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Iowa Driftless (Part 2)

October 19, 2017

October 17, 2017

Awoke with Tom Petty on the brain and thus the following Haikus that play on various song lyrics from the Tom Petty catalog.

Down A Stream

Find work creepin in

The wading is the hardest part

Running down a stream


Fly, fly, oh hell yes

It is good to be fishing

Somewhere I feel free

Great River

On the great river

one last cast to cure the pain

we will meet again

Trout Run

Running down a stream, or streams in this case.  Today’s barnstorming started with a visit to Trout Run.  Walked further down stream and started at a river bend that was jammed with wood.  Disappointingly, I only had one strike and was blanked at what I thought was a sure looking spot for a bruiser brown.  I was throwing a Panther Martin spinner due to narrow confines in the pools and the darker water.  Switched to a pink squirrel and pheasant tail nymph for the upstream riffle, run and pool, but nary a taker.  That patterned persisted, frustratingly. Switched it up by throwing the Panther Martin into the tail of a plunge pool and reeled in back and caught one small brown trout that was followed by three rainbows and another brown trout.  No luck after that and decided to head to the next spot.


Dinner ingredients


Trout with chorizo, caremlized onions, and cilantro. Picked up the idea from watching Rick Bayless. Saute the chorizo, add a sliced red onion, simmer with a dark cola of your choice, add some chopped cilantro. (Bayless used a dark lager – about 8 oz). Serve over pan fried trout and garnish with more cilantro. Delicious.

Trout River

Stopped at Casey’s convenience store for ice to keep the trout cool and headed off to Trout River, which is about six miles south and east of Decorah.  Spooked several fish as I made my way upstream.  Saw a small Brook Trout sitting at the tail of a run, which was followed by a couple of risers upstream.  I was rewarded a few casts later when a feisty brown struck the pheasant tail nymph fished below a hopper.  Small water again and I missed a couple more strikes before they got spooked. Immediately upstream there was a ninety degree bend in the river and a deep pool with dark water.  First cast with the spinner and caught another rainbow, which preceded another a couple casts later.

Switched  back to the hopper and PT dropper.  The hopper got caught up in the grass and the biggest brown of the trip dashed out from the bank to pound the nymph that was swirling about.  A nice 15″ plus inch fish that freed me from the bank and soon freed himself.  Nice fish.  No more action in that riffle run and moved upstream where I caught a Brook Trout on the Panther Martin to complete what I’ve labeled the Iowa Slam: Brookie, Brown and ‘Bow, all in the same river.  Caught a few more browns and rainbows before heading for the next stream.

Pine Creek

Back to Casey’s to get my coordinates and a slice of pizza.  The people at the table next to me at Pulpit Rock Brewing last night were noshing on a Casey’s pizza they had brought with them and I must admit it looked good.  A gooey slice of cheesy pizza dotted with sausage sounded scrumptious so I grabbed a slice before instructing Siri to get me to Pine Creek.

Pine Creek is small with some deep holes.  The Iowa DNR reports that some natural reproduction of browns takes place and that was what attracted me there.  Again, tight and brush filled banks that allowed little room for graceful fly casting.  Caught two small browns but missed a couple larger fish before moving on.



Scenic downstream pic of Pine Creek.


South Bear Creek

Arrived at South Bear Creek at about 3 p.m., thanks again to Siri for the precise guidance over gravel roads.  Siri, I couldn’t have done it without you.  Bigger water and bigger fish.

Caught a number of rainbows on a spinner and a scrappy brook trout on a pheasant tail. Some BWO were starting to rise as I packed up and headed a few miles away to North Bear Creek.


Classic “Driftless” geology

North Bear Creek

A quick jaunt north and east brought me to North Bear Creek.  Heading upstream and past another angler, I fished from a little before five to about six p.m.    The fish were feeding on BWO emergers.  Caught six browns, missed at least that many, if not more, and one plump rainbow.  Time to call it a day and scamper home.

This was an awesome trip and I encourage anyone looking to fish the Iowa Driftless region to give it a shot.  The scenery is splendid.  The fishing good and challenging, with opportunity for anglers of all walks and abilities. Plenty of campgrounds, B&B and hotel lodging opportunities.  The Iowa DNR does a fantastic job in providing numerous access points and paths that allow relatively easy access to the streams with little bushwhacking required. Visit the Iowa DNR online for helpful stream information and maps (the maps are awesome).  Nice to have some stocked fish for keeping because who doesn’t like to eat fish every once in awhile.  You can release the browns and brook trout to hopefully bring forth future generations.  I’m already planning my next trip.

One last Haiku inspired by a Duane Eddy interview on American Roots where he discussed his creative writing process and some of the themes that inspired him.

Shotgun Riders

My Shotgun Riders

Rebellion, loneliness

Flowing on drift less

– Hats






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