Driftless Trout Anglers

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donjuan  
#1 Posted : Monday, May 11, 2015 7:52:34 PM(UTC)
donjuan
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 5/23/2011(UTC)
Posts: 418
Location: WI, IA

Spent this weekend being outside for as much as possible, camping, hiking and fishing in NE Iowa. My wife and I drove up on Friday late afternoon and I found the browns to be quite aggressive. It was clear these fish had been eating extremely well.

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The fun continued on Saturday morning.

I love my multi-species water

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The spawning redhorse were so thick, I can't believe I didn't snag any more of them. They were rising all over the place, and you could easily spot them by their red fins, stacked up in shallow rocky areas. Because of the way this one was hooked (right next to the mouth), at first I couldn't tell it was snagged and briefly thought "Do I somehow have a GIANT brook trout on?" Always fun to trick yourself like that.

Right before this brown, I had a multiple follows from a good sized fish that I couldn't quite identify until it got too close and I could make out the white marking on the inferior portion of the tail as it swam away - very solid sized walleye. Unfortunately, didn't happen to have much of a variety in baits on me and I couldn't get it interested in anything else.

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This was one of the best fighting brown trout I've ever caught. Leapt out of the water like a torpedo when hooked, had the drag screeching for much of the contest. I need to be a little more careful unhooking some of these fish. Almost stuck myself a few times when I didn't properly stabilize the fish when unhooking.

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A few more fat 'n happy browns, then we were off to the next destination.

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Did some hiking in the YRSF (that's Paint Creek in the background). I just saw the posts about the new acquisition along Paint Creek - wish I was aware of that last week!

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In the afternoon I hit a more popular stream for a few hours and was surprised to continue to catch a number of decent sized (12-16") aggressive browns. I was expecting a lot more stockers from this one, but only got a few of those. I don't typically fish streams that are stocked with catchable sized fish, so I forget this sometimes - but it really is night and day catching a stocker vs catching a stream reared fish. There was no question which kind of fish I had on.

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That night we camped right along the banks of the Upper Iowa, and in between S'mores I also enjoyed this late night treat:

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I haven't caught a carp in awhile and forgot how fun they are. I need to target them more this summer.

All told, Saturday was an 8 species day - smallmouth, silver redhorse, brown, brook, rainbow, northern, chub, carp. Walleye would have made it 9. Stupid walleye.

Sunday we packed things up pretty early and hit the road. I had secured permission on a few stretches of private land and was maybe a little too excited to get on the water.

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Most of the water we fished on Saturday appeared relatively high and looked great. Yet the first stretch we hit Sunday morning, not far from Saturday's streams, was notably low. Who knows if it was the water level, or the falling temperatures, but we did not repeat Saturday's success. Only one trout to hand. My wife had a very nice strike at one point, but the fish quickly freed itself.

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Anyone recognize this picture?

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So, on the next destination. In this area, the stream runs through what I would call a somewhat unique, or at least different, woodsy location. The water is a little more cloudy in general, which I typically like to see, but having only fished this stretch one time before, I have limited knowledge of where the fish tend to congregate and what spots are a waste of time.

Definitely some decent browns here, but they were throwing out a lot of short strikes, nearly the opposite of what I experienced the day before. Mrs. Donjuan was using a smaller lure and brought a few browns to hand that failed to reach 10".

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We came to this spot, a good looking run where I caught the best brown when I last fished this stream a few years ago.

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The overhanging streamside growth makes it difficult to get a proper retrieve which goes through the deepest and fishiest part of the run. A few more short strikes, and then I placed a nice cast far above the leafy branch at the top of the run. I had on a floating rapala and gave it a yank just as it came underneath the first branch hanging into the stream. A very big flash right by the lure, but no tension on the line. He completely missed. So I continued with the retrieve - more flashes, again no contact. With a big brown, usually that's a one and done for me - he's not coming back. But obviously I'm always going to try again. Same cast and retrieve - same result. I managed to get the cast in the right spot again...same result. My wife had walked upstream a little bit and at this point I'm calling her back telling her she needs to see this. Over the next 10 minutes or so, I continue to make casts - its a small window and some are unsuccessful and I need to quickly yank the lure back to me or gently free it from the tree branch. I have to make a looping cast in which the lure lands over the tree but the line falls to the right side of the tree. Every time I get the correct float into the hole, directly under the branch, the big fish makes an apparent pass at the lure or swirls around it. If I don't get it far enough under the branches, he doesn't appear. If I cast further downstream - nope. Needs to float to nearly exactly the same spot every time.

