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4-30-05 - FAT shows folks how to string up a fly rod...while it's snowing!
Tanya is in surprisingly good spirits despite the snow.
Tanya, TallMatt and Matt get a lesson from FAT in matching the hatch.
Caimi keeps a low profile while feeding dries into the feeding lanes of a plunge pool.
Matt stalks trout in deep water.
On to the South Bear - the skinny fast water isn't holding fish!
I did notice this rather inventive method of concealing yourself from the trout's view - fish from a car.
TallMatt plies the pool in search of deep holding trout.
A small stocker Rainbow breaks the skunk.
Ron Caimi has hooked up with a surface film presentation of his flashy soft hackle not-a-pheasant-tail PT nymph pattern. I'll call it Caimi's Holographic Soft Hackle - he call's it a PT ;)
Regardless of what you call the fly, the results are great for Ron.
A stocked Iowa Brook Trout.
Everything about the setting was great...if only the fish were more cooperative.
Ron stalks the brook trout, now rising again, as dusk approaches on the South Bear.

4-30-05 - The first day of 2005's "Trout Camp" weekends!

Waters Fished: Waterloo Creek, South Bear Creek
Fish Caught: 2/5
Outing Date: 4-30-05
Weather: Cold, Partly Cloudy, brief rains and snow showers
Air Temp: 30's overnight, rising to 50's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: low
Water Color: gin clear
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: Beadheads in all sizes and shapes
Pattern Color: Grays and browns worked best
Fishing Quality: Semi-Poor

It's April 30th and it's SNOWING in Iowa! Let me just say that I was in the RV with the heater and even THAT was cold. Matt and Matt (yes, 3 Matts on this trip if you include myself) had somehow stayed alive in a tent, while Tanya and Ron had it easy in their hotel rooms!

FAT has been asking me to do some teaching of the Iowa Trout School (or as I like to think of it, a pun on Ron Caimi's Bamboo Rod business Name - "Trout Camp") - before I got into that I wanted to actually fully watch and listen to the whole shabang. After breakfast in the RV, class continued in this relatively warm space. Rich went through gear, theory, basic knots etc. After this, we went through a casting video showing poor and good casts. Then it was time to brave the cold morning air and actually learn to cast. Lunch followed, and afterwards it was time to hit the water.

On the water instruction focused primarily on "matching the hatch" weather subsurface or dry fly fishing. Rich brought out some great glass containers and did some rooting through the river to pull out mayfly, caddisfly and stonefly larvae, as well as a leech. Matching the hatch was easy after that - just find the closest thing in size, then color, and fish it.

We started off at the secret spot on the Waterloo...which definitely isn't a secret. Ordinarily we would have started in the Laboratory, but this flat, open space was too much for new casters...the wind was HOWLING. Anyway, 2 guys were out when we arrived - they left before any of us had started fishing. We spread out looking for fish and found some, but not tons. Most all fish were concentrated in only the deepest of the deep pools.

We split up fishing to fish wherever we found them. I spent most of the early afternoon with Matt, who fortunately did get a few hits from a deep pool, as did I. Ron and the rest of the gang worked downstream. Overall, the group ended our time on the Waterloo SKUNKED.

In a nutshell, we decided to leave our first access spot on the Waterloo in search of more fish. What we found instead was a plethora of anglers at EVERY access spot. As many as 6 cars in at an access..that's UNREAL pressure. After driving by all the angler commotion, Rich decided it was time to go over a ridge and check out the North Bear.

We should have known...the North Bear access had 3 cars and an RV camped out as well. And the surprising thing, it was anglers from ALL STATES. We saw IL plates, WI plates, IA plates, and MN plates! Something must be up...this isn't normal pressure.

After finding our favorite North Bear Creek access also full, we pressed on to the South Bear. Here too, our first access spot was full. However, the next one was vacant. FINALLY, a spot to fish.

We got in quickly and as on the Waterloo, found a deep pool full of fish. It was more than 6 anglers could fish, so Ron, Matt and I headed downstream. I walked to the end of the state land without finding another deep pool, or any fish for that matter. Matt worked a relatively likely spot but didn't hook up with anything...the same went for Ron and myself. After deciding to stop fishing the pool, I waded in just to see what I could scare up. NOTHING.

