Hello and welcome to the blog! Today was “Eclipse Mania” day in Iowa. Only a very small portion of Iowa had a “total eclipse” pass over. How small? Only 480 acres of land saw the full eclipse… Iowa has 35, 748, 480 acres of land! Most of us saw a fraction of the event – those who didn’t experience clouds and rain today!
I was planning to take a long drive and visit the extreme southwest corner of the state. But news stories made it sound like the roads would be clogged for miles on end… and the weather was marginal. Forget that!
Listening to the radio, I heard them discussing how some animals might be frightened or would get confused by the darkness. Though Anamosa and points north were not affected that much, it would still mean dusk type light conditions. Then it dawned on me that trout would likely get confused – they are light sensitive.
I grabbed the “Doctor’s Bag”, a re-purposed tool bag. It contains two collapsible trout poles, a variety of baits and lures, knives, a stringer, and other helpful items. It’s always ready to go at a moment’s notice.
The destination was about as far to the northeast as possible… to a location I’d never fished before in Allamakee County. Stopping at a remote place along the way, the weeds were a nightmare and I got tangled into wild parsnips. It meant getting out of there or risk chemical burns.
I fished Paint Creek just downstream from Waterville, the town where that rainbow trout mural is painted on a building. Nobody was present at the park. By now the eclipse was just starting. As the light waned, crickets and other insects started making a lot of noise… but the fish were not at all active.
A very cool, strong breeze blew and made me shiver. The sky grew dark, sort of like the darkness just before sunset. This area was many miles away from the eclipse area – clear across the state – but was still affected a bit.
At first I could not get the fish to bite! Four different baits were tried and no luck! But then things started to lighten up and a cloud also moved aside. We went from partial darkness to very bright daylight.
The effect was amazing. I quickly caught 5 fish. The trout weren’t just hungry but were very aggressive. I could see them chasing the bait a few times. A couple of fish broke the surface of the water. They normally don’t act this desperate but who could complain? Though I’m not a scientist it seemed like the fish were tricked into thinking it was the first sunlight of the morning – feeding time. The difference in behavior was surprising.
Nobody else was fishing near me. This little trip to the far northeast corner of the state was a lot more enjoyable than getting caught in traffic and driving hundreds of miles… all for a few minutes of retina scorching eclipse viewing.
There was another reason I avoided looking at the sky. Back in 1979 we had another eclipse. As a 14 year old, I looked at it through a small handheld telescope, burning the retina of my right eye. It will never heal. Though a person normalizes the situation the loss of vision causes me problems with eye tests and even affects how I aim a gun. The bright light can do a lot of damage! I hope nobody was injured in this manner today.
That’s about all for now. The fish are going into a new brine solution and will be hickory smoked tomorrow. Too bad kitty Jesse James isn’t here to taste test the new recipe.
A week from now the weather is looking great. God willing and the creek doesn’t rise (too much) it sounds like a great time to have some fun and try new recipes. Take care and thanks for visiting!
Brad and Jenny