Just passed a five week period during which I logged 2 hours of fishing (on last day of catch and release trout). A lot of good time at home. And in fact, I've been really enjoying that time. I like being at home. It is afterall my home. So happened that someone sent me this note though, at 16:05 on October 20th:
This weekend’s full moon is also known as the "blood Moon” ,natives would hunt by moonlight and start stocking up on meat for the winter.
Got me thinking a little and looking ahead to the weather forecast. It was noted that Friday, October 22 was set to be about as good as a person could ask for. It was also noted that beyond that day, things were going to take a turn. So a plan was put in place. Thursday night was some light prep. The 2 wt that had been carefully cleaned and set aside was picked up. The chest pack was emptied, cleaned and reloaded. Coffee ground and set in oney-pot. Waders folded neatly atop boots in gear bag. Maps were examined. Etc. Time was burned on the God-forsaken computer trying to determine whether or not my 2009 Iowa trout stamp is still good (don’t know to this minute). Sleep was spotty. Kids came in around 4:11 hours. Sleep was spottier.
Pulled away from the house at 6:09. Driving south to Iowa - land of continuous trout season.
The fishing report can be summarized as follows:
(1) The time stamp on the pic of the four rainbows below is 9:04. By that time, I’d caught maybe a dozen fish. So left house in MN around 6 AM, and three hours later had touched a dozen out-of-state trout. Not a bad start to the day. Nymphing, even in the hands of an amateur, can be deadly and border-line cheating. I showed these fish a tandem rig of a BH orange scud and the most basic #18 HE you can tie. They seemed to eat these flies with abandon. In approximate alternating fashion: scud, HE, scud, HE… etc. I stopped at four kept fish because I was not sure (and still not sure) if one can keep fishing once limit has been had. Figured I’d fish a while and then knock one more on the way out (which was done). Had more good success nymphing through ~10:30 AM.
(2) Right around that time, many folks started showing up. Also at that time, a significant lull came on. Pretty much dead from 10:30 to ~13:00. I tried streamers, and a few nymph varieties. Nothing really going. If I’d been a lazy SOB and gotten there at 10 AM… well, you can figure what the fishing and resulting mood would have been. All is good though when the board is covered in fish and the sun shines down.
(3) The lull came to an abrupt end when I decided to listen to some advice that had been offered by someone much wiser than me: try some searching with dry flies. I’d noticed some 16-18 mayflies coming off here and there. Tied on #18 Adams that I’d cranked out in a hotel while staffing the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo. That fly didn’t come off for the next couple hours. Got maybe 20 takes on it, and landed maybe 10-12 trout. Roughly a dozen trout, caught on #18 dry on October 22nd. Notable and highly enjoyable.
(4) Early on most fish caught were rainbows. Later on, most were browns. Most dry fly fish were smaller browns. Couple larger, pretty fish on that Adams though. One in a picture below porpoised in some broken water just off a riffle… cast and watched the fish porpoise on fly. Perfect.
(5) Couple rainbows took line. These fish were in mid-teens I figure. Ran for woody debris cover, which was very cool.
(6) Stocker fish. Pellet-heads. Different than most of the fish here in MN. Iowa DNR stocks some streams weekly. So odds are that I am set to eat aquatic livestock – as opposed to eating a rung in the stream ecosystem. That takes something away from the experience. Not exactly sure what or how much but it does take away. I know I can still appreciate catching those fish and my guess is I won’t be complaining when I chew and swallow.
(7) Weather was as good as a person could ask for. I watched a big moon hang as I drove south. At streamside I found frost. Around 10:30 I peeled off layers. Wind kicked up in the afternoon but it wasn’t too bad. The sun was the sun and I sure liked that.
(8) Setting of a dry fly with that 2 wt rod might be my favorite fishing pastime. Always learning and honing that technique, but even as it is now: it feels like grace and butter. Set is the word indeed: it just unrolls and sets down on the water. Stop the cast short just a bit so the fly doesn’t slap down… and it just sets and settles.
(9) Smoked the three smallest fish. Extreme desiccation. The two biggest will be fried or baked this week.
Fishing in ancient history: in amongst the limestone walls. Stocker fish or not, there is always a sense of awe in play there. Capturing the splendor of that little valley via pixels is not possible. Feeble attempts are included below.
Back home before 17:00 hours.
John Kinsella: Is this heaven?
Ray Kinsella: It's Iowa.
John Kinsella: Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven.