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8-14-05 - Mitch takes first crack, bright and early, at the wily French Creek Browns.
Mike is game to give 'em a try, but the bright morning sun put them down.
Back on the Waterloo, Mason has landed another Rainbow.
Mason deftly removes the hook.
A nice Rainbow for Mason at his favorite spot on the Waterloo.
Mitch patiently works a deep spot and nails a fantastic Waterloo Rainbow Trout.
Mason & Mitch pose at the scene of the "guide challenge" on the Waterloo.
After lunch, I notice an unusual raptor soaring overhead alongside the usual Turkey Vultures. Any idents from the birdwatchers?
A nice stocker bow starts off my afternoon.
Another stocker from Brennon's pool.
A very respectable rainbow fills my proverbial "hunger" for trout....the rest of the afternoon is spent exploring.
Swallowtail on a Thistle...it feels so good to be out in the woods.
One of many scenic spots on upper Little Paint Creek.

8-13-05 - McCoy Trout Outing - Day 2

Waters Fished: French Creek, Waterloo Creek, Little Paint Creek
Fish Caught: 3
Outing Date: 8-13-05
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, very slight breeze from the west
Air Temp: mid 70's for the highs
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: normal
Water Color: clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished: Various Beadhead Nymphs
Pattern Color: Olives and Browns
Fishing Quality: NICE!

So it was decided that a BROWN TROUT landed anywhere in the course of the weekend would qualify as a "Grand Slam" for Mason. It was also decided that Brown Trout in general might be fun to try. Of course, if you're REALLY really interested in exceptional Brown Trout fishing in Iowa, there is one place you must visit - French Creek.

Therefore, the morning breakfast was followed by a 15 minute drive to one of the better access spots. Mitch took first crack, and while there were at least 100 brown trout in the pool, the second the first spinning bubble hit the water's glassy surface, the fish scattered. This probably wasn't going to pan out.

Seeing as how there's really only room for one person to fish at a time, Mitch took five casts followed by Mason's 5 and then Mike's 5. I was then asked to give it 5, and all too soon I realized that this situation was just not going to be productive. We could stay all morning and MAYBE, if we were lucky, one of the highly spooked browns might taste our offerings. "Screw This"...the consensus was to head back to the Waterloo to the boy's favorite pool.

In short order both boys had tied into fish...Mason landed another rainbow as did Mitch. Mitch deserves a bit of recognition - he managed to pull his rainbow from a deep but brightly lit pool that takes a LOAD of patience to fish. I'm confident these boys learned quite a bit about fishing (and patience) this weekend!

Meanwhile Mike had tried a few spots without success - I put him on the boy's pool and within a few casts he lost 2 back-to-back rainbows....such was Mike's luck for the morning. They all continued to fish and had a blast.

Mike went to scout an area downstream where I've been - my feelings on the stretch of water was that it wouldn't be productive. Soon enough though, Mike came back and issued a challenge - he'd seen a fish and called out my manhood - it was my responsibility to demonstrate how the situation should be approached.

Upon arriving, Mike pointed to a small eddy behind a rock at the bottom of a small, steep riffle on the far side of the stream. Mike further clarified - he'd seen a trout break the surface right on the seam between the eddy and the main current. It was a textbook plunge pool, no bigger than the desk my computer sits on.

I studied the spot for a bit and hoped to catch a glimpse of the fish Mike had observed. Now, I'm not saying that Mike was seeing things, but honestly I've not found many fish in this stretch of water. And usually, spotting a fish in churning water like this is next to impossible. All the same, a challenge had been issued and well, if there was a fish I was bound and determined to catch it.

I first worked the little plunge from across the stream, changing up flies once to put something larger and heavier on. Each cast demanded several fast and furious high mends in order to keep my line out of the current and prolong my exposure to the seam before finally having my nymphs ripped downstream in the main current.

OK, that just wasn't working. Time to call a bluff and get a closer look. I stepped into the ice cold water and navigated my way to the boulder directly above the pocket. From there I could dap my flies in the eddy and hold them there pretty much as long as I liked. After several attempts, I gave the spot a good look. If there was indeed a fish here before, he likely was gone OR hiding underneath the very rock I stood upon.

