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8-13-05 - McCoy Trout Outing - Day 1

Waters Fished: Waterloo Creek, North Bear Creek, South Bear Creek
Fish Caught: 5 personally
Outing Date: 8-13-05
Weather: Mostly Cloudy
Air Temp: mid 70's for the highs
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: ever so slightly up
Water Color: ever so slightly tinged...not quite 100% clear
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Beadhead Nymphs
Pattern Color: olives, browns, both caddis and mayfly types - size 18 and smaller.
Fishing Quality: Excellent

I rolled into Dorchester, Iowa, around 4:15 AM. I got my bearings and opened up FAT's RV...what the heck happened in here?!?! It looked like the place had been robbed, but then again, what was in there that was worth stealing to begin with? Oh wait...Rich mentioned he was going to tear it apart and refurbish it. I guess that's started.

I remember looking at my clock - 4:45 AM. All too soon 6:00 AM rolled around and the alarm went off. Time to meet the McCoy's at the Sportsmen's Restaurant. Sure enough...there was Mike and his two sons, ready for breakfast! With all the junk food in my stomach from the extended Friday/Saturday drive, I think I opted to stick to black coffee!

Mike, Mitch and Mason had arrived Friday afternooon and spent some time on the Waterloo. Sure, they had seen fish but landing them was another story. The boys were fishing spinning gear, tossing spinners and small Rapalas. Yes, they can work at the appropriate times with the appropriate fish (ask Len Harris) but as you all know I'm a devote fan of the fly. Time to rerig the boys with spinning bubbles and two-fly rigs!

8-13-05 - Bang! Right off the bat Mason lands his first Iowa Rainbow Trout. Mitch and Mason had loads of hits...patience and strike detection are key.

We drove up to the MN border to find an angler already parked where I thought we should start. No problem, we'd passed just about every other access along the way so we bumped on back downstream. It was the perfect starting point - two pools to split between three anglers. Mike took my 7' 3wt built by Dave Dyer and hit the upstream pool; meanwhile Mitch, Mason and I sat down on the lower pool.

In short order, heck probably first casts, both boys had hits but failed to set the hook. Mitch was especially lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) - on one of his first retrieves his float was pulled under 4 distinct times. We were definitely in the right spot and Mitch was holding the hot hand.

Well, it turned out that Mason was the first to convert a strike into a fish landed....a nice way to break the morning's skunk. As the action in the pools died down I conservatively estimate that the boys easily had 30 or 40 hits between them. Mike had seen some action on the upper pool but didn't seal the deal.

We went to the Double Secret Spot only to be chased out by the cows. Onwards to the Secret Spot (which is anything but a secret). Turns out this was the access point that the three had fished the day prior.

The McCoy's work a traditional hot spot. Mitch is happy, even with a chub.

This time I made darn sure their luck would be better. We indeed saw lots of fish...not TONS but definitely a fair amount to chase. The group kinda leapfrogged from one pool to the next. I should point out that Mike had specifically booked me to guide Mitch and Mason...Mike was pretty content to just take a few pointers and suggestions and brush up on his fly fishing skills. Turns out my suggestion on a hole produced 2 fish for him while I worked downstream with the boys.

Ah yes, the boys. Talk about MORE action. Mason surprised us all with a LARGE brookie that struck from the depths of a fast moving plunge pool. What both guys lacked in fish-fighting patience they made up for with downright enthusiasm! Every fish was either on the bank or off in seconds. Easily another 20 or 30 strikes between the two boys...sometimes nothing more than a pause of the bubble or a flash at the flies underneath the surface. Everyone tied into fish!

Mason and his huge brook trout - pulled from a deep pool. Check out the size on that Iowa Brook Trout!
Mason and Mitch continue to work this productive run. Back upstream, Mason and Mike work over some finicky trout. Mason learns C&R tactics for Iowa Trout.

And that was all before noon. After a filling taco-dip lunch, the McCoy's opted for a midday siesta. This was the perfect time to get some personal time in on the water, even though it was the slowest part of the day.

I opted to check out North Bear Creek, realizing that I haven't fished it yet THIS YEAR! Yeah, I've driven by it on more than one occasion, usually to find an RV or a couple tents pitched at my favorite access point. This time was no different, but the friendly anglers were taking their afternoon break as well. I figured I might as well hop in on a likely (but often overlooked) spot and put in a couple casts.

On my very first drift I watched the tiny gold bead heads of my flies float under the surface only to stop. I figured I had gotten caught up in the weeds - when I tugged the line free it vibrated. Chub? Nope...a very small brown trout would be my first fish of the trip. I guess I AM the Dinker King!

Siesta time - I made a beeline for North Bear Creek. First cast in, a tiny, probably wild brown trout. Somewhere around the 10th cast, a nice stocker rainbow.

I don't know...maybe 10 casts in I landed my first fish, having lost several others in the few casts prior. I worked the spot for a few more minutes before deciding to get back in the car and head back for a nap or something.

The boys were simply rarin' to go, but we waited until around 2:30 before heading back to the stream. This time, I thought we'd get in a change of scenery and fish the South Bear Creek. Mitch was still technically skunked - I told them all Mitch would have first crack at the Hundred Fish Hole. They all had to ask, "What's a hunter fish?" Ah, yes, um, not hunter, Hundred, as in one hundred, as in there should be one hundred trout sitting in this hole. The Rechterman's can attest to that slight exaggeration of fact (yes, as I write this, their weekend's report still resides in my brain...soon Paul & Anne!).

