10-19-03 - Someone once said something about a
30 trout day in Iowa?
Waters Fished: MP's Secret Stream, Lower South
Fish Caught: approximately 45
Outing Date: 10-18-03
Air Temp: 70's at the peak?
Water Temp: didn't take it
Water Level: seems a bit low
Water Color: crystal clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished:Tucker Nymph, Griffith's Gnat, Copper John
Pattern Color: per respective patterns
Fishing Quality: INSANE
Alright, yesterday on the Wisconsin Tribs was a
great way to spend a day. The action was "alright" and
not much else can be said. However, Jim K. had been out to Iowa
the week before, hitting what was probably the peak of the fall
colors, he said it was amazing. Not to mention that the fishing
was pretty good too! Oh yeah, if you didn't know, that's right...Iowa's
Trout Season is 24/7/365!!!!!! And you thought you wouldn't see
anymore Inland trout fishing from me until 2004?
Well Brennon and I came up with this whacky plan
that I might make a day trip to Iowa and meet him there. On my way
home from the Tribs we connected and the decision was finalized...we'd
spend the day chasing trout in Iowa. A special thanks to FAT for
lending me the keys to the RV in IA; granted it took me 5 hours
to get there from Lake Como (don't ask why) and well, I forgot my
sleeping bag so I slept in 5 layers of clothes and still FROZE my
butt off over the night LOL!
Now I don't share the "secret spots"
with you guys (no offense implied) but Brennon is definitely worthy.
I wasn't sure when he would arrive, so I left my tentative plans
at the RV and headed out to MP's Secret Stream. Sorry, I won't ever
tell you all which one it is...there's 52 Put & Take Trout streams
in IA, visit them all and sooner or later you'll find it I guess.
If you already know, great, keep this one to yourself. And if you
find it, kudos to you. In any event, there is a mix of wild and
stocker browns; please HARVEST the stocker browns...that's what
they're put there for. LET THE WILD BROWNS GO. I'll explain why
Well I ended up at the secret stream about 9:00
am and as luck would have it, I must have just left before Brennon
got to the RV 'cause he showed up while I was gearing up! GREAT
TIMING! We got ready, hauled out the creel and hiked to the stream.
Upon arriving there Brennon "got it"
right away...he understood why I don't share this stream. The entire
stream was littered with Trout. If the concentrations were like
this all the way up and down the stream, I would have estimated
the numbers well in the thousands per miles....we were probably
looking at a few hundred in just one pool.
Well, we got cracking right away. In no time we
both had our first fish on...small 5-7" rainbows. Apparently
the IDNR must have recently gone out and dumped all the put &
grown rainbows in the streams, as we were getting MOBBED by them
It would go something like this; cast, drift, watch
your fly be mauled by 10-20 little rainbows. Watch them carry it
around in their mouths, waiting as much as several seconds to spit
it. Don't set the hook. At the end of your drift, cast again. Watch
for the larger stockers and wild browns to hit the fly. Then set
Well, DESPITE our best intents, I still landed
36 little rainbows LOL! What can I say, you'd lift your line to
go roll cast and bam fish on! Thankfully I had gone barbless but
they still were ON and ON well. Yup. 36 little rainbows in 2 hours!
Brennon totally lost count on his...admittedly I did as well so
36 is "about" where it was, could have easily been more.
In fact, if we were intentionally targeting 6" trout (hey,
some places that's a good catch!) we could have easily gone into
the triple digits before noon. Thankfully we're not really those
kind of anglers (although I admit at first it was pretty fun...only
after 20 or so did it get downright annoying).
Sometimes though you'd get what you were actually
targeting, it took a lot of skill and patience. Brennon was the
first to produce a larger fish, a nice Stocker Brown and in the
creel it went.
I wasn't about to be "shown up" on my
own secret stream, so I put in a tight cast that drift my Tucker
Nymph underneath a carved out stump. This beautiful cast got the
attention of a nice wild brown in the 8-9" range...the rush
of golden color combined with the leaping habits of these particular
wild browns made for a fantastic fight.
Brennon was out to fill his bag limit for the day,
and made another move towards that with another hefty stocker around
11". No sooner did he have that one creeled when he got into
another brown, another stunning WILD brown. When he brought it in
this fish had swallowed the offering and was already bleeding. Thankfully
Iowa's liberal size limit (or technically lack thereof) allowed
us to creel the bleeder.
I came back with another STUNNING wild brown. A
quick shot that wasn't composed just right still captures ALL of
the beauty. The wild browns are simply gorgeous. We saw them up
to 16" in their resplendent golden fall hue. Take a look at
that picture...the fish rivals the fabled Golden Trout of California
if you ask me...in fact it's almost BETTER than a Golden Trout!
Not to mention it jumped twice before we ever got it to shore!
Now we did lose several larger fish and purposely
lost MANY of the little guys (granted I haven't seen a larger rainbow
on the secret stream yet...). However, I was still contributing
to Brennon's creel and more trout were needed. A long, thin brown
hammered the Tucker Nymph and soon met the fate of the stockers
before him...in the creel you go!
