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5-2-04 - a look at Lester showed us many anglers.

2 fish were fighting in the deep channel between the stream and lake, other than that, nothing!

Tying flies SANS TOOLS in the Bitchin' Camaro.

My first looper of the day was a hefty buck that fell for one of the flies pictured above!

A HARE's EAR drifted deep yielded this post-spawn drop back the color if you ignore the crust!

Randy hooks up and the fight is on!

Gorgeous HEN...she was dropping eggs all over the place.

I just love this shot of Brennon plunking his fly and lead down.

Hopefully there's now way for the fish to get by without seeing Randy & Brennon's offerings.

Look closely in the lower right and you can see exactly what B is targeting.

The Bitchin' Camaro is under attack! Flash Video - (4.4 MB)

Only a crazy guy like myself could come up with this idea...probably better not to have kids 'cause I'd be such a bad role model ;) Flash Video (2.93 MB)

We hiked upstream on the Lester after lunch in search of the barrier falls.

Looking down from the rocks you can clearly see this pool was full of suckers!

Randy is working a fish holding in a DEEP FAST run...I don't know how many splitshots we had on to get down.

Some Lester anglers left me mystified as to how they thought they'd LAND a fish...

What's up with all the DOA deer...another message from the Steelhead Gods?

Randy is convinced that fish make it past the first set of big falls...he sighted some upstream...

in this pool.

The "right" branch of the Lester....I be these two branches have actual names but I haven't found them yet.

Looking back on the big series of falls and the deep pool beneath them where I lost my two fair fish.

Looking down from high above the Lester.

Randy commented, "I hope these platforms aren't their idea of handicap fishing access!"

One last view of the Lester between the first and second bends upstream from the lake...from up here it looks so SMALL....

Looking back on another great weekend spent on the North Shore.

5-02-04 - Lower Shore Mayhem

Waters Fished: Sucker Creek, Lester River
Fish Caught: 2/6
Outing Date: 5-02-04
Weather: Sun all day
Air Temp: COLD in the AM, nice and probably 50's by mid-afternoon
Water Temp: didn't take them
Water Level: low?
Water Color: clear & stained
Fish Species: Kamloops Rainbow Trout & Manistee Steelhead (stocked & wild)
Pattern Fished: eggs & nymphs
Pattern Color: successful patterns were green or pink
Fishing Quality: declining

So basically Brennon was supposed to ditch out on Sunday's fishing, but I put it to him like this on Saturday night; you're going to drive home, go to bed, what time are you going to get up on Sunday...noon? two? You might as well stay with us, fish in the morning and head won't lose any work time on Sunday!

Twist his arm, and the three of us catch dinner at Perkins and a room at the Motel 6 for a whopping $52 for 3! We got to bed early, and got a 6:00 AM wakeup 7:00 we were at the water. A quick stop at Lester had us convinced that not much was going on there, so we headed Northeast to Sucker Creek.

I was kinda spent...still tired, and honestly I was pretty much out of flies. I knew I wanted to try hot-pink (aka. Cerise or Magenta), so while Brennon and Randy went down to the lower stretches I stayed back and did some hand tying with what little materials I thread, salmon hooks, a few red poms and some glo bug yarn I keep stashed in my vest.

After about an hour and a dozen or more flies, I finally felt awake enough and ready to hit the streams...I came down to find B & Randy piled up on a ton of fish...I ended up heading downstream a bit to a deep run...didn't see many fish so I continued down to the last leg of the Sucker between the Flats and the Lake. It was here I found my own group of fish to work.

At first things were strange, fish were moving around a lot, lots of sparring going on, but eventually the fish settled long enough for me to target individuals. In no time I had lost my first fair...just a few headshakes was all it took to throw my fly. Then it happened, I tied into a pig and in now time I was dragged out to sea.

I'm all about making sure to capitalize on an opportunity, so I let this guy sit on the drag and run as far as he wanted...almost thought I'd see my backing on this one but eventually, through patience, I landed a stunning late run buck looper. Glad to get the skunk out of the way, I went back for seconds.

