7-10-04 - Another weekend in Iowa, but at least this Saturday it didn't rain!!!
Waters Fished: South Bear Creek, North Bear Creek, Waterloo Creek
Fish Caught: 20/45
Outing Date: 7-10-04
Weather: Foggy in the AM, Mostly Sunny, cloudy towards evening.
Air Temp: mostly 80's
Water Temp: didn't take them
Water Level: normal
Water Color: South Bear Muddy - visibility 1', North Bear Clear,
Waterloo Muddy - visibility 1'
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: Chicago Leech & a #16 Wet Fly
Pattern Color: Black was BY FAR the most productive color, 95% of
my fish landed took black. The Wet was Black Dubbed Body with Gray
Wings, no hackle or tail.
Fishing Quality: This is how it's supposed to be!
FINALLY, it's been a LONG TIME COMING since I've
had just a REALLY, I mean REALLY good day on the water. It all started
simple enough...I could have left work early but had work to do,
even so still got out earlier than expected but had more work to
do at home. Ran over to Nardo's house to pick up the last little
bit of our Team OC Combo...namely the reel...drove through dense
fog and arrived, oh maybe 3:30 AM at Dorchester! Man, and I was
hoping to hit a stream Friday night to get in yet another day of
Someone woke me up way too early and suggested
it was way too nice of a day to spend it sleeping. In a 1/2 hungover
(without drinking) stupor I slid behind the wheel of the Bitchin'
(Fishin') Camaro (more recently dubbed "The White Garbage Truck
with IL plates) and did my best to keep up with the high-speed chase...er...race,
that ensued as a bunch of sleep deprived anglers drove to the stream.
For the next 45 minutes or so I TIED FLIES. The
water was dirty from prior rain and I had NOTHING to fish with.
Chicago Leech..my GOD I cannot thank DRIFT and Dan Fisher enough
for introducing me to that pattern...I wish the DRIFT guy who invented
it would stand up and take credit for it. Such a simple tie...beadhead
on a streamer hook, red crystal flash tail, mohair body (I've started
making variations in color, the original is black) and that's it!
3 materials, just a few easy steps and the fly is ready to go
Now well armed for what lay ahead (started with
an Olive Leech and a Black Gnat variation #16 wet), I added on 4lb
tippet (no need for 2lb. today!) and made my way down to the stream.
I found Brennon fishing a pool, looked upstream and the riffles
4th cast I hooked a rainbow out of water no deeper
than 12". I guess the warm water has changed some fish behavior...today
I WOULD find luck in the fast water! Unfortunately, this 4th cast
fish flopped around just inches from the shore and got away.
Moved up just a bit and noticed a nice bend...drifting
through there I got another hit...this time a wild brown...and again...same
as before....inches from hand it managed to escape!
The bend looked big enough, deep enough, perhaps
there was another fish holding here? INDEED there was, and maybe
10 minutes into my day I was finally unskunked! Brennon faired well
too...his downstream bet had paid off with a rainbow!
Much of our morning was spent working down the
South Bear, leapfrogging each other. I started paying attention
to pockets in the riffles, heck I was seeking them out. Meanwhile
Brennon focused most of his attention on the heads of pools where
oxygen rich water would dump in and ideally concentrate the fish.
A climb down a steep bank and I had found myself
another little pocket, half the size of my bed. I just KNEW there'd
be a fish there. It took a while, longer than I expected, but persistence
paid off. Unlike the first fish which had taken an Olive Chicago
Leech, this guy took my dropper, a #16 Black Gnat Wet Fly. It was
a great fight, jumping and thrashing, this fish did everything it
COULD to get away.
I continued downstream, hitting water that B had
covered. I spent a fair amount of time on the next pool trying to
work tight against a submerged log. This gamble paid off as well,
and another rainbow came in!
Brennon opted to park for a while at the bottom
of the riffle that connect this pool and a longer run, so I kept
moving. All morning a cloud of big black midges, at least that's
the best I can describe them, had been forming over the surface
of the chocolate water. As the midges kept increasing, my black
gnat became ever more effective.
Things peaked for me just downstream from Brennon...he
stayed up at the head and I stayed down at the tail of the run.
The fishin' was UNREAL. Almost every cast was a bite...generally
on a dead drift. I easily landed 5 rainbows here, as well as losing
a BROOKIE! Man did I scream...the triple slam had been within reach
and I choked on an 8" fish. UNREAL.
Finally the bite "wore off"...back to
looking for pocket water, and I found it at the next bend which
was immediately prefaced by a short riffle. The bend was more of
a pool head, the water more or less spilled into this bathtub shaped
pool from the side. Despite low water clarity, you could just tell
that there was a shelf at the end of this riffle.
