On The Fly Guide Service

Guided Fly Fishing in Southeast Minnesota's Driftless 


Updated Stream Conditions/Fishing Reports

Reminder: If you see illegal or suspicious activity on your local waters, be sure to report it. Game warden Mitch Boyum covers Fillmore, Houston, and  Counties. He can be reached at 507.932.4947.

September 29, 208

I spent the day fishing with two very good friends. Water was still stained in places, but fishing was very good with tandwm nymph rigs. We messed around with some dry and dropper. Despite the 52 degree weather, enough fish came up to pick off the parachute dry that we stuck with it into the early afternoon hours.

Plenty of fall blue winged olives were in the air by mid to late afternoon. Few fish were on top keying on them due to water clarity issues.

September 14. 2018

Fished all day Friday with two very good friends, who area also two very good anglers. The going was slow in the morning. The water where we were fishing was still stained from the deluge of rains earlier in the month, so trout were not eager to show their noses and pick up flies.

We ate lunch and relocated to a different stream, also stained, and also not much for prospecting with dry flies. We did manage to catch this rainbow, which is affectionately named Chester. He's unusual for a variety of reasons: he's a solitary rainbow in mainly brown trout country. He also lives in the very same run, and has lived there for two years. I've caught him. Clients have caught him. And close friends who fish with me know where Chester is. To date, Chester has been caught six times last year and another four times this year, including yesterday. You want a poster child for the effectiveness of catch and release regulations? I cite Chester as example A. Photos have been modified to protect Chester's home.

Others from the day:

September 9, 2018

I got out for a few hours Sunday afternoon into the early evening after deciding that a Viking's win was secure (right, Bear's fans?). I hit two different streams, both clean enough for fish to take dries. A nice BWO hatch came off for a half hour and fish were up in the runs eagerly picking off the duns as they emerged.

I put on a standard parachute post BWO dry and trailed it with a "cat turd," a pattern affectionately named for the gray emerger we used in Wyoming to entice hungry cutthroats feeding on emergers during a hatch.

I shifted streams and shifted tactics a bot, starting out with a tandem nymph rig and eventually going to a marabou streamer. I cast downstream over the runs and danced it back to the top, getting fish to come up and swipe at the fleeing streamer.

September 1, 2018 

The short version: good day, lots of driving to find clean water, no other anglers around, fish feeding on top.


August 24, 2018

Today's outing with client Jens certainly had a fall-like feel to it. Temperatures hovered in the mid 60's all morning and low 70s in the afternoon hours. It certainly affected any hatches or the willingness for trout to pick up any prospecting dry flies.

Nymph rigging was by far the most successful tactic yesterday. We fished three different streams, bouncing around a bit on all three. Water was clean all over and will still be in very good shape despite the rains Thursday evening. IMO, I think many of the spring creeks are definitely on the low side, so some rain will not hurt at this point.

August 13, 2018

Today's trip had an international flair to it with Kai from Japan on his first fly fishing/trout fishing outing ever. Nymphing was steady all morning with a few fish taken on the dropper of a dry/dropper combo. We did catch a tiger trout, which was pretty neat. Cool looking trout.

August 11, 2018

Client Ben and I got an early start to Saturday mooning, which in hindsight with the stagnant heat we endured in the afternoon hours, was a great choice. We got on the stream by 7:45, rigged up, and hiked in to start our fish out. Water quality and temperate were good at that point.

We started out with some basic dry/dropper and a nymph rig (I always carry a few rods when guiding, for the ease to switch back and forth).

Not too long after our arrival, a pod of trout started picking up trico spinners, so a change out to accommodate their feeding preference made for some good dry fly fishing on top.

We continued to work upstream - nymphing larger runs and dry and dropper (minus the trico spinner at this point). The fishing was superb until about 1:00, when it really shut down. Water temperatures elevated and air temps were uncomfortable with the lack of breeze.

Ben's day consisted of over 50 trout caught and released, the trifecta (brown, brook, and rainbow), as well as catching two trout at once - one on a dry, the other on the dropper. We had a great five hours of morning/late morning fishing.

