The Very First Outings
February 19, 2020
It's the middle of winter in Northeast Iowa. We are expecting 10 below zero tonight and I received a couple of bookings today for March fishing. I love their optimism. It should be great, however, in the interim, we need to get rid of a foot of snow. Thank you to all of our 2019 clients. 2019 set a record for the number of trips for all three of our guides and I'm sure it was record for the number and size of fish! ?? We are looking forward to the upcoming season. For now, we will need to be content with tying some flies and attending the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Show in Dubuque in a couple of weeks. If interested, check out this link: http://www.hawkeyeflyfishing.com/newspost/march-6-8-2020-hffa-annual-meeting-and-fly-fishing-show-dubuque/ Monte, Tom and I will be there. Tom will be working the crowd throughout the three days and Monte and I will be manning the Bear Creek Angler booth and tying flies. Hope to see you there or on the stream this year.
April 29, 2019
Bear Creek Anglers (in our 10th year) has had their busiest start of the season yet. Fishing has been great to poor, I guess that is why we call it fishing. We battled what I hope is our last winter storm of the season three days ago. Caddis have been coming off the water sporadically. We look forward to seeing you on the water.
January 6, 2019
What a great year in 2018. Bear Creek Anglers set a record for number of trips, fishermen(persons), and great outings in 2018. A number of experienced fisherman commented, "this has been my best outing ever". We were happy to be a part of it, but at the end of the day, we know that the 'trout are in charge' of the success of the day. We look forward to serving you in 2019. We have invested in new Redington breathable DWR waders and boots (size 8 to 12) (available at the Decorah Hatchery for purchase) as well as new Orvis and Redington rods and reels for your fishing experience. The "Trout Shack" is undergoing final finishing touches as our 'fly shop' for trip headquarters and place to share a beverage at the end of your outing and fly purchases or other basic needs, including that first fly rod for Northeast Iowa.
October 3, 2018
Ok - I'm back, too much time on the water in the last six months and too technologically challenged to keep up with the website. The good news is, fishing has been great, in fact, 2018 has already been our best year in terms of number of guided trips and the outcomes of those trips. I've had two 'seasoned' fisherman comment that their outing with us was "a trip of a lifetime" and a third should have told me that as we hooked up over 80 times that day. We're heading in to the spawn for the brown trout which will likely slow down the catch rate some. Looking forward to spending some time with you on the water in October and November.
October 26, 2017
Winter arrives tomorrow!! Ouch, much too early. I doubt it will last. The browns have spawned, watch out for the spawning beds as you walk the streams. BWO time starting now. Last year, November was a great time to be on the water and the fishing was great. I'm expecting the same this year. Hope to see you on the streams.
It's been a good year of fishing. The spring was one of the best, summer slowed down as one would expect and now it has picked up in the last couple of weeks. The browns and brooks have started to take on their spawning colors and are eager to take the fly. Nymphs and soft hackles seems to be the way to go early and late. May need to fool them with a caddis or terrestrial during the middle of the day. Saw a few BWO's on a cool weekend recently, so hopefully gearing up for some dry fly fishing for the fall.
Although you can't tell from our posts over the last year, we are alive and well at Bear Creek Anglers. Too much time spent on the water and not enough time to update the website would be an accurate excuse.
We spent some time on the water this past weekend and there were plenty of hungry browns in the 8" to 10" range to rise to our fly. We did catch some in the 12" and 13" range and really appreciated those after 40 of the small fish. They were rising to BWO and Midge hatches when we arrived at 2pm, but by 3pm, we were only occasionally getting a trout to rise to our dries. Monte held on a little longer to the dries, but I switched over to the nymphs and finished out the afternoon going deep for browns in the riffles.
Based on the number of BWO and Midge hatches I saw last fall and so far this spring, I am hopeful that our bug population is strong and the fish will have plenty to eat when I am not our there feeding them my flies. I suspect that the water will warm by the first week of April and we will start out the season with a strong Dark Hendrickson hatch. I've worked on a few new flies this winter to add to the fly box. A Narly Midger Emerger to be trailed behind a Griffith's Gnat or a BWO during the hatch (that was the ticket on Sunday) and a Sow Bug (not very sexy, but the streams are full of them and have wanted to tie one for some time). We hope to see you on the stream this year. Kent, Monte and Tom
Yes, despite my lack of recent updates to the website, I am still in business and regularly introducing fisherman to the Northeast Iowa streams. It has been a busy spring with my volunteer activities for Trout Unlimited and introducing beginners to fly fishing. There has also been time for a number of guided trips, some personal fishing and my day job and family. My last few outings have been especially good by way of a late morning caddis hatch where the trout were eagerly taking both the dry and emerger patterns I had tied up the night before (it does not always work that way) and last Friday evening when the trout attacked anything that was in the water for about 45 minutes prior to sunset. Water levels are good and the population of wild brown trout seems to be strong.
The fishing this year got off to a slow start. A cool spring kept the trout a little sluggish in April. May and June have been better. A few great outings and lots of good ones. The large mayfly hatches are over for the year and I'm hopeful that the large rains we received the end of June did not damage our crop of Trico and BWO nymphs. I would expect the Tricos to be out in a few weeks. Plenty of action below the surface with nymphs and soft hackles.
A recent 10 inch snow in NEIA should help with water levels which were a little low for this early in the spring. We did not get the snowfall this last winter that was required to replenish our springs, but we should be out of danger with this snow and the rains predicted in the next week. Look for good fishing to start up sometime in the first two weeks of April. The bug count looks good and there should be plenty of eager trout waiting for them as they get active with the warmer temperatures predicted. It looks to be a great guiding season for Monte and me with plenty of trips booked for the spring already.
Fall of 2014
OK, so I'm now understanding what everybody used to say about how busy your life gets with involved teenagers....no time to update the website. This fall proved to be another productive season for the fly fishing enthusiast in Northeast Iowa. Great weather and good water levels provided plenty of opportunity for catching (and releasing) fish. It seems I did more guiding than personal fishing this fall, which is OK as long as it is not a trend that continues too long.
July 5 through August 16
I've been on the water too many days to count in the last five weeks and with all that fishing, there has been little time for website updating. This is what I refer to as a 'mass update.' Lots of first trout and lots of first trout on a fly rod recently. The fishing has been good with water levels doing quite well despite the dry July and August. The temperatures have been mild as well so the time spent on the water has been enjoyable.
Today was a work day on Paint Creek to get started on removal of Japanese Knotweed. A very extensive process is required, as a simple one time chemical treatment is not successful. Today's work involved 'bending' which will weaken the plant enough that a spray should be able to kill it later this year. The picture on the left shows Steve and Ethan standing next to a patch that they just completed work on. If you are interested is assisting with this project, there are a number of upcoming workdays scheduled this year. Contact me for more information.
June 20 and 21
Jason had the 'fly fishing itch' and his wife took care of it with a gift certificate. We spent time on the stream on both Friday night and Saturday. Jason figured out the casting in pretty good time, but the fish were somewhat uncooperative. He caught fish both days, but his skill set was better than his results indicated. I guess that is why we always 'go fishing' and sometimes, fishing results in 'catching'.
My daughter and I went out for a drive after supper to check out the clarity of the streams for a trip that was planned for the next day. I was expecting to find high and dirty water, but found the stream perfect, untouched by recent rains. Lydia suggested that she would not mind fishing, so we got my stuff out of the truck and I put her in a good riffle. I did not realize how good the riffle was. She hooked four fish in the 20 minutes we were there. She only landed one, and Dad was a little slow with the camera or the fish was a little too slimy, so no fish picture to prove it.
(I had to go back in the archives to find a picture of Lydia with her first trout on the fly rod.)
Joe and Michael (another father son duo) headed to the Old Hospital Lodge in Highlandville for a couple of days of fishing. They started their trip with a little refresher course from me on the bugs, flies and streams of NEIA. Dad caught a number of trout that night, but Michael did not have as much luck. He hooked and broke off on a big one, likely a brood stock, so his best memories of that night will be of the one that got away.
June 6, 7 & 8
Steve recently moved to Decorah from another part of the state where trout fishing was not the norm. Determined to fish for trout with a fly rod, he hired me to learn the basics. The first night was full of trial and error. We landed one fish and were ready to be done before the sun went down. Steve practiced casting the next morning on his own and we went out again the next evening and landed three fish. The next morning we headed to a smaller stream which provided more challenges to the cast. Steve did great and landed five fish in a short outing.
Father and son, Jim and Jason, spent sometime vacationing in the Decorah area this week and fly fishing was the main thing on the list. Jim was a seasoned veteran with the rod and also smart enough to know that he was not the best one to reintroduce the sport to his son after a 20 year hiatus. Jason caught on fast and managed to hook and not land a couple of rainbows. A few minutes later, it all came together; the Cast, the Drift, the Set, and Play and the third fish made it to the net. Jim was content to fish the water behind us and keep one eye on his fly and the other eye on his son's progress upstream. He managed a rainbow, brook and brown trout. Jason caught one of the wild brown trout I so enjoy chasing on North Bear Creek as well.
