img_1328 Mother Nature bared her teeth and growled winds of 20 MPH. The temperature at sunrise was 10 degrees and had been rising since midnight. The sun desperately tried to breach the blanket of clouds that enveloped the sky, but in “our north” the intensity of the yellow furnace is diminished at this time of year. The sky colored gloom grey was all too familiar. A thick blanket of  dry snow smothered the earth capping a record December of accumulation for the area. The woods and the water were stark and cold. The stage was set. The weather was perfect!img_1333

 My anticipation of the Minnesota trout opener had been growing for the last few weeks and the first fishing day was here. I awoke before sunrise as usual and looked into the river valley for the cues I would use to make my decisions for the day.  My waking views on fishing days are always towards the patch of Pampas grass. This patch of ornamental grass is my wind monitor and it is much more sensitive than the tree tops in the winter.  The grass stands over 6 feet tall and holds its fluffy seed heads throughout the cold months. The heads on January 1st were swirling and twisting. I would fish in the woods today to gain cover from the wind. The temps were forecasted to rise to a balmy 26 degrees and would enable me to fish without my gloves. Warming to 25 degrees and sinking to sub-zero had been the temperature roller coaster ride we had experienced for the last week. These warm and cold fronts that continue to move throughout the area had me wondering. How much ice had formed on the river? Would there be a lot of other anglers? Would the fish be eating or not? At least it would be warming up throughout the day and that was a good sign. The overcast skies are always a good omen for fishing and would provide additional cover to help hide me and my shadow from the trout. The snow would surely hinder travel along the yet unbeaten trails so that the spots that are far from access points would be left unfished. Traveling far from access points adds to the adventure. Slogging through the snow not only provides a good work out, but gives the perception of “getting away” to some less pressured, secret spot.

img_1329The truck pointed itself towards Hay Creek and arrived at 11:30 AM. To my surprise, I saw only two cars on my scouting drive and settled for a little spot in the woods that I have opened the season on in the past. I sat on my butt and crawled on my knees and laid on my belly, fishing in all of these positions and more. The woods section, which is generally lower gradient water, was frozen over in many runs and pools. The pasture had open water and flowed strong, but oh it is so hard to stay hidden from the fish. In the end, the outing was all that I wished for it to be. I stayed warm because I dressed well, and I caught a few fish to boot. The Prince nymph, brassie, and orange scudd all found a fish. The pictures you see are of a few other anglers that had the same idea as me. I am so glad there are others as crazy.


This picture above shows a new technique on fishing under ice shelves. Notice the line center right and the strike indicator upper left. Click on it to enlarge!