8-14-04 - Renee's first trout of a lifetime!
Waters Fished: Waterloo Creek, North Bear Creek,
South Bear Creek, Trout Run, Twin Springs, Bohemian Creek, MP's
Fish Caught: 3 personally, 3 for Renee
Outing Date: 8-14-04
Air Temp: 72F for a high
Water Temp: didn't bother to take it
Water Level: Normal to slightly up on most streams
Water Color: Most streams Crystal - Trout Run was heavily clouded,
South Bear was just ever so slightly tinged. Secret Stream was muddy.
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: Prince Nymph, Tucker Nymph
Pattern Color: As per the patterns
Fishing Quality: For Renee's first day it was UNREAL...in general
terms though it was a pretty tough day.
After a long drive and good rest Renee and I awoke to the FRIGID
morning temperatures you can expect in the valleys of Northeast
Iowa. Dew had drenched my car, the outside of FAT's RV, and everything
else. This wasn't a "hardcore" weekend of fishin...so
I went back to sleep several times that morning, only periodically
checking to make sure the shadows from the trees had not gotten
TOO short as the day progressed. Eventually those darn shadows were
looking pretty stubby, so it was time to get up!
Heck, 10:30 already? Well, we started the morning off with some Mt. Dew and then some casting lessons. In NO TIME Renee got it...the big problem she had was too little power on the backcast and too much on the forward, combined with what started as a 9:00 to 3:00 casting stroke. After seeing Renee lay out tighter loops than I've ever been able to, I was convinced it was time to fish. But not before Renee had her license and I had a bacon double cheeseburger and some onion rings (DELICIOUS) cooked by Jack at the Sportsmen's Motel in Dorchester. Folks, if you're on the Waterloo around lunchtime you owe it to yourself to head up there for a really affordable and satisfying meal!
Finally, time to get on the water...it's probably 12:00, maybe 12:30 PM. Being that this is Renee's first time on the water holding her own rod. Where to go? Why the secret spot of course! That was not to be...a couple guys were just getting ready to hit the Waterloo when we arrived. Rather than crowd them, we kept looking.
Well, the double-secret spot was THE place to be...no one was there and I've always found it good for a MINIMUM of one hookup. Took a while to find the stile which has now decayed to the point of being possibly dangerous, but it was still there (just not where I remembered it).
As we approached the water, I asked Renee to talk off her polarized glasses, look at the water, and then put them on and look again; always an eye opener! We spotted a couple rainbows holding in a deep spot adjacent to some weeds, but this proved to be too much of an initial casting challenge for Renee. We kept walking.
Now the Double-Secret Spot is really just one pool. Sure we saw some fish in other spots but the pool is where the action is at. I initially set Renee up with a Prince Nymph and had her cast into the riffles, swinging the nymph down into the pool. I worked the tail, and from where I stood I could easily see 10-20 trout plus all their sucker buddies. After 10 minutes of swinging and not a single bite, we walked downstream and then came back up.
This time Renee took the tail while I worked the head. Something
about her prince nymph turned those fish ON...In no time she hooked
up and lost her first. Then hooked up again and viola, landed her
first rainbow! Then another rainbow..followed by another loss. Meanwhile
I managed one loss...Renee took a break and I worked the tail HARD
to get my skunk off.
Not bad for our first 45 minutes on the water! Renee thought she might like a change of scenery, I agreed, and as we left another angler was just moving in. Good timing! I told him about the biters and where to find them...I guess he didn't much care 'cause by the time we were back on the road he had already passed the pool. Meanwhile a family of 4 had just pulled up and was also heading down...I let them know there was someone already down there but we could all see that he was going much further downstream than this family intended to.
Adios secret spot...we continued upstream looking for vacant access spots, but everyone spot had at least one car...most had 2 or 3!
Man Dejavu or something...we opted at this point to go look at the Bears! We started at the confluence of North and South Bear Creeks....North Bear was undergoing a TON of stream improvement...vast swaths of land had been bulldozed, the stream's path was completely reworked. Eh..maybe the South Bear will be better to us today!
