The area where Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa meet is a region of limestone bluffs and rise and then fall into the Mississippi river. Geographers call this the "Driftless" area. According to experts, the continental glacier which covered most surrounding regions did not touch this area, which abounds in caves and sinkholes and has residual, well-drained soil.
Hunting For A Trout Steam
It also has some of the best trout fishing in the midwest -- but to be honest, it's more a trout "hunt" because the streams, with natural reproduction and regular DNR stocking, are scattered, hard to find, and often cross multiple pieces of private property. Typical directions to a stream may include,
"turn south at the bottom of the hill where the road bears left, at the apartment building at the bottom of the hill, and head out of town. The stream entrance is 1.7 miles where the gravel stops. Look for access across 1 mile of pasture and there you'll find the public waters"
Lots of Trout
My fishing partner and I drove north for about 3 hours to get to an area where 4 streams are within an easy driving distance to cover in a day. The first stream held lots of trout, of all sizes, visible in the clear water. Most were holding in shallow pools and there was no ice on the water except a few paper thin sheets in some pockets. I fished mostly with a beaded nymph on a fly rod -- but in close quarters, many times it was more like a short toss of the lure.
I has a few follows and then had a decent trout take a run at my nymph -- right as he was about to take he hit the line and spooked himself and took off the other way. I think its almost better when you can't see the fish than when you do. We were off to the 2nd stream.
The map shows the access road less than a mile from our first access road. But it's not there. So we drove to a southern access road to this second stream, which is "really more of a path that requires 4x4 in good weather" according to the book.
On our drive to that road, we found the first access road -- maybe 3 -5 miles east of what the map in the book shows. Anyway. wioth this book, or without knowing a local, you would never finds most of these streams.
We parked and began the mile hike down the limestone sided hill. At the bottom of the hill, we found a 20 acre flat next to the stream. It looked like it could take a lot of water as a flood plain in heavy rains. The opposite side of the stream was a steep limestone bluff.
The stream is larger -- maybe 20 feet wide, than the first. It also has deeper pools. The rainbow in the photo came from a pool between two large rocks.
After hiking back up the mile long entrance trail, and a coffee and gas refill, it was nearing dark. We stopped at the third and final stream for the day. This was a nice pasture stream, with a limestone bluff to your back and then pasture to a hill leading to a bluff. It looks like the kind of stream that gets pounded hard in nice weather. Again, we found many trout stacked up -- not interested in feeding.
Reminder of Hunting Season
The memory of the trip was the two of us casting about 30 yards apart on opposite sides of the creek. I stopped to re-tie and was not paying too much attention. When I retied and looked around, my partner was out of site. And then BLAM -- the sound of a shot gun from the top of the bluff behind me. The top of a tree to my right splattered as the slug took off several tiny branches above. It's still antler-less deer season in Iowa
BLAM BLAM BLAM. (Obviously the hunter missed the first time) and then the I heard the sound of the slugs zinging overhead -- pretty cool.... much like the sound effects in "Saving Private Ryan". A few minutes later, a very spooked heard of 5 - 7 good size deer ran across the stream and up the hill and through the trees to disappear on the other side of the far hill.
I looked around, still no sign of my partner --- and then -- quite a distance away, he came walking up from the far side of the stream.
"Did you hear the slugs go over?" he asked.
On the way home, he called his wife and he was telling her the story about the shots. I could guess what is wife was saying.
"So what did you do?" she must have asked
Him: "I hit the dirt"
Her: "What did Fritz do?"
Him: "He just kept fishing"
Her: "What about when second time?"
Him: "I hit the dirt again"
Her: "What did Fritz do?"
Him: "He just kept fishing."