2013: The Year in 9:04

2013.  Another year of getting closer still to the true meaning of fly fishing.  Last year, we brought you the written story.  This year, we bring you the filmed story.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the Driftless scenery and trout as the words of Dave Matthews Band and Coldplay drift through your speakers.

Life is great.  Do what you like.  Like what you do.

Happiness is the Truth!

Spirit Streams

Welcome to the Iowa Driftless – February 23, 2013

  • 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

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The Big Bow & Trout in Numbers – February 16, 2013

  • Stream Location: MN Driftless
  • Air Temperature: 20 °F
  • Water Temperature: 43 °F
  • Other Conditions: Sunny, clear, no wind.  Perfect day in the Driftless.
  • Distance Hiked: 4.25 miles
  • What Worked Best: Swinging & working streamers


I arrived at my home a few days ago to see a tall, slender box leaning against my door.  That can only mean one thing…the new replacement 3-weight rod has arrived.  Excited to give this thing a real test, I planned to focus on one stream in the Minnesota Driftless today.  I read up on this stream not long ago and figured I’d give it a go.  It ended up being well worth the 1+ hour drive.  To this point, this stream is easily in my top 3 of the MN Driftless and the top winter stream.


Upon arrival, the air temperature was 20° and the stream temperature was a winter season ideal 43°.  After covering a little ground, it was easy to see that this section of the stream received considerable trout habitat improvements.  It was absolutely loaded with riffle, run, pool followed by riffle, run, pool and numerous lunker structures that provide cover for trout underneath the stream banks.


I quickly started seeing several hits and lost a couple as I worked my streamer within the runs/pools and even below riffles.  I was actually quite surprised with the action received while fishing the riffles today.  I stealthily approached the next run, making sure to keep my profile low.  Then I flipped my fly across the stream, letting it work within the prime zone.  So clearly I could see a brown trout take the fly; I sharply set the hook and worked him in.


The pool immediately following the run where I landed the brown trout looked amazingly trouty.  The pool itself was deep and longer and there was a nice undercut bank closest to me.  I approached this pool by knee and covered it thoroughly with varying presentations.  I received quite a few hits in the pool itself but no hookups.  Normally I only work a riffle/run/pool long enough to cover all of the trout zones, then I move on.  I had a feeling about this pool though so I worked it a little longer.  I let the streamer drift toward the undercut bank and hesitated it in this area for a time.  Boom!  The streamer was absolutely slammed.  This was a Big Boy.  The reel went screaming for a while as he darted to the end of the pool and back toward the undercut bank.  This lasted for a good 3-4 minutes and the feel of this trout on my 3-weight rod was beautiful.  Eventually he allowed himself to succumb.  I admired the patterns, colors, and thickness of this trout.  Quite the rainbow and quite the stream.


After having a celebratory cup of coffee, I continued downstream and realized more success within most every hole.  I just kept on working my way further and further downstream.  I knew I had to be getting up there in miles covered but I still felt so fresh.  The anticipation that each hole of this stream brought was invigorating.


I followed the stream all the way to the mouth where it drains into the main river then reversed ground and re-covered my favorite holes on the way back.  I came back to a nice, long undercut bank which I didn’t have much action on the way down.  Flipped the streamer and worked it in the prime zone, then lifted my rod bringing the fly toward the surface.  A large brown quickly attacked the streamer in an instant.  Man, this stream is something else.


Walking back toward the car and seeing a bald eagle flying overhead, there’s no other way I’d rather spend a 20° February day.


– Spirit Streams

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