6-7-03 - Ever seen trout hitting the surface like
a pack of Piranhas?
Rivers Fished: West Canoe Creek, Twin Springs,
Trout Run, Trout River, Silver Creek, Waterloo Creek
Fish Caught: 3
Outing Date: 6-7-03
Weather: Sunny in the morning, Partly Cloudy most of the day, Moderate
Rain in the evening
Air Temp: 70's
Water Temp: See below
Water Level: Pretty Normal
Water Color: Some creeks were still muddy from overnight rains
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: Threw tons, but the fly of the day was any beadhead
nymph in browns / grays with a brass bead head, sizes 12 to 16
Pattern Color: see above
Fishing Quality: A rocky start but things came around.
After leaving Paradise Springs last night I got
into camp at Dorchester at 1:12 am Saturday morning! I crept into
the RV as quietly as I could, but I still stirred Rich, who looked
up and said, "You're Late...."! Well yeah, the fog was
bad on the drive up. Almost took out a coyote.
It rained through much of the night, which didn't
really bode well for our morning fishing, so we slept in until about
7:30. After a quick breakfast of cold cinnamon Pop Tarts and Mountain
Dew I was ready to take on the day!
Our plan would be one big circle around the region
so we could check out a number of streams. As we drove west and
then south from Dorchester towards Decora, our first stop was the
West Canoe. As we drove over things did not look good; we did get
out long enough to take a picture! The stream was basically a mud
flow, visibility at most was 6". We weren't going to have a
productive day, especially not on the fly, if we stayed here.
The as we drove through town Rich shouted out,
"There's the Walmart...anyone need anything???". As a
matter of fact, yeah I did. Rich had the foresight to pick up aquasox;
you know, those inexpensive shoes designed for underwater use. Well,
I could suffer in my hip boots for another weekend or not. A quick
U-turn and a run inside of Walmart later I had a nice pair of aquasox....time
to wet wade!
Next stop was Twin Springs, by "Grandma's
House". Grandma wasn't home, and apparently neither were the
fish. We dropped in underneath a bridge, which I assume was kinda
the headwaters as a second spring was flowing in to create a larger,
more fishable area. Let's just say Rich knew this stream to be hit
or miss, but when it's good it could be REALLY good.
We went all the way down to another convergence
without seeing a single fish; the water was Crystal unles it was
more than a few feet deep. Just below the confluence, Chief and
Dutton picked up a couple SHAD but that really wasn't what we were
after...we needed trout...we need to at least SEE trout.
So we made the short drive to the Decora Rearing
Station; one of the two trout rearing facilities in Iowa that raise
fish from the hatchery for eventual stocking. This was my first
trip to a "hatchery" that was in operation to raise cold-water
species (I used to run a tropical fish hatchery...maybe my email
address makes more sense now!). Pretty impressive!
The kids got a real kick of racing down the runs...as
you walked by the fish would see you and assume they were getting
fed; the water would BOIL with stocker trout! So just imaging jogging
pool after pool, and you can see why the kids (especially Chief)
got a kick of running around.
$0.25 got you a handful of trout chow, and man
did that make the fish crazy! Decora held mostly rainbows, I'd say
a good 50% of the runs were full of the stocker bows that make up
the bulk of our decent-sized fish on the rivers. Towards the end
of the hatchery a pond held 10,000 to 20,000 12" browns, and
another held tons of HUGE rainbows in the 16-18" size range....moster
bows in full color! I did manage to find one run that contained
smaller brook trout; next year's fish most likely. We looked and
looked but did NOT see ANY stocking-size brook trout.
However, the real treat was the BROOD STOCK. Imagine
a pond full of steelhead size INLAND trout. Most were rainbows,
but a couple of massive carp-sized browns were in there too. As
the sign clearly states, these fish are done breeding and will be
released; imagine hooking into these. Guess what, people DO! Only
We spent quite a lot of time here, and who can
blame us. You've never seen so many trout so eager to eat in all
Now a lot of people say that stocked trout are
EASY to catch, but Rich makes an excellent counterpoint. You see,
WILD fish eat whatever comes around...mayfly....caddis ...worm...fish....snail
(yes, snail, we caught a brown last week who's stomach was FULL
of snails). However, hatchery fish are reared on ONE THING; trout
chow. These fish are naturally trained onto ONE SPECIFIC FOOD ITEM.
Many folks have tried the "trout chow fly" on the tribs
but that doesn't seem to work; once these trout are released they
seek out a food item that works as a substitute and can be just
as easily picky about the food they eat in the wild. After hearing
that theory and applying my experiences from rearing tropical fish,
it makes perfect sense. My "haul" last weekend furthered
Rich's theory; something around 80% of my fish were WILD BROWNS,
only 20% at most were the stocker rainbows. Now, I'm not saying
WILD fish are easy; the big wild browns don't go for much of anything
that's not real. But I am saying that stocker fish aren't any easier
than wild fish...they still act like wild fish, and some of the
rainbows put up great fights!
Well after seeing that many trout, we had to get
one. The next stop could have been Trout Run, which basically runs
OUT of the Decora Rearing Station. However, this was Free Fishing
Weekend in Iowa, and Trout Run was FULL of anglers at EVERY hole.
Not to mention the water was kinda muddy. We skipped it in hopes
that we'd find less crowded water as we got further away from Decora.
Trout River was MY personal request; according
to the info on the Iowa DRN website it is the only trout stream
that receives a heavy stocking of brook trout (I'll tell you know
that I have come to the conclusion that the information online is
in error...more on that in tomorrow's report perhaps). It looked
liked 70% Brookies and 30% Rainbows from my memory. In any case,
I wanted brookies.