It was getting nice and warm in the sun..a good time of day to find some shade! I thought the wooded areas along South Bear might be good; apparently a lot of other folk did too. Eventually we got to a spot with only one car in the lot...this spot had PLENTY of room so I figured we could fish and not intrude too much on the other anglers here.
Well I guess I was wrong because we found the Mother / Daughter team camped on the very first hole at the access. No problem, I had a better spot planned further downstream. Of course, when we finally got there the FISH were NOT there. Um...OK....fished out?
While looking here the Mother-Daughter team walked on by, so we went back upstream and sat on their hole for a bit. I managed one bite from a rainbow chasing a tiny softhackle, as well as many follows, but after pounded the pool for "too long" I suggested we try another spot.
South Bear at Highlandville wasn't any better...in fact we saw no trout here! Talk about a crummy day on the South Bear! Where to next?
Well, we needed some supplies and I was curious to see what was going on, so down to Trout Run and the Decorah Fish Hatchery. We drove over West Canoe and Twin Springs to get straight to the hatchery for some information (and perhaps improved fishing).
I guess the rain is still making it's way down to the aquifer because Trout Run was cloudy. Not muddy mind you, but CLOUDY. Very strange. We rerigged with large flies and droppers...of course Renee gets a hit in the murk...I get SQUAT! Renee expressed an interest in fishing more clear water like we had at the Waterloo, and I wasn't gonna argue.
Next stop? Twin Springs. Of course the one honey hole was camped by a kid who hadn't caught a thing. We went upstream and spread out...NO FISH HERE EITHER?! I'm starting to think that budget cuts (and purported stocking cuts) are having a real impact on the put & take fishery!
OK, so I'm torn as to what to do....we could go to several streams in the area; one on the stocking board is one I haven't been to. I ask Renee if she's up for some scouting...by all means she is!
We're off to Bohemian Creek on a wild goose chase for some stockers; the drive was longer than expected but if we found fish it would pay off big time! It looked as if the stream ran right up against the road at points; crossing a bridge on a side street we found a county park...perfect!
We didn't find fish. NONE. We DID find slow shallow water that obviously made a good home for mosquito larvae, if not trout to eat them!
A walk up the "stocking road" proved futile as well..the skeeters only got worse. Then we met with a real problem...NO TRESPASSING signs posted on a gate across the "road". No stile. No "public fishing" sign. Just NO Trespassing. In other words, a dead end. We both got bit, but Renee was REALLY getting sucked dry...this was miserable. Scratch Bohemian from my "do this stream again" list.
Desperate (both of us) for fish I offered Renee a choice. Check another stream that "could" be good and was relatively close? OR, do we make a LONG drive to a stream I was very certain would produce a fish or two? Screw scenery, burn that gas, let's go to MP's Secret Stream
I can make this long story short...Renee LOST her first one...I'm going to say a stocker brown that had obviously grown...considerably...in fact about 16". It kept digging into the undercut and she kept dragging it out..had it within inches of the net at one point when it made another deep bulldog run and the hook simply popped out.
I managed a nice wild brown, as usual it went airborne. The key to getting our bites in the dirty water of the secret stream was a large Chicago Leech trailed by a small but not tiny nymph.
Then it happened, Renee hooked up again. I did not hesitate to drop my rod, fly still dangling in the river, and ran over to net her fish. Only after we cheered did I learn that Renee had landed the first brook trout I've ever seen in or around the Secret Stream. AWESOME (and yes, I'm still a bit irked by Renee's good luck, but I'm all for it at the same time. Trust me though, she did get some ribbing). I went a bit nuts considering that suddenly a huge window of opportunity had opened up for Renee...could she get a true Iowa Grand Slam on her very first day with a fly rod?
As the caption reads, "One more brown for me rounded out the day"...it was dark with that erie blue glow on the cornfields when we left. Not another bite for Renee. Cold, hungry, but satisfied with a pretty nice day, both of us ultimately landed 3 trout each. Capped off the night with an Iowa essential...Casey's Pizza (and Rolling Rock).
Only one thing was missing...Renee's first brown trout.