the guys' best intentions to help, I just didn't understand what on earth they were telling me to do.  I lost my first steelhead.  As it turned out, that was the first of many steelies I would lose until our last stop on the last day of our last trip of my second steelheading season.

Remember those ideal attributes of many successful steelhead anglers I mentioned earlier?  Well as a hot-headed, Irish girl I was not naturally blessed with those qualities.  For some of us, having those traits from the get go isn't what makes us great steelheaders.  In my case it was the determination and drive to be a great steelheader that helped me to develop those attributes. 

I spent two seasons hooking fish but failing to land them.  Or Jare would hand over the rod when he'd hook a fish and I could land those. Two seasons of hat-stomping frustration and some colorful language eventually led me to find patience and peace.  Two seasons of demanding unrealistic expectations of myself despite inexperience and unfamiliar conditions taught me to focus on the present, to be more open to change and to further my adaptability.  The learning curve was pretty steep but finally after two challenging seasons I made my first official steelhead catch.  Though it wasn't an impressive steelie nor a dramatic battle, I wouldn't change it for the world.  That moment signified a lot of work and represented many obstacles overcome. The pieces had finally all fallen into place and I've been a steelheader ever since. 

Not long after that, Jared and I decided to move up to his childhood home on Minnesota's majestic North Shore and are raising our family here.  The opportunity to frequent these rivers as often as I do is amazing.  You'd think by now I would've learned how to walk the trails with more grace than an elephant on roller skates but not the case.  I still face-plant in mud on a regular basis, still take out frustration on any inexpensive piece of gear that can be hurled to the ground without breaking from time to time.  I still about jump out of my waders when a small critter catches me off guard while I'm fishing.  Some things may never change but some of my favorite aspects of the sport are the unique adventures, constant challenges and the crazy experiences. 

I want other women to experience the empowerment that comes with conquering these rivers and battling these strong, beautiful trout.  I want women to see that they have a place among the guys and know that while we are the minority, there are more like-minded women out there than we realize. 
It's an honor to be a part of a program like Minnesota Steelheader's Women on the Fly and to be able to help share the stories we otherwise wouldn't hear.  A couple such stories will be coming up soon and if you would like to share yours, we'd love to hear from you!  Feel free to shoot us an email to womenontheflyms@gmail.com anytime!


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mid and Upper Shore Updates

Couple updates for you-

Mid Shore: This Region is just hitting the initiation temps. Stream temp increases are being inhibited by remaining snow-pack and melt along the Mid Shore, but flows are increasing for the same reason. Ignore the catch trend for anything after the 8th, we are waiting for the latest creel reports which are not reflected in the data below:

Upper Shore: Looks good right? Not so fast my steelheading friends.... Our only Index Stream with a temperature package is really small, consequently it usually hits initiation temps 7-10 days prior to the bulk of the Upper Shore steelhead streams. Basically you can't use it to gauge wider conditions, but it still is a great resource. Here too, stream temp increases are being inhibited by remaining snow-pack and melt along the Upper Shore, but flows are increasing for the same reason. Ignore the catch trend for anything after the 10th, we are waiting for the latest creel reports which are not reflected in the data below:

Overall, we are finally there. It's been a really strange pre-run, we'll have more analysis once we release the 2016 Creel Project results in early June. For now, get out there! We are getting some crazy reports from both Lower and Mid Shore.

As always, we appreciate you submitting any and all Creel Project Reports. You and submit Creel Reports HERE

And don't forget about the Steelhead Genetics Project. For more information, contact Nick Peterson at (218) 302-3272 or by e-mail: Nick Peterson 

Minnesota Steelheader

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Lower Shore Update

    It appears based on everything we are seeing in the data that we have finally hit the initiation temps on the Lower North Shore. We should be seeing significant numbers of adult steelhead beginning their upstream migration in earnest. Look for a large increase in both trap numbers as well as fish reported in the creel. We've included max daily temps in this graphic as well, just so you get a feel for what they are doing.

