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Dave Anderson

Rochester, Minn.

It's Getting to The End

I hadn't been out on southeast Minnesota's trout streams on my own until this past week.  Life has a way of complicating plans to enjoy the outdoors at times, but September is a favorite month of mine to trout fish.  After the Labor Day crowds have all packed up and gone home, the kids are back in school, and many turn their attention to the details of the fall hunt, I try to get out a few more times before the season comes to a close.

One of those September pursuits is the ephoron leukon hatch, or the white mayfly.  It's not as common in its emergance in southeast Minnesota streams as it is on streams in Wisconsin, but if you know what you are looking for, you can find it.  There are a few key things to consider if you want to fish this late season hatch.  The ephoron leukon nymph is a burrowing nymph that thrives in the banks and beds of streams with silt, mud, and the likes.  In years that have summer floods, unlike this one, the hatch is typically not as strong as it is otherwise.  Water and air temperatures matter a great deal.  When the weather cools off from the desired Indian Summer effect, the hatch gets stronger.  It's also an evening hatch with a sometimes very small window of opportunity.

The few bugs that I saw bouncing around, and these adults do bounce like caddis on the riffles, didn't come off until 6:15 or so this past week.  I was off the water an hour later as darkness set in, and visibility of even a larger mayfly was nearly impossible.  This is when wearing a small head lamp or having one of the small lamps that slide on to the bill of your hat comes in very handy.

Patterns that I have used to successfully catch trout during this hatch are pretty simple, really.  For dry fly lovers, this is a pretty large mayfly as mayflies go, and trout will not hesitate to smash these flies.  I tie dries in a parachute with white poly-pro for added buoyancy on a size 12 dry fly hook.  I'll mix in some #14 dries as well.  If visibility is an issue,consider using some pink antron for your posts.  The color of the body ranges from cream to white.  One of the more successful ways to fish this dry is to add a dropper.  A #12-14 Hare's Ear will work very well.  Give the fly some movement.  Skate it and skitter it like a caddis, and don't be afraid to give it a lift at the end of the run.

Choice of gear is essentially up to each person, but I prefer at least a 9' rod for high sticking, mending, lifting, and skittering the dry.  I used a three weight rod this past week, and it was more than adequate.  A four to five weight rod of similar lenghs would be a good choice also.

The ephoron leukon hatch probably gets very little notice or discussion in southeast Minnesota, but it is a fun late season hatch that typically gets the trout feeding, especially some of the larger fish.

When Things Go Wrong

Once the fly fishing season is over, I put my gear away and head to the woods for my second outdoor passion - archery.  I've been at it for roughly ten years and am in no way an expert, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

Last week week while on a favorite early season stand, I was caught up looking to the west as the deer started pouring over a barbed wire fence into a freshly grown food plot put there on an adjacent property.  That small speck of brilliant green drew deer to it non-stop for hours.  As I casually looked to my right towards a couple of mature apple trees that get hit in the early season by a variety of whitetails, all I saw were antlers underneth it.  Thinking I had to hurry, which was a huge mistake in hindsight, I got my bow, stood up, drew, aimed at the buck from roughly 28 yards and shot the first chance I had when he turned broadside.  I watched the flight of the arrow slide right under the belly of the large eight pointer, and then nothing.

I stood and watched as my heart was in my throat, but he casually walked to the edge of the woodline and field and stood for a good fifteen minutes.  Having never gut shot a deer with a bow, I had no idea what to make of his behavior, but in hindsight, he was clearly hurt.

He meandered quietly into the woods some time later, and I stayed put for the remainder of the evening as other deer filtered through my area, including one larger than the one I shot.  He was travling with two other bucks, and he was the only one interested in making scrapes at that point.

Getting down off stand, I retrieved my arrow easily.  There was no blood or fat on it, just a brown goo that I came to find out later from a bow hunting friend is the unmistaken scent of inestinal juice.  I didn't push the animal, but rather I left it for the next day.

I found it the next evening after work just before dusk with really little effort, but this is when things went south in a hurry.  I only packed flashlights with me that evening, considering that I wan't convinced I'd be able to find it alone in the dark, and I had very little light, which leads to screw-ups two and three:  always bring your knife and get a friend to help.  Bowhunting is hugely a solitary sport, but in this situation, haiving a friend or two to help is essential.

I went back for the second time in the night to try and field dress the buck, but as you can see from this cluster of errors, I never managed to find it that evening.  Darkness has a way of easily turning around even someone who is familiar with the lay of the land they are hunting, and I was no exception in this case.  Randy Lage, my other bow hunting friend, suggested to do what he does in the event of tracking deer.  Bring some toilet paper along and leave a trail and/or mark the area where the animal is down.  That great piece of advice didn't help me at the time.

I did finally find and harvest the animal the next morning although not without great pains, most of which were completely unnecessary and avoidable.