Fly Fishing For Trout in Minnesota: A Summer Paradise

Time To Head Out

My husband and I roll down the car windows and turn up the radio as the heat of the day creeps up. We turn onto the back country roads that run parallel to the river, and listen to the crunch of the wheels on the gravel roads. Once we reach the easement to the river, we park on the side of the road and prepare for fly-fishing.

Chest waders go on first, followed by our fly-vests. The leather harnesses of our split-willow creels are draped across our chests – though we never seem to keep the trout we hook. Two-way radios are hooked onto our vests to communicate on the stream, and waterproof cameras stuffed into pockets to capture the moment we catch a lunker. We grab our fly-rods and head out.


Waiting Waters

Tall grass and wildflowers greet my husband and me as we step off of the road. Five-foot tall stinging nettle threatens us as we near the trout stream. We lift our arms and rods high in the air to avoid its sting, while dodging the outstretched arms of nearby trees grasping at the tips of our rods. A light morning fog appears before us – a sure sign that the icy water of the stream is imminent. We crouch beside the bank of the trout stream as we approach the water. The water is clear, but alive. An ever-observant brown trout darts from under the bank beneath our feet – spooking several other fish in the process. My husband whispers that he is heading upstream. I will stay here as there are fish to catch.


I enter the waiting waters cautiously as my husband tiptoes away. Swift currents and smooth rocks underfoot threaten my balance. I take my time – feeling out each step before fully committing. Cold water presses my waders against my legs as I move toward the center of the river – cooling me from the heat of the day. I have my eye on an undercut bank on the opposite side of the river a few yards upstream. I stop in the middle of the river – it needs to rest. The water continues to rush past me, carrying away the evidence of my arrival, and the trout calm – a sense of peace restored.

The Rhythm Of The Cast

Bringing the fly-rod straight up, I grip the fly-line with my rod hand as I release the fly from the hook holder with my other. I peel line off of my reel, letting the hook and line drop beside me. The floating line moves with the tumultuous water – curling and twisting around me before straightening as the water carries it downstream. I grip the line by the reel with my free hand and raise the tip of the fly-rod into the air – keeping the rod in line with my forearm. In a straight and fluid movement, I bring the rod tip down in front of me – pausing to let the fly-line follow. I repeat the pattern, but this time I allow the line to unroll on the surface of the water after the last forward movement. The fly lands in the quiet water near the undercut bank.


Moving water carries the line back toward me as I watch carefully for any movements indicative of a strike. I slowly pull the slack line through the guides on my rod. As the fly approaches, I begin the rhythmic casting again. The process repeats until I see the slightest pause in the movement of the fly-line as it floats toward me. Everything surrounding me disappears as I focus solely on the line. I hold the fly-line and raise my rod tip straight into the air as I feel the erratic pull on the line – fish on. Keeping the rod tip up, I strip the line steadily while keeping the line taut. The fish attempts to dart back under the bank, and I lose my footing for a moment as I try to maneuver the fish, but remain standing. Up stream, down stream, through fallen trees, and around large boulders – the fish tries to escape, but I am patient. Soon I land the 10″ brook trout.


Keeping the fish underwater, I gently dislodge the hook. The scales are so small that the trout feels smooth – almost scaleless. The gold color of the fish is highlighted by red spots rimmed with an electric blue. I observe the most obvious sign that I have caught a brook trout – the contrasting white accents on the bright orange, lower fins. Gently, I lower the fish deeper into the water allowing it to swim away. It swims slowly to the river bottom – pausing to recuperate before moving on. I radio my husband to notify him of my catch.

Time to move. I move upstream; looking for a new place to land my fly. Downstream of fallen logs or large boulders, deep holes – often appearing turquoise in color, or another undercut bank will do. My husband and I fish a couple more hours as the fog disappears under the heat of the mid-day sun.


Submersed in Beauty

We pause for a lunch break, a quick dip in the water – yes, it takes our breath away, and an hour of reading by the trout stream. My husband goes back to fishing late in the afternoon, but I choose to sit on the bank near where he fishes. I enjoy watching him fly-fish as the cast of a fly-rod is one of the most breathtaking displays – an art. The rhythm of the cast and the silent movement of the fly-line in the air is captivating. The way the line rolls out on the surface of the water is awe-inspiring. I sit for an hour before the fog begins to return as the sun lowers in the sky.

Twilight arrives and sparks of light begin flickering throughout the foliage on the sides of the stream. Fireflies surround me within moments – blanketing me in a sea of sparkles. With the sound of the rushing river in my ears, the smell of wild flowers permeating my nose, and the hundreds – maybe thousands – of fireflies putting on an amazing light show for my eyes – I feel as though nature is putting on its best show for me. A summer paradise.


Shadows of trees spread across the prairie grasses as my husband and I make our way back to the car. We discuss the best fishing holes, the types and sizes of the trout we caught, and the beauty that surrounded us throughout the day. Fishing gear gets stuffed in the back of the car, and we slide into our seats and roll down our windows. Scents of dew-tipped grasses, spicy wild monarda, and sweet clover invade the car – making us smile. We drive away as we reflect – listening to the crunch of the tires on the gravel road.