The creel trend below flat-lines after the 10th simply because we don't have any fresher reports yet, so don't let that fool you. It's magic time for the Lower Shore


Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Creel Project Running Totals

DATE: 05/27/2016
Lower Shore
Brook Trout
Number Reported001
Total Reported13338214
DATE: 05/17/2016
Mid Shore
Brook Trout
Number Reported2100
Total Reported5632112
DATE: 05/27/2016
Upper Shore
Brook Trout
Number Reported1190
Total Reported22954
DATE: 05/27/2016
Shore-Wide Totals
Brook Trout
Number Reported13191
Total Reported91754230

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Updated 2016 Creel Trend - All Three North Shore Regions

Wow, we just cannot seem to get a jump-start from stream temps. Fish are active and sneaking in when stream temps peak in the afternoons, but we just have not gotten that first major up-bound migration yet:

Lower Shore Creel Trend as of 04.08.2016

Mid Shore Creel Trend as of 04.08.2016

Upper Shore Creel Trend as of 04.08.2016

Friday, April 08, 2016

2016 Running Trap Summary

DATE: 04/15/2016
Knife River Flow: 349 CFS
French RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured19204223
Total Captured10311081211
DATE: 04/15/2016
Index River Avg Temp: 41.36°F
Knife RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured3861387
Total Captured5312533
DATE: 04/11/2016
Knife River Flow: 166 CFS
French RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured84231315
Total Captured84904988
DATE: 04/11/2016
Index River Avg Temp: 33.43°F
Knife RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured202
Total Captured1451146
DATE: 04/06/2016
Knife River Flow: 130 CFS
French RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured0673673
Total Captured0673673
DATE: 04/06/2016
Index River Avg Temp: 31.81°F
Knife RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured00144
Total Captured1431144
DATE: 04/05/2016
Knife River Flow: 142 CFS
French RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured000
Total Captured000
DATE: 04/05/2016
Index River Avg Temp: 31.02°F
Knife RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured1431144
Total Captured1431144
DATE: 03/31/2016
Knife River Flow: 447 CFS
French RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured000
Total Captured000
DATE: 03/31/2016
Index River Avg Temp: 32.58°F
Knife RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured000
Total Captured000
DATE: 03/27/2016
Knife River Flow: 147 CFS
French RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured000
Total Captured000
DATE: 03/27/2016
Index River Avg Temp: 32.02°F
Knife RiverSteelheadKamloops
Number Captured000
Total Captured000

Wednesday, April 06, 2016


A fisherwomen's checklist - Part one:

Being equipped properly on the water is not just a matter of comfort.  It is a matter of safety.  All anglers will find themselves in a risky scenario at some point and that is when you need to be confident that you can trust your gear with your life. 

Let’s review the basics: Polarized sunglasses, stocking foot waders, wading boots, base layers, hat and hip pack

Polarized Sunglasses:
Whether you are whipping fly line around or dislodging a snag, you want your eyeballs to be protected from flying hooks and sinkers.  Shades are essential.  The functionality of the polarized lenses will become apparent as you learn to look through the water versus at the water.  Not only will you be able to spot your target fish in some instances but the ability to see through the water will also give you a boost of confidence as you begin crossing rivers.
Polarized shades are pretty easy to find.  Just be sure they fit your melon well because you’ll sweat and be moving around so unless they are snug on your face, they’ll fall right off and be long gone before you realize they’re missing.