August 3-4, 2018

I did some guiding both days on two separate watersheds. Fishing was solid both days with tandem nymph rigging and fry and dropper being the most effective methods to get trout to take. Water quality was fibe both days. Saw a few anglers Saturday, but none on Friday.



August 1, 2018

I finally had a few hours to get south out of town and check out area streams for the first time since I went out West. The recent dry spell has vastly improved stream clarity, and many streams I have been watching for the past six weeks that were in pretty tough shape, have definitely improved. I fished for a few hours and landed around 20 browns, mainly doing some deep nymphing in the bigger holes and dry and dropper on the faster runs and thinner water.

July 15, 2018

Fished the morning with Ed, a first time angler. Plenty of heat, and plenty of gnats around, but the fishing was solid all morning.

July 13, 2018

Once my teenage son arose from his slumber Friday morning, we were heading south to check out some streams and, hopefully, get some fishing in. I was not terribly optimistic after witnessing the previous night's heavy rains in the Rochester area down to the south.

My hunch was right. We made a long loop on our drive and looked at nine different streams that were completely unfishable, and may not be fishable for some time. Portions of Fill. Co. have been absolutely hammered with rain for weeks, so some of these areas haven't cleared at all.

We stopped in Lanesboro to work on some tree stands and do some trial cams, and ultimately decided to check out one more spot on the way home.

My son, who is 15, started out his day spinner fishing, something he prefers because he likes to wlak and cover water. I stuck to a double nymph rig early on and eventually went dry and dropper later.

Fishing was very good for the several hours we were on the water. Finally, when there were a few bugs starting to pop and trout on top taking them, my son was interested in using the fly rod, something he is very capable of but has not shown the interest to pick it up full time (but what 15 year old is all in on fly fishing? Not many.) He tagged several nice fish on the dry and dropper, which certainly elevated his confidence in being able to use the fly rod adeptly.

Fun day with Brock made better when the guide/dad stands on the side and just shuts his mouth :).

Oh yeah, the gnats are still unholy out there. Still plenty of biting flies and the likes. However, wild parsnip is about done in full bloom. It should start to turn brown and start dying off very soon.

July 6, 2018

Truth be told, I haven't been out much on area streams for a while due to some R and R up at the family cabin in the central lakes area. I knew that from watching the weather maps that southeast Mn had been hit hard in places the last week and change, not to mention the last few months. After picking up my sidekick in Lanesboro, we went for a drive and encountered dirty water. I knew from a drive through on Thursday that a popular stream south of 90 was still in tough shape as well.

We did find some clean, smallish water. There were some tricos in the streamside cobwebs and a few caddis in the air in the morning hours, but there was never full on rising consistency. The fish below is typical of what we caught all morning into the early afternoon.

I did some basic nymph rigging out of the gate and switched over to a leech to prowl the larger pools. Charlie stuck with dry and dropper all day and eventually went to a parachute ant pattern that proved successful. I switched over at times to a dry and dropper myself, but there were a few moments of sight fishing a nymph rig to some bruiser trout in the bottom of the pool. We managed to turn one, a 20 inch plus specimen, but had to settle for tangling with the junior varsity members of the pod instead.

June 22, 2018

I met up with a couple of fishing buddies Thursday afternoon at the Lanesboro retreat. We went for a round trip drive to look at water, none of which was fishable at that point, and may not be for a while.

We knew where we could probably find some, so we got up Friday and made the trek after a stop to see Brett at the bakery in Lanesboro. The stream we fished was not clear by any stretch, but it was clean enough to fish.


Mark stuck with a nymphing rig and was successful on both the lead and trail fly. Charlie was using his standard dry and dropper. It appeared anything that had some color to it was attracting the fish to the dropper.


It turned out to be a realtively nice weather day - lots of sun mixed in with some clouds late. Wet wading is the way to go now, fo certain. There was enough breeze at times to keep the hordes of gnats at bay. The gnats are out of control right now, so pack your vanilla extract and use it liberally. I did manage a first on the stream. I was reaching over trying to untangle a line near some fast water, lost my balance and tried to lunge back towards shore, only to end up dislocating the ring finger on my right hand. I managed to pop it back into place with ease, and we continued on with our fishing. First onstream mishap in the 20 plus years of guiding :).

