Spent some time in Des Moines Iowa on business, but was able to fly fish on the weekends. If you get the chance go visit North East Iowa called the drift less region. Many small springs great fishing. Iowa has done a great stocking job on rainbows, but there are plenty of wild brown trout and brookies.
I went on line when I was there and found some streams to fish. From Des Moines it will be a good three to four hours driving but well worth the effort. The first weekend I went to Waterloo creek a tributary off the Upper Iowa river spring fed about nine miles long. There is plenty of access to fishing pretty much all along. It has meadows with cow pasture, wooded area to more hidden harder to access stretches which of course I headed too!! There is a stretch of catch and release only I think about two miles long just off Hwy 76. There are a few parking areas then you hike into the brush not far but can be hard going in places, how hard can that be!! Well I found out pretty quickly not easy. The Vegetation in places can be twenty-foot-tall and next to impossible to get thru, with forests of stinging nettles at least eight-foot-high, not much fun when you are wet wading in shorts.
In these places you just have to get in the river and wade up, there are areas of deep sand and mud easy to get stuck, test the ground first. I had a late start so only had about three hours to fish, never the less landed four nice wild browns all on a copper john under an indicator. The stream has great riffles and some deeper pools. I caught all of those fish at the head waters of the deep pools wild they were, and fight they did. A great start to my exploration then a four-hour drive back to Des Moines already planning my next weekend trip!
Just a side note, to any beginners or newbies to the great sport of fly fishing, the only rod I could fit into my luggage was an 8 ft 6-inch 5 weight, white river classic rod bought from Bass Pro shop many years ago for Ninety dollars. This rod handled all the fish I caught, casting on occasions in strong winds long casts with two flies and indicator plus split shots with no problems. My point don’t get caught up in all the hype about buying nine hundred dollar plus rods, at least not until you have experience and know what works for you first! Start slowly and learn, remember it is flies in the water that catch fish not flies in the air!!!
The next week end came slowly enough this time I was out early and planned to stay in a hotel near the streams for the night. My next stream was Clear creek stream not more than five miles from waterloo. This stream is only about four miles long and again is stocked with rainbows, there are wild browns and brookies not sure if the brookies are stocked or not. Situated in a wooded valley my map apps took me directly to the lower first parking area.
On arrival it was packed with all types fishing so off I went hiking up and away, funny once I was about four hundred yards away, I did not see another fisherman all day. There was no surface action going on so I went to two flies under an indicator fishing some fast-moving ripples. Hooked a nice brown lost at the net, great start. With no idea what to use I went to my trusted flies that work well in Arizona. Black woolly bugger with a size 18 red and black nymph that my local fly tier ties for me Brian Foss, your flies killed it!!!! That red and black nymph was the work horse and boy did it deliver a big thank you!!!!
Now as I said they stock Rainbows; they were almost a nuisance I caught so many that it was a joke I was after the Browns and brookies. I fished all day caught more than my fair share of Browns but not a single brookie!! At about six thirty I was pretty high up and not sure when it would get dark so I found a road that ran alongside the valley, I hiked up to that then walked about three miles back on this dirt road to the car park. It was still light so I decided to fish up a little as I knew I could get back in the dark ok from there.
The last twenty minutes as it got dark it was insane, no surface action but I was catching Browns only just about on every cast, crazy fun and no rainbows go figure!! Off to find a hotel.
Sunday morning off to find North Bear Creek stream again about six miles long, there are three bridges that cross over this stream giving you different access points. This stream is clear water with a lot of weed growing along the bottom. If you find a clear space you can see the trout silhouetted against the sand. There were some trout feeding on the surface, I put on a small blue winged olive with a size twenty black and silver midge about twenty inches below. Bingo the trout loved that fly did well also caught some on the midge. Casting with a dropper is tricky in this water as it is shallow going over the weeds so you had to be accurate casting the dropper in the small gaps between the weeds otherwise you would get hung up. The area I was fishing was meadow and cow pastures with plenty of room for back casting a lot of fun. I went further up but it was so over grown I gave up as I was stung to death by nettles so I went back down. Great day plenty of browns a few rainbows and again no brookies.
Considering I did not know the area but with googles help was able to find some great streams, Iowa more than delivered I look forward to my next trip there.