I started the day with the BAD AXE rigged as it was from my last day out - 12 feet of regular Badger Line, about 5 ft of 5x tippet, and a #12 Pink Squirrel. I typically prefer to fish this rod with a BADGER-LITE line, but have been experimenting to see how the rod handles it. All and all, it performs well enough with a heavier line. I've seen a slight loss of accuracy and an increase in "splash" on delivery. If you want to throw streamers on the BAD AXE, the regular Badger line offers some extra weight to help those larger flies turn over. When fishing dry, wet, or small to medium nymph patterns, the BADGER-LITE suits the rod perfectly for delicate and accurate presentations.
I was able to bring 6 nice Rainbows to hand on this trip, and had one LDR (long distance release) where the fish got off the hook after a short but energetic fight. Typically, I have found the Rainbow trout in Iowa to be a bit lazy when hooked, but the fish in this creek surprised me. They all put up solid fights that reminded me more of wild Browns than stocked Rainbows!
The first two fish were caught on the Pink Squirrel. They were holding on the soft inside edge of a faster corner pool. Both fish made good runs across the small space they had!
After moving upstream to a wide, and slow pool, I spotted some risers. Having already knocked the skunk off with a few fast catches, it was time to get experimental. Have I mentioned the success I had this season fishing the "Pass Lake" ? It's far past the time of year for a fly or terrestrial the size of a #12 pass lake to be found on our creeks, but I figure the fish have their attention on the surface, and a good sized meal floating past will not be ignored. Hone the zone, as I like to say. Get something that resembles trout food into the water that the fish is paying attention to - and that will catch fish. At least, that is the theory. How will it work in late Autumn, after a six week freeze?
Turns out, pretty good. Moving up to the top of pool where I saw the risers, I dropped the cast into the slow current entering the pool, and drew attention Immediately. There was a swirling disturbance on the surface around the fly - but no "felt" take. What I SHOULD have done was set the hook when I saw the swirl. Instead, I waited a beat. I sighted the fish on what must have been his post-take dive, and set the hook then. After a few serious runs, it managed to slip the hook, and I lost the fish. DOH!
The next three catches came from what was either an extremely long pool, or an extremely slow run. I saw an active feeder near the tail-out, and put the stalk on it. By focusing my casts on the part of the pool that was just slightly faster flowing, I caught that feeder and another about 5 feet upstream. The final fish of the pool was in faster current near the pool's head, in conditions that were more "usual".
The last fish of the day was caught with a tactic that has been working well for me all year. By casting downstream into current and using the disturbed surface as visual cover for my position, I can get pretty close to the head of the pool. Drifting and swinging across the current like one would use a streamer has been really productive with both wet flies (Pass Lake, of course) and nymphs (Killer Bugs).
Another note about the last fish in the video. I do not feel good at all about how I landed the fish. I really should have taken the time to fully assess the water and determine a safe route to bring the fish in.
It was really a fun day out, with lots of lessons to be learned and some really sporty fish. Driftless Iowa continues to be a productive and interesting place to fish in Wisconsin's off season!