On The Fly Guide Service

Guided Fly Fishing in Southeast Minnesota's Driftless 


Updated Stream Conditions/Fishing Reports

August 24-26, 2019

I spent Friday-Sunday with cleint Brad from the Twin Cities area. We fished five different strems in that window. All were clean, low, an in typical late season shape. We did some dry/dropper; howerver, the nymph rigs worked best. Sunday alone we caught over twenty trout on nine diffferent patterns. The weather was on the cool side, so the dry fly portion of our trip was limited.

Guiding again Friday and Monday and the following Friday. Will report when I get back.

July 26, 2019

Anne and Charlie have ben personal friends of mine for almost twenty years. Great people always up for an adventure and some fishing. Friday's weather was spectacular, albeit a bit windy at times. The trout were in feeding mode and consistently picked up flies in water that I would classify as typical for summer months: regular flows and very clean.

Anne tandem nymph rigged all day, focuisng on the deeper runs and pocket water (which was stellar yesterday).

Charlie, on the other hand started connecting on a dry/droper combo out of the gate and never changed it up all day.

July 24, 2019

I spent the day with an old fishing friend, Fred, and his buddy Steve, both from Colorado. It was Fred's first trip to the Driftless, and Fred has been here so much, he probably knows the streams better than some of the resident anglers.

We got on the water by 9:00 and fished until 4:00. Water temperatures were in the 55 degree range to start, and trout were definitely active, feeding on a variety of tandem nymph rigs fished on 5X with some split shot.

Fred is the type of angler who typically tried a whole bunch of different flies and methods when we're on the water. He even started popping fish on some hoppers despite the real lack of significant adult hoppers where we fished.

Action was very good all morning through midday. Ultimately, the water warmed on us to the point of it was 63 degrees by the time we pulled the plug, and fishing had slowed significantly.

I have a few more trips and outings lined up before I leave for my annual out West in early August. Will offer a report when I get back.

July 19-20, 2019

I fished with childhood friend Troy from Woodbury (via Aitkin) this weekend. The heat and humidity was going to be an issue Friday, so we got an early start and checked out a half dozen streams on our way to our first and only stop Friday. Everything in between Rochester and where we fished was off, some of it big, huge filthy water.

We stuck to nymphs on Friday, and while the trout weren't biting like crazy, we still caught 35 fish between us, mainly browns with a smattering of rainbows.

Things kind of shut off completely by noon, as should be expected on such a high heat day.

We pulled the plug and drove back towards Lanesboro, our base for the weekend fishing outing, and looked at another half dozen or more streams that were not fishable. We had to get a Willard at the golf course, and stop in for a Heggie's and the meat raffle at the Legion.

Saturday morning was hot and humid, already 81 degrees when we got going. However, after a short time on the stream, the air lifted, the winds picked up a bit, and the humidity was gone in a matter of minutes. Air temperatures were in the upper 60's by the time we were done. Major fronts moved in and out, which made fishing tough, and water clarity an issue after heavy deluges.

July 10-11, 2019

I spent the day on the 10th with Randy from Northfield. We had dry, cool, windy weather all day, which meant that the trout weren't terribly interested in picking up any dry fly offerings. Tandem nymph rigging, however, produced fish all day.

We fished steadily through the morning, rarely changing our flies or approach. Why mess with a good thing? All told, we Randy was over the 40 trout caught and released mark as we bounced over to a second spot and had some lunch.

We stuck with tandem nymphing in the afternoon, as the stream we were on had gotten a slight bit of rain the night before. Larger, flashier nymphs with some added weight worked well. The water table is so full right now that any spot of rain can potentially throw off streams in an instant. Randy finished his day with 54 trout officially landed. A very impressive day!

July 11: I spent the morning with Vickie and Terry from southern Iowa, first time fly anglers, first time trout fishers as well. After a brief session of casting and instruction, we hit the water to put them to the test. Both, quickly became adept at casting well enough to present flies to willing trout.

Like the previous day, we used two nymphs, some split shot, and an indicator. The water was still off but fishable, so we could get away with larger, brightly colored patterns.

July 4, 2019

I checked streams with my son on the 3rd, and needless to say, they were awful...that said, there was one that looked more promising than the others, so I took a bit of a chance and checked out a stream early this AM. It wasn't clean, but fishable, so nymphs and streamers were the flies of choice today.

Clay from south Texas was a very good caster, so it was a fun day on the water. Great company, great conversation, and a reminder why people frequent the Mayo Clinic like they do, Simply, the best health care system in the world.

We landed around twenty trout this morning and tangled with a bunch of others we didn't land. The gnats were present early, but HyVee brand imitation vanilla extract took care of that in short order.

June 25, 2019

After a week spent doing some warm water fishing in the Central Lakes region, it was good to get home and get back out on local streams. Consistent water clarity has been an issue this spring into early summer, and Tuesday's outing with good friend Gary Meier was no different. We fished all afternoon on a stretch of water that is rarely dirty, but it was far from clear.

