Jim on his butt

The snow was 20 inches deep as we made our way from the truck to the river. Snow shoes would have helped, but we were both glad to be out for a trout fishing adventure to one of the small creeks open to fishing in Southeastern Minnesota. Winter “catch and release” trout fishing season opened January 1st  on a few select rivers and creeks to provide anglers with a great winter fishing opportunity.  Our first stop was a deep water hole about 6 feet deep, with visibility down to about 4 feet. We were sure this was the honey hole and slid down the steep, snow covered bank into position. As I was about to make the first cast, we both noticed a ruckus taking place in the low shrubberies across the creek from our position. The robins were flocking in small groups with an intense purpose to their movement. Their calls to each other were anxious and repeated. Their burnt orange breasts, thick and puffed, with winter feathers made them appear enormous.  The whole production had elements of organization and chaos. Jim suggested that they were residents, and that more robins were overwintering in the upper-Midwest. He was spot on. The reason why these robins were so active would not reveal itself  until we finished the outing on the tailgate of the truck.

We fished for about 3 hours switching back and forth in the first pool and then fishing a bit separately. We both caught fish; Jim using nymphs and I using scuds. Nothing big was landed, but we both were satisfied with the outing, on a pleasant day where temperatures hovered around 30 degrees.

In the aftermath, we talked for a while about the last time we had fished this little creek together and decided it was a long time ago. As we drank an adult beverage the robins were still going strong. Once again they had caught our attention and this time we observed their frolic more closely. The robins were catching and eating the midges and stone-flies we had seen all day. These bugs, that usually bring the trout to the waters surface on warm winter days, were providing the robins with food. We only saw one rising fish all day and pondered if the trout were feeding on those bugs as well. As I thought about it, the robins were fishing too. They were trying to catch bugs, and we were using bugs to try and catch trout. This phenomenon seemed more similar than different to me, and I am amazed every time I come upon the similarities that all life shares. This interconnected web of life shares many crossovers, and the linkage is more dangerously complicated than many care to observe. I hope we realize this soon.

My friend Jim sent me this entry from his fishing journal, documenting our last outing on the little creek. Time sure flies and little seems to change.

Here is the entry from my log on from the last time we fished Hay Creek:

Feb 22, 1997

7:30AM – 3:30PM

Weather: Cloudy, high 25F

Water: Clear. This is a small stream with deep holes.

Insects: Numerous scuds. varying in size #18 to #14, lime green/pale tan

Fish: 1 total 11.5″, Andy caught 2

This is a small stream, difficult to fish w/o spooking the fish. A lot of fishing on my knees/butt.

I found my reference to scuds and your bug of choice interesting. Also that yesterday’s outing occurred almost 13 years, to the day, since the last one.