Wednesday, April 25, 2012


SATURDAYNorth Bear stream (4/21/12)
*If it’s hunting season and wearing bright orange clothing doesn’t leave you feeling comfortable enough to fish, visit a stream with a conservation easement.  While the owner may hunt or invite others to do so, one can expect fewer hunters to be present.  This weekend the WMA (Wildlife Management Areas – public land) sites were busy with both turkey hunters and fishers but the areas with conservation easements (fishing only – private land) were quieter.

*On Saturday morning at N. Bear, there were already 3 vehicles parked on the 370th street access.  Feeling oh-so-smart, I elected to beat feet far downstream to new water, fish back upstream and miss the crowd.  Well, everyone else had the same idea.  I guess all of the ‘oh-so-smart’ anglers were on N. Bear that day!

*Saturday afternoon, the fish were hitting the water’s surface.  I tied on a sz 18 or 20 white Elk Hair Caddis and had the pleasure to watch the take multiple times.  Landed browns were 8 to maybe 11” long.   After the risers had died down a bit on a particularly fun section, I tied on a Guelk Nymph, landed a spirited, leaping bow and soon afterward lost the fly…but what a quick thrill!  Then I tied on a Missy D.  I fought what felt like a large brown.  Rod tip up & line snug, it hung low and slow in the water.  It threw the hook and I never even got to see it!  Two more times larger fish threw my hook.  While I won't  

debate my skill on landing trout, I will suppose that for a short time, smaller browns were keyed in on surface bugs and the larger browns and rainbows were striking subsurface/nymph patterns. 

Top fish of the day/weekend: The only rainbow of the trip; so uniformly-silver it looked like another species (but spots at the tail gave its disguise away).  Proof that one should always look beyond first appearances.  My overall top fish as it had the greatest spirit; it went air-born like an Olympic gymnast. Gold medal performance! 

SUNDAYNorth Bear stream & vicinity (4/22/12)
*Travelling from Ferris Mill road to the Clear Creek access (not the Lansing Clear Creek-see trout map coordinates) was one of the prettiest drives I’ve been on in the Decorah region… and there are so many pretty drives to be had!  Also, to the right of the parking lot there is a grassy area to tent camp plus another nice spot up the short hill to the left of the truck path.  Hunters had left turkey remains there.  The stream is not stocked with browns, hence it has natural reproduction.  However, the silted stream bottom & eroded dirt banks left me surprised to know this.  I suspect Bill and Theresa at the Decorah Rearing Station can quickly tell one how far and which direction to hike to find better trout water on this stream.

*During my previous trip to N. Bear I was reminded to check not just the sharpness of the hook but also the hook gap.  The hook had straightened somewhat, leading me to believe that is why I was losing so many fish on that fly.  On this trip I tried but was unable to check the hook point or gap on a Missy D and then on a Geulk Nymph.  After fishing with each for a little while, the portion of each hook went missing below the bend!  Check your flies frequently for hook condition, to check if caddis casings, moss, etc., are interfering with the hook, or for any freakishness one might encounter.

*I met a man who is a neighbor of my special, primitive camping spot.  His very smelly and happy lab hastened our introductions.  Friends of ‘Paul’ were camping across the road and had told him they’d seen me the last few years at ‘my’ site, located below a bluff where stream meets river.  He told me there used to be many rattlers in the area but not for 15 years. He told of finding a large one in his child’s sandbox.  He also shared that there had been recent mountain lion sightings above the bluff and expressed mild frustration that he wasn’t immediately made aware that a bear had been relocated adjacent to his property.

Top fish of the day:  This fish was a healthy brown.  It hit on the edge of a deep hole of churning water at N. Bear.  Along the perimeter of that hole I’d fed a Missy D nymph which was rigged a shorter length from the strike indicator than I’d intended.  My leader had recently fouled and one tiny knot kept me from changing the indicator’s distance from the fly without changing the whole dang set-up.  It was late & the last hole of the day.  Happily, that hole landed me the last fish of the day! …I guess I should admit that it was the only fish of the day…  It wins the contentment award.  If a person were to land only one, it would be a fine example of a Driftless Area brown trout.

MONDAYTrout River stream (4/23/12)
*As the saying goes, all roads really do seem to lead to the Sattre Store.  Very convenient since it is also one of the few areas where one can get cell phone reception in rural NE Iowa!

*Why would people leave used condoms in a fishing parking lot?  Who wants to pick up that trash on clean-up day?  On a side note, a friend of mine used a strip of (unused) condom for a scud back. I don’t quite remember why, but he didn’t recommend a condom for that purpose. Perhaps because he later wished he’d had one that night?

*Tickling my arm hair, crawling on my cheeks and the underside of my hat brim, the day-long waves of caddis hatches greeting both me and the Trout River trout on Monday were both an annoyance and a pleasure to experience. 

*Grass, too, grows in the fertile woods that cradle the lower access of Trout River.  The grass also grows along the small dirt paths that border this cold water stream which carries a river’s name.  The tree canopy still allowed the light of a sunny day to enter its domain and, kneeling on the water’s edge, I looked about me and thought that God may have left a little bit of Eden here.

*Due to being overstaffed, I’d been informed Friday that I was called off of work for Monday.  While I was frustrated to be forced to use my time off, on Monday I was thanking God to have the opportunity to be exploring new, beautiful water in addition to catching fish!

Top fish of the day & the overall beauty contest winner:  a 14" brown holding next to a small brush pile & feeding on the surface.  It still took a Guelk nymph well-drifted through his hidey hole.  The heavily-spotted beautiful fish also put on a good fight. 

*I practice catch and release on our streams, but during this 3-day weekend I made a single exception.  In fact, I hope to eat him tonight!  Its appearance surprised me and it was about 10’ from the water’s edge, hiding under last year’s brush.  I landed it quickly but there was no fight to be had.  It was tucked in a bag in the front pocket of my waders for the trek back to the suv.  Last night when I got home I took it out of the cooler and put it with the other morels in my refrigerator.  In two weeks I hope to return with friends to the NE Iowa area for camping and fishing.  I’ll let you know if we’re lucky enough to cook morels over the campfire.

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