5-31-03 - Iowa, part 2/3! My FIRST EVER 20 TROUT
Rivers Fished: North Bear, Waterloo
Fish Caught: 20!
Outing Date: 5-31-03
Air Temp: 40's in the morning, up to 70's and then falling back
Water Temp: Bear was 54F, Waterloo was 64F
Water Level: Assuming Normal
Water Color: Crystal
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished: MP's Antron Bug, small nameless Partridge nymph,
Elk Hair Caddis
Pattern Color: Herring on the Antron, tan on the Partridge, tan
on the Caddis
Fishing Quality: UNBELIEVABLE!
Ha, the report for Friday was easy 'cause it was
short and sweet. Not so for Saturday. We were out ALL day, save
the last couple hours of evening.
The day started off early; I'm not sure how early
exactly (as you may know by now, I'm not a morning person). We had
met up with Tim and Brennon last night at FAT's base camp in Dorchester;
in total there were 7 of us including Tim, Brennon, Greg, Rich,
Kramer (aka. Chief), Dutton (AKA Duke) and myself.
Our first stop was the North Bear. This was classic
creek water; lots of rocky riffles and silt bottom pools. The best
bet was to walk the shore (which was totally OK due to DRN lands)
and cross only at riffles.
The plan was simple, T, B, G and I would fly fish,
while FAT took the boys down to the pools to do some creekstyle
tightlinin' and indy riggin with worms for our evening meal.
We only had to go up one riffle before we found
our first pool and fish. Tons of suckers were on the bottom; we
were careful not to spook them. Greg took up position across stream
from me, and we both started casting. My first hit came close to
the far shore on MP's Antron Bug; I had tied up several size 18-20
wets such as that for the trip. Not to shabby, a nice little brown.
For a while casts continued to produce hits and fish landed; 3 total
came just from this pool, a smaller one in the creel for me ('cause
I really wasn't sure how the fishing was going to be). However Greg
went fishless. After the action slowed, I suggested we move upstream.
I suggested that maybe we work some of the riffles
and pockets; the Bear was running at 54F so I wasn't sure that the
fish would be eagerly seeking these waters, but it was worth a look.
I directed Greg to the choicest section, riffles below and above,
with a deep undercut on one side with a flat covered by an overhanging
tree. Meanwhile I quickly worked the riffles above the bend. I didn't
scare anything up, and Greg didn't find anything either, so we continued
We did bump into another angler who had passed
us earlier; I thought we might end up leapfrogging him but he moved
upstream too. We skipped the sections we had seen him fish and eventually
found more water that might look productive. I intentionally skipped
the grassy flats of a straight run, but Greg spotted a couple fish
and decided to give them a shot.
Meanwhile I came upon another nice LARGE pool...the
creek was VERY wide here and looked to be deep. I did notice a fish
fish rise on the far side, but with all the floating gunk that had
collected there a cast would more than likely just foul my line.
At the top of the pool was a tree that had fallen over the creek
at the base of the riffle; it was there that I spotted several trout
underneath, just like the Kickapoo last week. I figured I'd whack
'em all right there, but the largest trout (about 12") was
intent on chasing all the others OUT of this area and around the
Greg showed up but hadn't had any luck downstream,
meanwhile I found a small and willing brown right along the bank
where I stood. NO problem bringing him in, although he was tiny!
That's 4 browns so far on MP's Antron in Herring.
The next couple riffles looked promising, but just
at the pool above we found Brennon and Tim; I figured they had probably
just fished the riffles so we skipped that. Brennon had landed 2
Brookies by this point; Tim was 0/1 I think. Tim filled me in that
Brennon is MR. Brookie; often the only person to bring any to shore
during a trip. I can safely say now that fact held true this time
Tim said they had actually be further upstream
and had seen a lot of fish by a limestone outcropping by a bend,
but they couldn't get them to bite. I thought this sounded fun,
so I headed upstream. Greg had already gone up, and sighted a "huge"
fish; as I approached he gave me the "chill it out" look
as I took a spill in a fox hole!