Alrighty, so I failed the "guide challenge" - wouldn't be the first time I guess ;) Mike pretty much called it a day, but the boys were hardly ready to part with such good fishing. As a compromise, I filled the McCoy's in on Rich Brown's 10-cast game. Hook a fish in 5 casts and you get reupped to 5 more casts. Land a fish and you get upped to 10 remaining casts. Get to 0 and you're done for the day. Well, we all made it to zero eventually.

After another great lunch at the Sportsmen's Motel the McCoy's broke camp. We said our good-byes and I found myself heading east towards home. Along the way I pondered where I might fish, if I might fish, only to be interrupted by an interesting raptor in the sky. Take a look at the picture - if I had to stab a guess I'd say it's an Osprey hoping to sneak a meal from the Waterloo?

Well, I found myself looking for someplace to fish were I was confident of success, yet someplace I hadn't been in a while. Someplace preferably on the way back towards Prairie Du Chein. I figured maybe the Little Paint was worth a shot?

The campgrounds were relatively empty...probably less than a dozen campsites were going. All the same, some of the best pools had tents literally parked right on them. I continued on to the end of the line, parked in a spot and headed for the swimmin' pool.

Sure enough, plenty of trout here as always, and some really NICE ones too. I must say, I'm really impressed with the fish that have been stocked lately, not to mention the size of the 2 or 3 wild browns cruising around. The downside? Some of the camp visitors had informed me that less than 45 minutes prior they were in the pool and the dog really stirred things up. All the same I DID manage a hit, only to snap it off? I was on 4lb. test...it really shouldn't have happened.

Well, I pushed onwards, deeper up the valley to more tucked away spots. I stopped next at Brennon's pool, which I only know as Brennon's pool as it's the spot he showed me (and probably schooled me at). Afterall, I believe the Little Paint is one of B's favorite streams in IA, so it's fitting to have a spot named after him!

I immediately tagged a fish, followed by a few more hits, and then a second stocker on shore. Up at the head of this crescent shaped pool I saw the distinct form of a large brown. Several false casts got the distance and trajectory worked out...of course I botched the hookset on the take and watched a good sized brown come flying downstream past my feet...and it just kept going. I wasted hordes of effort on a rainbow that was only slightly larger than the rest before finally decided to keep moving.

The next stop was a pool that's haunted me since my last visit - here I saw several exceptional, fully colored rainbows yet failed to hook into them. This time, some of those rainbows had moved on (or were taken) but at least 5 or 6 very respectable fish were still here.

As luck would have it, the largest rainbow in the group lay right beneath my feet, conveniently hidden by the lunker structure. After getting snubbed by most of the pools residents, I made a patient drift tight along the shore, then slowly twitched my nymph back towards me through the gin clear water. Anyone who's a dry-fly purist because they get to see the take needs to get their eye's checked and some good polarized glasses...what happened next was on par with ANY dry fly take.

The gold beadhead glinted in the sun only briefly. A gray form casually peered out from underneath my feet, turned upwards, and revealed a gaping white mouth. This white hole moved upwards in the water column with purpose and encircled my fly, which then disappeared. The body turned and my rod tip shot skywards. FISH ON!

While she was arguably not "that" big, it was the largest rainbow I spotted in the pool. Quite a beauty, all chrome like a mini steelhead. My quest for fish was complete, but my desire to explore had not yet been fulfilled. I figured it couldn't be any later than 2:30 PM so I pressed onwards, deciding I'd follow the path through the woods to its end.

I never made it to the path's true end, but rather a point where it veered away from the stream and narrowed first to a 4-wheeler track and then to the point of being a horse trail. Once I got the feeling I was truly in the middle of nowhere, I turned back and started checking various access spots to the stream. At the farthest access point I located, the upper Little Paint was literally a weed-choked ditch!

The rest of my afternoon was spent hiking back to the car, stopping at each side path to check out the stream. In these upper reaches I found the trout to be few and far between and skittish to boot, but the scenery...well look at the picture to your right.

  MP 

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