4-30-05 - The first day of 2005's "Trout Camp"
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
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
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
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 camped...you 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
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
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 lifted...by
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
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
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.