Friday, March 27, 2015

A Good, Long Weekend in NE Iowa & the Twin Cities (3/20-22/15)

I drove to the NE Iowa Driftless region Friday night & car camped along Canoe Creek.  It is one of my favorite streams - not because it is a great trout stream.  It isn't.  We have caught trout from this stream, I've also caught suckers, a pumpkinseed, & smallies... but all in very, very small numbers.  The stream bed has changed so much every year & especially on this stretch.  It isn't changing for the better with regard to maintaining healthy fish populations.  Nature doesn't always treat its resources very well, either!  However, this little stream still continues to tug at my heart.  I did fish Coldwater Creek for a very short time prior to heading to the TC.  I was gifted with one par brown on what I was told was a slow fishing day.

I believe the highlight of my trip to the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo was seeing John and Stacie of Duluth, MN.  I was introduced to John, owner of Great Lakes Fly Shop in Duluth, on day 2 of my foray into fly fishing in 2008.  I tied my first fly - a clouser minnow- that day.  I think I met Stacie during an epic group float trip on the St. Louis River.  Wonderful person!  Later that year, we happened upon one another while searching solo for steel on the Brule River in Wisco.  Steelhead continue to elude me.  A few years ago I missed out on what ended up being a great opportunity to go fishing in Alaska with them.  It's been a long time since we all have met and the hugs were big and warm.  John has really developed an interest in spey casting and kayak fishing & still loves his steelhead & smallies.  If you are in town, I recommend stopping into the shop for all things fly fishing (yes, musky too!).   Other highlights of attending the expo including finally meeting (in person) & supping with Bob Bickford, owner/guide for St. Croix Adventures.  Bob is a smallie aficionado who also hunts for musky & trout who shares with me a mutual love of King's "The Dark Tower Series".  I didn't get to attend the musky fly tying contest - much to my great disappointment, or see many presentations but it was great to see Brian Porter again & I enjoyed his talk about regional species & musky fishing along with his great pictures.  Dan Frasier gave the best presentation I've heard about fishing for carp.

My friend & fellow trouter, Jeff Moore, was asked to tie at the expo.  His table display was excellent & he also set up a 2nd vise so others could tie a fly pattern with him.  I did get to watch Jeff and another man tie Jeff's "Moose Mane Midge", a fly that has also landed me a trout or two!

My trip to the Twin Cities would have been a huge disappointment if I had not visited Pho Tau Bay in St. Paul!  I had longed for 3 years to return & try their vegetarian pho.  However, after skipping lunch I was too hungry & went with #10 - pho thai vo bien, which included beef and beef meatballs, and then a fruity coconut concoction, che thai, a drink recommended by my petite, soft-spoken server.  She appreciated when I was able to pronounce the menu items correctly, after a few tries!  I also visited an outdoor store in Minneapolis & have happily found a moderate capacity backpack to fit me.  My lady salesperson was highly knowledgeable & fit me well.  Sadly, the owner of the store does not stock this backpack or many others in women's versions.  I could not leave with a backpack & will likely buy elsewhere due to this.  I made certain my salesperson does not work on commission.

Friends with whom I stayed at the motel texted/called me when I was at the restaurant to tell me about road conditions as they headed south of the TC, back to Iowa.  I think they had about a 20 mile band of bad driving.  When I left Pho Tau Bay, it was spitting snow.  As I drove, the band of snow had gotten much thicker.  I was about 20 miles from Decorah, IA, prior to being able to drive the speed limit.  But, it is not surprising to drive through this weather in March in Minnesota!!  I elected not to car camp and fish again in Decorah region.  I had hoped & failed to go piking back home in lieu of this.  I learned that Decorah got another 3" of snow that night.