Driftless Trout Anglers

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TreArrow
#1 Posted : Saturday, April 04, 2015 3:25:31 AM
Rank: May Fly


Joined: 4/15/2013
Posts: 177
Location: Blackduck, MN
Headed home yesterday to visit my family and decided to stop in Iowa to see if I couldn't catch dinner for my parents on the way home. Found the streams in perfect shape, relatively clear, 56F and with smattering of dark hendricksons. Needless to say the trout were more than cooperative and managed a nice catch of them on pink squirrels. As a first time angler in Iowa I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fisheries.





Was hoping for a driftless grand slam, saw brookies but couldn't manage any.

Unfortunately also saw a lot of badly eroding streambanks and silty mucky steam beds; its clear that in the balance beween conservation and agriculture, Iowa definitely favors ag, to the detriment of water quality. Too bad. Made me thankful for the more rigorous conservation practices of WI and MN. Also for the life of me I can't understand why they dump so many stokcer rainbows in these streams, some of them were THICK with stockers even though there were plenty of wild browns. At any rate, if you're struggling with cold water and uncooperative trout, Iowa may be just the ticket.
trapper
#2 Posted : Saturday, April 04, 2015 5:01:56 AM
Rank: Super Fly


Joined: 3/24/2010
Posts: 2,079
Location: West Fork
Cmac and I were there for a session in January, but it was nasty, we shall return

NE Iowa has many prospects

My intel tells me Mn has more..

All within day trippin

Are you in the Heart of the Driftless?
Get Reel



TreArrow
#3 Posted : Saturday, April 04, 2015 3:02:41 PM
Rank: May Fly


Joined: 4/15/2013
Posts: 177
Location: Blackduck, MN
I wish I was in the Heart of the Driftless! I'm from SE WI living in the Twin Cities at the moment.
mbchilton
#4 Posted : Saturday, April 04, 2015 4:32:47 PM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 12/16/2012
Posts: 336
Location: Decorah
Streams just got their first stockings of the year, so that's probably why you saw so many bows. We are heading toward more of a wild trout fishery, but it's a process. Iowans like to keep trout, so that's part of the reason they stock so many bows. I wish they'd do a length limit on browns and brooks only.
NBrevitz
#5 Posted : Saturday, April 04, 2015 5:26:42 PM
Rank: Super Fly


Joined: 3/17/2013
Posts: 1,132
Location: Lake Elmo, Mn
mbchilton wrote:
Streams just got their first stockings of the year, so that's probably why you saw so many bows. We are heading toward more of a wild trout fishery, but it's a process. Iowans like to keep trout, so that's part of the reason they stock so many bows. I wish they'd do a length limit on browns and brooks only.

I'd be interested to see Iowa and Wisconsin gravitate towards more wild fisheries. More fish can then be stocked into streams that can't support any reproduction. Win-win
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
TreArrow
#6 Posted : Saturday, April 04, 2015 5:52:18 PM
Rank: May Fly


Joined: 4/15/2013
Posts: 177
Location: Blackduck, MN
I may be wrong here, but doesn't WI already do a lot of wild fish management, isn't that the point of the 3 class trout stream system. I always though WI DNR looked to the Monatana model of fisheries management (at least since 1997), of eliminating stocking where wild populations exist. Grant it there is room for improvement, but I think what the WI DNR does already focus a lot on habitat and tends to use wild strain fish when they stock. I know Iowa does with their browns and brooks but doesn't seem to be the case with their bows.

Is there something I'm missing here NBrevitz? Just curious what your perspective is.
West Branch
#7 Posted : Saturday, April 04, 2015 8:04:15 PM
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 9/23/2012
Posts: 182
Location: West Branch, IA
The rainbows are there to protect the wild fish. Guys show up at the creek and throw sweet corn or cheese balls to freshly stocked rainbows, quickly catch their limit and go home. No self respecting wild fish would be anywhere near these offerings that the stocker 'bows suck in like Purina Trout Chow. The wild browns are seldom caught by many Iowa trout fisherman.