Comer found my website while flying over Iowa on his way from CO to IN. Turns out, once he got to IN, he was headed back to Iowa. We hooked up for an evening on the stream and found the fish to be mostly 'hooked up' all evening. Comer brought along his 6.5' 4 wt St Croix rod that he bought for out east. He methodically picked apart the stream one cast at a time and pulled fish out of spots that I thought impossible to cast to. It was a joy to watch his casting precision and to have the opportunity to net so many fish that evening.
May 26 & 27
Bob and Kim from the Kansas City area were trying their luck with a fly rod on our NEIA streams while camping at the Highlandville General Store Campground over Memorial Day Weekend. Their luck was bad and they called a professional to change their luck. The professional was busy, but they were able to find me. Kim was a little over-worked by my 'drill sergeant' mentality and called it quits early. Bob was able to catch fish both nights.
Today was a day off from guiding....and what do guides do on their day off work?
Another father/son combo today, except today it was a father, two sons and a son-in-law. Monte and I had to change plans mid-way through the trip to find better water after a dirtier than expected North Bear Creek. We did find better water and everyone found trout.
May 18 & 19
Paul from Newton and Brian from Duluth met in the middle (Old Hospital Lodge in Highlandville) and enjoyed a number of days on our streams in Northeast Iowa. They started with a little refresher course from me. Turns out I learned about a new fly that was effective on our trout and have tied a number of them since. Brian will enjoy a supply of them tied by me the next time he returns.
April 18 & 19
Johnathan made the trip up to Decorah on Friday and Saturday from Illinois. He had been an attendee at my presentation at the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association meeting in the Quad Cities a year ago. He had a good memory as he reminded me of many of the things that I had quoted in the presentation, "two nymph rig", "Bass Set!!", "Narly Midge". Johnathan even found that Orvis is doing a Narly Midge knock-off...or maybe the Narly is a knock-off from something Orvis already came up with.?.? Johnathan was also a little nervous about getting his picture taken with a trout for fear he might make my 'highlight reel' of "First Fish" at my next Hawkeye Presentation. No need to worry as Jonathan had netted a number of trout over the years, and was an exceptional caster and retriever. We spent our time working on bugs, were they were, what life cycle they were in and how to fish them. An accomplished fisherman with Buggers and Jigs, he was ready to gravitate toward flies. We were able to catch fish on nymphs, emergers and dries, so I believe we were successful.
I was helping out the local Girl Scout Camp (Tahigwa) today and their 'Women in the Wild' event. I taught "Introduction to Fly Fishing" to six. Not enough time to get six on the stream, so we focused on bugs in the water, flies to match and casting. I put the pressure on myself and fished the last few minutes of class to see if I actually knew what I was talking about. The fish cooperated again, with three falling victim to the NAR combo in the last few minutes of class. Here is a picture of the 'Graduating Class" minus one.
The fish were still on today. A few rises, but nymphs is what I stuck with. I used only my creations on the stream today, the NARly Midge and NAR's Ear. Less than an hour got me into double digits, so the fish are ready to eat.
This was the first day to hit 60 in almost 6 months. Needless to say I was doing over 60 on my way to the trout stream. Hoping for an early afternoon hatch of Dark Hendricksons, I headed out for a four hour lunch break from work. I was disappointed to not find any Hendrickson mayflies, but did manage to find a pool out of the stiff winds that was producing a steady supply of small BWO's. So I had some dry fly action and plenty of fish below the surface. The fish were active and eager today. I suspect that many of the hatches this year will be lighter than normal as the flood from last year washed many of our bugs away. Hopefully, it will just take one year to recover.
Finally!! Normal Spring conditions for the trout streams. Our snow is gone other than some remote north facing slopes in the woods and the streams are running clear again. The water temps are up and the fish that have had a severe case of 'cabin fever' since the middle of December are ready for some action. I fished for an hour in some of my favorite holes in anticipation of some upcoming guided trips and was not disappointed. In fact, in only took three minutes to net my first three fish. The next 57 minutes proved to be more like reality and I hooked another 13 and landed 5 of them. There were fish feeding on the surface in a couple of riffles, but I did not take the time to go after them. I am assuming it was a small BWO hatch. I expect the hatches to get better as the week goes on.
I told my wife this weekend that I was in the mood for some action, she assured me that it was on the stream that I would find that action. So after moving the two inches of snow we received overnight off the driveway I brought my boots and rod in to the house from the garage. It took about three times as long to tie on my Copper John and NARly midge as it should have. (Not enough can be said about natural light). It took so long, in fact, that my boots actually starting showing signs of thawing. I headed to North Bear about 2pm to scratch the itch. It was no surprise that I was crunching virgin snow in the parking lot, it was also no surprise that I knotted up my two fly rig on the third cast. I'm thinking it has been the middle of November since I fished on my own. A twelve inch brown fell victim to the NARly midge a few casts later. I quickly got my net out and started to net the fish until I remembered how cold it was (24 degrees). I let him pass a couple of times and against my natural reflexes, allowed some slack in my line a couple of times. He unhooked himself!!! The hands stay a little dryer for a little longer! The next hole up, I managed to hook another brown, but two twists of his head a ripped lip was the result. The next hole was a deep slow one and always good for a rainbow or two. The first one took the NARly and took it good as I played him for quite some time and he would not come unhooked. So I netted him and went back for another, which I found in the same spot, but did not need to worry about netting him as the hook never hit flesh. I had one more hole to fish and managed to pull a brown out of the depths to the surface before he came unhooked. At this point, I was high-sticking it with one hand in a pocket and the other on the rod. Three casts later I would switch hands. At 2:45, the hands said it was time to be done and I knew the kids were waiting with their sleds to try out the hills after the new snow. A proper end to a great 2013 fishing season.
Isaac from Florida made a return trip to NEIA to chase trout. Not for sure if he likes the trout fishing or is just looking for an escape from a week at the in-laws over Thanksgiving. We ended up mostly chasing trout and not as much catching as I would normally like. The day started out cold and windy and mostly stayed that way. It was early afternoon before the ice quit forming on the guides, which was unfortunately the time Isaac had to head for home. I knew there were precious few days between now and mid-March that I would see 35 degrees, and even fewer that I would have a rod in my hand with a 'hall-pass' for another hour or so. So I sent Isaac on his way with the directions of , "Take a right, another right and then a left and you'll be in Decorah," and I headed back to the stream. 45 minutes later I was in double digits of trout to the net, plus a few more hookups that I did not land. All on the NARly Midge, my winter 'go-to' fly.
TU workday on Waterloo Creek. Twenty individuals from around the state of Iowa helped today with the work day on Waterloo Creek today. We had members from my chapter (Driftless), Spring Branch and North Bear TU's as well as HFFA participating today.
November 1,2 & 3
You know it has been a good weekend when you can list three dates in your trout log and your fishing blog. We fished some everyday with either clients, friends or on our own. We also hunted pheasants, drank a few IPAs and told a few stories too (most of them true...at least mine were, I can't vouch for the other guys). The BWO's are still coming off the water ( a little earlier today, thanks to the time change). The trout are still fairly picky when it comes to the fall BWO hatch and you won't be able to fool them for long.
October 18 & 19
Multiple trips and outings on Friday and Saturday and all netted good results, aka 'fish'. Friday was a gorgeous fall afternoon with temperatures high enough to produce a hatch, unfortunately, we were not on the water in time to experience. Not to worry, the good ol' Narly Midge brought the trout off the bottom and into our net. Saturday was a different day and the cool breeze and sporadic sprinkles kept us moving most of the morning. The fish cooperated again despite the change in weather.
October 12 & 13
Denise and Alan from Omaha convinced their Fly Fishing group to have a weekend outing in Decorah. Lucky for me, I got to meet up with them on the 11th at the local brewery and then fish with them on Saturday evening. Fishing on Saturday was difficult because of the high wind, but by the time that I met up with them, the wind had died down and we caught fish. Denise was pretty happy other than they fact that she did not catch a brookie. (maybe next time Denise). I went out on my own on the 13th thinking I'd look for the few fish that we did not find in the last few days of fishing. I struggled to find fish and then when I did, I did not get them hooked solid. Eight hookups only netted me two in the net. I was thinking that the fish were a little "unfocused" on my flies, so I asked another fisherman when I was done if there was a hatch in the late afternoon. He confirmed my suspicion, but since he was a spin fisherman, was not sure what it was. I'm assuming it was a BWO, but I could have been a caddis hatch.
Ryan was in town for business and decided that Decorah was a nice enough place to extend his trip for a little please. We squeezed a trip in on Friday afternoon after I got done with my main job and before I had to meet other clients for beer (tough job I know). We picked the right 2 hours on the stream, because Ryan 'nailed' them for two hours and had one of the better outings of the fall season considering the wind we had to deal with.
Mike and Slavic from Dubuque made the trip to Decorah this afternoon because they could not convince me to make the trip down to fish one of their local streams. Both were excited to be on some new water and eager to learn what I had to show them. They were not excited to hear that we would not be keeping any fish we might catch, but they soon got over that issue as the thrill of netting multiple fish took over.
