Fishing with a Fly

Fishing with a Fly


– [Pioneer Announcer]
The following program is a production of
Pioneer Public Television. (soft clarinet music) (gentle music) – [Mike] This is just beautiful country. Why wouldn’t you wanna
spend your time down here, doing this cool thing? – [Lucas Voiceover] They
have a great time out here. We’ll start early in the morning, and go way beyond the
traditional school class hours. – Welcome to Prairie Sportsman! I’m your host, Bret Amundson. This week, I’m learning how to fly fish, down in southeastern Minnesota,
at Whitewater State Park. Then, we’ll visit a trout hatchery, to find out how these fish are raised, and then transported,
into rivers and streams, where they don’t naturally reproduce. We’ll follow some stream ecology students, as they stock some of these same trout, into the Redwood River. All that, and more, on this
episode of Prairie Sportsman! – [Pre-Show Announcer]
Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources
Trust Fund, as recommended, by the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. And, by American Surplus. Ice Castle Fish House RV. Minnesota’s largest manufacturer of premium, portable ice fish houses. And, a proud supporter of the annual February Ice Castle
Classic Fishing Tournament. More information, at icecastlefh.com. And, by Live Wide Open, original movement that encourages people to make a great life for themselves, in west central Minnesota. More, at livewideopen.com. (gentle music) (upbeat guitar music) – [Bret] Today, we find ourselves down in southeastern Minnesota, in an area known, as
the drift-less region. It’s called that,
because this was an area, that the glaciers missed. So, that left us with high bluffs, and cool, clear, running
creeks, and rivers, like the Whitewater River
here, that’s next to us. I’m gonna learn how to fly fish. I don’t know how it happened. I fished my entire life,
but for whatever reason, I never picked up a fly rod. And when you have an area like this, kinda right in your backyard,
ya have to try it out. So, we’re gonna go after some trout today. I’m gonna learn how to
fly fish, with Mike Alwin, who’s been doing it for a long time. So, wish me luck. Mike Alwin has been teaching
fly fishing lessons, since 1980, and owned Bob Mitchell’s
Fly Shop, at Lake Elmo, for almost 20 years,
before retiring in 2013. Before we headed to the stream, Mike taught me two types of casts. Aerialized casting, where
the line leaves the water, and anchored casting, where the line stays on
the water, to load the rod. The most common, is the roll cast. – Your key position’s
gonna look like this. And the roll cast is gonna go like that! – Okay. – Slowly, lift that rod. Key position, nice. Now, drop the rod, we’ll make the cast. Good. Good, try again.
– Okay. Now, the key here, is to get it up here, so that line can come back,
and form that D, right? – Yeah, you want that thumb vertical. The deal will pass it,
behind your shoulder. – Okay.
– Okay? Drop the elbow, make the cast. Good.
(upbeat country music) There’s your roll cast! You got that, Bret? Oh, oh, there we go! Fish on! – [Bret] How’s it feel? – It’s a nice fish. – So, here we are, five
minutes into fishin’ here, at Whitewater, and you hook into a fish. And I thought we’d be catchin’
mostly browns down here. But, what do ya got there, Mike? – This is a rainbow trout. Looks like, about, nine,
ten, 12, 12 inches long. About a foot. Nice pink stripe. Dark stripes on the,
dark spots on the top. – [Bret] Beautiful fish. (upbeat guitar music) – [Mike] And I’m gonna try
to cover all of this water, between me, and that far bank. And at this point, I
can’t cast far enough. So, I’m gonna have to put
a little more line out. And this is how you shorten it. Just like that. Here, you try. Come out here, and get a natural drift. Nice cast. A little short. – Yeah, it didn’t quite go
where I wanted it to, but… – Don’t ya hate when that happens? – (laughs) Yeah. – Okay, now. Let go of the line, on your rod. That’s it. Throw some line, into that riffle, but try to stay outta the
tree, on the far bank. A little bit wider. Straight, that’s it. Okay, now, roll that upstream. Good, nice cast! Keep the rod tip up! Oh! Rock?