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However, the fish never really "hits" the lure. Maybe only once do I ever get any indication he actually attempted to strike the lure. Doesn't phase him though - he just keeps darting around. I change up presentations - let it float all the way through, yank and pause, reel faster, reel slower - no strikes. After he has made maybe his 15th appearance, I change lures. I throw 3 or 4 different types of lures, pretty much anything different I have with me - nothing. If I use a stick or crank bait of some sort and manage to replicate the proper cast/retrieve, he will flash near it, but won't strike it. This was simultaneously one of the most amusing and frustrating things I've experienced trout fishing. The best way I can think of to define the behavior is that the fish was "playing", which I know makes no sense. I would estimate the fish at 19-21". Finally he tires of the game, and I drag myself away saying "But, but..."

Such an interesting shift in our success between Saturday and Sunday. At the same time, maybe it was the water more than the day - definitely less robust trout populations on the streams with fished Sunday. GREAT weekend to spend outside...can't wait until next time.

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mbchilton  
#2 Posted : Monday, May 11, 2015 9:13:00 PM(UTC)
mbchilton
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 12/16/2012(UTC)
Posts: 381
Man
Location: Decorah

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Teach me your ways, oh master.
ilikefood  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, May 12, 2015 4:44:40 AM(UTC)
ilikefood
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 6/29/2011(UTC)
Posts: 501
Location: River Falls, WI

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Fantastic post, story, and pictures! It was a great read. I'm out of fishing commission for awhile due to busy work and life. So, I need to live vicariously through you and the others on DTA. Keep up the good work!

Do you think the fish that "played" with you was acting defensively? Rather than attacking your bait, was he/she trying to chase it away from it's home?
What was big was not the trout, but the chance. What was full was not my creel, but my memory.
- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, p. 40 (Oxford University Press, 1949).
MNFishhunter  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, May 12, 2015 5:12:09 AM(UTC)
MNFishhunter
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 4/3/2013(UTC)
Posts: 401
Location: S.E. MN

Great report! I love all the species you caught.
DanE  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, May 12, 2015 5:56:32 AM(UTC)
DanE
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 9/18/2014(UTC)
Posts: 1,239
Location: Prairie Du Sac, WI

Great post and great weekend! ThumpUp
William Schlafer  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, May 12, 2015 7:09:21 AM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,419
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

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donjuan wrote:
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Well done! Love this photo.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
Ctrl_Alt_Dlt  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, May 12, 2015 7:11:54 AM(UTC)
Ctrl_Alt_Dlt
Rank: Midge

Joined: 3/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 121
Location: North Saint Paul

A fun read for sure. Thanks for sharing and posting.

mmalyuk  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, May 12, 2015 7:39:04 AM(UTC)
mmalyuk
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 4/24/2010(UTC)
Posts: 398
Location: western wisconsin

Thanks: 16 times
Was thanked: 25 time(s) in 17 post(s)
Very nice!
shebs  
#9 Posted : Tuesday, May 12, 2015 10:58:11 AM(UTC)
shebs
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 5/12/2014(UTC)
Posts: 1,042
Location: Mpls

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Looks like you had a hell of a weekend! ThumpUp

I love the annotated photo...now just add GPS coordinates to it and I'll let you know what the beast wanted Flapper
A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work. ~Author Unknown
Modern Translation, with respect for the Notorious B.I.G. : "Fuck Money, Get Fishes"
donjuan  
#10 Posted : Tuesday, May 12, 2015 4:52:28 PM(UTC)
donjuan
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 5/23/2011(UTC)
Posts: 418
Location: WI, IA

Thanks guys, it was a fun weekend and fun putting the story together.

ilikefood wrote:
Do you think the fish that "played" with you was acting defensively? Rather than attacking your bait, was he/she trying to chase it away from it's home?


Certainly seems like a possibility...the rap I was using had 3 treble hooks, so if the fish really had gotten anywhere close to actually biting it you would think I would have snagged it eventually. Has anyone else experienced that before?



shebs wrote:
I love the annotated photo...now just add GPS coordinates to it and I'll let you know what the beast wanted


If you can find the stream sampling report that says this:

Shamu got away (20" 6-7 lb brown trout) before we could get a picture

then you can try to go catch it. BigGrin


(although I think Shamu is probably even harder to fool)


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