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The plan was hatched with little time to spare. The night before digging my gear from it’s hidden resting place, packing fly boxes, tying the last minute necessities and printing my stamp and license at home, sometimes you have to love the internet. We left with a few crappy maps (way to go Heath) to find trout in the state of Iowa, the place you go when your a Minnesotan in the off season if you want to scratch that itch that’s been nagging at you for seventeen days but who’s counting? We stopped off in La Crosse, Wisconsin to grab some winter gear that will be put to the test in the coming months (more on that later). After the stop we hit the road to ride the Mississippi down to our target.
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The first stream on the list looked like it held potential but at 10am the weather was not the 60 degrees and sunny that the weather man had predicted. Opting for warmth I put on the hip boots and bundled up, it couldn’t have been more than 50 degrees when boots hit the water. Rigging my KML I was hoping to pull a big boy from the depths but no fish were to be had at the first site, it looked as if the stream had been hit hard as of late. Beer cans, a well warn path and the lack of fish sure said this place had visitors, that and the old guy who stopped me commenting on the lack of dinner in my hands. We did find one hole of stocked rainbows piled up but they weren’t having much to do with our flies and rather than linger we headed out after finding almost no fish in a stream that by all appearances should have held much more.
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The drive to the second spot got kind of muddled when the craptastic maps accounted for the lack of a left turn sending us straight to spot number three, rather than turn around and try to figure it out we laid all our cards on the table gambling that the final spot would be enough to make the stamp and day license worth the trip. We got lucky.
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“Number 3” was gin clear and with the air temp rising ever so slightly things were looking up for two fish-less fishermen as we passed a young boy fishing with a spinning rod for trout, very cool. We found several anglers at each stream but found if you hike up or downstream even a few hundred yards you are likely to be out of the traffic and all alone with the fish, that is unless your fishing with a friend. The first fishy looking run we came to had a deep pool near the end with a large boulder right in the middle, perfect trout cover. Sershen up with a #14 Pheasant tail and he rolls a log of a brown trout only to have it get off, it would have been a brute for sure. The second run through pulled a rainbow pushing 18 inches easy out from behind that boulder. I hopped out of the way so Heath could move the fish downstream and away from the deep hole, the boulder and the half tree that was also in the mix. I dove in to help land the fish and take pictures. This was a day maker. I wanted to see this fish up close and with one person controlling the fish and another photographing the whole process is much less stressful on the fish and you. The pictures are better too.
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I tried the #14 Pheasant tail in the same hole and pulled a 13 inch rainbow out almost immediately. We hung around for a while but wanting to see more of this stream we moved onwards and upwards. Determined to give the Kiss My Leech a good test I put it back on to pull a female brown from under a log a moment later. I love it when they come out from hiding to nail your fly right in front of your face. With the KML taking fish we moved upstream to find that around every corner there were multiple places to take trout, one of those streams where you can fish for hours and only cover a half mile of stream. Another interesting attribute of this stream was the drastic change in elevation between our put in and the furthest upstream we could get, it felt like we were slowly climbing a mountain. The fish here all looked healthy but we found almost no fish smaller than 10 inches, the conditions seemed good for natural reproduction but if that were the case I would have expected to find a larger number of smaller brown trout. [singlepic id=794 w=280 h=200 float=left]On the flip side we did see and avoided several noticeable redds along the way, perhaps this stream just produces only larger trout…what a problem (insert grin here). We fished until it was time to head out wishing we had more time, we stopped at a few of the better spots on the way out and pulled a few more fish from the depths before hitting the road. The drive home was calm and peaceful, it was good to get that itch scratched.
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Wow! Great fish and you definitely got some good pictures of that rainbow. Glad to hear you got some fish to kiss your leech.
The pic of the caddis fly is really cool too…
I am disappointed that you did not include the map that we used to get to stream three….
I get a kick out of it just thinking about it. What a challenge!
Let go back and fish that pond…soon…ahh yes, Chub Tail Creek!!!
hand drawn on the back of a napkin? i swear i drove over that bridge just last friday while i myself was lost i the work truck.
enjoy the ride fellas. i hope you can make it last longer than i did.
Nice photos, nice fish!!!
Ahhh, the joys of new territories explored…
Agreed Tim! It’s worth the gamble to try a new stretch, it keeps you on your toes as well not knowing ever turn, where the fish lay, ect…
Nice fish and nice outing. Extending the season. Like a coldframe your garden come to think of it. I may hit NE Iowa soon.
Its been a long time since you and I have shared a stretch of water. What do you think of making it a threesome?
I love hopping the border! Nice report, and here’s to waiting for the waters to come down so we can fish the 60 degree weather and midge hatches over in the fly fishing paradise that is Iowa!
Agreed! Now that I’ve got the stamp its just a matter of picking the day. Take Care Matt.
You guys did good! Followed your instincts. Too
bad the massive brown got off but I bet it will make both of you come back. Congrats on the ~18″ rainbow, that is a beautiful fish!