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NW MN stream trout


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Hey all, just moved back to MN where I grew up after living in the PNW for a long while. I became addicted to fishing rivers and streams out there and have started to check out the offerings in the NW section of the state as of yesterday’s opener. Wondering if anyone has experience in this area and can give me some pointers or just tell me if I’m wasting my time since that’s what I’m wondering right now since I didn’t find any signs of fish. I’m using a spinning rod with Mepp’s and Panther Martin style spinners and went through a bunch of color combos. I started yesterday morning at the Clearwater River in western Beltrami County essentially on the border with Clearwater County where the state has some land and a pretty lengthy easement. Probably a well known area. Beautiful area to walk through. Found multiple holes, but yeah no fish at all. I waded for a bit and decided to leave. I went south since I live closer to Moorhead and stopped at Felton Creek. I’ve read a DNR study about this creek having a decreasing population of fish, but it’s still considered a trout stream although not “designated”. I understand the channelization of creeks in this region ruined fish habitat over the last 100 years, but still find some DNR material as of the last 5 years that reference Felton Creek as a spot for trout. Walked the stream for a bit before I left and headed to Lawndale Creek south of Barnesville. I waded through the AMA on the Atherton WMA expecting to find some brook trout since the DNR has stocked it as of at least 2017. Nothing through the entire stretch besides frogs and minnows. Are there actually fish in these places? The Clearwater and Lawndale are designated trout streams. The Clearwater is stocked annually and Lawndale is supposed to have wild brook trout. Anyone have any experience in these spots? Should’ve just drove down MN200 & 71 to the obvious spots in Becker/Hubbard?

Edited by BigTrucka
missing words/incorrect autocorrect
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welcome and good luck!!   don't know the area so can't help you but others will help ya if they can!!   

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Builders

I fished north central Minnesota and the arrowhead for trout but never the northwest part. Thanks for posting and good luck!!

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Got out to the portion of the Clearwater west of Pinewood south of Buzzle Lake and east of Clearline Road a couple days ago when it was 64 degrees and sunny. Walked the river upstream through the woods and caught 2 rainbows on gold Panther Martin-style spinners. 1 10-incher and a fatter 8-incher. Had a few other hits. I'll continue to update this thread over the summer as there's practically zero info online about stream trout fishing in this region. I now have some other places to check out for brookies and browns.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Vibrantly-colored 13-inch rainbow to hand on the Clearwater again this past week near Bagley. Healthiest looking stocker I've ever seen. Pulled him out of a big deep hole while I stood on a submerged log trying not to fall in. Put up a great fight and jumped out of the water twice before I got him netted and then jumped out of my hand a few times while trying to unhook. It was approaching evening and then the spinner bite stopped as the bugs came out and the fish started hitting topwater.

Edited by BigTrucka
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Accessed the Lost River and Lengby Creek today. Lengby Creek is a spring creek that feeds into the aptly named Spring Lake in the town of Lengby in eastern Polk County and the Lost River is the larger cumulative drainage for a network of swamps, ponds, lakes and spring creeks and streams in far western Clearwater County. The Lost River is a major tributary of the western run of the Clearwater River. Both streams are considered “marginal” from the publications I have. I’m not sure if the DNR has ever had any stocking efforts in either waterbody, but they reportedly hold brook trout. Accessed a few legs of the Lost River - the first of which was maybe 4-feet wide where I observed a 6-8 inch brook trout surfacing and then darted off seemingly spooked by my shadow. I got a late start today. I have a lot of experience catching tiny coastal cutthroat trout back in Washington state streams with very small in-line spinners and trout magnet jigs, but this didn’t work here. I proceeded to the next leg of the Lost which I bizarrely remember visiting in high school with some friends. County Road 20 crosses the main branch of the River here. I may have seen fish rising in the distance behind a small beaver dam, but I also saw a few turtles in the area. Nothing caught. I proceeded to Lengby Creek where I waded about 50 feet in the 2-3-foot wide stream to a 4-foot deep pool. I saw a school of minnows pass by, a 4-inch brookie who swam into a culvert under the roadway and a small sunfish who disappeared quickly. Nothing following my line so I turned around and left. Did not have any expectation to find fish in these streams, just needed to demystify the lesser- and unknown streams. Perhaps there’s decent fish in there somewhere, but I doubt it. Next reports will be from Bungashing Creek, Kabekona River, Sucker Creek and probably some lakes since I haven’t gotten my kayak out yet this year.