No problem; upstream Randy had been hooking up rather consistently on small nymphs, so I did the Tucker / Hare's Ear challenge, Tucker as the dropper. First drift through a deep pocket an unseen fish HAMMERED my rig, I mean a total THUMP at the end of my line. The fight was brief as this fish was definitely dropping back...ended up landing a vibrant yet totally beat up male Kamloops, maybe 1/2 the size of my first, about 4lbs at best.

It was time to see how Randy and Brennon were doing, and Randy was the next on...a good long fight but he ended with a pretty fresh fish. Randy beats the skunk again today with a good 6 lb. hen looper that was dropping eggs all over the place.

I tried a bit longer and landed a fouled fish that turned out to be a stocked steelhead, didn't look any different really so without much ceremony the fish was put right back in and it dashed away, no need for reviving.

All of this probably happened in the first hour I was on the river; by 9:00 AM or so things slowed down as the fish moved into deeper holding spots. Brennon and Randy continued to hammer away at sightable fish, both getting the occasional chase but few strikes. I hooked up foul on something and snapped it off..

Most of the morning went slow, a father and son were out and eager to get fish; after watching this kid try some huge monstrous fly/yarn/thing I just couldn't bear it any longer...he was asking "how are you guys catching them"...I was out of Tucker Nymphs so I handed him a Hare's Ear.

His first hookup he totally horsed it and his line shot back at him...we're all shouting "don't horse it, don't horse it!". I think he managed to untangle himself in about 20 minutes and was back at it again...not sure if he was still using the Hare's Ear but he was paying closer attention to the drift and such as I filled him in on why we were using the fly gear, how it would give him a better drift than trying to tightline the nymph with a dime sized split-shot.

Somehow the mentoring from Randy and myself paid off as he totally NAILED another went screaming downstream and he pointed the rod straight no no..rod tip we were too high...45 degrees...let him run on the drag if he wants...eventually they brought it into shore! I think I understand why they say "take a kid fishing" now...his father was totally gracious for our help and man we were all too happy to provide...first looper, probably first big trout of any kind, in this kid's that's SWEET. Heck, later on we saw him trying his fly rod...hope he didn't get frustrated with it!

By about noon Brennon had to go, still skunked...bummer. He was totally doing everything right, I think this weekend just wasn't going to be his "lucky" weekend. All of our bites had stopped for hours; as the sun continued to rise the fish went from holding to very active, constantly moving around and chasing each other. Brennon bid us farewell, and shortly thereafter Randy and I took off too.

TIME for LUNCH! Man, we were yawning all the way back to Duluth...I was thinking it might be time to head home already...I haven't been this tired in the middle of the day in ages.

Turns out we were just famished; some Wendy's fixed that and we both perked up right away. While eating in the Bitchin' Camaro we sat and watched the McDonald's up the street...someone must have been sitting outside eating or something 'cause the place was being totally bombarded by seagulls. I pointed it out to Randy....then looked up at my T-Tops...turned to Randy and said, "I have a CRAZY idea!"

I didn't have to say a word, all it took was to look up at the T-tops and Randy was in on my little scheme. Besides, we had WAY more fries than we really should eat...time to be generous with the potatoes. All I'll say is watch the video at the right, it's AMAZING! We kinda wondered when the manager would come out and tell us to take off, but surprisingly we got away with our childish fun for at least a good 5 minutes.

Ah, but it's time to fish again, both revived, we discussed the options and settled on scouting out the Lester River...Brennon had kinda wanted to do that but we nixed it 'cause the Sucker seemed to be fishing better. Now that Randy and I had fish under our belts, we were more open to going fishless the rest of the day, so a scouting trip seemed like an OK idea. So Brennon, the Lester Pics are for YOU!

When we got there a couple anglers were coming off the stream...Randy went straight for the stairs to start scouting while I stayed back and talked a bit. I had my rod in hand and the guy was looking at the flies we had been using that morning - he immediately said, "I thought two flies were illegal on the tribs..." After some additional muttering about the treble regs and me bringing up how Red Hat said the dropper was AOK, we agreed to be "unsure" about it for now and headed our ways...he to take a nap and myself to scout the Lester.

