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5-15-04 - One of my favorite spots on the North Bear.

The Honey Hole is always good for a few stockers as most folks never SEE it!

Just catchin' some dinner!

This Bow came from a whole that I tried several times before and never got a thing; the Chicago Leech was the ticket!

Went back to the hole again and this wild brown fell for the Chicago Leech as well!

Obviously there has been a period of HIGH FLOWS on the North Bear which perhaps accounts for the relatively absence of the typical smaller browns.

On to the South Bear right in Highlandville...there's always a couple rainbows running around...but being out in the open they're not exactly "easy".

Les lands his first trout ever on the fly rod!

Lloyd works some fish he found in a deep pool.

Time for the Tucker Nymph; second cast it lands in the water and is immediately hammered by this rainbow!

Trout Run was up by a good foot!

Muddy water called for darker, large flies.

Again the Chicago Leech pays off with a stocker Rainbow.

One last stocker and I've creeled my limit for the day...I'll be eating well tonight!

Chief and Dutton always love holding the fish!

Last stop for the day was Trout River - you can view an enlargement above OR check out the full sized Panoramic in the 3D viewer (4.55 MB)

I came to Trout River for some Spring Brookies and was rewarded!

The boys are always playing in the rivers and this time they made an outstanding find that had even FAT in awe; those are all HUGE CASED CADDIS!

Fat figured big and dark again; using Randy Cochran's secret fly he pulled in this awesome stocker brookie; hard to tell that it's a stocker!

I can't believe FAT gave up the hole...I went there not more than 5 minutes after and landed 2 nice brookies! Above is the first...

...and this was the second!

Lloyd & Les after a 14 hour day spent the best way possible....fishin!

5-15-04 - Spring BROOK...

...no not the stream in WI, Spring BROOKIES in IA!

Waters Fished: North Bear Creek, South Bear Creek, Trout Run, Trout River
Fish Caught: 10/21
Outing Date: 5-15-04
Weather: Sunny most of the day, cloudy in the evening
Air Temp: 32F (frost on the grass) up to 70's and 60's in the evening
Water Temp: North Bear 48F, Trout River 58F
Water Level: North & South Bear were normal, Trout Run up a good foot, Trout River up slightly
Water Color: Bears were pretty clear, Trout Run muddy, visibility 1', Trout River cloudy, visibility 1-2'
Fish Species: Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: Hare's Ear, Tucker Nymph, Chicago Leech
Pattern Color: Grays, Tans and Blacks
Fishing Quality: Average

Ah, the long drive to Iowa...well more specifically the long drive to Dorchester...with Chicago traffic it always takes longer than expected. I think I rolled into FATCAMP about 1:00 AM when it was all said and done!

Despite having maybe 5 hours of sleep, I was pumped when we woke up...well, as pumped as one can be on 5 hours sleep! Fat introduced me to Les and Lloyd (hope I spelled them right) and we all got some quick breakfast before heading to the river in the early morning.

So the pictures didn't turn out too great, but basically we drove through relatively thick fog until getting up on the ridge; the sun was rapidly burning off the fog and by the time we arrived at the North Bear it was pretty much gone. Plenty of frost on the grass though!

I invited Lloyd to head upstream with me and fish the forest while Les and Rich hung around the prairie. The hike takes less time each time I go...I guess I'm really getting to know this stretch of river. In no time we made it up to my favorite little hole and started fishin; Lloyd got snagged on the bottom and I got his hook out...that's when I spooked up several stockers.

We moved up to the bend to let them rest...no action in the bend except for a smaller wild brown who chased my flies a couple times....after 15 minutes Lloyd bumped down to hit the pool. I moved upstream a bit; no fish there, and when I got to the pool Lloyd was gone.

In maybe 20 minutes I had 8 on and landed 2 stockers! Figured I'd leave some there for the other folks who might fish it this weekend, so I bumped down to Chromeseeker's spot and found Lloyd along the way...he'd sighted a couple but not hooked up yet.

Nothing happened in Chromeseeker's pool; the fallen tree had been moved into the pool by recent high water; other guys were wanting to fish it to so I didn't stay too long before back upstream to look for Lloyd.

Where is he?! Couldn't find him, so I moved back downstream to a pocket that I've fished at least twice and yet never hooked up there. I broke out a pattern Dan Fisher gave me, the "Chicago Leech". Now, I do recall a "Chicago Leech" pattern in Supinski's Steelhead Dreams; I think this pattern is different. The Dupage Fly Tier's Chicago Leech is 5-6 strands of Red Krystal Flash for the tail, a Black Mohair (Leech Yarn) body, and a dull silver beadhead on a #10 streamer hook. A really straightforward tie.

And let me tell you it works...once I got a good drift into the undercut of this pocket my line stopped; I came back and FISH ON in a pool the size of 2 bathtubs. A few casts later I managed a nice Wild North Bear Brown!

Well on my way to having lunch for the day with 3 stockers already in the creel, I moved down to find Fat, Les and the baby Fats getting ungeared at the FATMOBILE! Lloyd was not to be seen! After sittin' around for a bit Les and I decided to go find him....right as we started walking up he emerged from the forest.