We got to the access point only to find a slew of vehicles present. Hmm...I know this spot has at least a MILE OR TWO both upstream and down. There is so much good water there I DID NOT feel I would be stepping on anyone's toes, so we headed on downstream.

A typically "hot" tailout is devoid of fish today.
Only a sucker could generate such a big grin on Mason's mug. Back out in the afternoon, Mitch breaks his skunk with a fat South Bear Rainbow.

Well, there was some initial frustrations as we worked from pool to pool. Mitch got set up on the hundred fish pool, which was today only home to 20 or 30 trout. Usually the entire tailout was holding fish, so I sent Mason to that little spot in the hopes that he'd get to fish here too. Mason shouted up that there was nothing...indeed he was correct. Mike and Mason headed downstream..meanwhile Mitch patiently stalked his quarry.

It happened - it had to happen - Mitch landed 2 trout within the span of a couple minutes. Finally the beast is off everyone's backs - there's never a finer feeling! The downside is that once you get a taste, you want MORE! Sometimes any action is worthwhile, especially on your first Iowa Trout Trip. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so happy to land a sucker as Mason was!

We continued downstream past the point where the stocking road ends and the trail soon peters out. We continued to the farthest point I've been to on the stream before we doubled back. Mike took the lead (he wanted a shot at the Hundred Fish Pool). The boys and I slowly made our way back upstream.

I came up to find Mike working the hundred fish pool, apparently not having much luck. Casting a fly rod is difficult here...it spurred me to give a quick demonstration of the tactics. Of course, while not intending to, I hooked up with nice rainbow. Mike put in a good effort before moving upstream.

Meanwhile, Mitch had passed us by and found his own little spot to fish....a small depression I've typically dismissed as being too shallow and sunny to have a good chance at being productive. I wish I could describe the battle as vividly as Mitch did...suffice it to say he cast, a rainbow simply hammered his flies and he ended up winning. The only help he got from me was a netjob to an airborne fish still dangling from his line. Mitch was proud and rightly so...guess he's graduated from being guided ;)

Mitch stalks more rainbows from his concealed location. Mason stands with his brother Mitch, who landed this rainbow without a bit of help from anyone. Congrats Mitch! The McCoys stop for a quick pick along South Bear Creek.

As the summer sun came down on us and heated up the afternoon air, I suggested we hit a large pool that's tucked away. It's the kind of spot where all three of them could sit on the bank and casually fish. Based on it's size, there's really no advantage here...everyone has an equal shot at fish. I THOUGHT I knew were the path was to get there but as it turned out, the path is simply GONE. Without enough angling pressure, the undergrowth had covered it up. About only a fifth of the way there, I suggested maybe we give up on this spot and try another. Consider it my bit of bum advice for the day!

Upstream on South Bear, Mike works a depression holding several trout.

We still had some time to put in so I offered up a gamble - as some of you know the downtown Highlandville access can be VERY productive - or - a skunkfest! I formulated a battle plan for the three anglers...we'd spend no more than 30 minutes here and if we hadn't landed a fish..we'd move on.

Of course, by 20 minutes tops we'd all given up. Mike asked me to give it a shot...he definitely had trout in front of him but hadn't gotten lucky. I said "5 casts". On my second, I was blessed with a taildancer that shook my flies free. OK..."10 casts". By 10 I had hooked up at least 2 more times. "OK, 15 casts". Cast #12 was the ticket...a feisty little stocker bow came to shore. I reminded Mike that the largest headache when fishing for the inland trout on light tackle, sans any kind of float or indicator, is strike detection. I suspect Mike had many strikes if he was in the right area....he just missed 'em. Heck, I KNOW I miss strikes all the time.

Mike finishes out the day high-sticking in one of my favorite spots on South Bear Creek.
Just another fat rainbow from South Bear Creek.

I took the three down to one last access spot on South Bear to end their day. I set the boys up on a pool that always holds fish, and then walked Mike down to one of the most gorgeous and fun spots on the river. At first it looked devoid of fish, but after a minute I picked them out and set Mike to the task of fooling them. My hopes for early success didn't pan out. Mitch came down, informing me that BOTH he and Mason needed rerigging. Mike to got enjoy a private slice of heaven while I went back up with the boys.

As the evening drew to a close, Mike once again asked that I set down my guide hat and put in some casts. I specifically had mentioned a large brown trout I lost here a few visits back...he suggested I go for it. BTW, I didn't mention this earlier, but I should have never clued Mason in on the "Grand Slam" concept. It was almost all he could think about. Heck, the brookie is harder than the brown (when we're in Iowa).

My brown was indeed still home but as usual, wasn't very interested in my offerings. However, 2 rainbows were, and that pretty much capped off the first day, an EXCELLENT DAY, of fishing in Iowa! Casey's Pizza was in my future, followed by a brew and a stogie (thanks Mike) around their campfire. I was so VERY pleased with everything about our first day together...excellent company and the conditions couldn't have been more perfect.

  MP 

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