– Yeah. (Mike groaning) – (laughs) I got all excited, too! – [Mike] (laughs) Dang! Remember, the rod tip
is what directs the fly. It’ll, directs the fly line. The fly line is always
gonna follow the rod tip. You want it over there,
point the rod tip over there. – [Bret Voiceover] We moved upstream, to a shallow, rocky area, called a riffle, where fish hide out, in the pools. – [Mike] See how the water, comes around like, if you go way up, to where you can see the
water break this way, and then, it breaks this way, and then, it gets down to this run, and it breaks that way. Okay? So, most of the food is
gonna be concentrated, from the middle of this
crick, to that bank. Now, this is where all
the food is produced. And these chunks are hiding places. The pole lies, and that’s
where fish like to hang out. They’ll hang up in the deeper water, too. – I’ve heard of a lotta lies,
when it comes to fishing. – Well, yeah.
– Usually involves the size of the fish.
– Yes. – [Bret Voiceover] There is much more to the art of fly fishing,
than learning to cast. Reading the water, and tying on a fly, that matches what the fish
are eating, is fundamental. – Most of the people that
I know, who like to fish, we like to fish dry flies. And a dry fly is a fly that’s designed to not penetrate the surface. But, trout only feed on those mayflies, or caddisflies on the surface, about ten percent of the time. Yes, the time they’re underwater, making a living, munching
bugs off the bottom. So, we fish on the bottom. Lots of times, when these insects emerge, most of them swim to the surface. So, we use a wet fly, to imitate that. And a wet fly is just a, a fly that has some motion in it, and it’s cast downstream, and it swings through the surface. When we fly fish, it’s
a very athletic process. But, it’s really… A limitation that we put on ourselves. If the idea was to catch fish, to go on with a boatload of fish… – [Bret Voiceover] There’s
easier ways to do it. – [Mike Voiceover] Whether
you’re fishing with a worm, or a minnow, or whether you’re fishing
with a stick bait, for bass, or muskies, or somethin’. Or, whether you’re fishing
with flies, or a Mepps spinner. It’s just a different limitation. – Ultimately, you’re challenging
yourself, to some extent. – [Mike Voiceover] Oh, yeah. Yeah. (soft guitar music) – [Bret] How’s my lesson going so far? Am I figuring this thing out? – Yeah, you’re doing fine! – You have confidence, that we’re gonna see me
catch a fish on the show. – No. (Bret laughing) – Great! – Those are two separate
questions! (laughs) – [Bret Voiceover] Mike was right. I had a fish on a line. But, I didn’t land it. However, fly fishing
isn’t something you learn in an afternoon. Those with a passion for the
sport, never stop learning. – [Mike Voiceover] I got
introduced to this in 1972. I had a friend, who was in the Air Force, and he was stationed in
Great Falls, Montana. And he said, “Come on out! “We’ll go fishing, in the Rocky
Mountains, and backpacking, “and we’ll fish for trout!” And I grew up fishing, you know, throwing hardware, for bass and pike. I had no idea what a trout was. So, we went out there. And he was the only one with a fly rod. And I watched him cast, and
I watched him catch fish. And I thought, I missed something. There was nobody, in
those days, to learn from. So, you had to do it on your own. You watched a few people,
and you read some books. And after three years, I was so… Demoralized. I took a fly fishing course,
in West Yellowstone, Montana. And then, I started catching some fish! And I was just… Entranced, by the whole thing. I was the first person,
in the twin cities, to start actively teaching people… An organized system. And I kept working at it, and getting better,
and better, and better. It’s taken me 35 years,
to get to the point, where my casting
curriculum is really good. Ask him. The reason, you choose to fish
with a fly line, and a fly, is because it’s interesting. There are tons of things to learn. The last time I counted, there were 600 species of
mayflies, in North America. Over 1,200 caddisflies, in North America. Thousands of species, of
Midges, in North America. Well, that’s just a ton of stuff that’s interesting to learn. You see what I mean, when I said that it was
an athletic pursuit? – Sure. – It’s not… It’s not the same as fishing bait. It’s not the same as throwing a, you know, plastic worms into the
lily pads, or bulrushes. Here you are, out on a
crick, nice surroundings, you never know what’s
around the next bend. You look upstream, and you think, jeez, I wonder what’s up there. It’s just cool. – [Bret] It is! The surroundings, I think, are half of it. Seein’ a landscape, like this, I mean… It doesn’t get much better than this. And, I like a challenge. I mean, I’ve, you know, I’ve