I guess that's not a spot that gets fished too
often, because in just a few casts I was totally being rude and
obnoxious, heck I was screaming, cursing, going totally nuts! A
MONSTER (by my standards ;) Brown had taken my fly. He too, like
all the others, had fallen victim to this innocent looking size
#16 Black Gnat Wet Fly, a fly I probably tied 10 or more years ago....years
before I ever saw my first live trout in the wild!
G-man came down to find out what all the noise
was about and I showed him the pics hot off the digital camera!
He started fishin' a bit below me, and shortly thereafter I decided
that despite this pool looking good, it was in fact done, so I joined
up with him on the large pool he was fishin' below.
I sh*t you not, first cast I had a hit that didn't
connect. And that was about it for the entire pool. Got another
LOOK from a trout at one point, but for some reason this "obvious"
trout haven probably gets pretty pounded, and therefore the few
fish that remained had likely wised up to the game we were trying
We kept moving, down through a stream crossing.
Downstream, riffle water, and again I'm looking for pockets, undercuts,
overhanging brush, whatever would keep a trout holding in the fast
water. To my chagrin it was all about 6" deep! Keep moving....
Ah, another riffle leading into a bend-pool....big
eddy here! G-man started hooking up repeatedly but kept losing his
fish. Meanwhile I landed a few small rainbows, nothing to take a
picture of when you're easily 6 feet above the water on a high,
sloped bank. Heck most of the fish I landed slid down the bank,
off the cliff and into the water below before I ever had a chance
to take a shot! T-bone showed up, looked around, and kept moving.
Again, he parked just below a riffle in a small pool. Again, I would've
probably hit it myself. Yet for some reason, T-bone came up empty
handed. As we moved downstream, I even joked that I was going to
clean up T-Bone's mess in that pool and catch the fish he left behind...NOTHING
was there. Harumph!
I must admit there comes a time, even when you're
all part of the Pet Fly Smackdown, that you start to feel guilty
when you're having a good day and the equally accomplished anglers
around you aren't. So I really, truly, felt a bit of guilt when
I moved in downstream and started fishin' a tree that G-man had
hit and given up on after losing a fly. I too came close to losing
my rig, but instead witnessed the sharp tug on my line. "SET
THE HOOK" raced through my mind....the fight was on, another
This fish had PLENTY of room to run...I had to
work to keep it from diving under the tree though. Thank GOD I had
opted for 4lb tippet today...2lb this fish would've snapped me off.
But I got it in, dropped it in the mud (talk about a splat) a few
times, and when the dust finally settled I had a NICE brookie! TRIPLE
SLAM COMPLETE BABY!
Well on that note we all decided it was time for
LUNCH...we went back to find FAT and the boys, I cleaned some fish
and we ate. Personally feeling rather proud of myself having gone
9/21 so far....No time to lose even though we kinda sat around for
an hour...it was now 1:00 PM and PLENTY of fishin' lay ahead!
So we spent all morning in dirty water, why not
cross the road and hit North Bear which was already running clear?
We opted to fish low, down by the confluence of North & South.
When we got there, I nailed a fish right away. G-man and T-bone
headed towards the confluence; FAT, Chief and Duke went upstream
and I batted cleanup (again). This time, the fish were few and far
between, and for the most part were definitely skittish in the bright
As we moved up FAT would point out fish, I'd sometimes
find them, sometimes they'd be gone. Eventually I did manage a hookup
when I walked up to where Rich had been and noticed some surface
feeding activity below. FAST, I mean FAST strips brought pounding
strikes...missed the first one but nailed #2. As we kept going upstream,
we just couldn't find any fish. What to do? Turn around and go downstream
to the confluence.
We got down to the confluence and I even spent
some time fishin' downstream from that. All the while no fish seen,
no action, no nothing. I was kinda wondering if maybe we'd gone
in the WRONG direction. Afterall, upstream a bit on South Bear I
had been doin' alright as had the other guys.
So it was decided that I'd go off to look for our
lost boys..G-Man and T-bone. On the way back up the North Bear side
I stopped, nailed another quick rainbow I saw flashing in the depths.
That last fish put me at 3/5 on the North Bear for the afternoon...not
I then looked for a quick escape route and found
it on the far side....well, until I started climbing the bank. I
got about half way up and shouted "OW"...my exposed knee
had come in contact with stinging nettles. THEN I felt the burning
all over my forearms. I suggested that maybe FAT and the boys go
upstream a bit more when they were ready to get out.
