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8-31-03 - My first brown came basically on my first "settled-in" cast. Was expecting only rainbows today!
L & MS2 worked this pool over hard, but after the first few strikes the fish wised up!
It's hard to believe but for some reason the Tucker Nymph just turned the browns on this morning!
MS2's first Rainbow of the morning!
Followed by L's first trout ever on a fly rod (ever in her life???) AWESOME!
MS2 showed up to play today and went right back at it, whacking another nice 'bow!
Chromeseeker couldn't resist the pocketwater and pulled out a dark rainbow!
Bart knows how to cast...look at all that line looping gracefully in the air!
Finally, after much persistence, it paid off with an enthusiastic take from this rainbow.
MS2 lands a stocker for Chromeseeker on Bigalk!
A great shot of L workin' the first pool!
Upstream from our first access point looked like private, no-trespassing lands, so we skipped that.
Fingerling Rainbows? Interesting....
L & MS2 work on the trout by one of the several bridges crossing Bigalk.
Unbelievable...although not quite in focus. It took the 8X optical PLUS the 4X digital to get this shot of a female hummingbird along the banks of Bigalk.
Another riffle stretch on Bigalk.
#4 for the day...a fresh Waterloo Stocker! ALMOST to the limit.
FINALLY, with this guy just before dark I secured another fine day of stockers!

8-31-03 - Scoutin' West and honing MS2's Fishin' Ninja Skills on some Whily Iowa Troutskis!

Waters Fished: Trout Run, Coldwater Creek, Bigalk Creek, Waterloo
Fish Caught: PLENTY
Outing Date: 8-31-03
Weather: Clear
Air Temp: 50's in the AM, 70's for the high
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: All Seemed Normal except Coldwater which is now definitely LOW.
Water Color: All pretty clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished: Tucker Nymph
Pattern Color: gray & gold
Fishing Quality: GOOD but not yet fantastic

So we finally caught up with MS2 and L, and on Sunday morning we probably got up around 6:30 and, at the latest, were on the rivers by 8:00. I set Bart up where Brennon had done well the last weekend; meanwhile I took MS2 and L to a hole that would get them working their roll casts in on some close fish in tight quarters! Meanwhile, I'd work some of the most difficult water in this stretch comprised of an undercut in the watercress followed by a sharp bend and gut; watercress on both sides.

So the casting options were not great, either cast into the bend from downstream OR go upstream and drift to the bend. No way to actually go around the bend as you can in many circumstances; the foliage on the bend provides some good screening as fish in this area are rather skittish!

Somehow I managed my first brown, at first I thought "put and grow" or "wild" but actually decided to keep it anyway; turns out it was actually a stocker (the lack of red is really the giveaway; those stocker browns vary quite a bit in coloration, but rarely have ANY red on them). Meanwhile, Bart had not faired well on the pool and moved downstream, leaving MS2 and L to work the pool.

Somehow, I set up again on the bend and managed a second nice stocker brown. MS2 and L were not so lucky; after their initial bites the fish had shut down. After a while Bart came back up, having landed only one rainbow, and we decided to fish up at the rearing facility.

I wouldn't have though it, but high-stick nymphing through the cuts in the watercress brought on some awesome fights. Jim hooked up a few times. I spent some time on a smaller trout which at first I thought to be a brookie, but later on determined to be a small brown.

FINALLY things paid of for L., her first trout on a fly rod ever. She handled it well, and brought in a great stocker rainbow. We were ALL extremely happy to be there for that moment; I know MS2 and I both had a lot of pride in that moment. L was now officially a trout fly fisherwoman!

MS2 whacked yet another, followed by Chromeseeker (for those who can't keep track, BART=CS=Chromeseeker). After they had all had their fun, with me mostly running around taking pictures and netting fish, I decided to work over the tiny water myself...2 on..and off..literally lost one in the watercress when I foolishly tried to land it sans-net. Darnit, there's a reason I carry that net in the first place!

Time to move to Coldwater! I fully admit, I kinda played guides with my friends on Sunday; I had a few key areas I wanted to hit and set L & MS2 up on one of the best holes; afterall it was their anniversary trip...they should really enjoy themselves!