Mary Jo and husband Mike decided to extend their Iowa vacation by a week and spend it camping on the banks of some NEIA trout streams. I was fortunate to spend some time with them early on in their trip. Mary Jo thought she was going to out-fish her husband on this trip, but we learned an important lesson....'The first liar does not stand a chance.' We are not 100% sure if she caught more than him, but she did get multiple browns and bows and the prettiest brookie of the year so far.
I will let the photo album do the talking for today.
Bear Creek Anglers
September 1 & 2
What a difference a day can make. The trout with the strong appetites of the last few weeks seemed to disappear and instead, I found trout turning their noses up at what the day before they thought was delicious food. Maybe there is something to the full moon and barometric pressure thing. These last two days I'm sure was the payback for the last couple of weeks. 62 degrees was as warm as it got today and the water actually felt warm when stepping in to it. Not what I would have expected after coming off a week of temps in the 90's. Bob was a good sport and through the whole thing and blamed the fish and not his guide. We did play and catch fish, but not to the level that we normally do.
Jeff had such a good time last fall, that he brought the whole family back this year to experience Northeast Iowa. I fished with his two sons on a beautiful Saturday. Cloud cover in the early morning assisted us in catching and netting trout. By mid-morning, the sun was out and the catching turned into fishing, although we did manage to land a few more. Both caught brown, bows and brook, Collin did it with his first three fish, Spencer waited a little longer and completed the trifecta with a brook on his last fish.
Monte and I made it out to the stream for a little research....OK, a lot of research if you ask my wife. We spent most of the day on a couple of streams. It seems we proved our previous research to be accurate and had a banner day on the streams. Both of us scored Brown, Brook and Rainbow with dries, nymphs and buggers. Monte landed the nicest fish of the day on the BH Narly Midge.
Vic made his way to Northeast Iowa via Iowa City from Chicago. I'm glad he did...he helped me score my second trifecta in a couple days!!! No Trico's though, since we did not start fishing until late afternoon. Vic thought I was a guiding 'god' when after just a few minutes, he had four fish to the net. I told him that it would not keep up like this all day and in that, I was right. We landed too many fish to count and we covered a lot of stream. It seemed to go in streaks and be quite unpredictable, which is why I reminded Vic that I always promise good fishing and not necessarily good catching. We stuck with nymphs and only one brief stint with the dry flies (one of those times that the fishing was good, but the catching was not). This time out, it was a toss-up between the mayfly nymphs and my Narly Midge. I had tied some variations of the Narly Midge for today and Vic managed to donate all of those to the various trees along the stream, but they still produced when they had a good drift. I managed to catch all of Vic's Trifecta on camera.
Chris returned and this time he left his wife at home and brought a friend. Not for sure if his friend Eddie, prefers his home state waters of North Carolina or Iowa, but Iowa received a number of votes if you count the fish to the net. Eddie stuck to the nymphs today and was able to get a Trifecta (Browns, Bows and a Brookie). Chris, not wanting to be outdone, did a 'Tri' of his own. Tricos!!! Chris saw a fish rising on the far side of the bank on a wide part of the stream and said, "I want to get that fish." I said, we can give it a try, but I think the Tricos that I tied up the day before were a little big. I found the sparsest one I had in the box and Chris put it where he needed to. The hatch did not last long, but long enough for him to land a few on the dry.
Late July - Aug 8
I have been on the stream more than I deserve and more than I would ever admit to my wife in the last two weeks. I've been attempting to 're-familiarize' myself with the streams and hoping to find a few new honey holes. Generally, the streams are fishing good. I have seen very little dry fly action other than a few morning Trico rises and a sporadic evening caddis. Not enough action for me to want to switch to a dry. I have been sticking to the nymphs to this point and will start thinking about some hoppers and ants in the next few weeks.
After rains in historic proportions in late June, the trout streams still had fish and bugs in them, but things were 'different'. I had to pick up a couple of rocks to find one mayfly nymph, earlier in the year, I could find as many as 15 under one rock. I still had not fished the stream on my own for more than a few minutes since the water cleared up, but the fishing seemed a little slower. Mike and his son Caleb joined me for an evening of fishing today. Our success was limited due to conditions and since both were beginners. I still have not found my camera (just moved a week ago) so was not able to gather any evidence to show. I have never seem the stream so full of water and still running clean. I suspect that there has been a large amount of damage to the watersheds that will take some years to repair. I suspect that in the long run, the only impact on the fishing is it will take a few more hours up to a day or two for the streams to clear up after a decent rain verses the couple of hours or day that it took a couple of weeks ago.
Ever wonder what you get an 18 year old for his birthday? Well, at least for Kyle from Cedar Rapids, you get him a guided fly fishing trip. After being skunked last summer on his first outing on his own, Kyle decided it was time for professional help. His guide did OK while the fish were cooperating, but as the day wore on, the fishing increased and the catching decreased. Such is life on the trout stream some days. Hopefully Kyle is equipped now to be able to go out and have some success on his own next time.
Yes, we have had a lot of rain in NEIA the last few weeks, but some of streams are fishing great. I made it out this afternoon and netted a number of fish on nymphs and dries before calling it a day. It was good to see the water levels up and the prospect of the water levels staying up well into summer even if we don't get any more rain, which per the forecast, is not going to happen. Generally a good rain is not going to cause issues with a trout stream that has a small and well-protected watershed. With the high moisture content of the soil at present, even a small rain can muddy the water for a few days. If you make it to NEIA and find the water muddy on your favorite stream, head up stream or check out a new stream that has a different watershed. Maybe you will find a new favorite stream or end of fishing a section that you have never fished before.
Today was quite possibly one of the best weather days of the year so far, or at least one of the best days that I was able to get out to play on my own. I was supposed to be working on my house and was for a while. I loaded some cabinets in the trailer that needed to be re-stained and was about to head out when I told my builder, "Do you know how many trout streams I'm going to drive by on my way to the cabinet shop?" He asked how many and I said, "I'm not going to drive by a single one, I'm going to stop at every one." I stopped at the first one and did not have any reason to stop by any others. I fished for two hours and was content. There was a small caddis hatch for a portion of my outing, but I only managed a few to the dry with my poor imitation. Most of the trout fell victim to my midge pattern (BH NARly Midge). The biggest trout I caught were in less than a foot of water.
Lynn and Jim were passing through NEIA on their way from KS to WIS and decided to do a little scouting for future trout trips. I was honored to take Lynn out for her first fly fishing experience. The rain stayed away (kind of) and allowed Jim to nail a few fish on his own while Lynn and I worked on casting and retrieving and ....yes!!! "landing a fish". There is nothing better than your first trout on a fly rod...or at least nothing better that I will mention here. Turned out Jim was also a "Home Brew Master" and I was forced to take them to the local brewery to sample some Decorah beer and to take home a couple of Jim's brews.
Many people think that when big rain events hit, the trout streams are not fishable and they are generally correct. Chris and Jim were the exception as was this last weekend. Many areas near us had 2 to 7 inches of rain and the Upper Iowa River was out of its banks, but the heavy rain was localized and some of our trout streams have small watersheds with plenty of responsible farmers and landowners. This equates to some good fishing if you know what the area rainfall was and you have a good handle on the watersheds. Monte took his clients to the only spot in NEIA that had good water and they found plenty of hungry fish.
The owners of the company I work for decided they would extend their company visit by a day explore a trout stream with me. The day was likely the most perfect day of the year so far. The only thing that could have made it better is if I had remembered to bring a beer along to enjoy after the outing was over. Everybody caught fish and was able to enjoy some of the beautiful NEIA scenery.
I had not been on the stream for my own fishing for a while so I convinced (they think I conned them) my two youngest kids to join me for a little hike. I gave Josie the job of 'camera gal' and I gave Eliot the job of 'get as wet as you want, just don't mess with my fishing spot' job. I caught a few fish, Eliot got to net some fish and get totally soaked and Josie took 50 pictures of mostly nothing and we all got some good exercise.
Chris was a gambling man when he entrusted me to take his wife out for her first fly fishing outing on her birthday. His gamble paid off and Beth Ann netted her first fish after only a few minutes. Actually we thought it was the same rock we had caught numerous casts before, but it turned out to be her first trout on a fly rod. We continued to nymph throughout the morning until I saw the first rise of the day. We switched to dry flies and had 'way too much fun' netting trout after trout. We ended up going to a "Partridge and Orange" to catch the biggest fish of the day on the last cast of the day. We saw him a number of times, but he was never coming to the surface to take a dry, so I assumed he was taking emergers, too shy (or smart) to rise to the surface.
April 27 Also had a great Trout Unlimited Fundraiser on the 27th. It is not too late to contribute to a worthy cause. Contact me if you would like to know more about how you can support trout in NEIA. Kent K - BCAnglers@gmail.com
April 26 - I was fortunate to fish the last 30 minutes of a hatch today. Lucky for me, the fish did not realize the hatch was over and rose to my fly for another hour after the hatch was over. Rarely do I call it a day after only 90 minutes when I have a hall pass for all evening and there are still two hours left before dark, but the fishing was good enough...I wanted to preserve the memory.