I came up quietly to find that Greg had in fact
found more than just big fish, he had found LOTS of fish. They were
all stacked up doing their regular trout thing, chasing each other
around, underneath a fallen tree. I stayed for a bit and coached
Greg in the art of fishing this type of structure from upstream.
Then I wished him luck and moved up.
The next stretch was a languid flats shaded by
trees with what looked like a hard rock bottom. This was the limestone
area. I came to the bend and found a couple fish sipping at the
surface. 2 other pairs of anglers came by and moved upstream, so
I figured THIS would be end of the line for me; I had to fish it
and get back by 10:00 for a late breakfast / early lunch.
Patience was the key here. Cast after cast produced
nothing. Then I saw a silver FLASH on the bottom; I knew I was into
something. A well-planned cast to the area produced a strike best
described as "womph". No fish materialized at the end
of my line though! Again, patience. Fish were surfacing upstream,
then downstream...I couldn't tell if it was the same fish moving
around, or several fish.
Then I connected. A SOLID whack at the end of my
line followed by a silver rainbow dashing away from me. This was
no small brown! I watch as he turned to swim upstream. He accelerated,
curved towards the surface. His nose pierced the surface followed
by his body, placing this fish in a low-earth orbit of roughly 3
feet! AMAZING. By this point I had him on the reel..the drag winced
but kept the tension on throughout this aerobatic display.
The fight actually lasted several minutes...this
fish had guts. Those who say stockers don't fight well...that's
simply rubbish. I think it's up to the individual fish. With 2lb.
tippet on, I had to be patient, especially since this was a fish
that'd actually make a fair meal, at least for one person. I finally
got him into shore...actually had to beach him. This is when I remembered
something FAT told me on the drive yesterday; when the boys land
fish the THROW them onto the shore, otherwise they're prone to losing
them (as I had done several times last week and last night)! Up
on shore he went...and he almost got away 3-4 times while I tried
to pose him for the shot. But in the end he did calm down, got his
picture taken, and was placed into the creel with fresh grass and
a dousing of ice cold river water to keep him fresh.
By this point I figured it was close to 10:00...unless
I was totally wrong. I started heading back down looking for Tim,
Brennon or Greg, but didn't see any of them. I was tempted to try
the tree where I had left Greg; or for that matter the pool where
Brennon had pulled the brookies, 'cause my brother and I have a
sort of wager going to see who will pull the triple crown / grand
slam (Brown, Bow and Brookie from the same river in the same day)
first. When I finally met up with Greg he was actually heading back
upstream to look for me; it was indeed just before 10:00
FAT was taking video this weekend for a talk he
was giving on Tuesday, so I did get a little more time to fish but
never did pull the triple crown. We cleaned our fish; Chief and
Duke had contributed 2 bows to our dinner fund as well. Tim was
still fishless, as was Greg. I think Brennon had a bow or brown
in addition to his two brookies. I personally had gone a total of
5/14 on the North Bear.
At around 11:00 AM we finally got back on the road
to base camp for food! Great sandwiches; AKA "Scooby Doo's"
- 3 slices of bread, cheese, turkey or ham, mayo, mustard, I was
in heaven. Some Ice Cold beer to wash it all down...and it wasn't
even noon yet!
FAT has a new RV, so we kinda took a siesta and
helped / watched as he started constructing a new bunk for the back.
It already had 3 beds that slept the 4 of us in relatively comfort
the night before, but as any man knows...this is a great project.
By about 1:00 we were ready to get back at it.
Rich was going to stay behind at base camp with the boys to get
the bunk together; Greg and I were charged with getting the rest
of tonight's dinner. "No Problem" I thought. Tim and Brennon
headed out a little bit before us; they were going to do the artificials-only
no-kill section of the Waterloo which is just a minute or two from
base camp. Greg and I got suited up, headed back out, and started
at the same bridge, going upstream instead of down, into the general
regs / unstocked area.
