Monday, August 30, 2010

A NE Iowa fly fishing adventure

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I was finally persuaded (which wasn’t difficult) to fish the driftless region of NE Iowa. WHY would I want to when I live in an area with fantastic fishing already? Simply one word, change...a change of scenery, weather, sites, smells, and to visit friends.

And a change it was for me, from the forests of N. Minnesota and N. Wisco to the huge corn fields laid out like a blanket covering the rolling hills. It's always exciting and fun to get away from your comfort zone to try something different, but at the same time be a little adventurous. That's exactly what I did and don't regret it one bit.I found my way to one of many Iowa trout streams, French Creek. Special regulations and naturally reproducing wild brown & brook trout make this stream a true gem for any trout angler, young and old. It's managed for wild trout and all trout must be released. On top of that, only artificial lures can be used, which makes for a fun time on the fly. I fished in the pasture areas, trying to negotiate my way around clumps of cow pies (or was it mud?) lining the banks, in the end looking for anything dry upon which to land my feet. The morning started off cool, yet muggy, with a little bit of morning fog starting to burn away. Getting my tools ready, I heard the voices of thousands of crickets chirping, cows singing for their morning breakfast, big fields of corn swaying with the added weight of morning dew, and other sounds of farm life coming alive. I thought, "Here I am standing in the middle of all of this and I'm fly fishing for trout."

The fishing was fantastic! I stopped at my first pool on a small bend, probing the depths with a heavy point fly, dubbed the "Missy D". A small scud pattern accompanied it. Immediately I was onto fish. At my back and only 20 feet away was a bridge and road. I thought for sure the fish would be pressured here, so I admit to being a little caught off guard when the fish hit. However, a little luck never hurt anyone.

Continuing upstream for a good 150 yards, while C&R'ing a good sampling of brown trout, a decent 18" gave me a good tug and a wave of its tail before it became unbuttoned. I am still amazed how the brown trout in French Creek utilized many parts of the stream; from shallow, fast ripple water only 6 inches deep, to the weed-choked pockets of the slower runs, and everything in between. I had a lot of fun fishing the two-nymph rig in the fast, shallow water. The trout in these sections were looking for a meal and a well-placed nymph, pouncing on the opportunity before the next trout in line would take its turn. The trout were competing for sure, but all were healthy and eating well. The action was steady even through a heavy down pour that lasted about 15 minutes; wooly bugger time! There are some monsters in this stream, but I would assume a delicate presentation under the cover of darkness is probably in order. All in all, a wonderful trout stream for all to enjoy. Thanks Iowa!

Bloody Run Creek was next on the hit list. It sounded like it fished well, because Google told me so. SnT from IL never fished it before, so we decided to give it a shot. I'm glad we did. It was another warm day, but refreshing to wade in some cold 60 degree water. Bloody Run Creek is stocked in most portions of the stream with brown and rainbow trout. Lots of trout, but they have quickly learned that fast food is not as good as the real thing. The trout were hungry for the Missy D and a smaller dropper nymph. We took off way upriver to find the C&R section of Bloody Run Creek, even walking a railroad for a little way, which reminded me of the movie "Stand By Me". SnT hooked into a nice fish at the head of a small pool while working on nymphing skills, but didn't realize that it was heading downstream in a hurry. Pop goes the 5x and bye-bye Missy D. Of course, it's my use of 5x tippet to blame... more like operator error, I said. More constant action back toward the trailhead and even a little time for a quick swim to cool off! Good times! Bloody Run Creek is another exceptional Iowa stream and well worth it to drop by and wet a line.

Now, on to the Missy D. I wanted to tie some Copper Johns for the trip, but didn't have all the materials the night before I left. Since it’s almost chrome time, I was thinking about this un-named nymph I'd used for chasing steel up north. I had the materials for that, but having been on and off of the steelhead fishing, my fly box was empty. I tied up four that night. The fly worked out very well, so well that SnT couldn't stand watching me catch fish after fish and finally tied one on. What can I say, “Resistance is Futile”, when every time you glance at your fishing buddy...his fly rod is bent over while he's sporting a big grin. SnT proceeded to fine-tune the nymphing skills and caught some good trout with a couple of doubles landed between the both of us. At some point SnT decides to be a generous person and donates the last Missy D to a big bruiser. And it was at that point it needed to be named in honor of the big one that got away, 5x tippet , great company, fine beer, my good friend SnT and to fresh steamy cow pies!
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Capt. Carson
Arrowhead Fly Angler