Monte made the trip to Decorah for his birthday outing, unfortunately I was not able to join him for his outing because I was giving the new home of Bear Creek Anglers its first paint job....soon to be relocating to Bear Creek Road, only a hop-skip and-a-jump from North and South Bear. Monte did share stories over a few beers each evening and a couple of pictures. He got into a few bigger fish he says and all he would share with me is what he caught them on (wooly bugger and a BH Narly Midge), no locations. Being best buds, I was a little put out until I realized that I probably would not have told him either.
The early spring hatch has been delayed with our colder than normal temps, don't delay...get here in the next couple of weeks and you could still get in on some of the best trout fishing in Iowa for the year.
I convinced Duke Welter from Trout Unlimited to come to town to speak to our Driftless TU chapter ( www.iadriftless.org ) with the lure of a potential Dark Hendrickson hatch. Although when I talked to Duke on March 3, I don't think that I mentioned the word 'potential'. After a cold March, we still had too much snow on the ground to produce a Dark Hendy hatch (I saw one and that does not count). That did not stop Duke from enjoying the day and landing numerous fish on a short afternoon.
No fishable water was found today. Expect conditions to be better by mid-week.
Phelps and his mom made Decorah a part of their spring break. We lucked out and found a small stretch of water that was fishable. I suspect the only fishable water in NEIA today. They learned a lot and managed a couple of fish to the net before even that water started to darken with the noon-time snow melt.
Kim and Bill (from KC) were in Northeast Iowa for business and decided to extend their stay and take in the trout streams in the Decorah area. Bill was experienced, so I spent my time with Kim. We spent the first couple of holes getting some of the casting 'kinks' straightened out and then got on to catching fish. Kim netted four in a short day of fishing and Bill says he did much better, but who would believe a fisherman without the physical evidence.?? Temps were in the upper 20's or low 30's with snow in the air most of the day. A breeze also impacted the casting and made the temps seem colder than they were. Although it has been a while since I have had to 'winter fish' at the end of March, we, unfortunately, still have winter conditions in NEIA. We still a foot of snow in many places and we have not seen 40 degrees since a warm up in the middle of January. Last year at this time it was 80 degrees and I was wet wading and we were well into the spring mayfly hatches. It would appear that it may be the middle of April before the good hatches start. If I were planning a trip to NEIA, I would think about the last two or three weeks of April.
I was forced out to the stream for a couple of outings to scout for the guided trip coming up on the 24th. Saturday was about 30 minutes and was about 10 minutes too long, I was froze to the bone soon after releasing few fish and getting my hands wet. Temps were in the mid 20's with a breeze and no sun. My daughter saved me with a text that said she was ready to get picked up and taken home. During the winter fishing season, I tend to need to walk almost as much as I fish, and for sure, start out with a good 5 to 10 minute walk to get the blood flowing. Sunday was warmer and I lasted a little longer, but not before releasing over a half dozen. Most were on the smaller side, but I did release one rainbow that appeared to be full of eggs...she had the football shape that one gets prior to spawn or during a feeding frenzy.
The weatherman got the weather wrong today. I was planning on 34 degrees and some mild weather. Instead, I got 27 and a brisk wind, not a big difference, but 20% colder by my math. The line was freezing after only a few casts. I met up with my TU buddy Tom and he graciously offered me a run that was void of fish (or at least fish that were hungry). Tom went on down the road after about 30 minutes to find a place to warm up and I headed downstream. I told my son that I would fish for 10 minutes tops (he was staying in the truck to stay warm...smart kid!). He knew it would be more than ten minutes and it ended up being 15. But 15 minutes was all it took to hook up four times. I ended up landing two and thought I'd call it a day.
Monte and I made it out for my annual birthday outing. We forgot to check the forecast and headed out of town during the "January Ice Storm" that blanketed much of Iowa...or maybe we did check the forecast and chose to ignore it.?? The weather was likely about the worst I have fished in. It rained and sleeted most of the three hours we spent on the stream with the thermometer topping out at 28. The fishing was slow at best until I found a large pool, full of fish. I could easily access the pool due to a new ice shelf that had formed on the edge as a result of the very cold temps in the week leading up to Sunday. One fish after another fell victim to my BH NARly Midge. My camera had died on me early in the day, so I could not get pictures of some of the nicer fish, but I caught a couple that were full of color. I did manage two pictures before my battery died. Monte was cold enough he did not even mess with his camera.
The weather called for a warm up on a Saturday, so Cris from Madison called to see if we could show him around NE Iowa. I had planned to re-familiarize myself with the streams in the afternoon, so Monte took Cris out for an all day outing. The warmer weather (low 40's) does make it nice for the fisherman, but does not really do much for the "low caloric intake" mind-set that the trout follow this time of year. I know they did catch fish, as they caught a few on camera, but I never did hear how many. Of course, we wouldn't have believed a fisherman anyway, so it is best left unsaid. It appears that they did make a visit to the beaver pond for a little bugger action too!!
We headed for the stream early as rain was in the forecast. After getting skunked in the first hour, I was disappointed, but not surprised. That section of stream can be pretty fickle. We moved up stream a mile and our luck changed. The beadhead Narly Midge nailed numerous fish in one long run, a couple were pretty nice. I was fishing with Frank, an experienced angler from the Chicago area, who wanted an introduction to Iowa waters, as his Wisconsin streams were off limits this time of year. We moved around to numerous spots on two streams and ended up with a good day for December. I still think Frank likes his Wisconsin water better, but I think he will be back in future 'off-seasons'.
Amazingly, I've been on the water six times since my November 4 update. Three times on my own and three times with clients. Another trip is scheduled for December 1 and hopefully I will get the site updated after that. Fish are still active, even on the day after Thanksgiving when a client from Florida braved the cold front (the temperature was 20 degrees when we started and warmed up to a balmy 26). We still caught fish, a lot of fish in fact and would have caught more if it had not been so darn cold that we could not retrieve line appropriately. I expect to get some dry fly fishing in on Saturday with the temps expected to be in the low 50's.
My wife said the kids needed some exercise today, so I bribed them with a little football in the park before heading to the trout stream. They were game for a little outdoor recreation as they had lost all 'electronics' privileges for the day and I said that they could have full use of the camera on our hike. We hiked a half mile before I turned them loose on the rocks and ledges of North Bear Creek. Thankfully, no one was injured in their excursions, but four trout will have sore lips for a couple of days. I had tied an experimental fly called the beadhead NARly Midge. That fly was responsible for three of the four trout. I had only tied one of them and lost that fly on the fifth trout so decided it was time to head home. (I think the kids had a better time than the pictures indicate)
Monte and I had the opportunity to fish a late fall hatch today. We hit the water a little after 1:30 and the fish were feeding when we approached the first hole. It only took a few presentations to find that I did not have the perfect match, but one that would be good enough. I stuck with the BWO imitation for most of the day with a couple of switches to a caddis when I did not see any bugs on the water. The caddis fooled a few, but not as many as my little BWO.
Monte and I were pulling double duty on Sunday. Monte was out with Chris and Phil from Chicagoland and I took Andy out for his second outing of the year. Chris and Phil had a slow morning, but Andy made up for it. Unfortunately for Andy, the roles reversed in the afternoon. Then Monte got out on his own for a while after his work was done.
A group of members of Driftless TU acted as guides for nine boy scouts from the Chicago area who were staying at the Highlandville Campground. We each took a scout and had about one and a half hours to get them into some fish. Not for sure what my scouts expectations were, but I was able to get him into three of four trout with one staying on long enough to find my net.
October 10 Suz and Kristina decided to make NEIA the place for their 2012 'Sister Outing'. The made their home base "the little house on the farm" http://www.littlehouseonthefarm.com/ and had nothing but high praise for stay there. I wish I could say the same for the fishing, but I can't. No fish pictures (because the fish did not cooperate), but I settled for a sisters pic in the stream.
I made a quick outing today to try some of the new pink hoppers I tied a few weeks ago. It is long story about why I tied pink hoppers, but it made quick work of the trout today. Less than five minutes on the stream and I had two trout to the net with one of them on the pink hopper. I ended up with 4 more on the hopper with 7 or 8 more that took a close enough look that I was setting the hook. ...No shame in fishing with pink...
A return trip to the same stream that I visited on the 9th worked out great for Monte and not so great for this 16 inch brown that fell for the Chernobyl Ant patern Monte tied on.
My boss and I skipped out of work a little early so that I could have some company exploring a new stream. As we parked our vehicles at the local brewery tasting room to change clothes, transfer equipment to my truck and get a quick pint before we headed off to the stream, Chris said, "It almost feels like we are playing hookey." I commented, "It feels like we are playing hookey, because we actually are playing hookey." The fishing gods did their best to punish us. The stream we headed to was not what I had expected and it rained almost the entire time we were on the stream. Lots of beaver ponds and a few suckers... I think I saw a trout, but the is the best we could muster. On the way home, we were required to drive by a couple of trout streams, so we decided to fish one until dark. The rain started up again, but we did manage to net a few browns.
