A Little About Buck Creek

Valley Mill

Valley Mill, est. 1850

Hello friends and welcome to the blog!  It’s been a spectacular fall season in Iowa.  A few days ago I spent much of the day at the lower end of Buck Creek doing some fishing – a place I’d never fished but had driven by many times.

Buck Creek flows into the Mississippi River as it drains rolling prairie land near the town of Garnavillo.  As it winds around the hills of Clayton County, the creek once powered a sawmill and later a grist mill.  The two story Valley Mill building (with basement facing the camera) was constructed in 1850.  At one time there were actually four area mills that used the waters of Buck Creek.

Just as fun as the fishing is learning more about the past.  One reason this area is special to me is because it was first settled in the 1830s by Germans, some of them were my relatives.

Buck cows

The cows share the land with the trout fishermen.

Garnavillo’s history is colorful.  In April of 1868, The Horse Thief Detective Association was formed, a sort of vigilante group.  Similar to groups in other states, the association’s mission was to recover stolen horses and mules for farmers.  Men from connecting townships could join as riders for $2, providing they were of good moral character.  Riders pursued stolen animals.  If recovered, the owners had to pay 10% of the animal’s (or animals’) assed value (as determined by three members).  If a member arrested or helped arrest a thief, a reward of $50 would be paid.

I guess it was sort of a neighborhood watch type of thing.  Wouldn’t that have been exciting to be a part of?  Now days if a person says he or she wants to protect his/her property with a gun, in many states it would illegal.  I still subscribe to the “It’s better to judged by 12 than carried by 6” school of thought.

Monday’s angling was sure a treat.  I had always fished the upper end of Buck Creek – north of Garnavillo.   There is a gap in the stream between segments where the public is permitted to fish.  Off the beaten path, this other portion turned out to be more scenic, held some beautiful trout, and resulted in a fun fish story to tell.

Lower BuckI’d partially filled my limit at the hole to the left when the fish stopped biting.  Several older guys approached.  We spoke and they told me not even to try angling downstream at the other end of the trail.  The holes were full of sucker fish.  (The undesirable “suckers” are plentiful in area creeks.)

The other fishermen said the trout didn’t want to bite because the young, darting suckers were taking all the bait.  One said he had even waded into the creek (just a couple of feet deep and very clear) but the trout wouldn’t bite.

I thought to myself, was he for real?  The fish won’t bite if you try to stand next to them in shallow, clear, slow running water!

After the guys left I went to the area described (which was teeming with sucker fish) and initially had the same luck.  After switching to a bait that only the trout would bite on, I cast both poles, and walked some distance away to avoid being seen by the fish (and to “water the weeds”).  When I turned around, both poles were bending violently (each threatening to fall off the steep bank and into the water).  Each had a fat rainbow trout on it.  What an enjoyble way to end the trip!

White Sucker

The undesirable white sucker fish… It is present in many of the trout streams I regularly fish including Sny Magill, Bloody Run, and Buck Creek. They are occasionally caught when they pick up a worm or salmon egg. The solution? Know which baits they don’t like!


Monday was a fun day of outdoor action… and just in time.  The Iowa weather has turned cold and rainy, just in time for Halloween.  We often get slow moving storm systems with cold air and much rain at this time of the year – just about the time we change the clocks back.

Speaking of the spooky holiday, here’s a scary cat for Halloween.  I took this picture of Jennifer this morning after her check-up at the veterinarian.  She looks like she could fry a steak with the reflection from those eyes!  Jen-Jen’s weight has gone from 3 pounds to 4.5 and my little pal is very healthy.  She’s brought a lot of happiness to Jesse and I.

Jennifer eyes

For now, that’s about all that’s new.  The work hourse were temporarily reduced.  I’d rather be working but am sure there will be some camping taking place pretty soon.  A person has to take advantage of days off.

Take care and thanks for visiting today.  Happy Halloween.

Bradford, Jesse James, and Jennifer


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