We pulled in from upstream..the first access had
people on it and Rich remembered it being "not too good"
so we went down and found another access. There were some other
anglers on the river, but that didn't stop us from giving it a try.
Clarity was alright; kinda like the Indiana tribs.
Not muddy, but kinda cloudy where you couldn't sight the fish. The
river was running about 54F; wet wading was ICE COLD; your feet
were COLD when they got in the river, but it got REALLY bad when
you stepped out after crossing...they STUNG for a brief moment.
The horses were arguably the most unique aspect
of this stream; the land we fished was private ranching land generously
made available to the public for fishing (if the folks who own this
land EVER happen across this report, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
for your generosity!). And may I point out one reminder, if you're
ever on ANY of the streams, as always, be considerate and leave
nothing behind and make no other impact on the land.
I went upstream and the boys got into their first
hole and whacked a nice stocker bow. Shortly later, Rich called
me over; look what he had in his hands. A GORGEOUS BROOKIE the size
of which I've only DREAMED about!
In the short time we were there, Rich & the
boys slammed another brookie even LARGER than the first, a good
15" by my estimation. They also managed 2 more bows. We had
5 fish for our dinner...not a bad start. However I was still skunked!
They boys were getting restless, time for lunch
(which we made out of the coolers in the back) and then back to
camp so they could take a nap and FAT could do some modifications
on the bunk he built last week. I had some free time on my hands,
FAT didn't really need any help from me, so I opted to scout another
stream; Silver Creek.
Chromeseeker and M were coming up this afternoon,
so I headed out with the notion that I'd be back around 5:30 with
dinner. At the rate things were going for me, I wasn't sure. I asked
FAT to pull the "guide thing" and suggest some flies;
I had been through most everything in my box that normally works.
A caddis emerger and a different beadhead than I normally carry
and I was off.
Arriving at Silver Creek the water was muddy; this
wasn't a great way to start out. It also seemed kinda shallow. Again,
this was all PRIVATE LAND generously made accessible to the public;
turns out I basically had the river to myself except for 2 other
anglers who were out for the day.
I opted again to head upstream based on my current
location (FWI it took a bit to find the public access on this stream);
made it all the way up to an area where it looked like the public
access ended. I hadn't seen much anything that looked good; the
water was flowing at 65F already as well. Most of the river was
flat, some deep but almost no current. I figured my best bet *might*
be the riffles, but in this case the riffles were very shallow and
fish weren't going to be holding in them. Aha! The pools BELOW the
It turned out that my theory was correct. The second
hole I tried looked bad at first...totally stagnant and off the
main flow of the stream, in fact I'm curious as to how it formed.
No matter, a bit of a stump was hanging out below the surface and
I gave it a drift. I thought I got a tug, and on a few subsequent
drifts I got the hit; a silver bullet flew out of the pool 3 times
before coming off. NOOOOOOOOOOO! I set back to task, drifting slowly
through the pool again, and after a few more I got the fish! It
probably was in fact the SAME fish, 'cause the fight was considerably
weaker and was over in short order. The problem? A steep bank! As
I slid the fish up the bank, the 2 lb. tippet gave way and he landed
inches from the water. I threw my rod and landed on my chest groping
the fish. He started sliding and squirted from my hands, now semi-buried
in the mud just under the surface. I plunged my hands into the mud
and showed no mercy in putting the squeeze on this silver beast;
afterall he was trout #1 AND my contribution to dinner for 6! NO
WAY was this fish getting away. I THREW the fish several feet back
onto the ground and got up to a round of applause and laughter from
the 2 anglers I had bumped into early! HA!
I can't remember their names, both Iowa natives
and fellow Scandinavians, terribly friendly guys! We talked for
a bit while I let the pool settle down and then they watched as
I gave it another shot...no more bites to be found. They headed
off but I had to get more dinner; it was already 4:45!
I went back to the spot that I had found the fishing
earlier and realized they had possibly made a mistake; they had
been fishing the riffles. I went below to a small pool where there
might be more fish. YUP! I lost a really huge STEELHEAD-size rainbow
shortly after I arrived. Then came bow #2. Another loss on another
slightly smaller yet still steelhead-sized rainbow! Then came stocker
#3. Alright, I had dinner, it was 5:15; maybe I could make it back
to camp in time.
For some reason it was 5:25 by the time I walked
back to the car, which was in plain view from the hole I was at.
Made it back to camp about 5:45 to find the note that Rich, the
boys, M & Chromeseeker were at the secret spot on the Waterloo.
In short order I arrived to find that they had a couple more bows
and a NICE brookie. We fished until about 7:15; the bite had been
off for almost an hour..nothing was happening. Then it happened,
the RAIN came. At first it seemed like it might be a drizzle that
we could wait out under some trees, but then it just really started
coming down. We were totally drenched by the time we got back to
the cars! As luck would have it, shortly after that the rain stopped!
Oh well, we were done for the day.
We packed it up, and had a great trout dinner.
In total 10 rainbows, 1 brown and 3 brookies kept and NONE went
to waste. As we recounted the numbers, I had gone 3/6, Bart was
something like 1/2 in his brief time fishing. Dave from Creekside
was out to Iowa as well, and he eventually made it over to camp;
he and his crew probably totaled something like 60 fish easily for
During all of this, Rich and I had been fussing
with the fire; wet hardwood doesn't burn that easily but we got
it going. No sooner than that and the rain started up again. Time
to call it a night.