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10-19-03 - Little 5-7" Rainbows were EVERYWHERE...obvioiusly freshly stocked for the Put & Grow. No need to shoot 36 pictures :)
Brennon with his first Stocker of the day, a nice brown.
Shortly thereafter my first Wild Brown, quickly photographed and released.
Brennon with another stocker for his creel.
Brennon's first wild brown...bleeding everywhere from INHALING his fly so it went in the creel.
Another stunning Wild Brown, again quickly photographed and released.
My first stocker which went to the creek.
A better shot of me and that stocker male...he was already spewing milt. Thankfully he will not live to reproduce with all the wild browns in the stream.
This is why I keep this stream a secret ;) Again, if you know the stream, great. If you find it, cool. In any event, keep the stocker browns and release everything else.
Another stocker brown for me (very long and thin...kinda neat). He rounded out our take of 5 for Brennon's dinner (tasty).
Lower South Bear Creek right at Highlandville.
This takes the cake as the most unusual lunker structure I've come across to date.
While we missed the fall colors by a week, Iowa is still gorgeous in the fall.
Now we're onto the rainbows!
Since we'd filled our creel, it's CPR (Catch-Photo-Release) from here on out.
This is how clear the streams are now! AWESOME.
Another stocker 'bow gets a quick photo op and is returned to the stream.
Brennon working a Lower South Bear pool while a hatch of small mayflies and yellow midges went down.

10-19-03 - Someone once said something about a 30 trout day in Iowa?

Waters Fished: MP's Secret Stream, Lower South Bear Creek
Fish Caught: approximately 45
Outing Date: 10-18-03
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: 70's at the peak?
Water Temp: didn't take it
Water Level: seems a bit low
Water Color: crystal clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished:Tucker Nymph, Griffith's Gnat, Copper John
Pattern Color: per respective patterns
Fishing Quality: INSANE

Alright, yesterday on the Wisconsin Tribs was a great way to spend a day. The action was "alright" and not much else can be said. However, Jim K. had been out to Iowa the week before, hitting what was probably the peak of the fall colors, he said it was amazing. Not to mention that the fishing was pretty good too! Oh yeah, if you didn't know, that's right...Iowa's Trout Season is 24/7/365!!!!!! And you thought you wouldn't see anymore Inland trout fishing from me until 2004?

Well Brennon and I came up with this whacky plan that I might make a day trip to Iowa and meet him there. On my way home from the Tribs we connected and the decision was finalized...we'd spend the day chasing trout in Iowa. A special thanks to FAT for lending me the keys to the RV in IA; granted it took me 5 hours to get there from Lake Como (don't ask why) and well, I forgot my sleeping bag so I slept in 5 layers of clothes and still FROZE my butt off over the night LOL!

Now I don't share the "secret spots" with you guys (no offense implied) but Brennon is definitely worthy. I wasn't sure when he would arrive, so I left my tentative plans at the RV and headed out to MP's Secret Stream. Sorry, I won't ever tell you all which one it is...there's 52 Put & Take Trout streams in IA, visit them all and sooner or later you'll find it I guess. If you already know, great, keep this one to yourself. And if you find it, kudos to you. In any event, there is a mix of wild and stocker browns; please HARVEST the stocker browns...that's what they're put there for. LET THE WILD BROWNS GO. I'll explain why later.

Well I ended up at the secret stream about 9:00 am and as luck would have it, I must have just left before Brennon got to the RV 'cause he showed up while I was gearing up! GREAT TIMING! We got ready, hauled out the creel and hiked to the stream.

Upon arriving there Brennon "got it" right away...he understood why I don't share this stream. The entire stream was littered with Trout. If the concentrations were like this all the way up and down the stream, I would have estimated the numbers well in the thousands per miles....we were probably looking at a few hundred in just one pool.

Well, we got cracking right away. In no time we both had our first fish on...small 5-7" rainbows. Apparently the IDNR must have recently gone out and dumped all the put & grown rainbows in the streams, as we were getting MOBBED by them every cast.

It would go something like this; cast, drift, watch your fly be mauled by 10-20 little rainbows. Watch them carry it around in their mouths, waiting as much as several seconds to spit it. Don't set the hook. At the end of your drift, cast again. Watch for the larger stockers and wild browns to hit the fly. Then set the hook.

Well, DESPITE our best intents, I still landed 36 little rainbows LOL! What can I say, you'd lift your line to go roll cast and bam fish on! Thankfully I had gone barbless but they still were ON and ON well. Yup. 36 little rainbows in 2 hours! Brennon totally lost count on his...admittedly I did as well so 36 is "about" where it was, could have easily been more. In fact, if we were intentionally targeting 6" trout (hey, some places that's a good catch!) we could have easily gone into the triple digits before noon. Thankfully we're not really those kind of anglers (although I admit at first it was pretty fun...only after 20 or so did it get downright annoying).

Sometimes though you'd get what you were actually targeting, it took a lot of skill and patience. Brennon was the first to produce a larger fish, a nice Stocker Brown and in the creel it went.

I wasn't about to be "shown up" on my own secret stream, so I put in a tight cast that drift my Tucker Nymph underneath a carved out stump. This beautiful cast got the attention of a nice wild brown in the 8-9" range...the rush of golden color combined with the leaping habits of these particular wild browns made for a fantastic fight.

Brennon was out to fill his bag limit for the day, and made another move towards that with another hefty stocker around 11". No sooner did he have that one creeled when he got into another brown, another stunning WILD brown. When he brought it in this fish had swallowed the offering and was already bleeding. Thankfully Iowa's liberal size limit (or technically lack thereof) allowed us to creel the bleeder.

