Driftless Trout Anglers

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donjuan  
#1 Posted : Thursday, July 21, 2016 2:17:02 PM(UTC)
donjuan
Rank: Dragon Fly

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

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It's been sitting in the delivery box, on the Rorschach blotch of grease stains now readily visible after the rest of the cheesy treat was voraciously consumed last night. Maybe the crust was a little too intrusive on this piece; maybe the pepperoni wasn't crisp enough. For whatever reason, it wasn't selected in last night's pizza draft and had to watch the action from the sidelines. Now it's probably been 10 hours since you fought off the urge to explore healthier options (Phew! That was close) and placed the delivery call. The cheese is definitely hard, the crust is curling up at the vertex angle of the slice. You should probably just slide that last piece right into the trash and grab a banana, but you won't. Because hey, its pizza. And who can turn that down?

So you'll probably read this report, even though it's likely to be growing mold at this time and maybe even hazardous to your health. I was out a handful of times in May and early June, but never had much of a chance to post. Here's a quick recap:

I fished Iowa in early May, getting into a combination of smallmouth and browns. I fished through a long stretch that I get to once a year if I'm lucky. I still feel like there are bigger fish here than what I have caught, but I can't complain about a steady stream of 14-18" browns.

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The rough terrain means I see few (if any) people but a lot of wildlife. On this particular trip, I happened upon a gaggle of geese that had adopted a not-so-goose-like member:

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But I was more interested in these guys

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and in the requisite redhorse snagging

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This fish came out of pocket water that couldn't have been more than 16" deep with a violent strike when I had about 6 feet of line out

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In the afternoon, I ventured further into the Iowan driftless and fished a few specific locations in a consistent rain. I almost turned back after striking out at the first location but as long as I was here, I decided I'd keep following my original plan, which turned out to be a dynamite decision.

Here's my first selfish (copyright Eddie Rivard) attempt...maybe I'll just stick to my traditional shots.

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I really like the contrasts in this picture

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After multiple empty casts into what I thought was the hot spot of a big hole, I was just about to call it when BAM this big ol' brown crushed my stickbait.

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Taped at 23", which is my longest brown of the year.

Wouldn't you know it, the very next cast was another 20" fish. That has happened to me multiple times now in the last year, and it really surprises me every time.

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What a great day to play in the rain.

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Back home in Wisconsin, I had been exploring a significant portion of a stream I had previously dabbled with, but never really put in the effort required. This is not the type of water I typically spend much time on or enjoy fishing. But there are just enough breaks through the crazy streamside growth, and just enough fish to keep it interesting.

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Once I start fishing a new stream, I often become somewhat obsessed with it to the point of forcing myself to forge my way through long stretches just so I can see the whole stream and not feel like I'm missing out on something "just around the next bend". One of the interesting things about doing this is that I often see significant changes within the same stream - one section had particularly soft mucky substrate, another was quite rocky, another was mostly sandy. Despite all the branches and foliage, some of these sections weren't bad wading at all while others were pretty awful.

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This is a brown/brookie combo stream, another rarity for me. Mostly hand-sized brooks with a few browns here and there. In a stream like this, after all the little guys, catching a reasonable sized brown like this 16" fish was ridiculously fun; on small tackle in close quarters this felt like a much bigger fish.

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Late one evening I was finishing up the tail end of a previously unfished stretch when I came to what looked like a large and relatively deep pool with a bottleneck at the top and significant current flowing down into the large circular basin. On the first cast I had a follow from a solid sized brown trout (looked 16-17ish) but my spinner had caught up on a rock and the alteration in its motion made the fish turn away at the last second. I was frustrated thinking I missed the big fish in the pool, but in reality, I was probably lucky not to hook this fish. On the very next cast, about 10 feet upstream from where I saw the first fish, I hooked up with a much larger brown. This was the most fun I have had catching a trout all year - using relatively light gear, drag set too light, no good place near shore to try and land it - that fish pulled me all over the pool and I'm shocked I did not lose it. That was way too much fun.

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We fished Iowa one more time in late May, catching a few more browns and a handful of warmwater fish. The trout were less aggressive at this point - I walked a long ways and didn't catch too much besides a half dozen normal sized smallmouth and this one exquisite looking brown.

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The evenings were a little better. Mrs. Donjuan caught this sweet sauger and I demonstrated catch and release in action (or the inability of trout to learn from experience, one or the other) as she had previously caught this same brown about 3 weeks ago.

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One specific run produced 4 solid sized browns from 16-18".