I don't really have much to say about the Lester...when I got in the river some kid yelled out, "Hey don't bother fishin', it took me all morning just to get this one!". I smugly replied, "I drove all the way from Chicago, so I'm gonna fish!".

I didn't see SQUAT...heck I didn't see Randy until I got to what looked like an impassible pool...but I could see several anglers above including Randy perched way up on a rocky outcrop talking with another angler below.

I fished the pool which was carpeted with suckers...kinda different than our local SE WI suckers; it seems that the males here had a bright red stripe down their side. Randy noticed I was down there and pointed out a looper he could see cruising...I got a look but as she came close to striking she changed her mind and bolted.

Randy came down for a bit, but then we both decided to move up and try our luck...we found this strange pool surrounded by rock, with a big falls at one side, a bridge above and another upstream, with a building off to the left on the ridge of this little hole in the earth.

We fished, I had two fair but lost both very quickly while Randy decided that these falls might not be barriers (fish were going nuts almost making it, at one point I saw a looper fly across the falls looking more like a lame attempt at a jump considering he was 90 degrees off in direction). Watched one guy land a looper with nothing more than his bare hands as a reel, and this guy was using MONO. I didn't notice the landing...I was fishin, but the guy perched up on a high rock across the stream started yelling "that fish is foul, you have to put it back". I did my best to translate to my fellow angler, who admitted to not knowing that reg. I promised that if I landed one fair he'd be welcome to dice though.

Randy came back down with reports of more fish upstream, fishing "evidence" but no people up there. Talk about a HIKE out of that it's a total Mountain Goat experience that B truly missed out on! Upstream we found a park, a deer head (third dead deer of the trip!) and Randy pointed out the spots where he had sighted a redding pair, as well as the spot where he lost one fair.

It was about 4:00, time to go, so we ended our stay on the tribs at Lester, me taking shots while walking back along the road that parallels the river from above. All in all not a bad outing, but by no means as good as last weekend! I figure that our hookup to landing ratio increased dramatically while overall hookups declined....more or less we were fishing post-peak, many more drop backs than fresh fish, so the fish we hooked into gave up a bit easier than the fresh ones..thus more landed. But the battle weary were a bit tougher to entice to strike, hence the lower # of hookups.

During the drive back I took a look through the regs, I went to the Superior Trib regs and saw no mention of flies. I went to the General Regs and found the mention of flies. The best I could conclusion I could draw is that the dropper is currently legal on the Superior Tributaries, here's why (in a nutshell).

1. This is what throws everyone off; from page 25 of the MN 2004 Regs - "Anglers are restricted to a single hook only—no treble hooks—on Lake Superior tributary streams and rivers up to the posted boundaries. Exceptions are the St. Louis River (St. Louis and Carlton Counties) and the Pigeon River (Cook County)."

2. However, earlier in the regs; from page 14 - "Anglers may use only one hook. An artificial lure is considered one hook. A treble hook, when not part of an artificial lure, is considered three hooks and is not legal. The exceptions are: Three artificial flies may be used when angling for trout, crappie, sunfish, and rock bass."

First off, one must be aware that the season & limits for Superior & it's tributaries only offer expanded regulations for TROUT, specifically Brook, Splake, Rainbow Trout INCLUDING Steelhead, and Brown Trout. No special regs are set forth for Salmon except for a general limit of 5, only one of which can be an Atlantic and a minimum size of 10". In most other instances, it seems that Trout & Salmon are considered the same thing in Lake Superior...ALL salmonids are covered by one Trout & Salmon Stamp for Inland or Superior waters.