I actually got out for 40 minutes on July 29, but the one fish I caught got away before I was able to get a picture. Not to let the month end with a slow evening of fishing, I headed out for another 40 minute outing on the 30th. It was a good one to end the month on. The fish were actively feeding on Trout Run, but were not breaking the surface and I did not see any bugs on the water. I went with a Partridge and Orange I had tied up for another trip and had trouble keeping the fish off the line for about 30 minutes. Then it shut down and I ended the evening with seven to the net in a short outing.
Monte made it back up to NEIA for a day long outing. Unfortunately, my family calendar did not cooperate and Monte made a solo outing to Waterloo Creek to try to snag some browns on the Trico Hatch. The Trico's did not cooperate, nor did the trout. He ended up needing to work pretty hard for his fish, but that makes the good days feel all that much better.
July 2 / 3
Tim from Pierre, SD decided it was time to explore NE Iowa. Conditions were poor (about four weeks of no rain) and Tim had to work hard for his trout. I believe the first evening we netted 5 and had more on then that, but each of those trout were caught on a different fly. (about the same on the second evening) The fish were picky and did not really know what they were hungry for.
Denise and Linda from the Omaha area made a 'girls' trip to NE Iowa to chase some of their first trout. Denise is an accomplished fly tyer, but new to the sport and Linda is an avid outdoorswoman looking for additional excuses to spend time in the woods. Conditions were poor for their fist outing, but they made the best of it. They each managed fish and had a good time learning some basics.
I made it our to one of my favorite spring haunts this afternoon. Now I know why it is a favorite spring trip...the burning itch weeds were wicked and the water was low and warm. Instead of walking to the stream in anticipation of my first cast and first fish, I was rushing to the stream so that I could get my thighs in some cool water to relieve some of the burning. After a short hour and a few fish later the realization that the water was a little too warm to play a big fish (as if I would be so lucky) and I needed to make the walk back through those same weeds, I decided to call it quits.
Monte, Andy and I made it to the river yesterday for some quality time with our fly rods. A good day was had by all, except maybe the 100 trout we happened to hook in the lip. Most of the trout were small, but we did manage a few on the larger size.
Lou made the trip to Decorah from the Omaha area via Detroit, MI. I think he told his wife that Decorah was on the way home from Detroit and being the good wife of a fly fisherman, she did not question him. We hit the evening swarm of Light Hendrickson's just right and ended up with a productive evening. Lou being a modest fisherman who has caught fish all over the country declined pictures. (Maybe his friends believe him when he tells them that he caught some nice fish...mine want the proof) When we left at a few minutes after 9pm, the fish were rising more frequent then ever at the pool by the parking area.
My son and I headed to a local stream on Sunday to see if we could waste an hour of what was supposed to be "room cleaning" time. Before we were out of the parking area, we ended up finding a young man from the MPLS area attempting to attract some rising trout to a large black fly. They were rising to something on the water and that is all he had that would float. I could not see anything on the water, so I decided it must be small. We tied on a #20 Griffiths's Gnat and received a few looks, but no takes. I then went to a #20 BWO and he was one fish short of limiting out before Eliot and I headed downstream a few minutes later. I never did see a BWO on the water for the next hour, but did tempt a few up to my #14 Light Hendrickson.
Yesterday, I finally managed to get the camper ready for the season and we headed out to Lake Meyer, south of Decorah. We did some bass and blue gill chasing with little success. My youngest decided that a little 'site' Bull Frog fishing would be more fun and easier. He was right on both accounts. He said he landed close to 20 frogs (I think he stretches the numbers like his dad), however I did manage to capture a few on camera.
I was being the good son and gave up a perfectly good day of fly fishing to meet my Mom and Dad in Riceville at the lake for a "day-before" Mother's Day picnic. Of course, we always try to get the grill and shelter by the lake so that I can add new worms and take fish of the hook in between flipping burgers and whatever else preparing a picnic might entail, and no, I don't always wash my hands in between duties. Josie, my young bass fisherwoman, became bored wih the real worms and wanted to explore the bottom of my bass tackle box that has not been used in years. She choose a weedless rubber worm set up and landed this rod bender.
I headed out for a solo outing with low expectations, I just needed to get some time on the stream with a fly rod in my hand since most of the month has been taken up with guided trips. An occupational hazard I guess. I spent two hours on the stream, enough to be one shy of a dozen, and decided one more riffle would not hurt. I ended up landing a net filler and then some. I've had some shorter outings but none sweeter than this one.
Another successful morning on the stream today. Andy was fairly new to the sport of fly fishing and was looking forward to his first trout, or two, or three....but we did better than that. The stream we fished handled the rain we had on Thursday and Saturday quite well and was clear and cold (as it should be). Thanks to the farmers in the area as well as all of the state and federal programs that are available for them to utilize. There were a couple of bugs on the water (three to be exact), so we focused on the nymphing. I would assume that a dry fly hatch may have been in store for a little later today, but I had duties at home to attend to.
Chris from Kansas made the seven hour drive up to NE Iowa on Friday. We headed out to the trout stream early on Saturday morning to attempt to beat the rain that was predicted for the day. Our luck was good, we avoided rain the entire day, but not the droves of fisherman (and one fisherwoman) that thought everybody else would stay away because of the weather. We fished nymphs in the morning when we found an open riffle and had some good luck. Chris had caught his first fish on Friday night on Twin Springs in Decorah and he was close to double digits by noon. About that time, the catching turned into fishing and we decided to break for lunch. Chris had mentioned he was hoping for some fish on dry flies. We had seen a couple of bugs on the water, but no fish feeding. After lunch it was the same with even a few more bugs on the water. The nymphing did not pick up at all and we tried a soft hackle with one fish taking the bait, but I decided it was time to tempt a few fish to the surface. I had tied up two dries on Friday night that I thought would do the trick today. They did, but they were not good enough to fish in the slow water, only the faster riffles. Chris caught a number of fish on the dry including a nice brown on his last cast of the outing. Chris and his family lived in Japan for five years. The last picture is a shot of one of the fish that Chris caught on his authentic Japenese style fly rod that was a gift to him when he left Japan in June of last year. The lower half of the rod is a solid piece of bambo and the upper half is split bambo.
Monte and I tag-teamed with Brendan and Rob. Brendan was a first timer, unless you count the back yard. Rob was from Boston and had flyfished numerous times, just not small freshwater streams for trout. Rob did not need much from me other than someone to net and unhook fish. He moved more than a dozen fish in the first hour and netted more than half of those. Brendan got his first trout on a small nymph, a four inch wild Brown Trout. Brendan also had the pleasure of nailing a nice Brown on his last cast of the day...that never happens to me.?? No hatches came off the water today, so we stuck to the nymphs. Maybe a little too cold.
Fellow TU Member Kurt and I headed to the trout stream after church on Sunday. We usher together on Sunday mornings and have been talking about getting out on the stream for a couple of years now. We finally got it done. Kurt started first with a bugger, I watched for a little bit until I saw a few small BWO's on the water with trout eagerly accepting them. I tied on an 18 BWO and landed 6 in the first hole in short order. Kurt decided that the BWO was the way to go and switched over. By the time I reached the next hole, the BWO's were done and a couple of larger flies were on the water. They were supposed to be Dark Hendricksons, and I suppose they were, but a little smaller and a little lighter than I had expected. I managed to fool a number of them in that hole, but not as many in the next few holes until they totally shut down on what I was tossing their way. We were lucky to meet up with another TU member (Dana) midway through our afternoon before calling it quits. I ended up landing a few on nymphs at the end as I had given up trying to fool them with the dry fly.
Another good afternoon on a Northeast Iowa trout stream and I likely missed the best part of the day. I call it one of my 60-40-20 days. 60 swipes at my dry fly, 40 hook-ups and 20 fish to the net. From what I heard, the hatches have been coming off in the morning or early afternoon. I did not hit the stream until 1:30. There were a few bugs out all day, but nothing conistent other than some gnats along the edges and I never did try to match those. After tying on a total of three different dries in the first 45 minutues, I finally went back to my first one, a Dark Hendrickson and kept that on the balance of the afternoon. I only saw 8 or 10 Dark Hendy's on the water all afternoon, but I think the fish were hoping for more Dark Hendy's, so that is what I fed them. Plenty of fish at 12 inches and below. It took about an hour to break the 12 inch barrier and then a couple of 14ers and 15 to 16 inch fish made the day more memorable.
Another day of 80+ degrees and the kids wanted to play in the water. I was not excited about it until I realized that I still had my fly rod and vest in the truck from yesterday. We hit the Upper Iowa late in the afternoon after a bike ride to the trout hatchery to feed the brood stock. A good place for the kids to play and find crawfish is not necessarily a good place to go trout fishing. We each managed to get one of our prey (kids one crawfish, and me, one rainbow). I'll need to do some scouting to find a place that is more compatible for both of our interests.