After lunch we moved over to the South Bear, right in downtown Highlandville; some supplies and bathroom breaks were needed so that got taken care of while I helped Les with his cast. A few sightable trout made for good target practice. Meanwhile Lloyd was downstream and this time he found trout in a pool that normally doesn't hold them; that's starting to be a recurring theme for today!

Lloyd and Les eventually ended up sitting on the pool and we probably fished for a good hour. Finally Les nailed his first-ever fly rod trout and guaranteed he'd have something to eat for dinner!

Our overall creel was still looking a bit thin for the 6 of us. I worked briefly around the area, lost one when I missed a good hookset. People started getting antsy to keep moving. So I went back upstream and switched up to one of my last Tucker nymphs..bungled my first cast but on the second cast the fly hit and I watched a rainbow charge from upstream at full speed. KABOOM, he hit the fly and did the most straight vertical leeeeeeeap into the air, probably a good 4-5 FEET at least (probably more, afterall this was a 12" stocker and from where I stood on the high bank, he was a good 7-8 body-lengths in the air!!) And people say "stockers suck"?!

So we packed it up; Rich had to stop for oatmeal at Walmart (I swear there was more than oatmeal he needed, but honestly all I remember is OATMEAL). On down to Decorah; if you're traveling between Decorah and Highlandville avoid the paved road that looks like a more "direct" route that enters Decorah at the north...take the main straight highways. This "diagonal road" (don't remember the name/number) is all torn up and to make matters worse, FAT got us lost in Decorah when he took over the lead position!

We did eventually find the Walmart and Trout Run; I thought about it and figured Les could use casting room, so up by the springhead was the perfect place for him. When we got there the river was a'ragin'...the spring usually drips over the man-made dam; today it was roaring down like a full fledge waterfall. Not to mention that the water was surprisingly dirty AND the PEOPLE were out en-masse! Les found a spot though and I went down with Lloyd to tighter quarters.

Still armed with a Chicago Leech, I set up at the tail and explained the pool structure (and holding spots) to Lloyd. Despite poor visibility, I immediately hooked up with 2 rainbows and lost both right at shore. Meanwhile Lloyd didn't see much action; I suggested he hit the tail while I checked out the pool downstream.

Normally I see lots of BIG rainbows in this pool and they're always spooked. Of course, with water like this today they wouldn't be, and I ended up 2/3 on the pool...Chicago LEECH BABY! Yeah, a big Tucker Nymph would've been dynamite, but I'm OUT of them in sizes 10-16 at this point!

FAT found us and went up to check on Les...came back and whipped out the spinning gear. BAM BAM BAM all in the tail of the pool. I had pretty much slowed down my fishing to allow for other guys in the group to get their fair share.

About 3:30 we decided to hit yet another stream; Trout River. I was anxious to get in at least one spring day there to hit the stocker brookies; they only put them in until June 1! Knowing how the water was at Trout Run, we feared that Trout River would be muddy (and unproductive). If that was the case, our plan was to hit the Waterloo.

Well, I can sum it up like this; Trout River was cloudy but still had a foot or two of visibility. We all spread out; by the time Rich had caught up to me I already had one brookie landed and released; a stunning male that was anything but "washed out".

Trout River was a bit strange, normally there are spots where I can plunk and instantly get hit by a small wild brown; that didn't happen this time! I changed up flies a few times (no Tucker Nymphs involved) and had little success.

It wasn't until evening that FAT found a hole and nailed a FAT brookie on Randy's Secret Fly. Surprisingly he left it to go get packed up; I was back to the Chicago Leech and on the first drift, before the fly even sank, this is exactly what I saw...

The fly is one inch deep and a gaping mouth looms out from the murk....at the last minute it turns away and disappears. Another foot, maybe 3" in the water, and a fish rises up and cruises back down. 4" now and there's a bright flash....fly still drifting. Another foot downriver and 2 fish rush the fly and turn away. I'm down about 7" in the water; it's getting hard to see the fly, when a white orb appears in the deep and just as quickly disappears...my fly is also no longer visible....I set the hook and man the fight is on!

A male brookie, almost BLUE in color results. One quick picture and he's back in the stream. A second fish gets on and off not willing ot commit to the final destination (shore). A third brookie hammers the leech and is taught of one more pattern to avoid...again she goes back in the drink.

At this point I go looking for Les, Fat, the boys and Lloyd. Lloyd managed a brookie downstream; don't remember what Les got. Overall Trout River wasn't exactly HOT, but it was far from cold. Can't think of a better way than to do some C&R on some fat brookies!

So I'll end the day with a plea, or maybe better call it a suggestion. Trout River is the only stream to receive a MAJORITY stocking of brook trout during any part of the year. IF, instead of EATING THEM, we do C&R, then instead of only enjoying the brookies in the spring, perhaps we can enjoy them YEAR ROUND? So hey, if you're fishin' Trout River looking for some dinner, keep the stocker rainbows that will start showing up soon. Please put the brookies back....and if you don't catch any rainbows just head over to Trout Run to catch your dinner, or heck pick up some trout at the grocery store. Leave the Brookies in Trout River please!

Besides, I don't know where I read this or if it's actually TRUE, but I have heard that the Iowa DNR is now exclusively using South Pine Strain brookies for all it's brookie stocking in Iowa. This fish have good potential to create wild populations if we don't go harvesting them until established. Think about it....

  MP 

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