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It should be noted for all that I am truly a lucky bastard, you see Liz and I met up with Carl and his girl recently, from what I can remember it was a blast and went something like this. Note: Lack of sleep may significantly change how you remember a series of events. The gist of what happened goes as follows… After a beer at 10pm some discussion about how awesome fishing for trout begins, at 11pm it was decided that Iowa was only an hour away would put up fish, the weather was good and I happen to travel with my gear. The four of us, on a whim split for Iowa just after 11pm. We get to the discussed location, quickly build a fire and pitch tents. With the rods readied and girls in tow we split down a path guided by the light of an almost full moon. We hiked through the night fishing each spot that met the criteria for a mousing opportunity, it was so bright it mid-as well been noon. The girls who followed were ferried across riffles, one stayed dry, one got a bit wet. They kept each other company whilst Carl and I approached the darker spots looking for [singlepic id=2943 w=320 h=240 float=left]water that was void of a reflection. For their parts they should be commended, who ever heard of such a thing, hiking through the woods in the middle of a beautiful October night following fools with mice patterns. One of these nights I’m going to get a picture of Liz and a fat fish with a hunk of fur hanging from it’s jaw.

By three AM the moon had bested us, we had yet to land a trout, some were heard but the entire valley seemed calmed by the presence of the moonlight, basically it was a bust. Paying attention to the moon cycles and valley walls will be important next season. We hiked the girls back to camp and re-built the fire then decided to head out again to see if the lower angle of the moon would create a couple black spots for us to cast at. At ~4am I hooked and landed the only [singlepic id=2944 w=320 h=240 float=right]trout seen that evening. At roughly 13inches it was a stocky guy who put up a good fight, he was released and we hiked back to camp to sleep for a few hours.

From 6-10am we slept. With the sunlight came the sounds of hunters shooting their guns, we woke and prepared a makeshift breakfast, at this point anything to get a couple calories down would have done the trick. We left camp for the road and stopped at the first spot we saw, a long slow stretch perfect for mousing was staring us in the face and we totally missed it. Something for next time…. with that said we had water in front of us and rather than drive to find something else it was decided that this would suffice for a beautiful afternoon of trout fishing in the driftless area. The [singlepic id=2950 w=320 h=240 float=left]creek was gin clear and low by close to a foot, combined with thick instream vegetation it was going to be a challenge.

Carl opted for a #18 Dry fly not sure exactly what he was casting but he made it look easy, effortlessly casting a good forty feet into the wind. I tried a #16 Free Range Soft Hackle but ended up settling on a #16 Pink Lab, the last one in my box. It came from a good friend and now I’ll have to pester him for some of his dog’s fur. I spent the next couple hours working up a low crystal section of water picking off a couple fish here and there. The #16 Pink Lab was crushed the second it hit the water resulting in a handful of lost fish due to poor line management, something to continue working on. I moved a fish pushing 17inches but as it followed the fly downstream it spotted me standing wide eyed, probably gawking and decided the sight of this fool was enough to turn tail for better sights, bested by my best friend and greatest adversary, the trout. 

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Carl lagged behind working his dry fly while I put down a bunch of fish and continued upstream, I was anxious, felt like moving and decided I should see as much of this new Iowa water as possible before the trip home had to be made. Definitely saw a hole with a 20incher in it, maybe more, good to take note of such sights. The entire time Carl and I were fishing the ladies were wandering the area enjoying the beautiful weather, when October gives you near 80 degree air temps you take advantage of it. Truth be told I saw some sun bathing going on at one point and I know for a fact that someone got sunburned. Good to have the girl along on these trips, keeps us together and her finding more interest in what I love. Soon, very soon, change is coming on that front. I concluded my portion of the afternoon by poorly casting to some big shadows in a shallow creek, I herded those trout upstream so fast it was almost humorous. Sometime I just stink and don’t take the time to approach the fish with the caution needed to move one, hook one, land one. Fishing in those kind of conditions can be taxing. Next time… work on the dries, work on the wet flies more… Thanks to my new friends for a good and crazy trip to Iowa, to be done again.

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  1. Justin,
    You are truly the avant garde of fly fishing writing. To my knowledge, no one has yet blended such a inherently solo activity such as fly fishing with a public medium in so graceful a fashion. You were even gracious enough to exclude the fact that in 10+ hours of fishing, I managed to land 1 6inch trout. Not an impressive ratio.
    It should also be said that your extremely practical knowledge of survival skills came into use in the most necessary way. I learned some hard lessons this last weekend. You are the ants and I am the grasshopper.
    Upon reflection, I realize that the main reason I put on a small dry was to counterbalance the difficult conditions and to provide an excuse for only catching a nominal number of fish. If its 2 pm, 20+ mph wind and girlfriends watching, the least I can do is not catch anything in style, right? Haha!

    avatar carl
  2. I’ve always done best during the new moon. It’s a little spookier out there, but critters are more active. During the moonlit nights the predators are more visible–especially coyotes and fox–and it seems the mice are more reluctant to come out of hiding.

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