I feel like I’ve fished all of the state the last two days. Well, not really. But I’m sunburnt and tired and happy. After all that traveling the best fishing I had was right in front of the lodge, where I finally found a morning to exorcise some pent up trico energy. It was so much fun. I’m a trico nerd. I really am. I like to finish a half-pot of coffee and go cast tiny dry flies to pods of tiny trout on 8x on calm, sunny mornings. Even better, I’ve spent so much time around the lodge I knew exactly which three pods of fish I was going to work…and I have no problem sharing them: Above the Bridge, Fence Run, and Rusty’s Pew. Some of these are old names. Some I just made up.
Above the Bridge is a nothing more than a gravel shelf. The rainbows sit on the gravel. The brooks and browns over the dark water. It’s an easy drift but the trout are in the bright sun. I know, from watching them from the bridge, that the fish move and feed erratically. They were eating duns when I waded into position, and the early trout were easy, but a few minutes later, and the first dump of spinners was on the water (while many more formed a cloud above my head). Instead of retying, I kept the parachute on and trailed some tippet off the hook bend and tied on a little poly-wing spinner. They wanted the spinner.
But what I really wanted was to work my trouty friends along the Fence. The Fence Run is the run right in front of the dining room. If you ever get a chance to watch the DNR shock the river, watch them shock the fence run. There’s a big mat of waving weeds that roil the currents and hide the trout, and river flows under a long, complex log structure, which is shaded by a line of tag alders. Some days, only a few fish will rise in the Fence Run. Sometimes many. Sometimes they are under the alders. Other times they are in the middle. On Wednesday morning, they were in the middle, rising behind a section of weed that had grown to the surface and offered a current break. There were a half dozen trout rising. They fed continuously, just a series of bobbing snouts. It’s the look of these trout snouts, which resemble toad heads, that resulted in everyone, even saltwater anglers, calling any big fish a toad. So, here were some trico toads: 10-14″ trout, cruising the eddy behind the floating weeds, and sucking on tricos.
It was very hard to find the right position to cast from. Hit the bridge. Hit the plants growing from the bridge. Snag. Climb up onto the bridge. Retrieve the fly. And so on. The roll cast wasn’t right — too long a leader. Finally I found the backcast, and then it was about finding the right forward cast. The way I see it, the dry fly angler has to either puddle cast (drop a bunch of slack in the line by throwing a terrible forward cast) or check cast, in which the cast is overpowered, forcing the fly and tippet to rebound toward the rod tip. The check cast it was. It took awhile, but I finally got two of ’em. Not the biggest of the bunch, but I was happy.
Rusty’s Pew is a great spot only because, every morning, the shadow of one tall spruce occludes a nice, cobbled run and there, in the shadow, the trout rise: A dozen or more, forming a riffle with their rise forms. These fish are hard as the best way to cast to them is directly upstream. I did okay, but not great. The magic shadow shrunk, and shrunk, and finally was a mere sliver, and the last trout enjoying its protection was too much for me and my increasing desire for a very large breakfast and a mug of celebratory coffee. Tricos: I love the little buggers.
The rivers are clear, now, and will be warm this weekend. We are switching our guide trips to morning half days for the most part and hunting the cooler sections. The morning water temperatures will be in the low sixties but will rise to near or above seventy during the late afternoon and early evening. My advice is to make the most of the morning. Get up early and prospect with big dries or small streamers. Nymph a run. Enjoy the tricos. Transition from the tricos to a dry and dropper. By about three or four pm, the high sky and bright sun will probably rule the day…and it’s time to take a nap, or head to a warmwater fishery, or whatever you like to do on a hot, beautiful summer day. Next week’s cool down should return us to some more late-August-like conditions. The white flies have started below Mio but the water is now too warm to fish it. Wait for it…and they’ll still be there when the water temperatures drop.
