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11-14-04 - I know it's 2 hours to Dorchester, IA when I pass the Windfarm in Montfort, WI.

11-14-04 - I hit Iowa with The Trout Hunter...

Waters Fished: MP's Secret Stream, French Creek
Fish Caught: 4/12
Outing Date: 11-14-04
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Air Temp: 50's dropping to upper 30's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: low
Water Color: gin clear!
Fish Species: Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Tucker Nymph, Chicago Leech
Pattern Color: tried the leach in purple as well, but black was the ticket
Fishing Quality: tough

Len Harris, aka. "The Trout Hunter" (in my book) had the trout itch, I'm out of work and had gotten to fish the tribs all week...it was time to go INLAND! SW WI is CALOZED (closed for those who couldn't figure that out)...there's only one place I know where the trout season is 24/7/365 - IOWA!!!! [-Matt Tucker of OzarkChronicles.com was quick to remind me that there's also Missouri and Arkansas - "D'oh" on my part] Len had been dying to see some of the "big fish" water in IA.

Surprisingly, I was AHEAD of schedule (that almost never happens) so I phoned Len and we rearranged our meeting place to be the Cabela's in Prairie Du Chein. While waiting for Len to arrive, I got to hang with Todd (don't know which one but he's a WFF member) which was a nice treat.

We had MANY options but limited time. Around 11:00 AM we crossed into IA, originally heading for French Creek. However, something in my gut said "check the secret stream". Sure, it's a big detour, but it IS the Secret Stream for a reason. I KNOW it holds REALLY BIG TROUT!

Len and I hit the secret stream...I tend to be a methodical trout angler whereas Len's a spinning guy...after a couple tosses in a pool he's generally on to the next one, not interested in coaxing a bite but instead interested in covering lots of water. I can tell ya now, Len saw more of the Secret Stream in one day than I have in 2 years!

My skunk-breaking trout was a nasty one-eyed stocker brown.

Len does some quick net repair.

One of Len's brown trout, a wild one from the Secret Stream.

While we were both successful in landing trout (I was 1/6 personally) things were slow. I attribute much of my failure to the fact that I was fishing 4lb fluorocarbon tippet in truly crystal clear water. I had MANY, MANY follows from fish but the follows never turned into bites. True to form, the Secret Stream was holding at least one big fish that day..I saw his head, a good 6" long, poke out all too briefly from underneath a bankside stump.

On our way to French Creek I managed to dig up my 2lb...it definitely made a difference. We hiked in to the first pool on my list, one where I have seen many mammoth browns cruising. Len took the first cast and instantly hit a brown...unfortunately a smaller one around 11". In short order I spotted at least one in the 24" category, and several in the 16-18" size were also holed up.

First cast = fish!

Some shots of French Creek in the upper "lower" section.

Hammered this spot for much of the afternoon.

All the fish we encountered had one thing in common; they were all TIGHT TO THE BOTTOM. While Len disappeared downstream, I worked the pools methodically, having to add splitshot to get my dual Tucker Rig down to the bottom. Very little in the way off luck...2 missed hits.

It was already getting dim; I wanted to perhaps catch up with Len so I started downstream. Somewhat surprisingly, I found several browns holding in the riffles. Being a relatively heavily pressured C&R stream, French Browns in the riffles didn't make for any less challenging quarry. At most I'd get a couple drifts past them before they'd spook off (and alert the neighboring trout).

Yes, fish were holding in the riffles too!

My first French Creek Brown, 100% wild.

A second French Creek Brown, again 100% wild!

And yes, #3 to be fooled by the Chicago Leech, again a wild French Creek Brown Trout.

I continued downstream until I happened upon the only other angler we saw that day, patiently working one of the deepest pools (so deep it was turquoise blue). I had not found Len, yet I didn't want to pass this angler and possible disturb him, so I headed back upstream to the starting spot.

This time I changed up my offerings to a Chicago Leech (having lost my last Tuckers) and it made a world of difference. In short order I had back-to-back fish landed, ultimately going 3/4 this time before casting into overhanging branches and losing my last #8 black Chicago Leech.

A switchup to Purple was wholely ineffective. Perhaps I had pounded the pool sufficiently already, or perhaps purple was too gaudy. I knew Len had to leave around 4:30...it must have been around that point already, my breath was now readily apparent in the air, when I headed back to find him waiting (he didn't know how to get back to PDC). Len had personally landed at least another trout. So while it was a slow, tough day, it sure beats sitting inside LOOKING at a trout stream in...oh lets say Richland County, WI?!!!?! And I think this trip helped Len to reconsider IA as a place to fish...he saw at least one of the big boys today. Just 'cause you see them, even if you're Len, doesn't mean you're gonna catch them!

Len and I head back east during sunset.

Yup, for those whining about the close of WI's Inland Trout Season - NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH, get an IA license or wait until March! Fall Trout in IA gets my two thumbs up anytime!

  MP 

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