Driftless Trout Anglers

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trapper
#11 Posted : Saturday, June 17, 2017 8:32:35 PM
Rank: Super Fly


Joined: 3/24/2010
Posts: 2,083
Location: West Fork
Iowa provided a few today- on ice...
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West Branch
#12 Posted : Monday, June 19, 2017 3:39:59 AM
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 9/23/2012
Posts: 182
Location: West Branch, IA
I was certainly thinking of trout water that is accessible to a wading angler. While there may be 500 miles of possible trout habitat in Iowa, the vast majority of this is private property where the stream bed is off limits. Unless you have a good relationship with land owners in the area, a trout fisherman in Iowa has limited choices.

A quick glance at the Iowa trout map tells the story. Tiny portions of what are probably viable trout streams are open to public fishing. Stories abound in farm country about the guy who pulled a motorist out to the mud with a tractor, only to be sued by the motorist's insurance company for damaging their car while doing a good deed. This often causes a polite request to fish private streams to be met with a comment like, "I don't want anybody messing around in my pasture."

Contrast this with Wisconsin, where a wading angler has the ability to fish just about any water that has a bridge access. My quick calculation shows about 388 miles of classified trout water in Grant county. Even if only half that water is readily accessible, at 194 miles that is still more fishable water than Iowa has.

Also consider that there are still quite a few streams on the Iowa trout map that don't have self-sustaining populations of trout. Some of the streams shown are actually warm water streams stocked with trout in the spring and fall.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely do not want to disparage trout streams in Iowa or the monumental efforts that the DNR has put into habitat improvements. Add to that the excellent management desicions the DNR has made by stocking wild strain browns into many streams. The result has been a phenomenal increase in wild trout numbers over the last 15 years.

Iowa trout anglers are justifably proud of the improving fishery in our state. The fact that there is simply less habitat than in the Wisconsin Driftless, along with unfavorable stream access laws, often causes us to look across the river with a bit of envy.
mbchilton
#13 Posted : Monday, June 19, 2017 2:25:20 PM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 12/16/2012
Posts: 337
Location: Decorah
I'd like to politely disagree with a few statements. Please don't take this the wrong way. Just wanting to have some friendly back and forth.

You're correct that the majority of our trout water is private. However, I believe this should still be counted. Just because it's private doesn't mean you can't fish it. In most cases, the property owner will give permission to an angler who asks for it. I've yet to be turned down, and I've fished some of the most enviable private water in the state. The more people ask to fish this private water and provide positive experiences for landowners, the more likely it is that some of this water will be opened to the public permanently.

In regard to your statement about the non-reproducing and warmwater streams, it's confirmed that about 50 streams have natural reproduction. Only 2 stocked streams are warmwater, and they are the western most streams not located in the Driftless.

It's true, Iowa doesn't have the amount of water Wisconsin and Minnesota have, but we also don't publish all the trout streams.
West Branch
#14 Posted : Monday, June 19, 2017 2:56:11 PM
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 9/23/2012
Posts: 182
Location: West Branch, IA
Splitting hairs over what streams to count is probably a fruitless endeavor. The larger point being that while Iowa has a handful of public streams that would please any angler, wherever they might have fished on the planet, the streams are few in number compared to other parts of the Driftless Area. In citing Grant County, Wisconsin as an area with plentiful trout streams I was hoping to underscore the fact that Iowa's trout fishery is limited and delicate. A "put and take" stocking program persisted for decades that conditioned anglers to kill fish before someone else did.

Fortunately things have turned around in Iowa, but old attitudes about filling the freezer with trout are still common. Regardless of the number of stream miles in our state, the fishery remains fragile in many areas. My primary point is that because we aren't so blessed with trout water as our neighbors, we need to approach trout fishing for wild fish as conservationists. I hope that is something we can all agree upon.
AutobotTrainer
#15 Posted : Wednesday, June 21, 2017 7:45:19 PM
Rank: Caddis Fly



Joined: 9/3/2015
Posts: 152
Location: Ely, IA
I haven't been on in some time, but I'm glad to add to this discussion about Iowa streams. Since coming here in 1996, the conditions of Iowa coldwater has improved at a rate I never expected.

Unfortunately, I get the sense all of this progress has been made by landowners, anglers, and conservationists that has cost a lot of time and money that is quickly undone by ag interests. Look at the hog confinement going through in Allamakee county. Water quality and erosion issues continue to be an issue that the Iowa Farm Bureau ignores or denies. The budget for the Iowa DNR continues to be cut. Right now we are seeing staff layoffs and public park cost reductions, but how long until that hits the fishery programs? I know our Trout Stamp helps pay for the program, but that can only do so much against a legislative culture that is "farm first, farm fast, farm only". I'm not anti-farmer, I grew up on a small hog farm in Michigan. But Iowa doesn't seem to be moving in the right direction from a natural resource management perspective.

We have come a long way, and our wild streams are slowly increasing, but I feel like unless we get more conservation legislation passed, it will all be for naught.
No thing created by man is infallible.
AutobotTrainer
#16 Posted : Wednesday, June 21, 2017 8:51:29 PM
Rank: Caddis Fly



Joined: 9/3/2015
Posts: 152
Location: Ely, IA
Oh, and on a totally random tangent: Fished McCleod Run this week for the first time in a year. I'm happy to say things look much improved since the fish kill. I even brought a 7' Brook to shore.
No thing created by man is infallible.
West Branch
#17 Posted : Wednesday, June 21, 2017 11:39:37 PM
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 9/23/2012
Posts: 182
Location: West Branch, IA
Yep. McCloud Run seems to be coming back from the brink. Had a couple of hours to kill recently and fished the lower section. I picked up eight or nine fish up to about 10". Mostly browns, but a couple of brookies. Fingers crossed.
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