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
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
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
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
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....