June 12, 2018

I took a repeat client from last year, Troy from Minneapolis, out to show him some new water today. I was concerned about lack of clean and fishable water, but that was not an issue at all today. Having a topnotch caster like Troy on the water made my task as guide pretty easy.


We did a little bit of everything today - standard tandem nymph rigging, pitches a few streamer patterns, and did some dry and dropper. All produced trout, given each situation we fished today. The humidity was the only tough part of the day - we probably should have wet waded.

Water clarity was very good all day and was not a problem, but we were on some very good water all day and didn't have any other anglers to contend with, either. Water clarity is a premium right now, but it's out there if you know where to venture.

June 7, 2018

I had Gary and Janet out for a morning fly fishing outing - two relative beginners to the sport. We ironed out some casting and mending issues, and the trout were cooperative the latter part of the morning.


We mainly tandem nymph rigged a variety of patterns ion less than clean water. Not sure the reason for all the dirty water prior to Thursday/Friday rains.

We did a some dry and dropper later in the morning on the thin, fast moving pocket water areas.

May 27, 2018

High heat and humidity is not typically my preference, but when you have a day off to fish with a friend, you can't be too choosy. The current high heat and humidity based front that is common throughout southeast Minnesota did not deter the trout from cooperating. Charlie and I met up at 7:30 and picked the upper reaches of a stream we knew would stay cold most of the day. We walked in quite a distance before fishing out. The further we got back in, the better the fishing was (there's something to be said for sweat equity). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvfaIuQ0n34

My pal was dry and dropper the whole day and absolutely killed it. He stub to the shallower pocket water type runs while I had the bigger, deeper runs with the tandem rig.

I stayed nymph rig most of the day, opting only to got to the dry and dropper combo myself once I broke off.

This is what your fingers look like once you have caught and release north of fifty trout and your hemostat's in the vehicle.

Hatches: we had some small, tan caddis most of the morning followed by a smattering of March Browns and a few Light Hendricksons. The trout were not on top taking the dries consistently, but they were feeding on the dropper aggressively. Waters are clear throughout the area.

Some video footage of our morning: https://youtu.be/zvfaIuQ0n34

May 19, 2018

If you follow the page routinely, you'll often see some familiar faces here and there. Two of this are Charlie, from Des Moines; and Fred, from Denver. These two longtime fishing friends are very good anglers and know the area very well. I'm just a tag along, really, as they don't need my help to catch trout.

We started around 9:00AM and immediately were into trout via tandem nymphing. Fred, who had already caught a boatload of trout on his trip to the area, was content to try an array of streamers and fool as many trout that were willing. Standing above the run and fishing/swinging flies downstream was easily the best method that day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLwyAa_RMps&t=1s

Charlie, on the other hand, was more content to abandon his already successful double nymph rig in favor of a dry dropper. He didn't pop that many fish on top with the dry, but the dropper was stellar all day. Being that it was Charlie's birthday, his goal was to fish his age. Well, he did that and some, stopping after fish 100 was brought to hand.


Some video footage of our day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLwyAa_RMps&t=4s

May 15, 2018

I had the chance to spend the afternoon with Cal, a hell of a good caster, showing a few different areas of southeast Minnesota for him to check out the next time he's camping in the area.

The only downside to the day is that the trout were not very aggressive. We had a few caddis going around the noon hour and a few fish sucking down emergers, but nothing on top to pique our interest. We ended up moving streams and getting on a few fish nymphing. The trail fly seemed to work best with the fish holding at the ends of the runs and tail outs.

May 12, 2018

I spent all day Saturday with Wes, showing him around southeast Minnesota. The first hour and change was spent driving around, looking at  water, so off to Plan B. There were plenty of other anglers around on Saturday, but the stream we were on was clean, which was no doubt why we had so much traffic around us.


The day never really warmed up enough for any hatches to get going. By late afternoon, there was a smattering of caddis around, but not enough to get fish interested in taking a dry. The best success we had was setting an indicator about two feet from the flies and drifting fast, pocket water. The fish were up in the riffles and aggressive.