This proved to be a frustrating experience. Most
of the fish we sighted were suckers with smaller trout mixed in,
and they were spooky. The pool beneath the bridge was EXTREMELY
deep and held a LOT of large fish...at first glance the looked like
huge brookies but then I realized, "Nope, those are suckers".
There still were a few large trout in there and Greg was intent
on getting one. He sat and waited for the pool to unspook while
I worked upstream.
Now, it looked like maybe if I went up far enough
I'd find some shaded areas that were less spooky, but it appeared
that at the first bend public access stopped. As I had SLOWLY and
QUIETLY walked UP I had tried but failed to fish sighted fish without
spooking them. NO DICE at all...fish sitting in 6" of crystal
clear water at 64F with short grass around them simply are gonna
My best solution was to work them on the way back.
I ended up SITTING and fishing...which made things tough 'cause
I'd catch the tall thistles from last year on my back casts. Roll
casts weren't working too well either 'cause I wasn't that far off
the water, which made it difficult to get a good loop going.
By the time I had worked the stretch back to Greg
I had only gone 2/2, both dinker browns. Greg hadn't done any better,
so we decided we'd go downstream to see how the fly-only section
was. I figured we wouldn't be able to keep them, but at least we'd
Greg wasted no time getting down there, while I
studied the pool a bit longer. After fishing the front end and mid
section up to the bridge, I got up on the bridge and looked at the
lower half..and that's when I got the shock of the trip. In addition
to probably 100 HUGE suckers there were also several nice-sized
carp in the pool and some fish that were big enough to be STEELHEAD.
But there aren't any STEELHEAD in the river...they were HUGE-ASS
browns. Their shape, color and swimming style is what gave them
away...otherwise they pretty much blended in with the suckers in
I switched things up to work the back half; I needed
something deep and attention getting that wouldn't spook them, so
I tied on a brown/tan MP's Antron that had LEAD eyes (like I fish
on Quarry Lake). I got a follow from a HUGE trout that turned at
the last second, and a couple nips that didn't stay on...so I was
0/2 in this section.
Moving downstream I started to work the riffles;
both above and below the bend. The second stretch (after the bend)
caught my attention when I made it to the head and SEVERAL trout
spooked upstream. I stopped, switch back to the tiny MP's Antron
My plan of attack was simple; similar to the same
plan used when blindly fishing riffles for steelhead...start at
the top and swing / slow drift the presentation. I worked top to
bottom and in the process spooked one NICE SIZED fish about 18".
I DID however manage another 6 takes, 2 of which came to shore...and
both were back in the "fair size" category of 8-10".
The cool part is that when a fish takes in the fast water, it has
all of that pressure on it, so it feels like it's much larger (and
thus makes for a more enjoyable fight). I was very intent on getting
that larger fish (with a lot of patience) so I actually went back
upstream, sat and waited for the run to settle down, and tried it
again. Unfortunately I again spooked up that big fish...I literally
walked BY him before he shot upstream like a rocket.
I figured "this is fun and all, but we still
need dinner". Greg and I had somewhat lost track of time, and
I can't blame him; he had fished that same riffle before I got down
there and went 6/13 on a smaller black stonefly imitation! NO wonder
I had such a hard time...it had just been fished no more than 30
minutes prior. Brennon had turned a brown or two downstream, and
Tim was still fishless, I think 0/2! Greg was unskunked, and he
did it in GRAND fashion for a first-time inland trouter!
We took a look at Greg's Watch...3:30 PM. DARN,
we were supposed to be back at camp by 4:00 WITH DINNER. We asked
Tim when we were supposed to be back...FAT said 4:30, right? "Uh,
actually I didn't hear Rich say when to be back" Tim said.