Bart worked downstream and eventually came up to find me doing the wading and casting thing...I had lost at least 3 trout in the same hole and my feet were FROZEN...I was ready to get out, so I let him have at it and snapped some pictures of him casting that great Alaskan Rod Crafter's rod that Justin made for him! SWEET PICS if I say so myself (to right, below).

I worked a smaller lunker structure and another couple holes...ended up with TONS of takes but NOTHING materialized on my line. I wasn't about to get skunked on Coldwater again. However things weren't looking up.

I hit all the holes I knew off, and finally as I was walking back I noticed one that for whatever reason, simply gets overlooked. No sooner had I dropped my Tucker into the pool than a respectable rainbow immediately rose to it and smashed it without hesitation. He stirred up the entire pool, but I got my rainbow! Meanwhile, MS2 and L faired really well..I believe they landed 3 or 4 out of that one hole. Congrats again!

Now, on my last trips to Coldwater I'd noticed another trout stream in the area, Bigalk, but I'd never gone. Well, I figured today would be the day! Only a short 10 minute drive or so and we were at the first pool.

Fish were swarming everywhere on the far bank...I fished it only briefly but it was clear that whatever Bart had on his line, the fish wanted that. Almost every cast he hooked up, and then lost a fish. By the time I got to counting him at 0/7 I didn't even think to keep fishing it.

But then he hooked into a nice stocker bow and with the help of MS2 got it landed. I moved up to watch them fish...from my vantage point I could see EVERYTHING going on. Shouting casting instructions and hoping for the best, but nothing showed up for MS2 or L. Bart managed a second, tiny fish. From where I stood it looked like a creek chub, but I can tell you know it was a fingerling rainbow! SWEET...I think.

Well, we continued to scout other sections, and here's the jist of Bigalk. There MAY BE naturally reproducing rainbows in there...so I seriously recommend considering catch and release here for the time being until I learn more. Fingerling rainbows were ABUNDANT...I landed at least a few myself (see the picture below). There were definitely stocker rainbows in the stream, but there were also some rainbows that held WILD coloration, bright red stripes running down their sides.

Now, the DNR does not show any stockings of FINGERLINGS in Bigalk, neither on their website or the map. That doesn't mean they weren't stocked in there, but from my current information they weren't stocked. If that's the case I'd LOVE to see a stream like Bigalk turned into C&R only for wild rainbows. Iowa has plenty of streams with wild browns, one or two with natural brookies, but none that really are managed for natural rainbows. IDNR, if you're reading this, I say GO FOR IT!

Some other noteworthy topics; it appears that TU or the DNR or someone is doing some streamside improvements. There were many lunker structures sitting out, ready to be installed, along the banks. Folks, you might be wise to make a trip and note their locations now...it is information that'd make you a better angler on this stream in the future.

On top of all that, it is worth mentioning that the rainbows DID NOT come easy on Bigalk. I only hooked up with Fingerlings; Bart managed to find what they wanted and had a few takes, all resulting in long-distance releases.

Additionally, the "stocked" waters are not terribly long, so if you go spend an hour or two and hike as much as you can gain access to. A lot of the fish-holding areas are DIFFICULT fly water...adding to the challenge. DNR, I'll say it again, if there is natural reproduction going on it seems there are ample numbers of fingerling rainbows...go for a C&R only on this stream...it's a challenge and would be worth it!

Well, in all fairness we spent way too much time on Bigalk...well...way too much in the definition that we were all pretty hot, tired and hungry! A trip back through Decora fixed most of that, and by evening we were ready for one last stream. Trout River? North Bear? Nope, we settled for the Waterloo.

By this point we'd only have maybe 1-2 hours of daylight left; I was done "playing guide" and immediately got to MY favorite hole. Man I whacked them hard and produced 2 more stocker rainbows to fill my limit for the day....well worth it! I brought L down to the hole and made her get in; the only way she'd reach the risers was to quietly wade to them. It paid off big-time; she hooked up with a stocker that gave her a wild ride...running out her line, then charging. When it finally started to tire I got the net out to her and had her try to land her first fish. She almost got it, but then it swam upstream, then across towards shore and back downstream behind her! Somehow the fish managed to get tangled in a log and get away! D'Oh!!! It didn't matter though; that night we'd eat L's secret campfire potatoes and trout...delicious!

  MP 

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