4-04-04 - IOWA? WTF is MP doing in IOWA during
the Steelhead runs?!
Waters Fished: Spring Branch, Richmond Springs,
Fish Caught: MANY MANY MANY, probably 50.
Outing Date: 4-4-04
Weather: Sunny, cloudy towards evening
Air Temp: Probably 50's
Water Temp: N/A - still no thermometer
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: pretty clear, slight stain
Fish Species: Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: As if you had to ask - mostly the Tucker
Pattern Color: See the Pattern
Fishing Quality: Honestly SLOW (yes, despite 50 landed....read why
So what was MP doing fishin' in Iowa during our
SE WI Steelhead Runs being at their PEAK? Avoiding crowds mostly...and
as it turns out the fishin' wasn't that good on Sunday anyway!
Chromeseeker had the itch to go to Iowa for at
least two weeks, and I had been trying to put it off as much as
possible (yes, he could have gone without me, but what fun would
that be?) PLUS, Jacek was going to come along for this outing. MP
CS and J...gotta love the days where it's the three boys.
I really, really wanted to show Bart & Jacek
Spring Branch....I have to thank Rcochran again for showing me around
this stream a bit. So basically CS & J crashed at the LC house
and we got a reasonable morning start...I figure the drive to Dubuque
is really 2.5 hours (nice and CLOSE) vs. the 3.5 to PDC. All things
considered, we probably got on the water at 11:00 AM, and surprisingly
it wasn't really any more crowded than we had found it back in February!
I actually got on the water but didn't start fishing
immediately, I was headed to a nice little honey hole to get the
skunk off, and was going to share it with Bart & J to get some
easy fish out of the way as well. However, they took one look at
the stream and started fishing IMMEDIATELY, right at the parking
lot. Even as I protested that they come with, they breezed right
by me continuing to work their ways downstream FAST.
I got to run into some anglers from the Quad Cities...nice
guys but I must appologize for forgetting their names. They were
having marginal luck at the time. I promised I'd let them know what
I could get to work.
On to the honey hol and I got my skunk off and
slowly worked my way down. I came back to give the Quad City Group
some info on my setup, including the two flies that took fish (Griffith's
Gnat and a Tucker Nymph, surprise surprise) as well as a length
of 2lb. Pline Flourocoated (my tippet of choice in Iowa).
As I continued downstream I ran into a very friendly
angler better known as Jeff Morris of Fin
& Feather Fly Shop (I think the Cedar Rapids Location).
He informed me that my buddies had blown by and were already way
downstream...Jeff and I were headed that way so we walked &
talked. We also ran into the very local angler who's nickname was
"Doc" (I think)...I guess Doc gets to fish Spring Branch
just about every day?!?! LUCKY LUCKY MAN.
What I honestly think was most fascinating about
the several conversations Jeff & I had throughout the day was
his knowledge of the stream over a significant period of time...at
least 10-20 years. He relayed the many changes the stream had undergone,
much to do with sand showing up out of nowhere, fence changes, you
name it...Jeff knows the area well. He filled me in on some of the
specific hatches I should be watching for on Spring Branch (the
locals were hopeful for a caddis hatch that day). We also talked
at some length about Smallmouth fishing in the area.
And you think you were the only one...apparently
smallmouth fishin' on the fly rod in a stream is gaining in popularity
by leaps and bounds; I've already had SEVERAL offers to go on trips
with folks who target them during the summer months. More than likely
you WILL see a smallmouth outing somewhere in 2004...these guys
who fish them seem to enjoy them even more than trout!
So Jeff continued to head downstream while I stopped
to work some fish in the slow water...I also focused some time in
the fast pockets, back eddies, undercuts and floating debris, but
nothing worked in the sunlit river at high-noon. Jeff came back
up and told me that CS & J. were continuing to tear downriver
at a breakneck speed...Jeff figures J. passed up a good dozen lunkers.