Stocking-foot Waders:
Good quality womens waders are difficult to find.  Cabelas make some that fit well and would suit a beginner just fine.  When purchasing waders, keep in mind that you need enough room to layer underneath for those cold, early spring mornings but don’t want to be swimming in them when you’re rocking the minimum base layers on warm, late spring days.  You need to move freely and comfortably in your waders.  Too much constriction and you’ll blow out the rear when bending over to land your fish. Too much bunching or bagginess will make you feel like an orca in a kiddy pool.  The best way to figure out what size works best for you is by trying them on.  Acknowledging that not all of us are  within reasonable driving distance to retailer’s physical locations, Cabelas, Simms, Gander Mountain, etc. all provide measurements on their websites to help you decide what size to purchase if you are shopping online.
Over time if you discover your waders aren’t holding up to your active angling, my recommendation is to look into purchasing Simms womens waders.  Simms make very high-quality, well-constructed waders for women.  For those of us above or below the “average” height standard, Simms offers both “tall” and “short” sizing.  As a tall woman who spends substantial time in waders, having that extra length goes a long way in terms of comfort and overall function. 

Your wading belt needs to be snug and secure.  In the event you get washed downstream, the purpose of that belt is to keep your waders from filling with water causing you to sink to the bottom of the river. It’s much harder for water to get below a properly secured wading belt, allowing you more time to get out of the dangerous situation. You may smell like a wet puppy once you’re back on shore but you’ll be a live wet puppy.
Wading Boots:
You have two basic options when it comes to wading boots: Rubber or felt-soled.  Some states have banned felt-soled wading boots in an effort to stop the spread of invasive species from watershed to watershed.  Minnesota currently does not have any restrictions so you still have a choice between the two.  Rubber-soled boots have made massive strides over the last decade so the pros and cons pretty well match its felt counterpart according to most people, especially when used with studs for additional traction.  My personal experience has been exclusively with felt-soled wading boots.  Despite different brands, my felt-soled boots have always provided adequate traction and stability on various terrain.  Even if I’m crossing a mucky stream where it’s impossible to see the bottom, I’m confident my boots will perform and help get me to the other side safely.  There are several brands of wading boots (both rubber and felt-soled) to choose from.  My recommendations again are Cabelas womens wading boots or Simms womens wading boots.  Both brands make felt and rubber-soled options and both make wading boots that can handle the rugged hiking that’s required to get to some of our favorite North Shore honey holes! 
Base Layers & Wading Socks:
To stay dry and comfortable on the water you want a fitted, moisture-wicking base layer.  Steelheading on the North Shore in spring can mean you’ll start out fishing in morning temps at or below freezing and by lunchtime you’re basking in 60 degree sun.  Embrace the layering!  If the forecast calls for some chilly weather, I’ll usually throw on a Henley and fleece zip up or hoody over my base layer.  Finally I’ll top off with a light jacket.  It takes some experimenting to figure out what layers work best for you but the key components you must have are your base layer top and bottom and wading socks to keep any sweat away from your skin.  Cabelas, Gander Mountain and Under Armor are my recommendations for finding layering pieces.  **Just because waders have to be boring earthy tones doesn’t mean you can’t rock bright pink thermals underneath.  Embrace your cheetah print loving self in your layers girl!

Worn in addition to your polarized shades, a hat will provide more sun protection as well as reduce glare helping you see through the water even better.  My recommendation: A Minnesota Steelheader hat of course!  Not only are Minnesota Steelheader hats a good luck charm, the proceeds fund steelhead genetics research!

 Hip Packs:
Aside from shore casting, the fishing techniques we utilize for steelheading don’t require us to carry much.  Most things found in a steelheader’s bag of goodies: Scissors, pliers, small tackle box with hooks and sinkers, flies, pocket knife, spawn, file, fishing license (with trout stamp) and perhaps a few more items depending on the individual.  Hip bags and packs come in all shapes and sizes and can be found at any sporting goods store and online.  For a beginner, think simple.  You want a pack that is big enough to hold your supplies but not so big that all of your stuff rolls around leaving you reaching into a dark dungeon of chaos every time you need something.  Your selection should be comfortable to wear and easy to keep organized.