Wow, what a St. Patty's day!! Monte came to town mid-morning and we were on the stream I was on last weekend by shortly after 10am, equiped with the flies that I had tied during the week. I did not get out of the first hole until I had caught a healthy brown...this was going to be a good morning. Dries and nymphs, you had to be paying attention to both. I was fishing a dry (StiNARilator) and a dropper (StoNARefly Nymph). I netted eleven fish by noon (Monte was not far behind) and all of them were bigger than the biggest of the seventeen fish I caught on North Bear in the afternoon. I saw a few mayflies on the water so I know the time is near for some of those great spring hatches.
March 10 & 11
I was out both days for a couple of hours on some special water. I discovered something new on the stream today. STONEFLIES!!! I caught the fatest fish I have ever caught. (this is not him...although this one has been at the feeder for a while) Full of stonefly nymphs and adults I assume. I just got done tying what I believe will be an excellent match for both. If you are an experienced fisherman and are stictly 'catch and release', I will be glad to introduce you to this stretch of water. Plan on spending the day. This weekend may be the end of it (???) I have no idea how long the frenzy lasts.
I spent a little time on the stream this afternoon, probably too late in the day to find the trout as active as I would have liked. I ended up landing four rainbows on nymphs. I did see a few bugs on the water, but no fish taking advantage of that. I assume that earlier in the day they were sipping some dries. The rainbows are starting to 'color-up'. Three of the bows were starting to lose some of the silver that they wear much of the year and replacing that with some green and pink/red.
It was hard to believe that I was able to get another day of playing in NE Iowa after last weekend... but, when you are a fishing guide, things like this are called required Continuing Educatoin. We started the day fly tying with local TU Chapter Members. I was getting pretty ancy even before I started tying as the morning sun was melting snow on the roof even by 9am. By 11am, Monte and I had convinced Tom Murray to accompany us on our streamside adventure today.
We had the stream to ourselves today, except for the one TU Chapter Member who was truant from our fly tying session in the morning. It was Jeff Skeate, who was probably doing research for his next book.
Monte took this picture, I think that it has potential for a cover shot in Skeate's next book.nI netted 13 or 14 fish on the day. I wrote down 14 in the fishing log...always round up. I did find one pool that held rising fish and was able to lure a few up to my recently tied dry fly, but I only managed to net one. Monte and Tom fished a more open section of stream and with sun exposure, they had hatches going all day. I tried to bugger one slow deep stretch, but ended up only sinking in past my waist and got my vest and fleece wet. I mostly nymphed all afternoon with great luck on my North Bear Special Midge.
My best friend and guiding partner, Monte, made the trip to Decorah to help me celebrate my 46th birthday. We started the day with some re-tooling of rods and taking inventories of flies, tippets and leaders. I shared some small BWO's I tied that I thought we might be able to use today as well as some small midges that I tied. These midges had a slight modification to some we have been tying for a while and I was hoping that they would be more successful. (not that the previous version was unsuccessful). We started the day with wooly buggers and brookies and ended the day with browns and rainbows on midge nymphs. No late afternoon rises to use the newly tied BWO's. Monte, in true best friend form, let me catch most of the fish on my birthday outing. Monte only hopes that I will be as kind for his Birthday outing in early April. ...(that is not a scarf I am wearing. It is a coolmax neck band that you can modify into multiple different contortions depending on what part of your head and/or neck is cold. In this case, it was the ears as the temps were in the mid 20's)
Angus could not wait until spring to get out on the trout stream. That's what days like today were made for...temperatures creeping up into the low to mid 30's, an absence of fisherman on the stream and a guide who had an itch that needed scratching. This was a first outing for Angus on a trout stream. He did not let the cold weather or the lack of trout activity, slow his enthusiasm. We hit North Bear Creek late morning and worked on casting in a few pools. We thought we were going to get lucky with a few trout rising to dry flies in our second hole, but the trout gods said otherwise. We took a break for hot chocolate and coffee, then started up a different section of the stream. It was not long before Angus played two trout, but did not land either of them. On our way back downstream, I asked Angus if he was ready for hot chocolate (I sure was) or if we should fish the next hole. We fished and Angus landed a rainbow. The next cast, he hooked a brown that we did not land. All in all, a pretty good first outing and a beautiful day to boot.
I could not resist one last trout outing for the 2011 year. The temps in northern Iowa hit 40 plus today and I headed out for a hike with my fly rod. The wind was nasty from the south, I'm assuming that was the reason for our warm temps. I decided that the wind was going to be too much for nymphing with my light fly rod, so opted for the 9 ft 5 wt and some buggers. I promptly lost the two I tied before heading out (one on some brush and the second on a trout). I found a couple more buggers in my box and tempted out a couple of brook trout on the big black bugger and switched to a small oliver bugger to catch this nice brown trout.
The temps hit 34+ degrees today so Chris and I headed to the trout stream. We found a few fish and pumped a tummy of this fat rainbow.... pretty much the same stuff I would find in the summer.
Another November day with the temps in the 50's.
WY 2011 reunion was this weekend and celebrated in fine fashion. Monte, Tom and I enjoyed a couple of beers at the local brewery ( www.tgbrews.com )
fished some fine Northeast Iowa water and then visted Tom's home and retold some stories of the days on the WY streams.
Monte took Mark from the Quad Cities out on the local streams today. Mark was familiar with parts of North Bear Creek, but wanted to get familiar with some of the other streams in the Decorah area. They fished all day and even had time for and end of the day beer at the Highlandville General Store. From the looks of the pictures, Mark did well on 'Unfamiliar Water'. ...unfortunately, only those on the WY trip (outlined below) will enjoy the reference to 'Unfamiliar Water'.
....was the day Monte and I set out for our annual WY trip. Except this year, Andy and Tom came along. Andy is pretty much a 'fish magnet' and it is always a good idea to have a fish magnet along on a fishing trip. Tom came along in the event we needed some AARP discounts somewhere. I organize the trip and have the camper and Monte is along to drive the midnight to 4am part of the trip. Here are the three of them on our first full day in WY. We had planned on fishing three to four different streams in our seven day trip, but the fishing was so good at the first one that we left for only one short side trip to another stream. We caught mostly Western Slope Cutthrout trout, but also plenty of other including one five specie day.
Art came to town from Council Bluffs with his wife for Decorah's Second Annual Dig In Conference. www.digindecorah.com Art thought it appropriate to Throw In his rod and reel and maybe Wade In a Northeat Iowa Stream or two. Art and his guide did not let a little Rain On the trip discourage them. We put our rain Coats On and it was not long before his guide was saying, "Fish On!!"
Monte took out Karen and Reed for a few hours in the afternoon. Reed had fished a few times before, but it was the first time for Karen with a fly rod. Reed is anxious to get back out on the stream again soon as it appears that Karen out fished him.
I managed some time on one of my favorite streams today. I was planning on being the shuttle service for Monte and two other fisherman and so I had about two hours to mess around until they showed up at the agreed upon time. I went with a parachute adams and a beadhead pheasant tail and had five fish in the first thirty minutes and had my trifecta for the day covered... a brown, a rainbow and a brookie. Both the dry fly and the nymph caught fish. The fishing slowed down a little for the next 45 minutes, but picked up on both the dry and the nymph by the time I called it quits. A dozen fish in less than two hours...
Sept 4 & 5
Greg and his son McGuire made a weekend trip to Decorah from Illinois. Greg and McGuire have fished all over this country (and Canada). I'm pleased that they have discovered Northeast Iowa. Greg fished on his own while McGuire and I hung out. The first day started out better than most with a number of rainbows to the net in the first hole.
McGuire was quite intent on catching more fish than his Dad...look at the concentration....
....and it pays off too....
We caught up with Dad every once in a while to let him know how many fish behind he was.
Monte was in Decorah today moving his son into Luther College. As any good father knows, at times there is a need to be there with your kids and a time to give them some space. Monte decided that an ample amount of space was about 2 miles and we hit the Upper Iowa for a little bit in the afternoon before heading to the Decorah Fish Hatchery for a fundraiser. I did a little casting instruction there for the kids.
Local boy, Matt, and I headed to the stream for some late summer fishing instruction. Matt's borrowed rod from a friend was like casting an oak tree, but Matt quickly figured out where to put the fly...and managed to find a number of trout lips before a short outing was over.
Austin from MN was my most recent victim... as it relates to butchered late evening photos. It is a good thing Austin did not fish like I took pictures. The fish were very active with whatever nypmh we used (hare's ear, copper john or pheasant tail). Besides my picture taking skills, the only thing we had trouble with was landing the fish Austin hooked. Austin likely had 12 to 15 hookups and landed 4. I told him that some days are just gonna be like that.
Austin with a fish on!!
July 25 / 26
David from IL could not wait to get back to Decorah after hitting the Hendrickson Hatch earlier in the year. We fished both evenings and saw a few caddis on the water, but the fish were focused on the nymphs. David caught a number of browns in the riffles as darkness settled in on Monday night. We had a tangle that was too much for me to handle in the dark and we thought we could make it back to Decorah before the local brewery's tasting room closed for the night. We did!!! Tuesday night was better as David built on what he learned the night before. He called it quits with a dozen fish to the net. It was not quite as dark as the pictures would indicate. I need to work on the camera settings. The brown here was the prettiest brown trout I have seen since I caught a February Brown on North Bear on a Griffith's Gnat.
