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12-03-04 - Randy has delivered my camera from Chicago, just in time to catch a Red Hat infiltrater trying to scrounge up Smokin' Tahoe secrets for tomorrow's competition.

Jim being his usual self ;)

12-03-04 - 2nd Annual Pet Fly Smackdown, Payback's a Fish - 2004 - PREFISH Day!

Waters Fished: Trout Run, Turkey River, Big Springs Pond
Fish Caught: 12/22
Outing Date: 12-03-04
Weather: NICE!
Air Temp: high 40's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: moderate
Water Color: Trout Run - Murky Blue, visibility 6", Turkey River - Clear, Big Springs Pond - Murky Blue, visibility 9" or so.
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished: Peabody, Purple Chicago Leach
Pattern Color: Peabody is green and brown beadhead
Fishing Quality: rough

It's a prefish day and what did I do...mostly tied flies! I got in late Thursday night and started'd think being "unemployed" I'd have loads of freetime. Actually having no job somehow I'm busier than ever before!

I can make this one short and sweet - Heath and Greg showed up around 1:00 PM at the Sportsmen's in Dorchester and headed out to scout the waters. I stayed and tied until around 2:00 PM and figured I'd BETTER put in some stream time for my teammates. Learning from last year's lessons, my plan was to hit the hatcheries and see what info I could gleam.

My first stop was Trout Run and the Decorah Hatchery. Being one of our top streams in 2003, I figured it definitely warranted a look. Unlike last year (when we found it low and crystal clear) this year it was murky and blue. I fished for maybe 30 minutes, hooking and losing two fish. Not an excellent start. Stocking info? NONE - the boards have been wiped clean for the season.

Man it gets dark early around here - I felt I was chasing the sun as I made a mad dash for the Big Springs Hatchery. Again, no real useful information on the stocking calendars so I gave it a shot on the Turkey River. I had some new info on "where" you should fish the Turkey and I wanted to see how that would bear out.

Roughly an hour later I had hooked at least 20 trout and landed 12, every single one on a Purple Chicago Leach. Why the leach? Well I took Randy's advice to heart and didn't fish the Tucker Nymph during my prefish lest I educate all the trout to our plans. Dare I call this INSANELY good action on the Turkey??

On the way out, it was already very close to dark, the last bit of sunset showing in the valley upstream. I had noticed that the stocking calendar mentioned that the pond "right behind you", Big Springs Pond, was stocked with trout and open for fishing. A few casts and retrieves here yielded no action. On the upside, I received word that my Nikon had already been fixed and was ready for pickup at Authorized Camera Repair in Morton Grove, IL. It's Friday; I had only dropped it off on Wednesday! Talk about speedy topnotch service! I had convinced Randy to swing by on his way to Jim's to pick up the Smokin' Tahoe's camera....he had managed to get it. My Nikon was on the way!

On my way out I contemplated heading to the Manchester Hatchery. Heading down there would get me back to Dorchester much later than I really needed to be, so I skipped it. Upon arriving I found several folks had now arrived - as soon as I could I located Fred Anderson, my early-arriving Smokin' Tahoe Teammate, and put him to work tying as well. Needing 10 Tuckers just to enter the competition, we had our work cut out for us.

Dinner involved me running back to Waukon for some ritualistic Casey's Pizza, a must-do while in Iowa. After pizza, more tying in the Tahoe Room, while other teams milled about, drinkin' beer and whatnot! Late in the evening, perhaps after midnight, the rest of my team showed up!

After finally getting rid of 2 different Red Hat Spies (first Tim, then Neil) we hatched our plan. As the Team Captain, I kept my goals simple. First, in order to win we needed at least 10 fish per person. To this end, if a hole wasn't producing a hit within 15 minutes that hole should be left. If the stream didn't produce a hit within an hour, leave the stream. If a spot was definitely hot but turned off, rest it for 15 minutes minimum and try it again.

We were to break up into 3 groups. Jim and Matt J. would head to the Turkey River where action had been EXCELLENT earlier that evening. Should the Turkey cease producing they were to head either to the Little Paint or Spring Branch (a gamble, but on certain days there are spots where you could literally catch 50 fish without batting an eye, but it's DEFINITELY a GAMBLE).

Randy and Fred would start at Coon Creek, again somewhat of a gamble but a spot that Randy felt he could pull some larger fish from. After Coon, they'd hit Trout River, Twin Springs, Coldwater, North or South Bear, and the Upper Waterloo, as needed, in other words pulling the "big loop" until they found good fishing. I suggested avoiding Trout Run, as it was too murky to produce in my opinion.

The last part of the plan was myself. I would camp the Secret Stream; I was confident I could pull off a 20 fish day if I was patient, persistent and played my cards right. As of that night, I had no backup plan other than perhaps Trout River.

Earplugs and BreathRights installed on the necessary individuals, Sominex downed by a couple, we bedded up around 2:00 AM. I set the alarm for 6:30 AM...wakeup would be in just over 4 hours...


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