I came back with another STUNNING wild brown. A quick shot that wasn't composed just right still captures ALL of the beauty. The wild browns are simply gorgeous. We saw them up to 16" in their resplendent golden fall hue. Take a look at that picture...the fish rivals the fabled Golden Trout of California if you ask me...in fact it's almost BETTER than a Golden Trout! Not to mention it jumped twice before we ever got it to shore!

Now we did lose several larger fish and purposely lost MANY of the little guys (granted I haven't seen a larger rainbow on the secret stream yet...). However, I was still contributing to Brennon's creel and more trout were needed. A long, thin brown hammered the Tucker Nymph and soon met the fate of the stockers before him...in the creel you go!

By the time I was at about 39 lil'bows I was itchin for another big fish, and a nice stocker approaching 12" obliged me. When we got him out he started dropping milt everywhere! NO WAY are you going back in the stream you ugly buck of a stocker...in the creel you go. Sorry, not going to let your genes get into the wild trout if I have my say. It was about noon and we had filled Brennon's Creel with 4 stockers and 1 bleeder, so we decided that a 40 fish day was already more than we deserve. That's 40 trout all on the Tucker Nymph in less than 3 hours! Time to go somewhere else!

Now, if I haven't mentioned it before I'll mention it now, Casey's is a gas station / "general store" that I've found in only a few places so far (Decora, Waukon, Fennimore and most recently Elkhorn). The Pizza is AMAZING and they make it fresh right there. Every time I'm in Iowa I have a pepperoni pizza from Casey's...takes about 10 minutes if they're not busy. Brennon knows this too, and so before heading out for more trout we gassed up and filled our stomachs at Casey's in Waukon. If you're out there do try it (avoid the sausage though...pepperoni is the ONLY way to go!).

Brennon IS Mr. Brookie if you ask Tim...Tim claims that Brennon is the brook trout magnet; if there are brookies in the stream Brennon will be the one to catch them. Who better to go scout some brookie streams than Brennon?

Well, we went to go look at a Put & Grow...man the water was small (for the record I will no longer refer to a P & G's by name). We looked for access but didn't find it, although a friendly Iowan informed told us who owned the property (so maybe we can go ask permission to fish later?)

After the Put & Grow, we decided to try and fish South Pine which is special regs, C & R only, and is home to Iowa's only known native naturally reproducing wild genetically unique brook trout (say that 10 time fast). I figured this would be prime time to photograph one of these beauties at their peak.

Well, suffice it to say we drove the whole area for 2 hours looking for the access point (which is 1 mile+ away from the stream and a rugged hike there and back). We NEVER found the access point. Since we didn't fish it, there's not much else to say.

By 4:00 PM we had our fill of scouting and were ready to catch more trout. Brennon suggested we try a new stream...hmmm...I've already fished 23 of the 52...how many new ones could there be in this area?

Well, perhaps surprisingly, I hadn't ever fished the South Bear (Upper or Lower). Hey, it's not that far away! Alright! We accessed the South Bear directly in town and Highlandville and right away started finding the familiar stocker rainbows. The fish were somewhat spooky and suckers far outnumbered the trout, but it was a nice little stretch. I managed one right off the bat. Gotta love the lunker structure here (see the picture).

After we had exhausted this stretch and realized there weren't any trout here other than the first hole(!) we moved downstream to another access. Seems like everyone tries the same hole first, as we only saw two trout in the first spot. Granted, one of those two was a gorgeous fully colored rainbow...obviously smart enough to avoid the Tucker Nymph.

Brennon and I scouted, simply moving downstream looking for pools. Each pool got a quick glance, and if fish weren't sighted, we kept going. Eventually I stumbled upon a nice pool that at first looked like it was only holding 2 fish. I asked Brennon if I could fish them, he obliged me and kept scouting downstream.

Well, I apologized to Brennon then and I will again now, it turned out there were about 20 rainbows of all sizes in the pool. Granted they were TOUGH customers. A hatch of small mayflies and cream midges (could have been caddis 'cause they flew like caddis) were coming off, and well the fish turned away from the Tucker Nymph! Holy Crap, I've never seen the Tucker so insulted! I guess these fish don't know a good fly when they see one.

Time to out think an animal that has a brain the size of a pea. If they're moving from the Tucker in size #18 on 2lb test (7x) it's gotta be the fly. They're not really rising, they're hitting the emergers (the snapping mouths gave it away). Alright, something SMALLER.

First up was a Griffith's Gnat pulled under the surface...that produced my first RESPECTABLE rainbow of the day. Granted he totally destroyed the fly! I wasn't about to waste more Gnats, most of the fish were holding much deeper, so I switched again and tied on a Beadhead Copper John, size #22 I believe.

It worked well and I managed 4 more rainbows before Brennon came back! Each hit was SIGHTED...these fish were taking really lightly; there was no indication of a strike at the line's end. An indicator might have spooked them. So like I said, I basically stood at the tree, leaned out, cast upstream, watch where my fly *should* be, and if a fish moved as if chasing something and then made a bite, I set the hook and asked questions later. Talk about tough fishing, but the efforts paid off rounding out my day at approximately 45 trout, 9 of which were "respectable" trout.

I quickly handed the pool over to Brennon and gave him the info above, but for whatever reason the fish weren't cooperative for him. Granted I had fished the pool for probably a good 45 minutes before he got there...maybe we should have rested the pool for a bit before Brennon got on?

At any rate I spent the last little bit of evening taking pictures and enjoying the surroundings. As we hiked up to the cars we noticed a distinct 10 to 20 degree rise in the temperature; man it was cold down there by the stream. Brennon and I made our final plans for next week's upcoming Brule Trip and parted ways...for now.

  MP 

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