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Josh Nelson

St. Paul, Minn.

Middle North Shore

Thursday morning I sent the kids to school, packed up the truck with the 8wt, and headed north. The plan was to meet some friends at Temperance River State Park and basecamp from there. After a stop at Great Lakes Fly Co. in Duluth, I had camp set up by 3pm and the rest of the day to fish.

Rivers from Two Harbors up were blown out due to the rain that the area had received the past prior days. I started fishing the mouths of the tribs hoping to lure cruising fish along the shore that were waiting for the right conditions to make their push up the rivers. Smelt reports were sparse up that far, and it seems along with water temps, smelt are an indicator.

Friday was a beautiful day, mix of sun and clouds and comfortable temps. My brother and I fished Split Rock pretty hard all day. Other anglers reported taking a few steelhead here and there, but we did not see a fish. It did not matter though, it was a beautiful day to be out. We hit a few other North Shore tribs that day, driving up towards Tofte, and back down towards Beaver Bay. Members of the crew took fish that day, so it was not a total loss. Conditions were just tough, with turbid, cold waters.

Having told the family I would be home for dinner saturday night, we broke camp early saturday. I made plans to meet up with two of the guys at a river just north of Two Harbors where conditions were perfect. It was crowded, but not the combat-elbow-to-elbow fishing that can sometimes occur. After hiking up to the Judgement Pool, and finding no one there, we began to drift egg patterns, with plenty of splitshot to get them down deep. Thowing an 8 weight flly rod when I am accustomed to a 3 or 5 weight was interesting, but I think I got the hang of it. After a few drifts I became unattentive and started chatting with my friends. What I thought was a snag ended up being a fish. At first I though it was just a small fish, but soon realized it was a nice fish. Of course we forgot our nets, so I was mindful of steering this magnificant bright chromer to the rocky shore. He was a beautiful fish, maybe 24"+, but as soon as I got him beached, a shake of the head snapped the 2x tippet and he was off. Close enough for me as it was a catch and release quest anyways. Put me on the board!

Conditions should be great for the middle shore this week, and if the weather holds the upper should be good to go next week. Get out there.

This time of year rocks

I had hemmed and hawed all day yesterday as to whether or not this free Thursday should be spent fishing, or doing the things around the house that need to be done. Until a phone call at 7:30 A. M., I thought I was taking the, ahem, adult route this time. But my buddy Tim had other plans, and when the missus walked by with the thumbs up sign, I caved like the right side of the Purple's offensive line.

I had my mind set already on where I wanted to fish. Tim had the river right, but not the same stretch I did. That was fine though, it was his first time out since his Idaho steelhead trip, and I get out, umm, well enough. Tim could have this one. We headed for a popular Pierce County stream that can be Wonderful this time of year. We were pleased to find our chosen access site empty. We both needed to be back in Saint Paul by 4 P.M., yet we still wadered and rigged up with little urgency.

Today was a perfect day, in the sense it was cool, dry, and made you feel good about what we have around us to explore and enjoy. It was also very windy, which is a hack fly casters nemesis. A guy like Tim just calls it a challenge. Yet the bugs were out, with the birds swooping over the stream to catch them as they emerged. A bald eagle circled overhead, which I took to be a good sign. The lack of rain had the stream low and gin clear. Stealth, which is not a word used to describe me, was going to be an important tactic today, and the shadows from the high noon sun were not going to help.

  Tim spotted a nice pool that he must have been pondering the whole walk in. I left him there and hiked another half mile or so downstream, hoping to fish upstream to rising trout. A large rise is what caught my attention, and marked where I would begin. It seemed to me there was a small gray caddis hatch going on, but there was something else. I don't know if they were March Browns, or some kind of crane fly, but large brownish-reddish mayfly looking things were coming off pretty good, yet the fish were not keying in on either, Stubbornly I shortened my leader a bit and tied on a Hare's Ear with a beadhead. First cast brought me a nice little brown trout. Soon I had two of the prettiest brookies I had seen all year. Now I was happy, brook trout may be my favorite fish. I did get a couple photos, but I have not figured out the new camera yet, so I muffed that one.

Eventually I met Tim upstream. We both fished a nice riffle and run, finding fish rising a bit more emphatically. Tim took a couple on a dry caddis, and I had a few missed hook ups. Realizing time was no longer our friend, we hiked back out and headed home. I am glad I got out. I really enjoyed my new waders that my good friend Bill recently gave me. A very generous guy, that Bill, I mean Bob...

Take a kid fishing, soon.