I got things going right out of the gate with this beauty landed on a tandem nymph rig, something we both did all day. I opted for adding split shot, while Gary's approach was to run his nymphs higher in the water column: both methods worked out very well.

It wasn't too unbearably warm, but hotter weather is definitely on the way for the remainder of this week through the weekend. We both wet waded and saved ourselves the misery of waders. We also caught fish on roughly eight or nine different nymph patterns.

June 10, 2019

What a difference a few days makes. Water clarity was much improved Monday on my morning trip with Pam and Bill. We didn't do much on top despite caddis bouncing around here and there. Cooler weather and north winds helped keep the gnats at bay; however, the deer flies were present all morning. Tandem nymph rigging was the way to go this morning.

June 8, 2019

I spent the morning with Libby and Jake on their first ever trip to the Driftless area. Libby had never fished before, but we got some casting essentials ironed out and put her on some fish.

Jake had done some fly fishing in the past, so I just pointed out a few things with him and turned him loose.

Fun morning spent with the two of them. Weather was cooperative, and the fish were as well.

June 7, 2019

I spent the day with good friends Charlie and Mark on some water that we all felt would be clean enough to give it a go for the day. The weather was fantastic: high sun, not a cloud in the sky, and cooperative trout.

Tandem nymph rigging produced all day. Mark ran a deep rig with tin split shot to cover the bigger pools, while Charlie ran a shallow rig with an indicator no more than three feet above the flies with no split shot.

We didn't run into anyone until the very end of our fish, and then we ran into four different anglers in about a two hundred yard stretch of water. None of them wandered very far from the roadside access and got all bunched up together covering marginal water too close to each other.

June 4, 2019

I got to spend the day fishing with Paul and MIke, who are in the Driftless for the week on vacation. Despite some overnight rains that made fishing unnecessarily challenging to start our day, The stream cleared quickly and solid fishing followed suit.

Tandem nymph rigs in thin water was killer most of the afternoon, and even some dry and dropper alter in the day.

June 1, 2019

I spent all day Saturday on a few different streams with good friends Charlie and Fred. The water was off-colored where we started and cleared some throughout the day. Two nymph rigs, streamers and some dry and dropper call caught fish.

There were moments of heavy hatches, both Light Hendricksons and March Browns, but we didn;t pop too many trout on top, mainly nymphing a variety of patterns.

We hit a small stream in the latter part of the day that was significantly cleaner than our first stop.

May 26, 2019:

Sunday morning was beautiful and bright with temps in the low 50s, but the wind was minimal at best. I picked up Katie and Wade, first time fly anglers and first time trippers to the Driftless, for a morning of fly fishing.

We worked on some casting basics at first, and then the fishing started to take off.

Unlike Saturday's outing, where we had fish interested in picking up caddis patterns on top, there was no real surface activity, and fish were hesitant to pick up a random caddis drifting down the river.

Water clarity was good all day, almost spot on perfect for running nymph rigs. A variety of flies caught fish; however, emerger patterns seemed to produce the best.

May 25, 2019

I spent the day with Becca and Dave, hitting a few different streams in the Driftess. Becca has a biology background, so we were never short on conversation topics throughout our day.

Basic nymphing was productive all day.

We were on fish every time we stopped to fish a run or a pool.

Dave, his first time out ever with a fly rod, got in on the action, too.

Later in the day after lunch, we got on more trout willing to take dry flies (caddis), as well as the dropper.

I've been tinkering with a tan foam caddis that rides really high in the water column and can still suprt of beadhead dropper.

May 11, 2019:

Spent the day on the water by myself, mainly hitting water I hadn't either been on at all, or not in a while. No other anglers around either, which is always a bonus.

May 4-5, 2019

I had client Scott on the water for a beautiful Saturday morning fish. Water was in excellent shape and crystal clear. We started out doing some basic nymphing, patiently awaiting the arrival of a caddis hatch.

The caddis did arrive around 11:00, and some decent dry fly fishing ensued for a little while.

Sunday, I picked up Robert and his dad Tim in Lanesboro and headed to the first stop. Similar conditions to Saturday, although a little cooler to start the morning. Nymph rigs produced fish all morning into the afternoon hours.

We didn't run into any significant caddis activity, yet we still took fish on top with a caddis dry, fishing the foam in some thinner, pocket water.

April 25, 2019

The weather was downright pitiful for most of Thursday for client Mark and I - steady rain ultimately gave way by the afternoon hours, though. We nymph rigged all day as no hatches came off other than a few caddis here and there in the afternoon.

April 19-20, 2019

I guided both Friday and Saturday, and the common themes for both days were excellent weather with lots of sun, clean water, awesome clients, and hungry trout.

I spent the day with Wes and his dad, fine tuning Wes's skills at times, and working with his dad so his son wouldn't out fish him.

Friday was a little cooler in the morning when we first started out, but fishing was good right out of the gate. Tandem nymph rigs was what we fished all day.

In the afternoon we moved around to other streams in the area to get Wes and Jeff on the one trout species they hadn't caught yet: the brook trout.

