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7-24-04 - I found Randy right where I thought he'd be...hitting the hatchery outflow while waiting for me!

This brookie took the fly and BROKE ME OFF at the INDICATOR. I think the leader was getting pretty roughed up.

It's been a while, how about a QuickTime Movie of the brookie that got away...for a while anyway! (7.75 MB w/sound)

The "magic" fly was a #22 Soft Hackle - Black Thread body with 1-2 turns of light partridge neck hackle.

Didn't get a second bite from the brookie, but I DID catch the indicator!

There it is, one NICE FAT Spring Branch Brook Trout.

Whoo hoo...this brown completed my Triple Slam.

The smallest rainbow I landed...just to prove that I did indeed get the triple slam :)

Randy wanted to hit this back spot behind the boulder.

Randy workin' the deep water...I opted to find some pockets to try.

180 Degree Panoramic of Fountain Springs...now that I actually had a chance to get back in there, it's really a pretty area. Check out the enlargement above OR view it in 3D! (1.08 MB)
I went downstream just a bit and an even BETTER 180 degree shot presented itself. Again, view the enlargement above or truly experience being there in the interactive 3D viewer. (726 kb)
Another stream I really didn't get to see my first time here...this is the Little Turkey!

Randy had a destination in mind when we came here.

A nice WILD Little Turkey Brown Trout...he's kinda bent over and upside-down and in reality, a 13-14" fish!

On more look at the deep blue water of the Little Turkey.

7-24-04 - Yet another Triple Slam PLUS 2 "new" streams get their first good workout.

Waters Fished: Spring Branch, Fountain Springs, Little Turkey
Fish Caught: Several (honestly didn't keep track)
Outing Date: 7-24-04
Weather: mostly sunny
Air Temp: 70's
Water Temp: didn't take any
Water Level: slightly up due to recent rains
Water Color: All streams just a touch off color but mostly clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: Tucker Nymph, Adams Midge (size 22) and Soft Hackle in Black #22
Pattern Color: per patterns
Fishing Quality: challenging

So Friday night I'm just exhausted...only made it through half of the report for 7-17! I wake up Saturday morning, now most assuredly already late for meeting Randy...but I had made a personal vow to get the reports done before I went off to experienced (and thus have to write) more! Well, I compromised by finishing up 7-17 and then heading out to Iowa!

About 4 hours from Chicago to Manchester...I pulled up at the hatchery and there sat Mr. Randy Cochran, perched on the wall above the hatchery outflow. He had been here not more than 2 days ago and landed a nice Rainbow of 19"!

If you haven't been to Spring Branch, the hatchery water is some of the MOST challenging and MOST rewarding...big smart fish abound...not to mention plenty of above average size and caliber. The local unspoken rule is that you DO NOT HARVEST from Spring Branch, though officially there is a minimum 14" length limit. Thankfully MOST of the brookies don't get there, but I can tell you that there are MANY rainbows and browns well above that limit. Why are they there? Catch and Release.

I set up and with some trail and error figured out that I could get fish on the surface with a TINY #22 Adams Midge. It's always a thrill to sight fish a specific trout in crystal clear water...when he decides to take you get to see him rise, look at the fly, and either turn you down or make your day! I landed at least a couple rainbows and a brookie, all quick released at my feet (I think small hooks like that just TEAR OUT of the lip..there's so little flesh caught up in it to begin with). I'm starting to think I need to replace my missing trout net (maybe a Loki? Yo Mid Lakes Corp, Mr. Stair, I could use a sponsor if ya catch my drift! I assure you that net will show up in MANY pictures with NICE fish LOL!)

After a while Randy and I switched spots as the action had kinda cooled down for both of us. Up in the hatchery outflow there were LOADS of big fish...Randy had limited luck trying with an Elk Hair Caddis. From what I could tell, these fish were snapping in the water column...I remember a long time ago someone pointing out that behavior as nymph feeding (of course!). Obviously any dry offering was NOT going to be effective here.

And so the progression started...I rerigged with an indicator and splitshot...man I really owe Brent some recognition again. For some reason watching him fish the indicator rig and having him show me how he set up just made the whole indy-rigged nymphing thing click in my head. It was going to be the perfect setup for this deep fast water!

After rerigging I started going through the flies...Tucker nymphs in a couple sizes, Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, none of that was working. Scuds? Forget about it! Chicago Leech? NO WAY!

Then I tied on a #22 soft hackle, nothing more than black thread for the body and head with light partridge neck for the hackle. On the first lobbed cast it drifted in the lower section of fast water and a large rainbows came out from an undercut, moving probably 3 feet over to absolutely HAMMER the fly. Instantly the 2lb Pline Flourocoated gave way (I've found that this stuff, while supper strong, is still 2lb test ya know?!) I looked and Randy and said "I HAVE THE PATTERN!"

I gave Randy one...can't say I was paying any attention to how he did with it 'cause I was too busy hooking up with fish! I didn't count hookups...all I can say is that finally, after much patience, I got the fish I was going for...by my estimation a good sized rainbow in the 17-20" range. SOLID RED STRIPE down the side, bright red gill plates, all on a slate gray background peppered with black spots. It just looked like what every rainbow trout should aspire to be!

I was high up on the concrete while Randy was down at stream level...Randy is off to Guide School so I jokingly suggested he get some practice in and land my fish (it would save me the 5 foot jump while still playing a nice fish). Randy was happy to oblidge...he had the fish IN HIS HANDS when it wriggled free and snapped off! I couldn't believe what just happened!