 Rods, reels and other major equipment will be covered in the days to come.  For any new angler, there is a lot of information to absorb and digest so we’ll pace ourselves a little bit.
If you have any questions, need help or have comments, feel free to post to our facebook page: facebook.com/womenontheflyms or send me an email at womenontheflyms@gmail.com

Tight Lines and Safe Travels,



Steelheaders are a unique breed.  Not many who try it will stick with it and of those who do, very few are women.  It is a tough sport for anyone regardless of their gender, and organizations such as Minnesota Steelheader play a pivotal role in the success of many novice anglers who are just starting out. 

Rainbow trout anglers encounter unique challenges in their quest for Steelhead and Kamloops on Minnesota’s North Shore and while the general issues are addressed very well by Minnesota Steelheader and like groups, support networks available  specifically to women are virtually nonexistent. 

Minnesota Steelheader’s new women’s program Women on the Fly, is on a mission to change that.  As an avid female North Shore angler myself, I’m familiar with the issues women face on the water.  From the comical scenarios such as trying to piddle in the woods while outfitted in waders and full rain gear, to the aggravating circumstance of being the target of an inappropriate comment by another fisherman, it’s important to know that you have a network of women you can turn to who understand and can relate.  It’s time we have a place where ladies can go to find information specific to them, powered by women, empowered for women.

Minnesota Steelheader: Women on the Fly is that place.  Women on the Fly will provide information on women-specific gear, technical articles, events, programs, advice and contact information.  Any questions you may have will come directly to and be answered by, a fellow fisherwoman.  Our ultimate goal with Women on the Fly is to provide great information, help educate and become the most dependable resource for North Shore women anglers’. We want to get women comfortably on the water, help them build the confidence and skills necessary to sustain their success as anglers on the North Shore and to be their place to ask questions, get advice, share stories and to support one another. 

Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll be posting on the Minnesota Steelheader Blog and getting a women’s gear/equipment list together to ensure you are adequately outfitted for the fast approaching Steelhead run. We have plenty more in store so be sure to keep an eye on Women on the Fly’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/womenontheflyms.  We’ll also be posting new updates, information and articles on http://minnesotasteelheader.blogspot.com/.

Tight lines and safe travels,


Minnesota Steelheader Board Member

***If you have any ideas for future subject matter, have questions or concerns, need current condition updates or just want to say hello, don’t hesitate to shoot us an email at womenontheflyms@gmail.com

Monday, April 04, 2016

MS Creel Update as of 4.03.16

WOW, talk about getting the rug yanked out from underneath...

Just when things were starting to get really interesting, mother nature played one hell of an April Fools joke on us.

Temperatures which had been doing a steady climb suddenly retreated to the cellar along with much of the fish activity.

To be sure, there are fish around, but they have developed a case of lock-jaw with average stream temps now hovering in the 31-32F range. Can you still catch them? Yes. Will you have to work your tail off to do so? You bet your sweet bippy!

Our latest creel update which includes numbers through April 3rd illustrates it pretty well:
Note the catch trend from the 29th - April 1st. The biggest player here were the daily average temps at just over 34 combined with high temps approaching 40F. If you were out at the right time of day, you were catching fish. The storm dropped both average and high temps into the 31-32 range which brought most activity to a virtual stand-still. If the water wasn't moving in the first picture, it would be frozen over. Those chunks you see in the photo are all slush. Doesn't look like much but an hour earlier, you could barely get your line in the water.

Hard to say what will happen over the next few days other than to say we've gone back into a holding pattern with the forecast calling for more cold. Beyond that, here are the latest numbers:

2016 Creel Project Day 24:
118 Rainbows reported
4.91 fish per day average
64 Steelhead
54 Kamloops
2 Brook Trout/Presumed Coasters

Lower Shore:
53 Kamloops
52 Steelhead
2 Brook Trout/Presumed Coasters

Mid Shore:
1 Kamloop
12 Steelhead

More to come!
Regards - Minnesota Steelheader