Saturday was var similar in conditions to Friday with the exception that it warmed quicker than Friday, which kicked the afternoon bite on pretty intensely. Same rigging set up Saturday as Friday with the exception that we used more caddis trailers, ace, ultimately, put on caddis dries and took a few trout on top.

My client Rick is a great guy, and we ironed out some casting fundamentals, all while still having a big day in the numbers department.

April 13, 2019

I spent the harvest opener with Darin from the Twin Cities area, and like all guys heading out for the trout harvest opener, my main concern was people: how many and where. Turns out, the latest round of snow and cold deterred many as we literally ran into no one yesterday.

We started out on the first stream, geared up as if we were sitting it our in a duck blind for the day, but we caught fish on some standard nymph patterns.

Water clarity was excellent all day, so the latest round of wet weather did little to nothing to dirty up the streams.

We finished up on our first stream and headed to the afternoon spot. Nothing changed from the morning to the afternoon when it came to fly choices. It never warmed enough to get some BWO's going, but it had the looks of a baetis kind of day.

As a first time angler, Darin did great! He caught and released well over 25 trout and tangled with many more that never came to hand. It's always a pleasure showing people around southeast Minnesota and getting them on some trout.

April 6, 2019,

I spent most of Saturday on the water, and dive past several other streams along the way that I didn't fish. As of right now, the common theme is clean water (overall) with plenty of in stream volume.

My first stop I hit an upper headwater area: small, clean, and very fishy looking. Midges were everywhere, but there were no trout rising to pick anything up (another common theme from yesterday). Basic nymph rigging was the way to go all day.

I'm not usually a big fan of Driftless rainbows, but these holdovers were impressive in color and size.

The second and third stop were more of an open settings, and by this time, the rain that was falling early in the morning gave way to warmer weather, a little bit of wind, and even some sunshine. My hopes were high that something was going to hatch - BWO's, Dark Hendricksons, being the likeliest of hatches. Nothing ever did come off; however, that didn't stop the fish from taking flies all day long.

Yesterday's set up was a Sage X 9' 3 weight with an Orvis LA reel, SA Amplitude WF3 fly line, a 9' Rio Fluoro Leader. I fished 5X Rio Fluoro all day, every day as usual.

March 17, 2019

Nothing against the Great Waters Expo, but I opted to take a chance and check out the waters south of my home instead of venturing north to hobnob with friends, industry pros and insiders....the works. It wasn't particularly warm this morning (26 degrees when I rigged up), but no one was looking to fish, and I had the whole stream to myself.

I fished a 9' 4 weight Sage X with 4X Rio Fluoro leaders and tippet. The water was stained, but definitely enticing this morning, so I went with a gray leech out of the gate with minimal success. I switched to a scud trailed with a pink beadhead PT (no fancy name required) and immediately caught fish the rest of the day. Fish were holding at the tails of the pools early on, but I did catch fish in skinny water and the heads of runs throughout the day.

I got to try out my Fishpond Gunnison Guide Pack as well. It's an RV sized waist pack that hold everything you will need on the water without the issue of a huge, bulky pack. I've not been a vest guy for many years, and the Gunnison reiterates the reason why I will never go back to a vest. It will be ideal this summer on the annual pilgrimag to Wyoming and some long treks from the car.

The news isn't all good right now. There will definitely be some serious run off come Thursday-whenever as temperatures are going to climb into the 50's and not dip below freezing overnight. The plus side is that we should be relatively snow free in ten days or so, just in time for some decent baetis and DH right behind them.

February 26, 2019:

Southeast Minnesota is finally done digging out of a 10-14" snowstorm on top of the several feet we had already this month. The Rochester, MN area snowfall total for February is at 39.7". The good news is that there should be plenty of water this spring...the bad news is that it could significantly wipe out YOY and some to most of our spring hatches IF it melts way too fast.

Streams are cetainly fishable right now. The problem is getting in and out of them with the significant snowpack.

At this rate of snow and cold weather, there will still be significant snow on the ground in southeast MN by April 1. That doesn't mean fishing can't be had, however. It just means that anglers are going to have to adapt their game to fit the situation.

January 6 2019:

This past Saturday would have been the better of the two days this past weekend to fish, weather wise, but I could only manage a Sunday trip. I arrived on the stream ready to shake the rust off of a few months off. It was a whopping 27, overcast, with a definite bite in the air. A twenty minute walk back in through less than January like conditions warmed me up a bit. I started witha  scud and a zebra midge, but quickly ditched the midge in favor of a small beadhead stonefly. The stream was less than crystal clear due to the prior day's runoff, but it was very fishable.

I did well for the three hour so hours I fished. No fish were on top taking midges, but they willingly picked up my nymphs.

I pulled the plug and hit a second stream on my way home. This one was much cleaner and, actually, the fish were even more eager to pick up flies (scud with a soft hackled midge emerger). I fished until around 2:00 and decided to get back to the confines of my warm vehicle and head home. Great "opening" day for me. There are definitley lots of trout out there right now.