Last year at Little Paint Creek in the Yellow River Forest I encountered some locals with a stringer full of rainbows. We chatted a bit and I asked if they ever caught many browns in Little Paint. They couldn't recall catching very many brown trout, though they had seen lots of them. They went on their way and I thew some dry flies at rising fish. I immediately caught a half a dozen small browns that would have run in terror had they been clunked on the head with power bait.

You kind of have to spend a bit of time figuring out the Iowa trout fishery. Fortunately, there is a little something for everyone. Some of us tend to gravitate toward streams with wild fish populations, knowing that there are plenty of stocked rainbows to keep the "kill your limit" anglers happy. Remember though, Grant County, Wisconsin has more miles of trout water that all of Iowa. The Iowa DNR has the unenviable task of trying to keep a bunch of anglers--all with differing ideas about trout fishing--happy at the same time.
NBrevitz
#8 Posted : Saturday, April 04, 2015 11:20:50 PM
Rank: Super Fly


Joined: 3/17/2013
Posts: 1,132
Location: Lake Elmo, Mn
TreArrow wrote:
I may be wrong here, but doesn't WI already do a lot of wild fish management, isn't that the point of the 3 class trout stream system. I always though WI DNR looked to the Monatana model of fisheries management (at least since 1997), of eliminating stocking where wild populations exist. Grant it there is room for improvement, but I think what the WI DNR does already focus a lot on habitat and tends to use wild strain fish when they stock. I know Iowa does with their browns and brooks but doesn't seem to be the case with their bows.

Is there something I'm missing here NBrevitz? Just curious what your perspective is.

I just look at it from the streams that they do stock. Some fisheries, they just seem to throw 'bows in despite large populations of Browns and or Brookies. I can understand trying to protect the Iowan fish, but WI has so much Trout water, I don't see the need to stock any fish in most areas, especially Rainbows which rarely carryover, the strains are far too mixed in hatchery fish. In Michigan it works out since they just become Steelhead, in the Driftless they can become a wasted resource.The streams that need to be stocked are on the Eastern end of the state. Maybe if they reduced the # of fish stocked in the Driftless, there could be more streams opened to put-and-take fishing elsewhere. More Trout water is never a bad thing
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
mbchilton
#9 Posted : Thursday, June 15, 2017 3:07:28 AM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 12/16/2012
Posts: 336
Location: Decorah
West Branch wrote:
Remember though, Grant County, Wisconsin has more miles of trout water that all of Iowa. The Iowa DNR has the unenviable task of trying to keep a bunch of anglers--all with differing ideas about trout fishing--happy at the same time.


Found this old thread and wanted to ask you about this West Branch. Where did you get your numbers for miles of Iowa trout streams? According to my contacts at the DNR, Iowa has approximately 125 miles of trout water open to the public, and 500+ total miles of trout streams.
ilikefood
#10 Posted : Saturday, June 17, 2017 8:11:35 PM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 6/30/2011
Posts: 491
Location: River Falls, WI
mbchilton wrote:
West Branch wrote:
Remember though, Grant County, Wisconsin has more miles of trout water that all of Iowa. The Iowa DNR has the unenviable task of trying to keep a bunch of anglers--all with differing ideas about trout fishing--happy at the same time.


Found this old thread and wanted to ask you about this West Branch. Where did you get your numbers for miles of Iowa trout streams? According to my contacts at the DNR, Iowa has approximately 125 miles of trout water open to the public, and 500+ total miles of trout streams.



I don't know where West Branch found that data. If someone was interested, they could add up the miles of classified streams in Grant County by looking here: http://dnr.wi.gov/water/troutlist.aspx?code=grant

Just for fun, I tried to add some up in my head. There is probably more than 150 miles of classified streams in Grant County, but probably not 500 miles.

According to the WI DNR, Wisconsin has "2,989 trout streams stretching more than 13,175.82 miles, up from 2,677 streams and 9,562 miles in 1980. Those gains reflect improved farming practices, habitat protection and restoration work, regulations, stocking of wild strain fish, and other factors." (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/trout/streammaps.html) We are very fortunate to have access to so many miles of fantastic trout streams. I hope stream quality can continue to improve for years to come.
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).
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