Trout Fishing in Northeast Iowa

Trout Fishing in Northeast Iowa


IN SHALLOW, SPRING-FED CREEKS HIDDEN AMONG COW PASTURES AND CORNFIELDS SWIMS AN ATYPICAL IOWA INGREDIENT. AND WHILE YOU CAN GET IT FARM-RAISED, IN NORTHEAST IOWA, IT’S BEST TO CATCH IT YOURSELF. HERE, TROUT SPEED ALONG THE BOTTOM OF SOME OF THE CLEAREST AND MOST REVERED COLDWATER STREAMS IN THE WORLD. ON A CRISP EARLY-OCTOBER MORNING, TROUT ANGLER AND FISHING GUIDE BRAD JOHANSEN HEADS THROUGH THE WOODS AND CROPLAND TO FIND THE PERFECT SPOT TO CAST HIS LURE.>>I ACTUALLY STARTED TROUT-FISHING MY FRESHMAN YEAR IN COLLEGE AT LUTHER. IT DOESN’T MATTER THE SEASON. IT DOESN’T MATTER THE MONTH. YOU KNOW, YOU CAN CATCH FISH ALL YEAR ‘ROUND, AND THE SCENERY ALWAYS CHANGES BY THE SEASON, AND I ENJOY THAT CHANGE IN SCENERY, AND IT’S A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO LIVE AND A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO FISH.>>BRAD TEACHES HIGH-SCHOOL SCIENCE IN DECORAH. ON THE WEEKENDS, HE GUIDES PEOPLE WHO COME FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND TEACHES THEM HOW TO FISH FOR TROUT.>>ON THE GUIDE SIDE, I JUST TAKE PEOPLE FISHING. THEY CALL AND THEY WANT TO GO FISHING — EITHER UPPER IOWA OR TROUT FISHING — AND WE JUST — WE KIND OF TAILOR THE TRIP TO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO.>>BUT DON’T THINK THIS IS AN EASY MEAL. CATCHING TROUT TAKES PRACTICE, PATIENCE, AND DILIGENCE.>>WELL, DARN IT. I NEED A BETTER ANGLE. IF YOU’RE CATCHING WILD TROUT, THEY WERE BORN IN THAT STREAM. YOU GET ONE SHOT AT A GOOD FISH, AND THAT’S — I LIKE THAT.>>TROUT ARE TYPICALLY FOUND IN COOL, CLEAR STREAMS OR LAKES. DUE TO THE AVAILABILITY OF COLD SPRING WATER, TROUT ARE GEOGRAPHICALLY RESTRICTED TO 10 COUNTIES IN NORTHEAST IOWA.>>WELL, WE’RE IN THE DRIFTLESS AREA, AND IT’S THAT SPECIAL, MAGICAL PLACE ON THE PLANET — BASICALLY, SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA, NORTHEAST IOWA, SOUTHWEST WISCONSIN, THAT LITTLE NORTHWEST CORNER OF ILLINOIS — THAT WE HAVE KARST TOPOGRAPHY.>>WHICH MAKES THIS REGION THE PERFECT HABITAT FOR COLDWATER TROUT.>>SO, WATER MOVES DOWN THROUGH THIS KARST TOPOGRAPHY. EVENTUALLY, WE GET SPRINGS THAT FEED THESE STREAMS. SO WE GET WATER THAT’S 50 DEGREES, TYPICALLY, ALL YEAR ‘ROUND.>>NORTHEAST IOWA TEEMED WITH BROOK TROUT WHEN SETTLERS BEGAN TO ARRIVE IN THE 19th CENTURY, BUT WITH POOR CONSERVATION PRACTICES, MANY OF THESE STREAMS WERE BURIED UNDER SEDIMENT AND RUNOFF, RUINING THE NATURAL SPAWNING GROUNDS FOR THE TROUT.>>IT IS A VERY FRAGILE ECOSYSTEM IN THAT WE CAN’T HANDLE POLLUTANTS, WE CAN’T HANDLE SEDIMENT — ALL THOSE THINGS THAT WE WANT OUR STEWARDS OF THE LAND TO TAKE CARE OF, BECAUSE IF WE WANT TO CONTINUE TO HAVE GREAT FISHING, YOU HAVE TO HAVE GREAT WATER QUALITY.>>WITH FEDERAL FARM PROGRAMS CREATED TO CONTROL EROSION IN THE 1930s, AND AFTER MORE THAN A CENTURY OF STOCKING, IOWA NOW HOSTS THREE TROUT SPECIES, INCLUDING BROWN, RAINBOW, AND THE NATIVE BROOK TROUT. TODAY, 33 TROUT STREAMS IN IOWA’S DRIFTLESS AREA SUPPORT NATURAL SPAWNING. TO HELP SUSTAIN THIS PRECIOUS IOWA INGREDIENT AND NATURAL RESOURCE, THE IOWA DNR HAS THREE TROUT HATCHERIES IN THE STATE HELPING TO FEED THE STREAMS WITH TROUT. ANGLERS CAN FIND HUNDREDS OF MILES OF TROUT STREAMS. THERE ARE EASILY ACCESSIBLE ONES IN STATE OR COUNTY PARKS AND OTHERS THAT ARE LOCATED IN SOME PRETTY REMOTE PARTS OF THE STATE. OR, IF YOU’RE NEW TO THE EXPERIENCE, PEOPLE LIKE BRAD CAN SHOW YOU THE INS AND OUTS.>>IT SPAWNED IN THIS STREAM LAST YEAR. LOOK HOW FAT HE IS — BIG BELLY. BEAUTIFUL FISH.>>TROUT MAY BE AN UNUSUAL IOWA INGREDIENT — IT’S NOT QUITE THE SAME AS GOING TO THE FARMERS’ MARKET TO GET YOUR FRESH PRODUCE — BUT KNOWING HOW SPECIAL THE DRIFTLESS REGION IS, KNOWING THE CONSERVATION EFFORTS INVOLVED, AND KNOWING THE WORK AND SKILL NECESSARY TO CATCH IT MAKES TROUT A TRULY UNIQUE AND SPECIAL INGREDIENT.

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