Randall just bought his first fly rod and could not wait to try it out. He and his wife made the trip from Ottumwa and spent the night at the Cedar Dreams Inn in Decorah. http://www.cedardreamsinn.com/ I picked Randall up at 6:30 so we could get done with our fishing before the heat of the day. Little did we know that Mother Nature had a thunder storm planned for our morning. Instead of being soaked with sweat, we were soaked from a brief downpour. When the rain came through at 7:30, Randall already had two trout to the net. We waited out the storm with some coffee in the truck and a discussion about what Randall should buy for flies when he is fishing on his own. With the rain done, we headed to a couple more spots on the stream. Randall and I lost count when he got in the double digits of fish to the net. That's a great first outing!!!
June 10, 11 & 12
Monte and I had the distinct pleasure of fishing for two days with Andy from www.streamfishinginiowa.com . Andy is a very good fly fisherman and an even better guy to have around given his access to water craft from which one can fish some very remote and rarely fished water in Northeast Iowa. We caught some hatches that allowed us to tie on some dry fly patterns, Monte and Andy did some soft hackle fishing, and there was plenty of nymphing when the other was not hot. I even managed a couple of fish on a streamer. After Andy headed home, Monte and I proceeded to explore some new water. Two new streams for me (one for Monte) and some great dry fly action before dark.
Yesterday was the local TU Chapter's Fundraiser in Decorah. I think the weather was too good. Many folks found other things to do on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Those that attended had a good time. Compliments of the live action, I am the pround owner of a 8 foot Cimarron Pantoon Boat. Why I do not know. Make me an offer if you are interested. My kids hung out with me that day for about 5 hours without much complaining. In return, I took them camping and fishing afterwards. We had an awesome time. The weather and the fish cooperated. I was even able to get the girls in on some pan fish, 'fly rod style!' Josie also managed a nice bass...her secret... a big night crawler with a wax worm dropper.
May 27, 28 & 29
Roger and Faron (from Kansas City) just completed a northeast Iowa three day fishing trip. This was Roger's first time to the area and a return trip for Faron after fishing these streams as a kid 30 years ago. They made the Old Hospital Lodge ( www.oldhospitallodge.com ) their base camp and I met them every morning at 8am with fresh coffee from Java Johns ( www.javajohnscoffeehouse.com ). Roger thought the coffee was great, but the fishing turned out to be even better. They caught Browns, Bows and Brookies on Dries, Nymphs and Streamers on multiple streams.
Happy to be out on the stream another day, I was careful not to curse the 36 degree temperature and the 40 mph winds on Sunday morning. We had not anticipated fishing today as we had scheduled a burn of some CRP. I chickened out (appropriately so) when I had trouble keeping my hat on. We scratched the burn and headed to a stream that we could fish with streamers as that was the only thing that was likely to work in the wind. Monte started off the day strong and never looked back. I'm pretty sure that the last time Monte out-fished me so thoroughly, he was on steroids (literally...but that is a topic for my book). If we ever start competing for money, I'm going to demand drug tests. By the time we left the first area, I was so far behind on the fish count that I told Monte I was going for the Triple Trifecta (Browns, Brooks, and Bows on Streamers, Dries, and Nymphs on three different streams). I learned this lesson from my kids, it you are getting your tail kicked at one game, change the rules or change games until you find one that you can win. Monte kept adding to his fish count as I slowly completed my Trifecta.
(If the young gentleman who was releasing the brown trout when I met you on Sunday would email me, I'd like to get you to the TU meeting on Thursday night and set you and your fishing buddy up with free tickets to the TU fundraiser...also, we could likely hook up on the stream again and see how you are getting along...email me. email@example.com )
I headed to the stream for a short two hours on Saturday afternoon, hoping for a late Dark Hendy hatch. The stream was swarming with anglers and not the early season mayfly that I was hoping for. From one spot, I could see eight other fisherman. I was in the minority with my fly rod as all that I could see were spin casters. There was a small hatch of BWO's on the water and I managed to tempt a half dozen to my dry fly before it started raining and I headed for home.
Sunday the 17th was my second daughters first fly fishing outing. She was thrilled to get two fish to the net. I'll let her update this post when she has time later this week. I'll see how kind she is to her dad's guiding abilities. ...... "On Sunday my dad and I headed out to the stream. We started out in one spot, but the fish weren't biting. So we got into the truck and went to a differant area. Once we got there we saw tons of bugs on the water. The trout nipped at my fly for a bit. Finally I caught a brown trout! I could not wait to catch another trout. So a little bit later I caught another, but that was all the trout I caught that outing. I can't wait to come back!"
David made a special trip to Northeast Iowa on his way home to the Chicago area. I did my best to make the trip special. We headed out on Sunday night on the tail of a major storm system that had just moved through the area. We had no idea as to the amount of rain we had received, I just know that at one point (on my way in to pick up David), I had to pull off the road until the rain eased up a little. We arrived at the stream to find it a little off color, but very fishable. The storm appeared to have taken care of any dry flies that may have been hatching earlier, so I had David start off with a nymph. David, being and experience fly fisherman, had a number of fish to the net before we called it quits for the evening. Over supper and a few beers, I gave David instructions for a successful fishing day on Monday.
I heard from David mid-afternoon and he had caught some fish on Monday, but thought that we should go out that evening. He did not need to ask me twice and I skipped out of work a little early to pick David up for another evening of fishing. David was wetting a line by 4:45 and by 5:30, I think he had close to 10 fish to the net, by 5:45 he had 15 fish and by the time we headed home, he had netted nearly 25 fish. All but one or two were brown trout and all but one was on a dry fly. I was amazed at how fat some of the trout were. I have seen some fat 16" to 20" fish, but never a 10" 'fattie' like David was catching. He also caught some bigger ones that were fat as well.
Tyler and I made it out for a short couple of hours. Tyler said that he had been practicing with the fly rod and it showed. We nymphed for a little bit with no luck and then switched over to a dry when the hatch started to come off. Tyler had three to the net for his first outing with a fly rod.
Monte did a solo trip today. He hit the stream late morning and stayed into the early afternoon. He had similar luck. Or so he says...his camera is broken, so I will need to take his word for it. Plenty of trout on both dries and nymphs today. Big hatches of mayflies both yesterday and again today. Another 20+ day for Monte and another trifecta (browns, bows and a lone brookie).
It does not always work out this way, in fact it has never worked out this way and likely will not ever again. Joe from Cedar Rapids came up Saturday morning for his first real experience with fly fishing. He had all of the equipment (a beautiful 7.5 foot 4 wt bamboo) and lots of book knowledge on the subject, he just needed some time on the stream. With Joe, it was a very limited amount of time. Within the first hour, we had our first fish and it did not stop until it was time to head home. Joe likely landed 15 or more fish in his half day outing. Check out the series of pictures below that was repeated numerous times today. (Advice, Cast, Hookup, Net)
Book your trip: firstname.lastname@example.org or (563) 419-4433
March 27, 2011
We headed out early today, but not so that we could be fishing while it was still in the low 20's. We were in search of some put and grow waters that we had never fished before. We thought for sure that most of the small streams would be back to normal (depth and clarity) by Sunday. The last rain had been on Wednesday and there was not much snow left to melt. We were wrong, the particular Put & Grow stream that we had picked out was about two feet higher than it should have been and was off color. We chose to pick another stream that we had never fished before that was nearby and we were pleasantly surprised. Water levels were a little higher than normal, but not by much and the clarity was almost too good. I caught Browns, Bows and a Brookie and Monte caught the same.
March 19, 2011
We headed to the stream early this morning. The temperature was 20 degrees when we climbed out of the truck. After about an hour of freezing, we returned to the truck for some hot coffee and a drive to find a spot where the sun would shine on us. We were also hoping to find a stream that had not been negatively impacted by the recent snow melt. We did and Monte had a few to the net, but I had a dickens of a time actually getting one to the net. I hooked 6 or 7 fish before I actually got one to the net and I had to foul hook the fish to actually get it. By this time, the crowds that I expected to see today had showed up. With at least three cars in every parking area, we wanted to find a stream that was running clear and would not be crowded. We found a stream with exactly that and it also had some nice fish that were receptive to our flies. Here are a couple of pics:
Book your trip: email@example.com or (563) 419-4433
March 6, 2011
Had a chance to sneak out to the stream late today, too late for good fishing, but regardless, still managed to get a couple to the net on nymphs. Close to 5pm, I was shocked to see some Blue Wing Olives on the stream and it appeared that trout were taking them along the edges. I never did see the trout, but the splashes made me think that these were not 12 inchers. I tried to tempt the trout to my BWO, but did not have any luck. I only tried for a few minutes as I had a couple of my kids with me and they had gotten a little wet playing on the edge of the water and needed to be getting warmed up. I brought one of the BWO's home with me and will work on tying up a closer match for next weekend.