Then I noticed that the fish had not darted back into the stream, but instead was hiding between Randy's feet and the concrete shore! I pointed it out and Randy went down to pick it up...I'm talking slow motion moving maybe 1 inch every 2 seconds. Randy got his hands all they way around the trout, not touching. As he quickly tightened his grip around the fish it SHOT forward and disappeared into the other fish in the stream. I am truly disappointed that I don't have a picture to show you, but I hardly blame Randy for that - talk about a good honest effort on his part!

So I'm back at the outflow and in short order I hook another NICE fish...I have it on long enough to see that it's a big fat brookie...then my leader snaps at the indicator. I must admit that I knew this leader was getting close to done...when it dried it wasn't clear...it was CLOUDY.

I'm now OUT of the killer fly and I'm watching my indicator swim around the stream, the brookie having resumed it's lie and probably already back to feeding. Off to the Bitchin' Camaro for some tying and I was back, determined to hook this fish again!

Well I didn't hook him, rather I hooked my indicator! Honestly I could've cared less...I got 'em!!! You all will laugh now - I got ONE SHOT of the fish in hand and he wriggled free...snapping off at the indicator AGAIN! This time I had the indicator, but he STILL has my darn fly in his upper jaw! At least it's a #22 and will probably be gone in a couple days.

Although undocumented, I was a brown trout away from the Triple Slam (Spring Branch is probably the best place to go if you want to try for one). Moving downstream I finally picked it up..a nice brown! Also got a few more rainbows...all fingerlings!

About this time I noticed an angler out with his son, both trout fishing with spinning gear. Their rigs? Looked like lead above a treble with some yellow stuff on it. I should remind you all now that in addition to the 14" minimum size limit, Spring Branch is an artificials only stream...NO BAIT ALLOWED!

I guess in my old (ok, young) age I'm learning some tact afterall! Rather than just shout across the stream (he was only 5-10 yards away) or leave I thought this through...if I approached him right, especially with his son around, I could avoid a nasty confrontation.

So everything worked out great it's probably good for me to share this with all of you...it may help someday. I decided that shouting across the stream just seamed rude, so instead I got up, went down to the bridge, crossed, and walked back up. When I got there I had flies in hand, specifically I had looked through my box and pulled out some patterns that probably could be used with ultralight spinning gear and a bit of lead. My opening line was simply "What are you using, corn?"

The friendly angler replied to tell me that it was powerbait...rather than cause any kind of fuss I walked up beside him with flies in hand, just like any other angler would do if he had a hot fly tip to pass along to another on stream. Before even bringing up the bait issue, I suggested he "try these", then reminded him about the regs (even though they are CLEARLY posted) and suggested he put the powerbait away...the ticket wouldn't be worth it, and being that he was fishing right by the hatchery it was much more likely that the DNR could show up. I also suggested that if they wanted to use bait or keep fish, Baileys Ford was just 3 miles down the road. While I haven't quite figured out how this friendly helpful technique can be applied to the snaggers, I'm betting there's something more I could learn from this.

Randy and I both had our fill of Spring Branch...after some deliberation and despite a friendly warning from another local angler, we ended up deciding to go to Fountain Springs. FYI the friendly advice we got was that it had been stocked very recently and the bucket brigade had already been through.

I can make this long story short...it was my first time actually getting to fish Fountain Springs...my first TRIP it was all snowed in and mostly frozen over! The scenery was great. Stream Structure was less than "ideal"...not many "big pools". Overall, very comparable to Grannis Creek.

Indeed, Fountain Springs was FISHED OUT! I got ONE FLASH from a deep pocket under a massive boulder and that was it! Moving downstream I ran into Kip, an angler from Iowa City who was working his way upstream. Turns out this was his first time up in NE IA...I suggested there were MANY other places he should try. No map? No problem, I've got one ratty one left and I could bum from Randy for the remainder of the trip until I found a new one!

Back at the cars, we found Randy who actually had a spare brand new map, so I got to keep mine! Talk about a friendly guy I wouldn't mind running into on the stream again! Sometimes it's not the fish that make a trip to a stream worthwhile. Kip I wish you a lot of luck in IA!

Randy and I found ourselves chasing daylight...maybe we could eek out one more stop? Of course we can - on to the Little Turkey! I can't figure out if it's Little Turkey River or Little Turkey Creek...it's just "Little Turkey" in most references to it! Doesn't matter, so long as you don't confuse it with the Turkey River up by Big Springs hatchery. Little Turkey is another stream that I would get to fish for the first time, having also found it snowed in on my prior visit.

When we arrived, we found that someone was already there...the DNR Creel Survey! Young guy, probably doing an internship or something....just asked where we had been and how we had done. We also got some good info on the Little Turkey system. Definitely a good exchange!

Interesting water, probably someplace I should come to again. Randy was more familiar with it, so he guided me in the general direction and what to expect. Randy went big with streamers, I stayed small with a Tucker Nymph under the indicator. I have to say I expected more out of a river this size. I never saw a fish...well we did see a rise or two but that could've been chubs!

ONE FISH is all we caught....in a small sharp bend I managed to watch my indicator go under...pulled up with the rod to set the hook on what turned out to be a NICE WILD BROWN! Didn't tape it, and since he's all askew in the image I can't really digitally measure him easily, so we'll just leave it at a fish in the 12-14" range. Not a bad way to end our day!

  MP 

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