This is fly-fishing in Minnesota.

Dew Drops on Grass1

Join me in two weeks for an informative post on fly-fishing: how to begin fly-fishing, tips on how to outfit yourself (and your family) for fly-fishing on a budget, why fly-fishing is a lifetime activity, where to search for free fly-fishing events, and more. Watch for my post, Fly-Fishing: A Lifetime Activity for Everyone, on Wednesday, February 21st – right here on Unbound Roots.

25 Replies to “Fly Fishing For Trout in Minnesota: A Summer Paradise”

  1. This is beautifully written Erin. You really take us all with you on your trip.

    I’ve never been fly fishing before, but you really make it sound like an art form! I guess if I go, I should follow an expert!? Did you take plenty of trout home for dinner in the end, or did you let them all go?

    1. Thank you so much, Josy! Fly-fishing is truly an art form, and yes, it does help to go with someone experienced your first time out. My husband and I went with guides the first time we ventured out. But, the experience was amazing. We ended up catching a total of 14 trout in just a couple of hours. We let them all go. We’ve only kept trout on one of our many adventures. My husband likes to eat them, but I’m not keen on the taste. It’s the experience that amazes me. Once you get the hang of fly-fishing a river, you’ll never forget. It’s like riding a bike. πŸ™‚ You really should give it a go if you get the chance!

  2. Sounds perfect…….time to go fishing!

    1. I’m ready! Well, as soon as we can get out of these sub-zero temperatures.

  3. Breath-taking. I love the part about watching your husband ply the art of fly fishing. It’s both romantic and beautiful. Simple things communicate both elegance and earthiness. I believe you’ve captured it here.

    1. Thanks so very much, Angela. The trout streams on warm summer days are truly magical. Jake even had fun reading and adding some of his thoughts to this post. But, now we wish summer wasn’t still so far away. πŸ™‚

  4. Great job Erin 😊I can’t wait of spring to come 😎we are Excited about our grandson learning to fly fish!! It is so Peaceful and beautiful to watch someone standing In a running stream of water Watching the art of flyfishing the back and forth motion ever so lightly touching the water Waiting for the trout to hit fly. it puts you in a totally different world πŸ’«Excited to see what you write next

    1. Thank you πŸ™‚ Yes, fly-fishing does make you feel like you’re in a completely different realm. To me, it feels like going back to simpler times.

  5. It sounds like utopia x

    1. It truly is! Sitting beside those trout streams on a warm summer night – its bliss. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Orla! Xx

  6. I could feel myself sitting on the river side while reading this. Beautiful memories.

    1. I’m so happy you could get a little taste of the trout streams. They really are a magical place. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. Xx

  7. Lovely piece of writing and stunning photos! Love it x

    1. Thank you so very much, Claire. You made my day. Xx

  8. This post is making me feel nostalgic for summer. Beautiful pictures

    1. Me too, Diana! Summer can’t come soon enough. Thanks for your kind words, and for taking the time to comment.

  9. This is beautiful Erin. You write so lovely! This is the second post today that brings me back to my childhood fishing days. Such happy memories of fishing for river trout with our dad. He made our rods from the hazel tree. The summers were longer than they are now and warmer too. My brother took up fly fishing when he got older but I never attempted it. I live right beside the River Moy in Co. Mayo. It’s famous for salmon fishing. Fishermen come from all parts of the world to fish here during salmon season. Many of them fly fish and I often stand to watch them. It’s interesting to watch.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your precious memories. I absolutely love that your dad made your rods out of a hazel tree. Does anyone in your family still have a rod or two? Also, the River Moy sounds like a great place to fish. Maybe we will make it out to your neck of the woods sometime in the future. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your kind words, and for taking the time to share them with me.

  10. Yes my brothers still have their rods. My dad doesnt fish any more. He’s 84 and not in his full health.
    Our neck of the woods is quite a nice place to visit! πŸ˜‰

  11. My best bud and her hubby love fly fishing! Great recount of your trip!!

    1. Thanks, Ritu! Fly-fishing is a wonderful adventure. πŸ™‚

  12. What a contrast! Me: sitting by the fire with a kitty in my lap. You: standing in a stream with a fishie in your hands. Nice mental vacation!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’d much rather be sitting by the fire with a kitty in my lap than be in the trout streams now – I’m not a cold-hardy fisher woman. πŸ™‚

  13. This was an absolutely wonderful read. I’ve always wondered what fly-fishing is like… it’s not something we can do where I live!

    1. Fly-fishing is truly incredible. It almost feels like going back to the grass-roots of fishing. A sacred feeling if you will. When you’re immersed in the water, casting the line with the use of a rod and your hands only – you’re fishing without the use of any technology. If you ever get a chance to try it, do it! Thanks so much for your kind words, Amelia. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. πŸ™‚

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