First published in April 2020.
If you can’t make it out on the stream, the next-best way to connect with trout during the pandemic is by reading a good book about fishing. We enlisted Jim Holden, a former high school English teacher and trout fishing nut, to put together a review of his favorite books about Midwestern trout fishing. Jim has himself written a gem of a book about trout fishing in Minnesota. Titled “Heron Thieves, A Bat Out of Hell, and other Fly Fishing Stories, Essays and Poems”, it is a delightful selection of stories that will make you laugh and teach you a few things about the personalities involved in developing the sport of trout fishing in Minnesota. If you’d like to order a copy for ten bucks plus postage, contact Jim at email@example.com.
In 1785 Scottish poet Robert Burns penned these words which seem particularly relevant in this time of the great pandemic: “The best laid schemes o’ Mice and Men gang aft agley.” Translated into idiomatic English the words “gang aft agley” might read “go often askew/awry.”
First published in November, 2018.
It used to be that Minnesotans who wanted to fish for trout from October through December had to head to Iowa until the special catch-and-release season opens on January 1 in southeastern counties. But since 2014, year-round catch-and-release fishing has been available in three state parks: Whitewater, Beaver Creek and Forestville. And in 2017, the regulations were extended to streams within the city limits of Chatfield, Lanesboro, Preston and Spring Valley.
Although I haven’t yet fished the towns or Beaver Creek, I have made a few trips to Forestville and Whitewater this fall, and found good fishing.
First published in Sept. 2018
Patches of mist hung over on the water on a late August morning as a bald eagle flew upstream on an unknown mission. A doe and her nearly grown fawn stepped into the water to drink. Small black duns began to rise from the water, accompanied by rise forms in a pool upstream. I replaced my beadhead nymph with a #22 Trico dun, waded carefully to the tail of the pool, and began making short casts, silently willing the fly not to drag. After several botched presentations, I finally found a trout gullible enough to take my fly, and, after a short fight an 11” brown was in my net.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a tippet was originally “A long narrow slip of cloth or hanging part of dress, formerly worn, either attached to and forming part of the hood, head-dress, or sleeve, or loose, as a scarf or the like.”
This delightfully anachronistic name is accompanied by an equally anachronistic measurement system. Until the mid-20th century, tippets were made by drawing strands of silkworm gut through progressively smaller die holes. Sizes ranged from 0x (undrawn gut), at 0.011” down to 5x (drawn five times) at 0.006”. For reference, a human hair is approximately 0.001”. With the invention of Nylon in 1938, synthetics quickly replaced silkworm gut, and tippet sizes now range as fine as 8x, at 0.003”, although I’ve never heard of anybody fishing anything finer than 7x. I’ve also never heard an angler refer to a tippet size in inches, and I suspect there are only a few hard-core gnurds who know or care about the actual size of tippets.
For a cool 16-minute video showing restoration work being done on Trout Run Creek in Southeast Minnesota, click here. It shows the importance of connecting the stream with the floodplain, and the coordination involved between all the different actors in a successful restoration.