- Stream Location: IA Driftless
- Air Temperature: 27 °F
- Water Temperature: 34 °F (Stream #1) 46 °F (Stream #2)
- Other Conditions: Sunny, clear, no wind
- Distance Hiked: 3.75 miles
- What Worked Best: Swinging, working, and stripping streamers
Since October 2012, I’ve explored 11 different trout streams located in the Iowa Driftless Area and have about 7 more targeted on my radar. The nice thing about Iowa is that you can trout fish year-round. They have no off-season mainly due to their extensive stocking program. Whereas in Wisconsin and Minnesota, there are a lot more natural trout factories where you have the opportunity to fly fish for wild trout in most streams. Make no mistake though, Iowa does have some opportunities for wild trout and in fact my largest brown trout last year was caught on an Iowa Driftless stream. Although the Iowa Driftless scenery alone will keep you coming back.
Today, we wanted to hit three different streams. Two of those streams I’ve been to before, but wanted to cover different sections. Upon arrival at stream #1, it was narrow and water levels were low. We saw a few trout scatter while looking over the bridge as we eyed it’s flow bumping up to and following a Driftless bluff. It was a beautiful little creek, but the water levels were too low for winter fishing. I’ll be back in spring.
Arriving at stream #2, we started at the lower section mainly to just get a feel for this area of the stream. Like stream #1, this section had very low water levels and the water temperature was a cold 34°. After spending a little time here, we tossed our rods in the Driftless cruiser and headed upstream to a section I covered in late 2012. I knew this was a good section and would provide some deeper holes where the trout would be hiding with the cold water temperature.
I was experimenting with The Red Storm; wanting to determine the effectiveness of this new pattern. We began a bit upstream from where I had originally covered this section and came across a deep, long pool at a bend in the stream. Two casts with The Red Storm and a brown nailed it, no questions asked. Considering the water temperature was so cold, this was a good sign for the new pattern. I continued to work this hole and realized additional strikes.
Continuing downstream, I glanced at the snow and noticed several midges. I watched them crawl along the snow and then eventually spread their wings and take flight. This was captured in a few macro shots with my camera.
A little before 1:00, we moved onto one of Iowa’s more well known trout streams. It is a year-round C&R section and received considerable stream improvements. It’s a good section, but difficult to not find someone else on it during the warmer months. Hiking to the first hole, I not only noticed more midges on the snow, but there were also little black stoneflies which was a good sign. The stream temperature was 46°, quite the change from the other streams! Quickly I began feeling several strikes on The Red Storm and hauled in a few nice trout.
We continued to work downstream and while I was covering another solid-looking-hole, I heard Darren yell and saw his rod a-bendin’. I crossed the stream to get to the side he was covering and saw the look of gratification on his face. There’s nothing like the first time of catching a nice trout on a fly that you have tied. It’s that point when you have completed the circle. You tied the fly, chose the correct pattern for the conditions, stealthily approached the hole to not spook the trout, effectively presented the fly, sharply set the hook, carefully fought and landed him, and gracefully released him back into the gin-clear stream. That’s what we call completing the fly fishing circle. It gives you a feeling of gratification each and every time, but none quite as gratifying as the first time.
– Spirit Streams