- Stream Location: MN Driftless
- Air Temperature: 20 °F
- Water Temperature: 43 °F
- Other Conditions: Sunny, clear, no wind. Perfect day in the Driftless.
- Distance Hiked: 4.25 miles
- What Worked Best: Swinging & working streamers
I arrived at my home a few days ago to see a tall, slender box leaning against my door. That can only mean one thing…the new replacement 3-weight rod has arrived. Excited to give this thing a real test, I planned to focus on one stream in the Minnesota Driftless today. I read up on this stream not long ago and figured I’d give it a go. It ended up being well worth the 1+ hour drive. To this point, this stream is easily in my top 3 of the MN Driftless and the top winter stream.
Upon arrival, the air temperature was 20° and the stream temperature was a winter season ideal 43°. After covering a little ground, it was easy to see that this section of the stream received considerable trout habitat improvements. It was absolutely loaded with riffle, run, pool followed by riffle, run, pool and numerous lunker structures that provide cover for trout underneath the stream banks.
I quickly started seeing several hits and lost a couple as I worked my streamer within the runs/pools and even below riffles. I was actually quite surprised with the action received while fishing the riffles today. I stealthily approached the next run, making sure to keep my profile low. Then I flipped my fly across the stream, letting it work within the prime zone. So clearly I could see a brown trout take the fly; I sharply set the hook and worked him in.
The pool immediately following the run where I landed the brown trout looked amazingly trouty. The pool itself was deep and longer and there was a nice undercut bank closest to me. I approached this pool by knee and covered it thoroughly with varying presentations. I received quite a few hits in the pool itself but no hookups. Normally I only work a riffle/run/pool long enough to cover all of the trout zones, then I move on. I had a feeling about this pool though so I worked it a little longer. I let the streamer drift toward the undercut bank and hesitated it in this area for a time. Boom! The streamer was absolutely slammed. This was a Big Boy. The reel went screaming for a while as he darted to the end of the pool and back toward the undercut bank. This lasted for a good 3-4 minutes and the feel of this trout on my 3-weight rod was beautiful. Eventually he allowed himself to succumb. I admired the patterns, colors, and thickness of this trout. Quite the rainbow and quite the stream.
After having a celebratory cup of coffee, I continued downstream and realized more success within most every hole. I just kept on working my way further and further downstream. I knew I had to be getting up there in miles covered but I still felt so fresh. The anticipation that each hole of this stream brought was invigorating.
I followed the stream all the way to the mouth where it drains into the main river then reversed ground and re-covered my favorite holes on the way back. I came back to a nice, long undercut bank which I didn’t have much action on the way down. Flipped the streamer and worked it in the prime zone, then lifted my rod bringing the fly toward the surface. A large brown quickly attacked the streamer in an instant. Man, this stream is something else.
Walking back toward the car and seeing a bald eagle flying overhead, there’s no other way I’d rather spend a 20° February day.
– Spirit Streams