New fall bugs are showing up: flying ants, fall Isonychia, autumn caddis, more abundant tiny olives…and, well, they’re not a hatch, but blind fishing small attractors — Royal Wulff’s, Adams, Patriots — can be very productive if they are fished on a fine tippet by a careful angler. When the air temps drop again, we’ll begin fishing fall streamers. Even in the heat, the edges of the day feel like fall. Some of the maples are turning. It’s such a sweet time of year.
Used Rods: Email [email protected] or call 989 348 8462 if interested
Winston IM6 8’6” 5-wt 3 pc: This all-around classic is one of the most sought-after fly rods on the planet. In the IM6 line-up, this was the only rod listed as medium-fast. To the modern angler, this will be firmly medium-actioned. It will become your favorite. Soft enough to fish tricos, stout enough to whip a streamer. This rod has been personalized. Excellent condition. $500
Orvis H3F 9’ 4wt 4-pc: New, slightly demoed, save about $350 off the price of retail. The H3F is a dry fly rod. It’s accurate. It’s fast enough for the wind, soft enough to roll-cast, and very accurate. This is the modern dry-fly angler’s fly rod. Orvis warranty on their new rods is awesome: They can ship you a new replacement section, negating the need to wait a month or more for your rod to be repaired. $600
Orvis Superfine Glass, 8’ 5wt 3-pc: Excellent condition. The “F” in fiberglass stands for “fun.” Fun to cast, fun to fight fish with, and glass is a natural tippet protector. Short enough for a creek, stout enough to cast big dries. $325
Hardy Zephyrus 9’9” 3 wt 4-pc: Very good condition. This versatile rod can be used for tight-line nymphing, dry and dropper, long-line fishing dry flies, and leaded soft-hackles through a riffle. Very light in hand. Hardy has found a niche with their longer rods, and there’s not much else like them. We love’em. $450
Orvis Trident TLS Tip Flex 9’ 11wt 4-pc: A back-up tarpon rod, musky rod, striper rod, salmon wincher. In mint condition! $200
Orvis Rocky Mountain 8’6” 5wt 2 -pc: Good condition, much-more traditional action graphite fly rod. Makes me feel old to call it a throwback…but it’s a throwback. You’ll have fun with this rod. It’s a sleeper stick. $200
Below is a list of cleanup beats we use. Pick one, and let me know. Let’s make it happen…
UPPER RIVER: Wading beats that require one or more “teams”
M-1: Burton’s – Louie’s
M-2: Louie’s – Keystone
M-3: Keystone – Whirlpool
M-4: Whirlpool – Thendara
M-5: Thendara – Guides Rest
M-6: Guides Rest – Stephan Bridge
M-7: Stephan Bridge – Spite Road
M-8: Spite Road – Shaw Park
M-9: Shaw Park – Lower TU
M-10: Lower TU – Wakeley Bridge Access
M-15: BURTONS TO WAKELY BOAT
S-O: Deerheart Valley Rd – Chase Bridge
S-1: Chase – Forest Rest
S-2: Forest Rest – Daisy Bend
S-3: Daisy Bend – Castle
S-4: Castle – Highbanks
S-5: Highbanks – Lower Highbanks
S-6: Lower Highbanks – Icebox
S-7: Icebox – Baldwins
S-8: Baldwins – Downeys
S-9: Downeys – Dogtown
S-10: Dogtown – Canoe Harbor
S-11: Canoe Harbor – Smith Bridge
S-15: CHASE TO SMITH BOAT
S-16: SMITH TO CONNERS BOAT
N-1: LOVELLS TO KELLOGG BOAT
N-2: KELLOGG TO PARMALEE (OR EARLIER ACCESS) BOAT
BOAT#1: WAKELEY TO MCMASTERS
BOAT#2: WAKELEY TO MCMASTERS
BOAT#1: MCMASTERS TO PARMALEE
BOAT #2: MCMASTERS TO PARMALEE
BOAT#1: PARMALEE TO WHIRLPOOL
BOAT#2: PARMALEE TO WHIRLPOOL