So I got to spend some more time with Jeff as we
headed up; I stopped to fish some fast water with a deep plunge
and hooked up a few times, but nothing came to shore. Working upstream
I fished a section that held a couple actively feeding fish...a
well placed cast produced a strike that didn't last; another toss
and whammo, fish landed.
I took several more fish as I worked my way up
to Jeff, who was now fishing the lot. Landed my brown for the day,
small but colorful. While stalking trout, I noticed a few small
fish in a shallow puddle connected to the river...upon closer inspection
they were trout ranging from 1-4" in size! I need to do some
comparisons, but most looked like browns. A couple of the larger
ones had somewhat irregular markings that drew me to recall the
pictures of young TIGER TROUT I had seen online. I did NOT collect
any of these fish (it would have been illegal) but did get a picture
or two (see above right). I admit, it's probably not a Tiger Trout,
but I can dream, right?
Took a few more brookies on the Tucker Nymph...I
guess it's just that irresistable as a #18! I still didn't have
my rainbow. Well I got lucky in some respects, actually landed my
rainbow in the same spot where I got my last one the trip before.
I think I'm going to continue to hit this spot to seal my triple
slams...heck maybe I'll dub it "Rainbow Run".
Finally Bart & J came back up, they had landed
a few fish each and both had also completed Triple Slams! 3 Triple
Slams in a day...what do we call it? Pure Iowa Trout Heaven!
It was time to fill our creels, so we headed to
Richmond Springs. Hatchery Stocking Reports posted at the Machester
facility lead us to believe we should have no problems in finding
fish...all the area streams had been stocked in anticipation of
the first "stocked" weekend for 2004.
Richmond was by all accounts a bust. We had NO
PROBLEM finding trout, specifically the resident wild browns that
live in the park. However, the stocker 'bows were scarce...we may
have found a few in a deep pool but they were anything BUT willing
biters. All I managed to show for my efforts was another SMALL brown.
After wasting precious daylight, we headed to Joy
Springs. Bart and I had found a hole that was loaded with stockers
on our first trip, so we immediately headed back there. Things were
looking good...as we hiked back I pointed out the fresh tire-marks
in the grass that could only have come from a stocking truck.
We proceeded to slam the rainbows.....not landing
one over 6"! By my guess they had definitely been stocking...the
PUT & GROW fingerlings. Personally, I don't consider that to
be the first "Put & Take" stocking that's supposed
to happen in April.
As we moved through Joy Springs, I noticed another
angler who had ONE silver stocker landed and creeled...we got to
talk to him later and I think he may have landed one or two others,
if that. It sounded like my theory was correct; the Put & GROW
stocking had been done but little if any Put & TAKE stockers
had been planted this first weekend in April.
I continued to work upstream...most of Joy Springs
is easily sightable and the holes are not hard to find....but in
this case they only held small fingerlings, the largest maybe topping
7". Finally I found a pool of actively feeding fish...by this
point I had already landed and released a good 25-30 little rainbows.
Pretty, small, just barely fun on a 2 wt., and rather annoying since
I was looking for a little trout dinner.
I cast and cast to the actively feeding fish, and
landed 5" rainbow after 6" rainbow after 5" rainbow.
No lies, I easily had a 50 trout day at this point but what was
the point...I didn't come to Iowa to damage fingerlings, I was out
for dinner! Frustrated but willing to submit to only catching more
5-6" rainbows, I continued casting in the fading light to this
dark pool that hid the fish from view.
I didn't recall the finglerlings fighting this
hard....WAIT a MINUTE...that's not a fingerling! Phew...a rainbow
in the 8-9" range. Never thought I'd be so happy to catch what
would be considered a DINKY stocker, but then again looking back
I'm not sure this rainbow was a stocker...more likely a Put &
Grow that had made it. I did creel this fish; it was delicious.
Flesh was only slightly pink...maybe a holdover Put & TAKE from
the end of the 2003 stocking season. Well...I was hoping to eat
more than one small trout, but it will do as a good start for 2004!