fished for a long time, and… Never fished like this. And it’s definitely, it’s
definitely a challenge to it, an art to it, a finesse to it. And… That’s fun. You know, a fish may not
have been very big, but… It’s fun. – [Mike] This is, this is just beautiful country. Why wouldn’t you wanna
spend your time down here, doing this cool thing? (upbeat guitar music) – My name is Stephanie Felt. I’m the Aquatic Invasive
Species Coordinator, for the Kandiyohi County Task Force. The important thing, about
aquatic invasive species, is you need to remove
them from your watercraft, because if you even get a fragment of Eurasian watermilfoil,
into another body of water, that fragment can grow. If you get just a little bit of water into another body of water, it could contain juvenile
zebra mussels, or veligers, and those could grow
into a new population. Run your hand along the
outside of your boat. If it feels sandpaper-y, that means that you do
have small zebra mussels that are starting to attach. So, it’s very important to
get that decontaminated. If you’re unable to
decontaminate your boat, through visiting a decontamination unit, or using high-pressure wash,
or high-temperature water, it’s important that you dry that boat, for, at least, five days. Docks, boat lifts, anything of that sort of permanent nature, that needs to be out of the water, for, at least, 30 days, before
that goes anywhere else, because that’s more likely
to be much more infested. And it’s just such a
difficult thing, to remedy, once it’s in a lake. So, we all can play our part, to prevent the spread of
aquatic invasive species. – [Announcer] This segment
has been brought to you, by the Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force of Big Stone, Kandiyohi, and
Yellow Medicine Counties. (ominous guitar music) – [Bret Voiceover] There are
five cold water fish hatcheries in the state of Minnesota. We traveled to the one, in Lanesboro, in southeast Minnesota, where fishery specialist, Troy Lejeune, gave us a tour of the impressive facility, that raises rainbows, and brown trout, with spring-fed waters. So, this is, kinda, the heart
and soul of the hatchery, right here, isn’t it? – Yes, this is our main
spring, spring one. We also have another spring, that comes off the back of the hillside. But, this one facilitates most
of our hatchery, right here. – So, all the water, that gets used here, comes outta the side of
this hill, right here. – Yep!
(Bret laughing) We get up, to about
5,000 gallons a minute. And majority of it comes from this one. It’s always 48 degrees,
’cause it’s spring-fed. And… It helps out, ’cause it’s got a lotta
dissolved oxygen in it. – [Bret] So, this water, then, runs through a system of pipes, that goes everywhere around
here, and it all flows downhill. – [Troy] It’s all gravity flow. They built up the spring,
so it’s up high enough, that it can travel, without pumps, to get to our raceways, and our ponds. – Saves you a little bit of money. – [Troy] It saves us a ton of money. – [Bret Voiceover] Spring
water sustain all aspects of the Lanesboro Trout Facility, which starts with good broodingstock, raised in large ponds. – [Troy] They’re a pretty good size. They’re probably between, I
say, six and eight pounds? Broodstock is actually the parents. They’ll be the males, and
the females, that we spawn, where we take the milts,
or sperm, from the males, and fertilize the female eggs, to create more, for our production. – And you keep all of those together, the males, and the females together? – We keep males, and females,
together, a lotta times. But, when we spawn them, we take a younger male,
like a three year old male, with a four year old female,
and this is, because, when you got all threes,
and all fours together, if you spawn them together,
there’s a chance of incest. So, this is why we wanna keep our genetics as wide,
and diverse, as possible. (slow guitar music) In here, we have our egg incubation room. This is a he stack. What we do, is we have the eggs in it. The water comes in, through the back. Comes underneath, goes through a screen, upwells through, so they get their oxygen, comes out the front,
circulates in the back, and then, drops down, to the next tray. In these stacks, we have eight trays. And so, we can use four
gallons a minute, of water, to facilitate hundreds
of thousands of eggs. – [Bret] How long do
you keep eggs in here? – [Troy] Eggs will be in here for 30, usually, about 30 to 36 days. And not, at that time,