MOST people get thrown by the reg quoted in #1, which states that "a single hook - no treble hooks - on...". HOWEVER, going back to the GENERAL regs that define what "A HOOK" is, I first want you to note that "one hook" can be one single hook (assuming with bait) or an artificial lure (i.e. a Musky Bait with 3 or 4 treble hooks is still considered ONE HOOK). The only thing that's NOT legal so far is a treble hook IN BAIT. Furthermore, the regulations go on to define a FLY separately; it is NOT part of the "one hook"/"single hook"/"treble hook" discussion. The regulations for flies allow for up to three flies when fishing for Trout.

Now, back to the Superior Expanded regs. Special Regulations such as the Superior regs are designed to be exceptions to or modifications of the GENERAL REGS. As written, only further explain the regs for HOOKS, not flies, and specifically again "a single hook - no treble hooks". This is where things get murky; in order for the regulations to prohibit the use of a two-fly or three-fly rig, they would have to include special regs specifically FOR FLIES. Why? because in the general regs, flies are defined entirely separate from hooks used for bait or all other artificial lures. In essence, "flies" are not "hooks", we are fishing for TROUT according to the expanded Superior Regs, and therefore the DUAL or TRI FLY RIG is LEGAL.

No, I'm not a lawyer, but reading legal documents and regulations only requires a logical viewpoint. From my point of view, I now offer these additional anecdotes that further support my stance.

1. Red Hat is a C.O. looking for a post. I asked Red Hat the first day on the water, "Is a dropper legal"...he informed me it was.

2. When we were checked for our licenses back on 4-24, our rigs were readily available for inspection and both Neil and I were fishing droppers; no citations or verbal warnings were issued, in fact nothing was said about our droppers at all.

3. Furthermore, when BOTH C.O.'s came back to inspect my catch, my entire rig including dropper was literally right in front of their faces, once again NO MENTION at all regarding the dropper...they were inches from the rig, still in the fish's mouth!

4. Yesterday we again ran into another C.O.; while I'm not 100% sure I still had my rod set up, and therefore unsure that he saw what I was fishing, I can say again that nothing was said to me about the dropper if it was seen.

So there you have it folks...if you ask me the REGS for MN need some reworking / clarification. As they stand, the dropper is LEGAL when fishing for TROUT including on the Superior Tribs (although I will tell you now that by reading the regs, the same CANNOT be said for targeting salmon, but then again Brookies, Browns and Rainbows run in the fall WITH the Salmon, so any C.O. who gave you a hard time couldn't because you're fishing TROUT as well).

My personal "take" on the whole regulations thing is that I'm not out to skirt the a dropper is a very "traditional" approach to fly fishing, and it can mean higher success rates in the hands of an angler who doesn't screw up the rig when casting! On the flipside, I personally believe that the intention of the Superior Expanded Regs MIGHT BE to disallow the dual or tri rig for fly fishermen, although currently it does not actually do that. I feel really confident that if I WERE to get a citation for fishing a dropper on the Superior Tribs that I WOULD stand a good chance of overturning that in court based on the arguments at hand.

Therefore, if the MN DNR wants to outlaw the dropper fly on the tribs, they need to clarify the regs. However, they may be content with things just the way they are; as written the regs seem to discourage most folks from fishing a dropper even though it is technically legal. The DNR might be happy with the "discouragement through unclear regs". However, if the DNR in fact does want to readily and openly allow for the use of a dropper or tri-rig by Fly Anglers, then they should add in that the "up to three flies" rule applies here too. By defining flies separately from hooks in the General Regs, the regs set a precedent that flies are separate from hooks, and therefore need their own mention when variations from the general rules apply.

Oh yes, I had plenty of time to think about this one on the drive back, and even more time when my now "good buddy" from TSS, Madmax, emailed me to say that he was pretty sure that the dropper was illegal. Another MN angler who I email with suggested the same thing today; I brought Red Hat in on the discussion with Madmax and I think we changed Madmax's mind...not sure about the other gentleman just yet. In any case, I'm going to start a thread on the MN board of TSS just to see what opinions are out there. I am also going to email the DNR regarding this matter to see what response I get officially. Heck maybe all of this may result in a reg clarification in the coming year?

Oh, BTW, as we pulled into my office around 1:00 AM I looked at the trip odometer; 1231 miles.


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