By the time I was at about 39 lil'bows I was itchin
for another big fish, and a nice stocker approaching 12" obliged
me. When we got him out he started dropping milt everywhere! NO
WAY are you going back in the stream you ugly buck of a stocker...in
the creel you go. Sorry, not going to let your genes get into the
wild trout if I have my say. It was about noon and we had filled
Brennon's Creel with 4 stockers and 1 bleeder, so we decided that
a 40 fish day was already more than we deserve. That's 40 trout
all on the Tucker Nymph in less than 3 hours! Time to go somewhere
Now, if I haven't mentioned it before I'll mention
it now, Casey's is a gas station / "general store" that
I've found in only a few places so far (Decora, Waukon, Fennimore
and most recently Elkhorn). The Pizza is AMAZING and they make it
fresh right there. Every time I'm in Iowa I have a pepperoni pizza
from Casey's...takes about 10 minutes if they're not busy. Brennon
knows this too, and so before heading out for more trout we gassed
up and filled our stomachs at Casey's in Waukon. If you're out there
do try it (avoid the sausage though...pepperoni is the ONLY way
Brennon IS Mr. Brookie if you ask Tim...Tim claims
that Brennon is the brook trout magnet; if there are brookies in
the stream Brennon will be the one to catch them. Who better to
go scout some brookie streams than Brennon?
Well, we went to go look at a Put & Grow...man
the water was small (for the record I will no longer refer to a
P & G's by name). We looked for access but didn't find it, although
a friendly Iowan informed told us who owned the property (so maybe
we can go ask permission to fish later?)
After the Put & Grow, we decided to try and
fish South Pine which is special regs, C & R only, and is home
to Iowa's only known native naturally reproducing wild genetically
unique brook trout (say that 10 time fast). I figured this would
be prime time to photograph one of these beauties at their peak.
Well, suffice it to say we drove the whole area
for 2 hours looking for the access point (which is 1 mile+ away
from the stream and a rugged hike there and back). We NEVER found
the access point. Since we didn't fish it, there's not much else
By 4:00 PM we had our fill of scouting and were
ready to catch more trout. Brennon suggested we try a new stream...hmmm...I've
already fished 23 of the 52...how many new ones could there be in
Well, perhaps surprisingly, I hadn't ever fished
the South Bear (Upper or Lower). Hey, it's not that far away! Alright!
We accessed the South Bear directly in town and Highlandville and
right away started finding the familiar stocker rainbows. The fish
were somewhat spooky and suckers far outnumbered the trout, but
it was a nice little stretch. I managed one right off the bat. Gotta
love the lunker structure here (see the picture).
After we had exhausted this stretch and realized
there weren't any trout here other than the first hole(!) we moved
downstream to another access. Seems like everyone tries the same
hole first, as we only saw two trout in the first spot. Granted,
one of those two was a gorgeous fully colored rainbow...obviously
smart enough to avoid the Tucker Nymph.
Brennon and I scouted, simply moving downstream
looking for pools. Each pool got a quick glance, and if fish weren't
sighted, we kept going. Eventually I stumbled upon a nice pool that
at first looked like it was only holding 2 fish. I asked Brennon
if I could fish them, he obliged me and kept scouting downstream.
Well, I apologized to Brennon then and I will again
now, it turned out there were about 20 rainbows of all sizes in
the pool. Granted they were TOUGH customers. A hatch of small mayflies
and cream midges (could have been caddis 'cause they flew like caddis)
were coming off, and well the fish turned away from the Tucker Nymph!
Holy Crap, I've never seen the Tucker so insulted! I guess these
fish don't know a good fly when they see one.
Time to out think an animal that has a brain the
size of a pea. If they're moving from the Tucker in size #18 on
2lb test (7x) it's gotta be the fly. They're not really rising,
they're hitting the emergers (the snapping mouths gave it away).
Alright, something SMALLER.
First up was a Griffith's Gnat pulled under the
surface...that produced my first RESPECTABLE rainbow of the day.
Granted he totally destroyed the fly! I wasn't about to waste more
Gnats, most of the fish were holding much deeper, so I switched
again and tied on a Beadhead Copper John, size #22 I believe.
It worked well and I managed 4 more rainbows before
Brennon came back! Each hit was SIGHTED...these fish were taking
really lightly; there was no indication of a strike at the line's
end. An indicator might have spooked them. So like I said, I basically
stood at the tree, leaned out, cast upstream, watch where my fly
*should* be, and if a fish moved as if chasing something and then
made a bite, I set the hook and asked questions later. Talk about
tough fishing, but the efforts paid off rounding out my day at approximately
45 trout, 9 of which were "respectable" trout.
I quickly handed the pool over to Brennon and gave
him the info above, but for whatever reason the fish weren't cooperative
for him. Granted I had fished the pool for probably a good 45 minutes
before he got there...maybe we should have rested the pool for a
bit before Brennon got on?
At any rate I spent the last little bit of evening
taking pictures and enjoying the surroundings. As we hiked up to
the cars we noticed a distinct 10 to 20 degree rise in the temperature;
man it was cold down there by the stream. Brennon and I made our
final plans for next week's upcoming Brule Trip and parted ways...for