they’ll be hatching. We’ll bring ’em into our nursery, and let ’em hatch in there. (ominous guitar music) – [Bret] So, after the eggs hatch, this is where the fish go? – [Troy] Yeah, we bring
’em into our nursery here. And we actually have smaller tanks, that set up on the top, so that it’s easier for us to handle. But, once they grow up, into the fingerlings,
like we have right here, we drop ’em down, into our bigger tanks, where we call super trouts, and we grow ’em up in here, until they’re not able
to be in here anymore, because of density reasons. And then, we take ’em out into
our raceways, or our ponds. We have the red lighting,
mainly for our brown trout, because they’re very wild, and skittish. So, when it’s kinda dim in here, we can still see, and
we can work with them. But, it doesn’t bother them as much. (quick gentle guitar music) So, what we have in here, right now, are our rainbow fingerlings. These are fish that were in our nursery. But, they got too big to
facilitate, in those tanks. So, we had to bring ’em out
to a bigger tank, or raceway. So, we bring ’em out here, to grow ’em up a little bit larger, before they, then, end up into the pond. – [Bret] So, the water
coming out of these pipes, is coming from that waterfall,
that spring, that we saw. And there’s no pumps here. This is literally, just gravity, and the force of that water, making it shoot outta there? – [Troy] Yep, it’s the head
pressure from that spring, being so high, it forces the
water down, through the pipes, to then, come up this high, and then, feeds these raceways right here, that we have some rainbow yearlings in, that we’re gonna stock tomorrow, actually. – [Bret] So, these fish,
after they leave here, get stocked. So, realistically, these are the fish, that are going to Camden. – Yes. Yep, we took one of these raceways, that had brown broodstock. And we haul them, in our transport, and haul them over to Windom,
and Camden State Park, and Ortonville. – [Bret] Well, this is, this pretty cool, with all the ponds, and I mean, you got the fish, and you got geese. You got the bluffs up there. This is a really neat area right here. – [Troy] It’s beautiful
down here, you know, from buildings, to other buildings, to the Root River, bike trails… It’s very scenic. – I can think of worse places to live. – Yeah, I like it here. (Bret and Troy chuckling) (lively guitar music) – [Bret Voiceover] The
cool, rippling streams, of southeast Minnesota,
support an abundance of trout, that is unmatched, anywhere in the state. Because trout easily
reproduce in these waters, the DNR rarely has to stock them. But, the DNR has found streams, in other parts of the state, that can support trout during spring, and early summer months. Every year, they stock a few streams, in southwest Minnesota,
with full-grown trout, raised at a hatchery, in Lanesboro. We went to Camden State Park, to see DNR Area Fishery
supervisor, Ryan Doorenbos, and hydrologist, Lucas Youngsma, who are releasing a semi-load
of trout, into the river. – [Ryan Voiceover] Usually,
once a year, it’s in the spring. We bring about 2,500 brown
trout to Camden State Park. And we stock another 450 in
Scheldorf Creek, by Windom. Those are two streams that, typically, have cool enough water, for
a certain period of time, ’til mid-summer, that has the temperatures
that will support trout, brown trout, specifically. It’s not meant, necessarily,
to be a sustainable fishery, as much as it is, to create a unique fishing
angling opportunity, for anglers, in southwest Minnesota. – [Bret Voiceover] The DNR
had help from students, who had taken a stream ecology class, at Southwest Christian
High School, in Edgerton. – Oh, there’s those tanks! Oh, I’m so excited! – [Bret Voiceover] They, enthusiastically, brought nets, brimming with trout, and the various spots along the river. – [Lucas Voiceover] Five
years ago, teacher Greg Dyk, from Southwest Christian, in Edgerton, contacted DNR about working
with their students, here, in Camden State
Park, on the Redwood River, to do projects, to
promote the conservation, habitat improvement, and so on. They have a great time out here. We’ll start early in the morning, and go way beyond the
traditional school class hours, and there’s never a complaint, regardless, if students
get splashed, or get wet, regardless of the weather. So, wait for that first person to fall in! (girl exclaiming)
(group laughing) – You almost jinxed it! – [Lucas Voiceover] It’s
just a fun, fun time, with a tremendous amount
of learning opportunity, that they, otherwise, just
would not have the opportunity to get. – [Dalton Voiceover] I didn’t really know how much 2,500 trout looked like. It was quite a bit. It was a lot of fun.