"Oh well I think he said 4:30"...we'd get to another spot
and whack 'em ultra-fast and be back just a little late...right?
Greg and I hoped back in the truck and started
driving....but wait...we really had NO CLUE where we were going.
Realizing it was rather idiotic to try and find good fishin' water
to land another 6 or so good sized fish, we knew we had to go back
to camp and fess up.
We pulled in and FAT was like "Where's dinner"?
We explained how we had wasted our time and asked him to put us
on the good water...he decided he'd "help us out"...he
grabbed the boys and their secret bait and the 5 of us headed to
the Secret Spot.
I must say the Secret Spot was AWESOME. Grassy
on one side with limestone bluffs on the other...again long pools
with riffles. It was GREAT water. FAT, Chief, Dutton and Greg started
on the first pool...it looked like there was room for 5 but I decided
I should see what was downstream, especially since the fish I had
seen prior were in the riffles.
The first fish I spotted was a large trout in a
riffle pocket; the only thing that gave away his position was his
loud slashing on the surface. I had lost my Antron at this point
but had on a tan partridge nymph...a couple drifts by and I got
a hit...but nothing materialized out of that.
Rather than pester the same fish, I knew we were
supposed to be getting dinner. Downstream of the riffle at the head
of the next pool I started seeing and HEARING loud slaps on the
water. I stopped right then and there and realized there were at
least a few fish in that pool.
They had NO interest in my nymph...what were they
eating on the surface? There were some midges hatching...but I've
never really seen trout go after midges with this much enthusiasm.
Then I noticed a larger whitish bug flutter by...CADDIS. I stopped,
retied with an Elk Hair Caddis and made my cast.
BOOM. Fish on and landed. Next Cast...BAM! For
what seemed like the first 5-6 casts I got a fish on EVERY cast!
Unbelievable action in my personal fishing history. Some were small,
but those of edible size got added to the creel, as Greg came by
and said FAT and the boys had only landed 1 upstream.
The action didn't stop there...Tim showed up and
walked by and said, "Matt, there's a huge fish down there".
I was like, "Where?" to which Tim responded,
"About 5 feet up from where your fly is.".
As I stripped in line, I said "Like Here???"
and right then and there "WAPHOOMP" and my fly was taken
under for the dance of the hungry trout! I was excited and Tim said,
"Yeah, but you got the little one sitting NEXT to him",
I ended up with 10 fish landed by the time FAT
and the boys came down. Rich stopped in mid-stride as I said "Hey
Rich, I've landed 10 so far..." He emphatically whispered,
"GUYS, GET DOWN". Rich turned to me and said, "Do
you realized how many freekin huge fish are down there?"
"No, I stopped right here and I can't SEE
them from here. I know there's a big brown cruising though".
Rich kinda looked at me and said "Boys, time to get dinner!"
Chief and Dutton went to work pulling out 6-7 stocker rainbows in
minutes...granted they put the kibosh on my surface activity but
I did manage to get one more on at the same time Chief got into
a rainbow...all I remember is enthusiastically shouting "2
at a time! 2 at a time!". It was simply GREAT. I tried switching
over to a Marabou Muddler with splitshot to put it on the bottom
but that didn't elicit any interest.
About 7:30 Tim had finally unskunked himself on
TWO sizable browns. NO ONE was skunked on Saturday. We spent the
evening cooking up our catches; tried out the some of the Bass Pro
"Uncle Bucks" outdoor cooking oil and batter..the "original
recipe" actually has a decent KICK to it...went great with
the Labatts! Spent the evening getting schlitzed around the campfire...fishin'
stories...other stories...we laughed, groaned and had a great time.
After a day like that day, we decided to get a bit buzzed to celebrate
and sleep in on Sunday!
One heck of a day fishing...I know I posted elsewhere
that I was 20/43 but after checking my notes it was 20/36 for the
day. 36...43...7 trout difference...what the heck does it really
matter when you've had a 20 trout DAY!