Edited by BigTrucka
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Posted (edited)

Drove up to Bemidji/Laporte today. Dropped into the Necktie River to try for some brookies. Nothing at all beyond a couple woodticks, but wading through this river was a very aesthetically pleasing experience, until I went to exit the stream and the streambed randomly changed from sand to a very thick quicksand-like mud which took one of my legs to the knee. 10 minutes later I was out and back on dry land. This river reminds me of some in the driftless region. If only there were fish. Then I drove south to Kabekona. It was late in the afternoon by now almost evening and I expected my spinners to cease being effective in the event I were to find any fish. Maybe I’ll have to bring my flyrod with next time. I just prefer using light spinning rods with Panther Martin/Mepp’s style inline spinners. Anyhow, I was pretty exhausted by my getting stuck ordeal so I didn’t put my waders back on and decided to throw some casts from the bank. After a few casts I began to see fish jumping and hitting top water as the bugs came out. Then a brookie hit my spinner. Got it up to shore and as soon as I pulled it up it came off. Got a brief glimpse and it seemed to only be about an 8-10 incher. Then I lost the only spinner that was working to a submerged log. 3/8 ounce Worden’s rooster tail in white. The only one I could get them to hit or chase. Also saw a fat creek chub chase my line and a few schools of minnows. Drove to a couple other access points and observed fish but couldn’t get them to bite. All I had left were some 1/4 oz Mepp’s Aglia copies. It’s unfortunate how much driving I have to do to find stream trout, but I don’t mind and it takes time to establish a “spot” anyhow. The first step is finding out if there’s fish and the Kabekona has fish. It seems to have a lot of fish. I’m re-upping on 3/8 oz and 1/2 oz Mepp’s, Worden’s and Panther Martins this week and I’ll head back out this weekend.

Edited by BigTrucka
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  • 4 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Trip to the Kabekona was stopped by sudden heavy rain that wasn’t in the forecast. Got about 100 feet of wading in before it started to pour. Headed north and caught 3 great hatchery specimen rainbows and a bonus chub in the Clearwater before it clouded up and started showering there too. Still trying to find some brooks. I must have bad luck lol.

Edited by BigTrucka
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  • 1 month later...

Been doing any more trout fishing around the area? I fish the Kabekona pretty regularly and the necktie and clearwater occasionally. got a bunch of brookies on the Kab yesterday and talked with the DNR doing some electrofishing. Id like to learn more about the other streams around the area.

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  • 1 month later...

I didn't have much time towards the end of summer unfortunately. I tried fishing Solid Bottom Creek - the north feeder of Elbow Lake - during the heatwave in July thinking it'd be ok since it's under a thicker canopy of trees. It was all pocket water maybe a foot deep. Saw a few fish. It's a brook trout stream. I stopped at the Kabekona a month ago and had my fly rod with - I normally throw spinners. Saw a few brookies and one jumped out from under the watercress to strike my fly mid-air. It was sort of ridiculous. But nothing to hand. I was passing through and didn't feel like wading. I hit the Clearwater a couple more times and caught 1 rainbow on a dry fly. Didn't bring my spinning gear unfortunately that day. Then the last time was a few weeks ago I found a huge beaver dam just north of the boardwalk off of Pineville Road and a dead beaver in the middle of the footpath. Couldn't catch anything but it was a fairly cool windy day.


Where do you fish on the Kabekona? I have a copy of that MN/WI trout streams book by Humphrey & Shogren and they dropped in at 257th and walked upstream to find 10 brookies. I've not had very much success on the Kabekona. I see a lot of fish, but I've only caught a few. I've waded from 257th & 36 where the bottom is sandy and walked upstream and hit the road crossings closer to 71. The bottom seems questionable in the other spots, but I'm not sure about that. So far after talking with DNR and TU guys I've learned that many of the designated trout streams in Minnesota may not have held trout for upwards of 40 years. For instance, if you were to look at the DNR's streamfinder map you'd see many random streams listed as trout streams like Nassett Brook and a section of the Lost River near Clearbrook, but these streams haven't been stocked since the 80s and the DNR doesn't do any surveys on them despite the legislature declaring them designated trout streams. DNR told me they don't do surveys due to water quality. I have seen fish in Nassett Brook, but I couldn't tell what they were. I talked to a retired DNR fisheries guy who told me there are 4-6 inch brook trout in Spring Creek (the feeder of Spring Lake) in Lengby east of Fosston, but other DNR guys have told me there's no trout in there.

 

Next spring I plan on trying harder. My list includes Bungashing Creek, Cold Creek, Sucker Brook, Battle River, Sucker Creek, Dead Horse Creek, Stoney Brook, Cat River and the Straight River. That's about all of the trout streams I'm aware of in the NW part of the state.

 

 

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