We worked on casting, mending, reading the water, fly selection - all of the things that will make Web a better angler next time he hits the stream, which probably won't be too far in the near future.

May 10, 2018

I spent the day on the water with Mike and his wife Peggy, repeat clients from last fall. I had a chance to show them some different water in southeast MN than the first outing.

Clean, fish able water is a bit of a premium right now, especially as the heavy rains rip through southeast Minnesota on Friday, making conditions even more tenuous.

We did a little of dry and dropper on the shallower runs and a little bit of tandem nymph rigging on the deeper portions. Fish were cooperative all day despite no real hatch being present. I saw a few caddis here and there and few rises, but it was not a full on hatch by any stretch. The water we were on was clean, but there are no guarantees heading into the weekend.

May 6, 2018

It was a beautiful day in southeast Minnesota on Sunday. Lots of sun, not too hot, and the winds weren't too bad. I kind of figured I knew where to find some clean water based on Saturday's fishing and a little intel from some fishing friends. We were on the water by 9:00 and did a little bit of nymphing and a little bit of dry dropper. There was no hatch on the entire day, but we still did well on top with a caddis dry and dropper. Nymphing the larger holes and runs produced numerous takes. Scuds with a caddis emerger or nymph was really all we needed most of the day. Robert got into all sorts of browns, with a variety of size and age class. Some of the bigger trout took nymphs or the dropper on the dry fly, but many were very interested in the  caddis despite the lack of a real hatch.

May 5, 2018

I spent the morning with Kelly, a trip that was in sever doubt once I drove around and looked at stream conditions after last week's barrage of rain. Many main rivers and streams were still high and dirty at the time of this entry. However, there are some small streams that are fish able.


We did a little bit of everything yesterday - streamers, nymphs, dry and dropper - caddis with an emerger. The stream cleared considerably once we got moving and the sun began to get higher. The caddis came off around 10:00 and were still bouncing around when we left.

It's always a great day when you can take a client out who has never fished southeast Minnesota before and show him what the area has to offer.

March 25, 2018

Paul and I spent the better part of Sunday on the water (8:30-3:00) and had some consistent fishing all day. The morning hours were steady with trout picking up an array of scuds, Princes, Copper Johns, PT's, and emergers.


We ate some lunch on the go, switched streams, and hiked in for our afternoon fish out. The going was tough at times despite the sunny conditions. The southeast winds were unmerciful at times, but some BWO's came off around 1:30 and provided a good 45 minutes of consistent dry fly fishing. Small, gray #18 duns and emergers worked wonderfully. It was good to see a hatch in such crappy weather conditions. Streams are clean, decent levels, and very fish able right now.

March 11, 2018

I fished most of the  through the early afternoon hours on one stream, bouncing around access points and what not. The weather was a brisk 29 degrees, but no wind and overcast (perfect). Fish were not overly eager to chase down a streamer with water temperatures being cold due to runoff. Streams were not crystal, but they were not unfishable  unfishable. I used a few different streamer patterns with mixed results.

I also messed around with a variety of nymph patterns. They all caught fish, so one was not overly better than the others. A few midges were around when I left, but the fish were not on top consistently picking them up.

Temperatures are predicted to climb into the 40's and may touch 50 later in the week, so runoff conditions could become a reality in short order.

January 21, 2018

I finally got a chance to get out and partake in my first fishing outing of 2018. Family obligations and poor weather have been a main culprit so far.

I was on the water by 8:30 or so, plenty early by my standards, and still plenty cool out with temperatures checking in at a brisk 26 degrees. I geared up and broke out a new rod for 2018: Orvis Recon 10' 3 weight with 3WF SA fly line, a Rio fluoro leader with a tippet ring and 5x Rio fluoro. I know there are varying opinions of fluoro, but I did not have to change out my tippet once at all from 8:30-1:30.

I nymphed the whole day with a tandem nymph rig. Fish were in the pools, in the runs, and later, were right up in the faster water. I did very well in fast, shallow runs as the trout were eager to hit as soon as the fly was adrift.


As you can see, the shelf ice is significant in places due to recent low, consistent temperatures.

It was a good outing - plenty of willing fish and no other anglers at all. Now, it's time to focus on a playoff game #skol.