Monday, July 27, 2015

Warmwater / Coldwater Flyfishing in NE Iowa

After reading a blogged trip report ( ) from my friend Chad, I decided I had ignored the flyfishing potential of NE Iowa for FAR too long.

My buddy Jay and I loosely planned a 2-day fishing trip to the area.  I picked the town and hotel we would overnight in.  Yeah....hotel.  :)  We could have camped, but that would have just added a lot more stuff we would need to pack and organize.  It was just easier to spend the night in a hotel, and be able to sleep in air conditioning, shower and eat a free breakfast.  We used to have camping fishing trips, but we are older and more susceptible to weather than we used to be.  And other lame excuses.

We knew for sure we wanted to hit one river to target Smallmouth Bass at least one day.  The rest we would "play by ear".

So, it was roughly a 3-hour drive from Ankeny, Iowa, to our destination.
We drove straight to the river access we had chosen (not the same one Chad used, as it turns out).  The first thing we noticed is that the river was rather low.  The flow when Chad visited it was 136 cfs.  The flow when we arrived was 28 cfs.  The water was still crystal clear as Chad had described.  Beautiful water, beautiful river valley with limestone bluffs reaching the waters edge on one side.  The river supports an abundance of for Smallmouth Bass.  There were crayfish, chubs, various suckers and other smaller minnows, plus aquatic nymphs living amongst the rocks in the sections between the sandy runs.

LOTS of suckers!

I enjoy catching new species to add to my "fly rod species" list.  The first day, I added 4 new species!
In addition to Smallmouth Bass and Creek Chubs that I'd caught before, I also caught a Golden Redhorse Sucker, a White Sucker, some Rock Bass, and some Striped Shiners.
Here's pictures of all of those species, in order:

The best fly of the day for most species was a Tequeely:

A Pearl Shiner also did well:
(And...a random picture of a couple Tiger Swallowtail butterflies we saw hanging out on a rocky sandbar.):
Around 5pm, we checked into our hotel, changed clothes and found a place to eat dinner in town.  After dinner, we figured we had a little time to scout a nearby trout stream, so off we went.  It was an embarrassingly tiny creek.  Neither of us had ever fished a stream this small for trout.  There were a few slightly deeper pools like this sweet-looking spot:
It took a bit to figure the stream out, and then the catching started.  In the brief time we had before the sky darkened, I landed 7 Rainbow Trout, all on a gold microjig.  3 came from the pool above, and 4 others came from more marginal areas further upstream.

We had lost most of our good Smallmouth Bass flies, so I suggested we try another nearby trout stream.
The stream was on private property, but posted for public fishing.  The parking area was strategically far from the creek.  This is probably why we didn't see any other anglers all day, although there was one other car in the parking area when we left.
After reaching the stream, we headed upstream and walked quite a long ways before we saw water deep enough to hold trout.  There were plenty of other fish in the shallow sections, though...Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Creek Chubs, suckers, etc.

We finally found some trout.
From the spot above, we took turns catching fish.  I caught 2 Brook Trout:

They sure are pretty!
Jay caught 2 Rainbows from the same spot.
We moved upstream and found some pools with decent depth, and there were trout in most of them.  These are some that I caught:

With plenty of Creek Chubs in the shallower sections.

Jay found a good little pool, and I let him have it while I moved further upstream.  I soon came upon the mother of all pools.  It was big and deep.  Beautiful scenery around it.  Trout occasionally grabbing stuff off the surface, but were otherwise invisible.  I caught a bunch of Rainbows and Brookies there.  Jay eventually joined me and caught some as well.

It was a LONG uphill walk (actually only about a mile) back to the car.  We headed back home from there.  Such and an awesome trip!  I'm already looking forward to going back!


  1. Dave
    I have no words for this fantastic trip with all the species of fish you guys landed---beautiful!!!

    1. It was definitely a stellar trip. I'm not used to fishing such clear water...but I could get used to it really quick! :)

  2. Great trip. I was in NEIA in June. I've been trying to convince my wife to move up there since. What a cool place.

    1. Drew, I just read one of your blog entries from your NE Iowa trip. I'm certain we visited different streams, but the experience was uncannily similar: The LONG WALK just to get to the small creek, the leg-shredding/stinging vegetation, shoreline weeds catching our backcasts, not seeing any/many other anglers...And fantastically fun fishing! :)

  3. Dave, what a great weekend of fishing for sure. Happy to see that you got to explore some new water. Lots of species don't hurt the fun either. Especially, happy to see the healthy Brook Trout and Rainbows on this trip. What is a Tequilly?

    1. Mel, I can't insert a picture I edited the blog entry above to include a picture of one of the Tequeely flies I had tied for the trip, and also showed some of the Pearl Shiners. You can Google for tying instructions for the Tequeely, and a couple of places sell them as well. I just tied up a few more last night in preparation for my next Smallmouth outing. :)

  4. Thanks a bunch, Dave, I will do some googling. Thanks for sharing, again.

    1. I'm sorry Mel, I meant to give you a description in addition to posting the picture. The Tequeely fly is tied an a #4 3xl or 4xl streamer hook, I used a 3.8mm copper-colored tungsten beadhead, and also wrapped the shank with .035 non-lead wire. The tail is black marabou and yellow marabou. The body is preferably copper-colored metallic chenille (or something close), and round yellow rubber legs.
      Some fish hit the fly during the retrieve. That day, the Smallmouth got really interested when you'd stop the retrieve and drop the fly to the bottom and let it rest or shake it. At least 3 times I got snagged up on rocks, and had Smallmouth take the fly off the snag as I was trying to shake it loose!