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My most recent trout fishing trip was early June. A friend who had never trout fished before wanted to give it a try, and where do you take someone for their first crack at the wily stream trout? The Kinni, of course! I hadn't fished the lower kinni in 4 years at this point, but my instincts were right in that things were just about how I remember them - lots of action, incredible scenery,
and lots of competition. We started at 5:30 am and I think we were pretty lucky to be the first ones to the access point. My friend caught a dozen trout and missed many more on a classic panther martin, while I landed a few larger fish up to around 16" on floating raps. On the way out I think we walked past 5 groups of 2-3 anglers...and the kayakers hadn't even started yet. I think I'll head back to Iowa...

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Yum, cold pizza.

Edited by user Friday, July 22, 2016 1:23:23 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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vmthtr in Green Bay  
#2 Posted : Thursday, July 21, 2016 2:33:32 PM(UTC)
vmthtr in Green Bay
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 3/6/2012(UTC)
Posts: 410
Location: Green Bay WI

Thanks: 6 times
Was thanked: 3 time(s) in 3 post(s)
Wow, looks like a great area. Thanks for posting
West Branch  
#3 Posted : Thursday, July 21, 2016 3:47:34 PM(UTC)
West Branch
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 9/23/2012(UTC)
Posts: 183
Location: West Branch, IA

Zow! That is a bunch of big fish. I'm pretty sure that I recognize the Iowa water you're fishing, though it's not a river I hit very often. An expedition may be in order since my wife likes to camp in the area.

Great report, as usual!

Edited by user Thursday, July 21, 2016 3:50:59 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Jumpsuit  
#4 Posted : Thursday, July 21, 2016 5:59:06 PM(UTC)
Jumpsuit
Rank: Midge

Joined: 5/2/2013(UTC)
Posts: 58
Man
Location: Eastern Iowa

Thanks: 3 times
Was thanked: 4 time(s) in 4 post(s)
Very nice sir.

Edited by user Thursday, July 21, 2016 5:59:39 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

EddieRivard  
#5 Posted : Friday, July 22, 2016 6:47:01 AM(UTC)
EddieRivard
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 7/26/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,175
Location: New Brighton MN

Thanks: 59 times
Was thanked: 20 time(s) in 13 post(s)
donjuan wrote:


Here's my first selfish (copyright Eddie Rivard) attempt...maybe I'll just stick to my traditional shots.

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Nice selfish and nice report in general. I always look for the lure in every shot just to see what you are getting these beasts on. Do you favor one color scheme of Floating Rapala over the others. I still have quite a few leftover from my days as a spinster. I recently stumbled across a creek that struck me as being custom made for spinning gear and was thinking about knocking the dust off. ThumpUp
donjuan  
#6 Posted : Friday, July 22, 2016 2:09:38 PM(UTC)
donjuan
Rank: Dragon Fly

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

EddieRivard wrote:
donjuan wrote:


Here's my first selfish (copyright Eddie Rivard) attempt...maybe I'll just stick to my traditional shots.

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Nice selfish and nice report in general. I always look for the lure in every shot just to see what you are getting these beasts on. Do you favor one color scheme of Floating Rapala over the others. I still have quite a few leftover from my days as a spinster. I recently stumbled across a creek that struck me as being custom made for spinning gear and was thinking about knocking the dust off. ThumpUp



Yeahhhh do it! I've tried a reasonable variety of colors/models and always looking for new styles to try, but in reality I doubt the color makes as much of a difference as I want to believe. In rain or cloudy water I almost always try something shiny first, and that generally seems to be a solid approach. Overall I think you can't beat raps in the brown trout colorway.

Last Saturday my wife and I fished bigger water where I've fished trout early in the year but turns into a solid smallmouth destination this time of year. She was pretty easily outfishing me using a shiny panther martin and we had a ton of smallmouth action, although most were on the smaller side.

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We came up to the corner of the run shown in the last picture and had both made many casts when I looked down just in time to see a large trout absolutely crush my brown trout floating rap when I had about 6 feet of line out. I pulled to one direction to keep the line tight and the fish did a crazy flying leap and almost hit my wife in the face. Ten seconds later I still couldn't quite get it under control and it managed to free itself before we could get it in the net. I thought it was around 20", Mrs. Donjuan thought larger. Hard to say. But that was quite an exciting end to our outing. Water temp was 68 degrees, and I think the cool weather in the few days prior might have contributed to the trout activity where you wouldn't expect it this time of year (I did have a few other trout follows and my wife caught one 8" brown).

So yeah, I'd start with the brown trout color. ThumpUp
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