Iowa’s trout anglers flocking to northeast Iowa streams

Iowa’s trout anglers flocking to northeast Iowa streams

May 27, 2015

With just tiny green buds coloring the stream corridors; a flash of yellow, orange and iridescent brown was a welcome sight as Sam Hodzic pulled out his first brook trout of the season. “Just Powerbait. Spinners work good, too”, the Cedar Rapids angler replied as I asked what he was using. “This year, I’ve gone quite a bit…I’ll go probably once weekly, if I can.”

Trout are in northeast Iowa streams year round. However they get lots more attention, once the stocking trucks are running in April. About 300,000 half pound or so rainbow and brook trout will be stocked this season…in over 40 coldwater streams. Another dozen will get brown trout fingerlings in a few weeks; left to grow up wild and wary, in other streams.

Springtime conditions vary; especially with an inch of rain falling the night before. “Streams came up a little bit. They have more color in them”, mentioned DNR Manchester manager Dan Rosauer, as we watched the clay particles clouding the stream at Upper Swiss Valley, outside Dubuque a few days ago. “I’ve been seeing anglers using worms a lot more, right after rain the last couple weeks.”

Rosauer is the new guy at the hatchery, moving over late last season, when Dave Marolf retired. He’s hitting some of the streams on stocking days, to learn where the holes are; and what conditions are like, especially crossings that become slippery after spring rain.

“Everybody’s a new face for me right now. I’m starting to see some of the regulars. A couple guys (today) are going to spinners. The lures work year round for the most part”, he noted. “If you’re trying to match the hatch (of larvae), it’s more fly fishing; and paying more attention to what the hatch is through the year.”

Streams rise quickly and drop nearly as fast, when a hard rain hits the narrow watersheds around them in Trout Country. Even in the couple hours we were on the stream talking with anglers, I could see the water clearing, from the rain 12 to 14 hours before. There wasn’t a lot of color yet. A few wildflowers were peeking up in the woods. Within a couple weeks, though, the trees will be leafed out. Woodland birds are on their way back, too; though we could hear and see a few species. Anglers getting out real early will hear turkeys gobbling across most of these narrow valleys.

“Probably four or five times a month”, guessed Ralph Lucas, between casts at the upper end of Swiss Valley. He listed four or five other streams within 20 miles that he gets to through the year. “We always start out with lures, then go to bait after a while. You just don’t see them hitting much with this weather and the (cooler) temperatures.” Plenty of warm days ahead, though. Making the $12.50 spent on a trout fee worth it for 40,000-plus Iowa trout anglers, as another glistening fish yank the four pound line.

CWD: What Now?

No further cases of chronic wasting disease were found during the late winter collection of deer in Allamakee County. All tissue samples from 85 adult deer harvested near Harper’s Ferry came back as ‘not detected’. That followed three ‘positive’ samples emerging from harvested deer during the December hunting season; and those on top of a single ‘positive’ the year before.

DNR officials are meeting with landowners and hunters in the area this evening at the Harpers Ferry Community Center, at 6i:30, to discuss ‘next steps’. Those include continued surveillance; quite likely stepped up sampling during the 2015-16 seasons. CWD is a neurological disease affecting deer and elk. Once detected, it is always fatal. The four Allamakee County samples are the only positive returns on 55,000 sampled wild deer in Iowa taken since 2002.

Camp Host Postings:

Campground hosts are needed at Lake Macbride State Park, near Solon, late this season. Hosts camp free, in exchange for assisting park staff; primarily through helping campers, explaining park rules; maybe acting as an impromptu tour guide and doing some light maintenance.

Macbride has a campground host opening from September 1 through October 15. If interested, ap0plications can be found at http://volunteer.iowadnr.gov and clicking in the left column, near mid-page.

Hosts are also needed at Pleasant Creek State Park, northwest of Cedar Rapids, at Fairport/Wildcat Den near Muscatine and at Bellevue State Park.