I know most of my flyfishing friends in Florida scratch there head and wonder how I could like fishing steelhead in Northern Mn. under conditions I just endured. I had missed the previous 2 steelhead seasons and I just had the need to get back to my roots. Last year I tried to get back but mother nature decided to have a early spring and by the time I was scheduled to be on the rivers the run off was over and it was a very dry spring which meant not enough water in the rivers.
This year I decided to go early and stay a month, I was determined to catch some steelhead. My brother Dave said I could stay with him and he would do the driving. Mother nature proved to be a very formidable foe. On the first day of steelheading the temp was 3 above. Because we are seasoned veterans we didnot get to the river until 1pm. I was rewarded almost immediately with a 28inch buck. I caught 2 more fish that opening day on the Brule. We had ice on the guides all day and the water temp didn't get above 34 degrees.
The first week was like this, we started late and managed to catch fish in spite of the cold nasty conditions. My brother is a excellent steelheader and a hardy soul but he even had to admit the weather was cold. The 2nd week was alittle better with warmer temps, highs in the 40's and the water temp approaching 38 - 40 degees. The fishing was good if you are happy averaging 1 to 2 fish a day. Considering the weather I was very happy to hook a steelie.
During the 3rd week we had 3 days that were in the 60's and the water temp in the Brule rose to 43 to 44 and the fishing was awesome, with my brother having the hot hand, hooking 31 fish and landing over half of them. After that we had a snow storm and the temps dropped b ack down to the 20's during the day. The 3 warm days got the norshore streams of Mn. to start flowing. The first day on the Stewart river we got into some of the best fish of the trip, what a blast. The last week I got to spend 2 days fishing with my son Nick and his wife Gretchen. The first day with them I decided to fish the Split Rock river. When getting ready in the parking lot a bald eagle flew over head with a small trout in its talons. I took this as a sign we were on the rite river at the rite time.
My son and his new wife did something that almost never happens. In the first hole they got a double and landed both fish. Gretchen has never fished for steelhead and to catch one in the first hole on her first time out was awesome, and add to that they both landed one at the same time, well I was bown away. I felt so good to be back on my home waters fishing with family and friends. But I have to admit, it is great to be back in the warm beautiful weather on the Panhandle and after a few days off I plan on chasing the fish on the beach.