Monday, September 8, 2014

When Your Fly Fishing Gear Stinks, Life is Good

   If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I wouldn't be upset if my house was a mess.  I am not neat. I'm only going to live once and my priorities are in order!  That being said, I still remember opening up a buddy's wader tote years ago & getting a whiff of the nasty, bacterial chemical cocktail that was brewing,  I was pretty grossed out.

   It's amazing how things (the same things you'd think would likely remain repulsive) change.

   Work, weather, timing... all sorts of things created a logjam to this year's warm water fishing opportunities.  Feeling that warm water time was swiftly winding down, I simply decided it was time to do some small river fishing, come low or high water.

   As it turned out I did have both water situations.  The Upper Iowa River was running a bit high to easily find the holding areas of smallmouth bass.  The Volga River was running too low to float any kind of watercraft.  A cold front had also come through.
   On Saturday, I floated the first 2/3 of the Upper Iowa River solo.  Much of this stretch flows right through Decorah, IA.  Other than one little smallie striking a topwater pattern at the first bend of the river, there were no fishy tugs on my line and the water remained undisturbed by fish.  After working through color, pattern, size, & retrieve changes, I switched to a couple "desperation flies" but continued fishless.  Around 4 pm I hooked up with a few friends, "T" and her son Ben, & T's DNR co-worker Chris.  The rest of the float included DNR smallie sampling to check for mercury so I'm happy to write we found a few smallies willing to make tissue donations!  I ended up with 2 in the net and lost 2 more.  Chris landed another 2-3 fish.  We also spotted a mink swimming in the water.  It was a beautiful day, we had fun, and I knew that during a particular stretch of my solo float, had the water been lower, I likely would have had to drag my pontoon a long way.  It was dusk when we left the river.

   I camped that night along a creek & on Sunday, I slept in.  Then, with a wet tent drying in the back of my CR-V,  I headed to the Volga River, near Fayette, IA.  I had debated visiting a trout stream, but I heard the tick, tick, ticking away of the warm water fishing season. After carefully bumping down a woodsy dirt road, I fished an unfamiliar stretch of the Volga and ended up with 6-7 smallies and likely lost the same amount.   Generally, I waded  from one hole to another, enjoying the weather, the scenery, wet wading, feisty fish, and simply being alive!  I still love the juxtaposition of feeling like I'm on a trout stream yet lifting smallmouth bass from my net.  While fishing, I was also treated to the sight of another beautiful mink meandering around the rocky bluffs tracing the river's edge.

   My longest fish of the day measured about 13 inches.  While tearing down my rod, the 3 guys who had been spin fishing for about an hour returned with 3 smallies that ran from 16-18" long.  Whoa!  I have my ideas on how they accomplished this, and am looking forward to returning to this stretch of river.

   After the nearly 3 hour drive home, I began unloading the CR-V of its contents.  While I got a stray whiff of something during the drive, it wasn't until I got the suv into the garage that I truly smelled the nasty, bacterial chemical cocktail brewing inside my vehicle!   I might have squinched up my nose, but I was smiling, too.  Heck, I'm smiling now!  That swampy odor was simply the left-over remains of a great weekend of fly fishing!

   While I promptly removed the smelly culprits, my net and fishing sandals, from the vehicle, I thought of my buddy's wader tote.  I hope his tote smells just as badly today as it did years ago.  After all, it's important to keep the priorities straight!

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