Last weekend I was suddenly on a solo adventure to a trout stream I'd fished with friends a couple times over the years, and I'd yet to develop any strong desire to return. I'd hoped to enjoy a short weekend with friend Kate, but a sick dog altered her plans.
Life throws us curve balls, some big and some small. While I'd wished Kate could have come, I never had a second thought if I should continue the trip solo. A recent large curve ball appearing in my family's life demanded of me some "water therapy." The pictures below, for me, continue to mirror my firm belief to live life fully whether alone or with others.
This previously thought of "so-so" region slowly turned into my waiting delight while my Subie traveled the street-light pierced, darkened roads of this Iowa state park as I searched for the campground late Friday night. I discovered the lake, dams, the river birthing the lake, quality campgrounds, and a welcome bit of peace. My primary excitement the following morning was seeing that I could visit this place and fish the lake for smb in my little pontoon, wade the shores of the river and creek downstream of the lake, fish below the 2 dams bordering the lake, and then enjoy fishing primarily for trout at the stream, located elsewhere in the park. There is a lot to offer any fly angler in this park!
Saturday, I started out early and finished at dusk, taking the time mid-afternoon for a sandwich and a few sips of water. Saturday night I write without exaggeration that I was tortured by multiple leg cramps. I woke Sunday with a bloodshot eye. Stay hydrated!!!
The morning was for trout. They wanted my dry fly, a wet fly, a streamer, but only one trout wanted a nymph, and it threw the hook. I was pleased. Then, I visited the water I was most excited about. Warm water. I'd quietly hoped I could nab a large brown trout on the river, but my focus was on the powerful and acrobatic smb.
Much to my surprise, after failing twice to set the hook on a couple near shore strikes, I changed from a grey craft fur leech pattern to my black and chartreuse Guinea Bugger. I cast long and downstream and had a hard strike followed by a hard hookset on my end. I'd brought out a rarely used, stiffer, fast-action 5 wt and really rekindled my love with the rod that day. The fish stayed low and, as always, I chanted to "Please just let me see you," as I hate not to even see the fish that put such a bend into my rod. Much to my surprise, when I first got a look-see of the fish when it emerged from the drop-off, my brain registered it was somehow lighter and more slender for its length than I'd expected. Then I saw the spots. That was no smb!!!
Thank God I didn't know it was a large brown prior to that time. I would have gotten too excited and all of us have experienced what happens then. I was able to land the aggressive fish, and I was further glad to have my net on hand. My eyes saw a +20" brown, but my net indicated a 19-incher. Nonetheless, I hooted and hollered and gave thanks. I've hooked and lost a couple 18s, and landed one 18" brown sipping bugs in a 2' wide hole on a stream near Decorah, Iowa, a few years ago. But, jeeze, this gal was supposed to be an smb and she took my Guinea Bugger, and she was 19 inches!
She also rolled herself counterclockwise in my net, wrapping leader around her mouth. After I worked a couple wraps off, she smartly rolled clockwise, unwrapping all but 2 wraps from her body. I did the rest, took a couple pictures to share with you, and set her free. After visiting the bank of a large hole, I was soon getting into smb, rock bass, bluegills, and later,
a creek chub. Between trout and warm water fish, I landed 6 species of fish that day.
Bragging? No! Grateful? Yes! I share because it's a pleasure to share one's happiness and because I hope I can inspire others to get out and do the things they love, not waiting for the perfect circumstances to go. Sometimes imperfect circumstances lead to a perfectly happy day. Nighttime can be another story... unless the angler remains hydrated.