Saturday, June 20, 2015

RT 2015 - Truly wild

Picking back up from where I left off.  After a 2.5 days of getting my bearings and perfecting (humor intended) my craft I was ready to tackle the one stream in NEIA that,"maintains an undisturbed population of Iowas only surviving brook trout.  They are genetically different than all others world wide."  True wild trout and I was ready to see if I could land one of these true IA treasures.

Getting to the creek is no small task.  It's a mile hike down a well manicured path into the valley, and it's steep...that also means climbing back out.  It was about 85f when I went.  The creek is lined with vegetation that bites...briers, thorns, something that when it sticks you, burns like a sting from a fire ant for 30 minutes.

creek at bottom of ravine

About 3 of these to descend/ascend

All of these are found on several other streams just not the same populations.  They formed a protective wall around the creek.  It was like they were the gate keepers to this special place.  Access had to be earned.  Waders would have been nice just to protect my legs but it was absolutely worth all the sweat and blood lost.

I approached the creek in stealth mode.  Walking slowly, not moving much brush, keeping the sun in my face to not cast a shadow over the water.  I was lucky to sneak up on some trout feeding and got to watch where they set-up and ambushed their prey.  After watching the brookies dart out from the undercut bank and grab something from the surface I was ready to make a presentation.

The creek is small and it took a few casts to get a fly in the right spot.  The targeted area was the fall out of a small riffle protected by over hanging brush.  It was about the size of a dinner plate.  The EHC landed, drifted a couple inches, and a wild brook trout exploded on it.  Something so small was full of fight.  I enjoyed every moment.  I netted the little guy.  Removed the hook and went to capture the moment with my camera.  In an instant, my first wild brook trout slipped through a hole in the net.  Thought to myself, I was fortunate to have caught that, probably won't catch another, and I'll be the only person who knows.  That's cool with me.

It wasn't but a few minutes later and I had another in the net.  Followed that with another.  Decided to explore the rest of the stream.  Found a few more feeding trout but lack of talent kept me from landing anymore.

I covered about a mile of water and had a good idea where the good water was now.  It was about 6 pm and I started stalking the same water with my recently acquired intelligence.  It was nothing short of spectacular.  I caught fish from every type of holding water.  But the highlight was a deep hole that held about 10 feeding trout.

I set up behind a riffle that fell in to a deep hole shaped like an "L".  I couldn't see the feeding activity after the bend, but I could hear it.  For about 15 minutes, it was a fish almost every cast.  Some were at the head, some in the bend, some at the end.  I worked my way from the back to avoid spooking the hole.  Watching a brook trout leap out of the water to intercept a falling EHC was nothing short of spectacular.  I'll never forget the sight!

It was time to hike out and I left knowing, that I had just validated this road trip.  Good thing too!
Thursday morning I woke up to a torrential down pour.  Being off the grid, I was unaware of the weather.  I drove out to the nearest city with cell service and discovered the area was under flash flood watch, 2-3 inches of rain forecast for the area.  Anticipating everything being blown out I packed my gear and made a new plan.

Pointed the truck south and headed to MO.  Stopped at the Current River and caught a few rainbows and 1 brown on a dry fly.  Wanted to camp but man that place was crazy.  Decided to drive back into AR and do a smallmouth bass float instead.

Current River Brown

The good thing about having a truck full of camping gear is I'm prepared for most situations.  Packed the kayak with what I needed for a gravel bar overnighter and I was on the water by noon.  The fishing was phenomenal few more pics.

To be continued....

Road Trip 2015 - NEI Driftless
RT 2015 Part 1

RT 2015 - AR Ozarks SMB (part 3):
SMB float 

RT 2015 - AR tailwaters (part 4):
AR tailwaters (part 4)


  1. Drew
    An outing that good is worth the pain to land some absolute stunning brook trout; I am so into those type streams you were fishing. Once there, you had so many places to cast your fly to encounter some fantastic action. What length fly rod and weight were you using? Thanks for sharing

    1. It was pretty cool. I'm gonna make a point to visit more small streams in the future. I used my 9'5wt...but I wish I had taken the 3wt that I borrowed. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect so I packed in what I was familiar with...but I'll downsize for the return trip.