– Oh, they’re alive! Just putting how many
fish, they put in the net, it was either really heavy, and you had to use a
lot of your arm muscles, or, they weren’t too bad, and you could just ease them,
right on into the river. Sometimes, you just stick the net in, and they just knew what to
do, and just swam right away. Other times, they would
try to go against the net, and they didn’t quite wanna get out. So, you had to kinda pry ’em
outta there, and let ’em free. – [Dalton Voiceover] We had to be careful, while we were walkin’ in the river, ’cause the fish were still
dormant, from bein’ stunned. Didn’t wanna step on ’em, so
you had to shuffle your feet, so you didn’t step on anything. – [Mallory Voiceover] I’ve appreciated the water, and nature, a whole
lot more, takin’ this class. – [Dalton Voiceover] Hopefully, I can apply it, to some of my future jobs, since I’ll, hopefully,
be majoring in biology, and could lead off, into
something like this. – [Lucas Voiceover] Getting students, getting the next
generations involved in… Just being aware of the resource, being outdoorsmen, being fishermen, that provides just so much
support, and encouragement, for me, and what I’m doing, and
why DNR is doing what we do. – [Bret Voiceover] The Redwood River can support these trout,
because of the area’s geography. – [Ryan Voiceover] We’re
sitting near the Kato, which is an area of raised elevation. And so, all that water, as we all know, water tends to fall,
(chuckles) through gravity. And so, what happens is, a lot of these lateral movements of water, are beneath us, quite a ways, obviously, and have cooler temps. But, they’re not truly spring-fed streams. But, that colder water
creates the environment that these streams have cooler temps, for a certain period of time. Back in the day, years ago, they measured, started
measuring water temperatures in these streams. And they found that, both Scheldorf Creek, and the Redwood River, had cool enough water for
an extended period of time, that they thought it was
adequate enough to… Stock trout. And it got enough
recognition, over the years, that it created, kind of this niche, that anglers really wanted to fish trout. There’s not a lot of areas, where you have lots of public
access to streams like this, and other than going way to the southeast. And this is a great opportunity, that anglers can come into
Camden State Park, and… Walk up and down the stream,
and fish certain pools, and catch trout, and have a good time. I know the conservation
officer, in years past, has documented a hundred
anglers on opening day. So, that’s what we’re after,
is anglers to come in, and utilize the resource,
and have a good time, and enjoy the outdoors. (light music) – [Amanda] You asked, and we listened. I’m Amanda Anderson, Digital Media Specialist
for Prairie Sportsman. The Q&A section, of each episode, is powered by questions, from
Prairie Sportsman viewers. This week’s question, “What benefit comes form grazing cattle “on conservation land?” – [Greg over Recording]
My name is Greg Hoch. I’m the Prairie Habitat Team Supervisor, with the Minnesota DNR. Before settlement, free-roaming bison would have grazed an area and move on, possibly not returning for several years. Conservation grazing usually
seeks to mimic those patterns. Bison and cattle primarily eat grasses, opening up the plant canopy and allowing for a greater
diversity and abundance of wildflowers. The analogy I like to
use is prescribed fire. The day after a burn, there
isn’t much nesting cover, but it’s crucial for the
long-term health of the site. Generally, we try to pull
cattle off mid-summer so that the plants have a chance to regrow during the second half of the summer, providing cover through the winter. When done carefully, grazing has ecological,
economic, and societal benefits. However, we can’t emphasize enough: We can’t open every
conservation acre to grazing. Grazing should be done only where and when it can help meet management
and ecological objectives for wildlife habitat. – [Amanda] Thanks for asking! – [Prairie Sportsman
Announcer] Email questions to [email protected] Or, use hashtag, AskPS,
on Facebook, and Twitter. And visit our blog, for more Q&A. Thanks for tuning into Prairie Sportsman! And be sure to get outdoors this week! – [Pre-Show Announcer]
Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended, by the
Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. And, by American Surplus. Ice Castle Fish House RV. Minnesota’s largest manufacturer of premium, portable ice fish houses. And, a proud supporter of the annual February Ice Castle
Classic Fishing Tournament. More information, at icecastlefh.com. And, by Live Wide Open, original movement that encourages people to make a great life for themselves, in west central Minnesota. More, at livewideopen.com. (gentle music)

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