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6-6-03 - West Canoe Creek was still muddy upon our arrival, so we skipped it.
Twin Springs was a pretty little stream, but it gets a LOT of pressure being bordered on BOTH sides by huge campgrounds, and it's proximity to Decora (which has the regional Walmart) doesn't help either.
The boys managed to turn a couple SHAD in this stretch, but we didn't sight a single trout in the time we spent here.
On to the Decora Rearing Station.
OK, read the sign...
...and look into the concrete run...
...and if you don't believe your eyes, here's the PROOF.
One of the larger ponds held a number of AWESOME rainbows; the right side is what you see when you're just standing there, the left side of the picture is digitally enhanced. I have a feeling these were being reared as future broodstock. What'do'ya'mean we can't fish HERE?!
Trout River; the access was on private land used for horses...and you thought fishing with COWS was fun???!?!
A series of narrow riffles connected deeper pools upstream...that's where we found the fish.
When's the last time you saw a brookie like THAT?! I SAW two MORE over the weekend ;)
Silver Creek...temperature sensitive stocking means that during the warmer months there may not be any fish.
But there were fish there today. Rainbow #1.
Bow #2!
Bow #3! Those photos were all like 30 minutes apart.
Dave's keen eye pointed out that we almost had an extra guest in the RV that night.

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 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 in Iowa!

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 your life.

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 (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! RATS!

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 riffles.

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 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 the day.

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.


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