Friday I decided to go fishing at the trout hatchery upstream from Elkader, Iowa. It had been a helluva week. I had been working my butt off cleaning and fixing things around Dad’s house, getting sicker and sicker from indoor allergies. A little trip north (to Clayton County) to celebrate a productive week seemed in order.
Long story short, no fish came home. I only caught two and they were not large enough to keep even kitty Jesse fed. It’s not surprising the action was slow. We’ve had three minor snow storms in the last few days and with the sharp weather transitions sometimes the fishing action stops. Just getting out in the fresh air was worth the drive.
Woody, the Labrador met the last time, was quite a distance away when I arrived. He was watching Aaron, one of the DNR guys, who was feeding the trout in the raceways. One call of Woody’s name and there was a blur of flying legs, ears, tongue, and tail as the dog came running at the fastest speed he could muster.
With some beef sticks in hand, Woody was happy to see me. The energetic dog and I played fetch (his idea – he brought a stick) and it was fun to watch him in motion. Note: I figured there are many dog lovers who will appreciate a friendly Labrador… most of the pictures are of him this time!
After throwing two fish back, falling and skinning my hand, the cold (15 degrees with a strong wind) started to get to me. It was time to think about heading home.
Following the fishing, I had a fun conversation with Aaron. One of the interesting facts learned is that if one wants to catch catfish in the Turkey River, you should go downstream a ways. That is because during the spring months, catfish travel upstream from the Mississippi River to the Turkey River and are blocked by the dam in Elkader; they cannot get any farther upstream. Later in the fall, the catfish migrate back downstream to the deep holes in the Mississippi.
Aaron and I talked about a number of fishing locations that the DNR stocks and he had some recommendations for places to try. The DNR provides a comprehensive map (the paper copy is better than online maps, in my opinion) with all of the trout fishing streams marked, including the streams with catchable trout as well as the special regulation fisheries. I’m enthused about the 2014 trout fishing season which starts in early April (for most people – not me!) There will be pictures in the coming days.
Within 20 or so miles, a sudden sickness wiped me out and I had to pull over and sleep a bit with the engine running. The stomach was a mess. But it was over quickly. I really think the cold country air, drinking a lot of water, and having some physical activity is terrific medicine. Just being in the country for a few hours seemed to have a purifying effect, physically and spiritually.
Despite coming home without any fish, it all worked out well. I loaded the smoker and crashed for a few hours, waking up feeling much better. Jesse James didn’t mind having smoked pork ribs instead of trout. But he did sniff the fishing clothes – likely wondering about the dog’s scent. It sure was a fun little day trip, especially having a canine fishing buddy to hang out with.
Thanks for riding along and meeting Woody. It’s likely you’ll see more of him as I camp at Big Springs later this year. Woody will be well fed!
Bradford, the “Van Trekker”