I took a quick walk through the woods, started
collecting black raspberries for tonight's desert, and as luck would
have it I actually managed to find G-man and T-bone The had only
gone up one stocking road crossing. It went down like this...crossing
#1 is right where you start. Crossing #2 is a trek through the woods...at
best a 2 or 3 minute walk (but it seems like longer). Well, I get
to crossing #2 and downstream I see a promising hole....maybe I'll
stop a second and fish it before I keep moving in search of the
As I waded downstream I see a bright green fly
line coming out of the brush...that's Brennon's line. I make my
way down and they're glad to see me...they've spent at least a couple
hours just pounding a relatively short stretch of stream (to be
fair it winds around a lot). I got a chuckle when Brennon asked
if I knew where the stocking road was...they had been looking for
it for the past hour. They were only about 100 feet downstream from
We planned to hit another spot on the North Bear,
again, new to all of us. Fat had seem some guys down in the area
with a 24" brown. Something tells me the fish are moving upstream
in the warmer weather
We arrived and flogged a bunch of water. One real
nice hole got split 6 ways....tough to do but we managed. FAT hooked
up, I lost a three and landed one, all the while standing in (and
sinking in) the mud. Other than that the area warrants no special
mention or further details. It wasn't terribly productive, and by
about 6:00 it was decided we should head back to the Waterloo, fish
till dusk and eat some dinner!
Oh let me tell you I had been dying to get to a
new access we noticed on the Waterloo since early this year. Well,
this would be the evening. While the rest of our crew headed on
over, I made a detour to the General Store in Highlandville, picked
up some Vanilla Ice Cream (to go with the raspberries), replenished
my Mountain Dew supply, and stopped over at the Sportsman's in Dorchester
to drop it all off in the cooler.
By the time I had arrived, FAT had pretty much
had enough of the kids and wanted to start preparing dinner, so
it was now just the three of us. Brennon had set up at the head
of a nice pool, G-man was working kinda the middle section, so I
started lower. We all kinda jockeyed spots a bit, and in the process
I hooked MANY MANY fish, adding another 6 (or more) to my total
(honestly I kinda lost count and there were also several fouled
fish). I continued to pound the pool while G-man and Brennon had
long since left.
"FUCK YEAH"! Man I realized that there
were folks in a trailer not too far away only AFTER I screamed that
with all my might. If anyone had heard me and mentioned it I guess
I'd say I had screamed "CHUCK, YEAH!" and explained that
either Greg or Brennon was "Chuck".
I had tied into a fish of an entirely different
class....man this was a different level all together. It started
with the huge sharp tug that caused my outburst. "THIS IS WHAT
I'm TALKIN' ABOUT"...man Jimmy Houston doesn't even come close
to me when I'm in this kind of mood!
Then it cleared the water...all 24" or more
of it. That's when I got my first look at the fish I had. It was
BIG and DARK BROWN. Um....wait a second...did I see that right?
Um....wait, that's not a trout is it...? No time to think about
as this monster fish was taking drag, and all I'm fishin is a 3wt.
SCII with a Redington CT (it's a pawl-click type drag). Every time
I'd make some headway and start reeling up slack the fish would
take back all the progress I had just made. No doubt the grinding
of my drag could be heard downstream by G-man and T-bone Unlike
earlier on South Bear...no one came to see what was going on this
And if they had, they would've been somewhat amused,
somewhat disappointed, and even after I showed them what I had caught,
somehow I managed to totally escape being the butt of any related
jokes at the campfire that evening. You see, it turns out a SUCKER
had taken my fly. A MONSTER SUCKER, or as I like to refer to it,
an INLAND Bonefish.
After the Bonfish Fiasco I decide to go down and
see what G-man and T-bone were up to. I they both tied into a few
fish, Greg got a nice wild Waterloo brown. All the while dusk was
creeping in...no wait that's not dusk, that's FOG. The fog arrived
well before sunset...but sunset DID arrive. We all gave a last ditch
effort in the promising pool...I myself lost my last leeches and
must thank G-man for bummin' me a beadhead bugger...got my #20 for
the day (although the pics totally suck). As soon as I had passed
19 free and clear by making the 20 mark, going 7/16, I cut that
bugger off and handed it to B....hopefully it turned a fish or two
Talk about a day...as the sun finally left the
sky B was workin' the head of the pool where a good fish had been
taunting him all day. I looked upstream and noticed G-man still
working the water...
Turns out the fish were on the rise on the seams
in the riffles. He was having great luck getting strikes from fish
by skittering an Elk Hair Caddis across the water, but they weren't
connecting. I suggested dead drifting, but that didn't get the hits!
We even tried an "all-stop"...simply holding the fly static
and letting the rushing water push it around...no hits there either!
Only the skitching of the fly across the surface got hits....but
what good are hits when the fish keep MISSING the fly?!
Dinner was fantastic. Fried Trout. Fried Looper
(I think I'll be letting those go next year). Fried Crappie (why
can't they live in trout streams?). Tater Tots. Labatts' (a G-man
essential). All topped off with mounds of fresh, wild black raspberries
heaped upon soft yet still frozen French Vanilla Ice Cream.
Did I mention it FINALLY went a day without raining?!
This is what IOWA Trout Fishin' is ALL ABOUT!