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Monday, August 13, 2012

Minnesota Trout Stamp for 2013

Congratulations to Mike Zillgitt, southeastern Minnesota artist, for winning the 2013 Minnesota Trout Stamp contest. The winning design, a brown trout about to strike a lure, was announced August 9 by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

A life-long artist, Mike is no stranger to the charms of outdoor life in southeastern Minnesota. A youth spent sketching, drawing, hunting and fishing in the headwaters of the Root River, lends strong authority to Mike's current gallery  of artistic creations. In addition to Mike's winning entry in the Minnesota 2013 Trout Stamp contest, was tied for first place in 2012 (and runner-up in the tie-breaker competition) with his turkey stamp contest entry. In winning the Trout Stamp contest, Mike joins the ranks of other distinguished Minnesota artists in bringing their perspectives of the outdoors to the attention of the public at large, and outdoor enthusiasts, in particular.

The Minnesota Trout Stamp is one of five "habitat stamps" that the Minnesota DNR makes available to hunters, fishers, and collectors. Some of these serve as extra cost "validation" for a license to hunt and fish for persons 16-64 years of age. Others are vehicles for donations to the DNR in support of management projects to restore or create new habitat for fish and wildlife. Statistics on the number of stamps sold provide important economic and management information, enabling resource management agencies to understand the specific interests of their hunting and fishing clientele.

Once again, our heartiest congratulations go out to Mike for his creativity and generosity in sharing his view of one our most precious natural resoures. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year with Gusto

Welcome back to Trout Tyme in 2012! Dawn breaks over the driftless area of the upper midwest with high winds and gusts above 40 mph this New Year's Day.

The winter trout stream fishery opens today on a snowless landscape, thanks to above-normal temperatures throughout the final month of 2011. In Minnesota, your 2011 fishing license (with trout stamp) will be good until March 31, 2012.  Check the regulations to insure that you know the rules!  Minnesota streams require barbless hooks and catch-and-release fishing. Iowa offers year-round fishing in its trout streams, but some are listed as catch-and-release only. Check the Iowa DNR website for locations and regulations.

You may want to start the year with a proven favorite pattern, such as a pink squirrel in size 14 or 16. If midges are hatching, you might go to a smaller copper john or zebra midge. Don't expect towering clouds of insects, but a few caddis, blue-wing olives and midges will be winter emergers, especially when temperatures are close to freezing.

Bead-heads, double beads or weighted-body nymphs are good producers as this snow-angel brown trout attests.The double-bead patterns in larger sizes may be productive. If you haven't tied these, have a look at "fishingbobnelson's" instructions over at the Fly Tying Forum.

A new twist for winter trout in North America is the importation of tenkara fishing, a long-time tradition in high-mountain Japanese trout streams.  Tenkara fishing uses a "telescoping" 11 to 19-foot rod, a light level line of the same length, and a 3 to 4-foot leader.  The line is knotted to the tip of the rod and cast with a single overhead motion for a reach of up to 30 feet. With no reel or line guides to freeze, the simplicity of tenkara fishing, together with the low cost of equipment, brings a new dimension to winter trout fishing.

One final note is to use special care in moving streamside when winter trout fishing. Approaching the stream in winter is hazardous because of shore ice, and ice-covered gravel bars.  Use footwear that provides secure footing in snow and ice, and you may find a wading staff useful, not only in the stream, but also for probing the snow ashore to avoid going out over open water on snowdrifts that may be weakly supported by overhanging vegetation.  Approach the stream from the weak current side at river-bends, rather than from the high-bank, strong-current side. This will decrease the likelihood of an avalanche that might carry the fisher into water deeper than her/his waders. Do not venture out onto shelf ice extending over the stream. The thickness of such ice is unpredictable and changing daily with variations in air temperature and subsurface flows. Wear clothing that breathes well, and plan to fish within a short distance of your car or a warm shelter. Be especially alert to signs of hypothermia such as shivering, loss of coordination (noticeable in knot-tying) and shallow breathing. Fish with a buddy and arrange to meet or communicate frequently so that help is nearby in the event of a mishap.

Wishing all of our readers the very best for the New Year.