Ron, Matt and I met back up with FAT, Tanya and Matt. A swap of the Matt's was made, and Ron and I took TallMatt downstream. The next access spot was could see the guys on the pool from the road. On down we found another good spot vacant and we "dove" in.

I know this next pool to be a good one - I've heard of several 20"+ browns being landed from this pool. For a while Matt, Ron and I all gave the pool a shot. Ron was intent to fish a dry fly even though nothing seemed to be rising at the time. After a bit, Ron disappeared upstream and left Matt and I to nymph the pool.

It took a lot of patience...this is a DEEP spot. Both Matt and I had to use some split shot to get down...the few fish I could make out where tight to the bottom, not active in any way.

I managed to lose a fish and eventually hooked up again, the only change made was simply through the progression of casting to (and covering) the entire pool. Matt and I both breathed a sigh of relief as the collective group skunk had been a Rainbow Trout of only around 9".

Caimi returned from upstream with some good news...he had found a small pod of active fish. We weren't quite ready to head upstream with him - I was convinced we could eke out another fish or two if we were patient. Besides, when a man finds fish those are his fish to fish for first. A small caddis hatch started up on our pool...on splashing rise was all the feeding activity we saw. For whatever reason, the trout were in a 100% negative feeding mood.

Well, eventually we started walking upstream in search of Ron. I was somewhat in the mindset to move and we'd have to retrieve our third angling companion in order to do so. As Matt and I moved on I caught sight of a small group of fish in a shallow depression behind some rocks. Ron wasn't here, we hadn't passed him, so I figured we might as well fish and wait for his return.

It turns out this small group of fish was THE group of fish that Ron had found. We all fished it, taking turns. They were hardly the vigorous willing bitters that we had hoped for, but they were rising to a sparse Blue Winged Olive hatch.

I believe Ron was the first to get in on the action. He was not only fishing dries, but was trying to get one fish in particular. Most of the rainbows were still silvery, looking somewhat blue in the water. This trailing fish however, was DARK black. In the end, Ron didn't get this black rainbow, but he did land a respectable trout for the day.

I got in on it for a while too while Ron was content to watch the two Matts in action. TallMatt took a bit of coaching - he was bending out and reaching through his entire casting stance. Once he relaxed, his loops tightened, his power increased and his casts were right on the money!

At the head of the pool lay a dead tree limb...several of the trout had nosed up into it and underneath it, gazing out upstream. Included in this tangle of fish was an unmistakably white finned brook trout. Ron was eager to see a Iowa brookie and I was determined to show it to him.

It struck once and I missed the hookset. After what seemed like hundreds of drifts, it finally struck again. For whatever reason, it came to shore fouled. Normally I don't take pictures of fouled fish, but I KNOW I had this one fair..I probably pulled the lead fly right out of it's mouth and hooked it with the dropper.

As the afternoon wore on Matt had a few tussles too, which is great for anyone's first time out. As luck would have it, he ended up disconnecting with both of his trout...they just threw the hooks and that's how it goes sometimes.

We all took breaks in the action to simply admire the setting and relax. At one point Ron and Matt almost simultaneously directed me to look upstream...the lighting and view were simply dazzling. While we were all looking upstream, Ron saw a rise and instantly repositioned to fish for it. Turns out that the rising fish was the brook trout I had just released a bit ago!

As dusk approached and dinner time was calling, Ron and I both did our best to coach TallMatt to his first trout. Unfortunately, as the light faded, what little bite there was turned off and we were left scratching our heads.

Dinner, FWIW (For What It's Worth) was by far one of the saving graces of the day. I've never seen 6lbs. of Italian Beef disappear so fast! As we sat around the campfire, we all hoped for better fishing in the morning.

It's worth mentioning that something was definitely up with regards to a event or something occuring this weekend in Allamakee county....the campground at the confluence of the North and South Bears was literally STACKED with RVS and tents.


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