March 1, 2011
Today I had the distinct pleasure of hitting the number one trout fishing stream in Iowa with Andrew and Steve from IPTV's Iowa Outdoors. http://www.iptv.org/series.cfm/15752/iowa_outdoors They left John filming at the Eagles Nest for the day and headed North with me to North Bear Creek. We hit the water about 1pm, which as it turns out, was probably two hours too late. The air temperature was already 36 degrees by then and on its way to 40. We had good luck in the first two holes, but by 2pm, I think the fish were done. Regardless, I enjoyed having someone recording my mumbles and bumbles along the way and hope that they can make a couple of minutes of video out of it to air in the fall of this year...in time for winter fishing 2011/12. I think that I landed four fish in that first hour of fishing, two on nymphs and two on dry flies...and of course a couple of near misses (at least as far as the audio recording went!!).
Book your trip: firstname.lastname@example.org or (563) 419-4433
February 27, 2011
Iowa Public Television is coming to town this week to film the Decorah Bald Eagles. Check out the video cam mounted near the nest. http://www.raptorresource.org/falcon_cams/index.html If they have time, they are going to film some other Northeast Iowa winter activities for their Iowa Outdoors Show. Hopefully, they have time for a little fishing in the schedule. I headed out to the stream today to find some trout that I can have qued up for them. A couple of fish were feeding on top, but I had trouble getting them to take my fly. It took about 40 casts and two different pools to attract one to my fly. When he hit the dry, I was so surprised, I forgot to set the hook. Luckily, he hit again after a couple more casts. Today was the day for Brown Trout, every fish I caught was a Brown, including this 15 incher that had great color:
February 19, 2011
We had a week of warm weather and the Upper Iowa and most of the streams that have a large watershed were high and muddy. I headed to North and South Bear Creek with expectations of the same. I was pleasently surprised to see that both streams looked great and even more surprised to see a tent set up in one of the parking lots on North Bear. The two hardy fellows camping and fishing were from Chicago/Des Moines. I headed out for a short hour of fishing and started with the Griffith's Gnat. After about 20 minutes of no action and not seeing any fish take natural bugs off the surface, I switched to the Pheasant Tail and landed a brown and a rainbow before heading home.
February 12, 2011
Our February Outing started with a little fly tying at the shop of Chris Wasta near Decorah. Chris is a partner in Wild Rose Timberworks www.wildrosetimberworks.com in Decorah and graciously offers up his shop for fly tying on a Saturday morning each month during the winter months. Here is Monte showing Dana and Tom what he tied. I'm not for sure what everybody was tying, but I know that Sam was tying a fly with the abdomen made up of little beads. I may need to raid my daughters bracelet/necklace making supplies before I go back next month. I was working on a Dark Hendrickson, getting ready for the first mayfly hatch that will happen on North Bear Creek this spring. My friend Steve suggested that the wings, abdomen, hackle and tail could use some work, but other than that, it looked pretty good.
We headed to the Upper Iowa to go after some large colorful rainbows again. Thinking that with the temperature in the low 30's we could stay out a little longer than last time and maybe have double the production. No such luck. I hate to admit it, but we were skunked on the Upper Iowa. We needed some truck time to get our toes warmed up and so we headed to North Bear Creek. I fished with what I had on my small rod from last fall (pheasant tail) and caught a small rainbow out of the first hole. Thinking that was the ticket was my mistake. The next three holes produced nothing but a sweat as I was trudging through knee and sometimes thigh deep snow along the stream. After seeing a trout rise in the pool above me, I decided that I needed to change tactics. I tied a Griffith's Gnat on to the end of my 6x and went to work. The water in the first hole was pure glass and I likely did not have a good enough fly to fool the fish in that pool, so I worked up stream to the edge of a small riffle. I laid what I thought were about three or four perfect casts in the sweet spot with no luck. Monte came up on the opposite side to see what I was up to and I told him that I was making perfect casts and I did not know what the problem was. Just then a brown pounded the fly at the back of the riffle. Great fun to catch a brown on a dry in the middle of February. The day ended with a rainbow taking the dry.
January 15, 2011
The first trip of the season is always cold, but if your first trip of the season is mid-January, cold takes on a whole new meaning. The truck said 15 degrees as we parked above the Upper Iowa River in Decorah and after bundling up, we trudged through the knee deep snow to the river. Lucky for us, there was no one else there (Ha!) so we had our pick of the holes. I hooked up first and landed a colorful 12 inch rainbow. Monte tied on a black wooly bugger and matched my catch, only his was 15+. No time for measurement, or even a picture as you can see. If you are wondering what the third picture is, it is a fly rod and fly line after an hour on the stream.
October 2-8, 2010
Monte and Kent had the distinct pleasure to head west to Wyoming to learn some new water and be humbled by some WY TROUT. Our trip began with stops in Cody, WY at the Humble Fly Shop ( www.thehumblefly.com ) and North Fork Anglers ( www.northforkanglers.com ) for licenses, bear spray, maps and flies. Monte said, "This is easy." when 20 minutes in to our week- long outing, he hooked this rainbow on the North Fork of the Shoshone.
Needless to say, the fishing slowed down a little. We fished up into the National Park on the North Fork and were intimidated by the size and flow of the Lower Shoshone River coming out of the Reservoir. We were without digital evidence gathering for our day of fishing on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone due to dead camera batteries and a little mishap that happened the day before that involved an unexpected float down the North Fork (I am not a boat) and the soaking of everything on or attached to me...including my camera.
The fishing and the digital evidence improved as the week went on. We were able to steal a little rechaging power from an outdoor outlet at a ranger station and cameras do dry out with a little patience. We ended up cleaning house on the big cutthroats on the Lower Shoshone with a little fly pattern. This cutthroat and others like it hooked up on a size 20 Copper John.
The week ended with us hitting a couple of streams in the Bighorn National Forest. Shell Creek ended up being our favorite in the Bighorns and the learning curve lasted about ten minutes.
September 17, 2010
Bart and his son Greg, were up from Des Moines visiting Luther College ( www.luthercollege.edu )and spent the afternoon on the trout stream with me.
Bart had good luck with the pheasant tail nymphs and Greg caught all of his on dry flies (Gnat and Adams).
Aug 26, 2010
Curt from Des Moines was turning 50 today and I had the honor of showing him around a Decorah trout stream for a couple of hours this morning. Curt had a great day for the first time handling a fly rod. Seven fish to the net, including this nice brown trout.
Aug 18, 2010
The owners of Decorah's historic Hotel Winneshiek (www.hotelwinn.com) visited the fish hatchery for a little fun on the stream. Lynn was first to land a rainbow...
...and Jennifer found a little brookie
July 17, 2010
The day started out as good as any day could have started. A colorful brook trout pounded a caddis fly in a little riffle in my first ten minutes on the stream.
Here is the best way to deal with your freshly caught trout. A couple of quick pictures and then a release back into the stream.
The afternoon continued to be productive with about 20 fish to the net and at least that many LDR's. Here is Monte with a hookup with a brown trount on a pheasant tail.
May 16, 2010 was a Trifecta Day
Three streams (fish on each) - three kinds of trout (brown, brookie and rainbow) and three different ways (streamers, nymphs and dries) We started the day on big muddy water and stayed long enough for Monte to catch this nice brown. Then we went for a hike to look for brookies. Not nearly as big, but alot more fun in the crystal clear waters of a Northeast Iowa stream.
April 24, 2010
Tom from Chaska visited Northeast Iowa on Friday for a first-time turkey hunt and for his first fly fishing experience. We started out the day in the turkey blind at 5:15. Two Toms (not to be confused with the Tom already in the blind) came within 40 yards of the blind, but they refused to give us a clear shot. At 7:45 we called it quits with the turkeys and headed for the Highlandville Store for more coffee and a fishing license. We fished some big water for a couple of hours in the morning so that Tom could get used to casting without the potential of snags on the trees and brush. Late morning we headed to a smaller creek with more catchable fish. A quick lunch and a change of hats (to change our luck) later, Tom was back on the stream...with success. Tom caught three trout (two browns and a rainbow) and earned a "Trout Slayer" beer for his efforts.
APRIL 19, 2010
I was in my favorite spot on a secluded, seldom visited NE IA stream by 10am today. No hatch this morning and no luck with my old standby, the pheasant tail. I switched to a 16 beadhead hare's ear and immediately started catching fish. Six brown trout later, I decided to call it quits on this stream. I headed to the Satre Store for some freshly made egg-salad sandwiches and directed my old Ford to a new section of North Bear that I had never fished. Plenty of small browns were interested in my dry caddis, and the newly stocked rainbows liked the pheasant tail. I liked this part of the stream and will be back with my guided trip on Friday.
APRIL 11, 2010
Lydia (10) with her first trout ever. There was a massive caddis hatch and she had been fishing for about 15 minutes until her guide found the right match. After a few misses, she played one for a bit but lost it with a slack line. She landed this one with the help of her guide.
APRIL 9 - The caddis started hatching about 2pm and did not quit until 3pm.
Brown Trout on a caddis fly