Driftless March 2012

Tuesday, May 08, 2012 , , , 5 Comments

Sorry for the delay on this guys. The joys of being a graduate student. I have been completely swamped with school work since returning from spring break. Thank goodness summer is in one week. Anyhow I hope you all enjoy this severely overdue report from the Driftless.

After Hazel Creek, Bret and I headed to Marshalltown Iowa to stay the night with my parents before heading up north. It was a welcome stop as it allowed a severely burnt Bret a chance to get some Aloe Vera and we were able to watch a scary but enjoyable KU v. Purdue game. Thank god the Jayhawks won, however slightly. 

I had only one hour of sleep the previous night so the first day we took advantage of a chance to sleep in, and got off to somewhat of a late start. Our destination and where we would be staying was Decorah, IA, but due to threats of storms and rain we augmented our initial plan to head straight for the Waterloo River, and instead decided to fish some of the stocked streams on the way up. Our first stop was Glovers Stream just outside of West Union. Located in a beautiful little valley and stocked with Rainbow's, Bret, my father, and I set up to start the trip right. The water however was pretty skinny, inches in most places, so where the fish were concentrated they tended to be fairly skittish. Bret did see his first wild Bald Eagle, which would be a sign of the 4 others we would see during the trip and I did manage a Rainbow on a size 26 black midge right before we left. Having fished Glovers for a few hours with limited success we continued north to Decorah. With daylight closing in we decided on Twin Springs within Decorah itself as our second and final destination for the first day. Fish were pretty sparse and few between in the spring but Bret did manage one at the Spring head on a Hare's Ear. 

Glovers Stream, West Union IA

Little Bow' caught on Black Midge under an Elk Hair Caddis. 

Twin Springs, Decorah IA. 

Bret's Rainbow on a Hares Ear. 

Day two we woke up bright and early and went to the catch and release area of the Waterloo river south of Dorchester. When we arrived we had a light rain and a heavy fog which only added to the mystique of this gem of a stream. We saw fish rising initially but were unable to fool them into any of our dry flies. The water was much deeper here so we all tied on wooly buggers and Bret managed two nice wild Brown's on an orange wooly bugger. We also saw an eagle's nest inhabited by two bald eagles. 

Bret throwing an Adam's to rising trout on the Waterloo. 

Waterloo Brown, Orange Wooly Bugger. 

Bald Eagle

My father trying to persuade some Brown's, nestled against the timber, to take his fly. 

Such beautiful country. 

Bret's second Waterloo Brown, Orange Wooly Bugger.

After my father left to go see my Great Aunt for her birthday, Bret and I headed off in pursuit of some new streams. First we tried Pine Creek, noted in the stream guide for holding wild Brooks, unfortunately we only saw one fish the entire time we walked it, so we left and went to the North Bear. The North Bear proved to be very productive and allowed me to finally knock the skunk off myself for the day. I caught five Browns and a Brook all on size 24 Brassie's. Bret also pulled a gorgeous Brook on a Zebra Midge. 

Though we didn't catch any fish at Pine Creek I did find a friend. Common Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis. 

Finally, a Brown. 

Good to see, a healthy young population. Caught two this size. 

A beautiful Brook, caught by Bret. Zebra Midge. It was nice that Bret and I all caught the three species of trout represented in the Drifless during the trip. Next time, aiming for all three in one day. 

My second North Bear Brown. Brassie. 

Bret throwing in the North Bear. 

First Brook Trout of my life. 3/4 lb. Brassie. 

Some ripples just north of where Bret caught his Brook. 

Last Brown of the day, still caught on the North Bear but at an access point north. 

The last day we fished the French for most of the day. The French may be one of the most beautiful, pristine streams I have ever fished. It only contains wild Brooks and Browns. Catch and release only as well as only limited to artificial lures. The density of trout we saw was crazy and they were incredibly beautiful. We fished it for hours, but no hook ups. The fish were very spookish and at some times if you didn't crawl to the streams edge you would scare them all away. Regardless, it felt like an honor to fish there and didn't upset me at all to get beaten by such a beautiful area. 

After the French Creek, we went back to the Waterloo, found a bunch of Carp, though they were in spawn and not too interested in our flies. Bret did have a brief hook up with one, but it got off. We fished down stream for a bit and I finished the day by catching one Brown on a Zebra Midge. 

French Creek with Beaver dam. 

As you can tell the water is crystal clear at French Creek. Trout density is 2500 per square mile according to the Iowa DNR. Getting one to take the fly is another game in itself. 

Close up of an Adam's Dry, set up with an unpictured midge as a trailer. 

Hard to believe this is Iowa. 

Bret fishing the Waterloo. 

Until next time. 


Sweet report man...Lots of good stuff in that post , brings back good memories for sure.
French Creek is by far my favorite. I have fished to 10# wild browns in that creek , havn't caught him yet but he's there. Those fish in upper French are super spooky and you have to really work for em. The pasture section fishes incredible at times , some of my best days up there have been on that piece of water. Waterloo is killer as well , especially the stretch below town.
Glad you guys had a great trip.

Atlas said...

Yes I loved the French, so incredibly beautiful! I cannot wait to get back there. Any suggestions on catching them? I am thinking a longer leader next time.

And yes the Waterloo below town is where Bret caught the two browns. We were all using streamers and I didn't try any midges or nymphs, had I, I am certain I would have hauled one in.

Unknown said...

Great report! Can't believe that was Iowa either. Looks so pretty. Can't wait to go on trips like that someday with my wife.

Unknown said...

By the way, definitely following your blog. Here's mine: http://sparetimefish.blogspot.com

Atlas said...

Thank you very much sir, I will be checking out your site for sure. I appreciate the feedback.