Extremely skinny water. IGFA Trout Royal Slam Club

     As I pulled into the driveway I was instantly filled with memories of my youth.  I was back in Iowa, in the middle of the neighborhood I had grown up in.  I got my first taste of freedom riding my bicycle down this trail.  I had no idea at the time what fishing was, or that it would someday consume so much of my life.  I used to ride this path for hours, back and forth from home to downtown Cedar Rapids.  It was odd I thought to myself, that I spent so much time here and never attempted to catch the fish all around me.
     I was here to catch a brook trout, the smallest trout on the list for the IGFA Trout Royal Slam Club.      I had only recently discovered that brook trout were located here.  As I headed down the trail with my St Croix ultralight rod in hand I was suddenly aware of the extremely narrow creek I had pedaled by so my times over the years.  I had always assumed that the creek was empty.  After all you can jump across it in most places.  How could a place like this hold fish?
     This creek was narrow with almost no access from the trail.  I had done a little research online about brook trout before I came.  One of the things that caught my eye was that in Iowa anything over a pound was considered a trophy.  Seriously, I was gonna be chasing a ridiculously small fish.  It also would appear that they are the most prolific feeders of the trout family.  This should equate to being easier to catch.  I also saw on YouTube that they readily took spinners and small artificial spoon lures.  So I knew I had the lures required to catch them, the question was could I catch them?
     As I wandered down the creek I noticed how barren it was, "How could anything live here?" I mumbled to myself.  Then I saw a little ripple on surface, "Was that a fish?"  A quick short cast (really short, like 4 feet) and soon I had my first little brook trout on the line.

     I was immediately struck by how hard this little fish fought.  I don't think it had any idea that it was only 5 inches long.  It flipped and flung itself all over the creek, I was blown away.  I went on to catch 4 more of these little guys from this pool with a small mepps spinner before they caught on to what I was doing.  Then suddenly the action just stopped.  They knew I was here and they all moved over and tucked themselves under the far bank.  I couldn't wait to move down the trail and see if I could find more of these little fighters.  About a mile or so down the trail I ran into this sign.
     As I entered this area of the trail I noticed that the pools got a little bigger.  Then suddenly I saw them, huge brook trout!  They were almost a foot long!  I know it seems silly but after all the little ones in the previous pool, these seemed like giants.  I hunched down in the overgrowth next to the creek and took cast after cast with my little mepps spinner and cast master spoons, but nothing was interested.  What now?  I want my picture with one of these, this is the fish I want on my IGFA application.  As I looked through my little tackle box I decided on a little black 1/10th oz. echotail.  Normally I used these for panfish through the ice, but they seem to catch everything that swims.  As I clipped it on the line I used the front hole so that it would stay shallow and the vibration would be more subtle.  About half way back across the pool one of the big ones turned on the lure.  It chased that little echotail all the way to the bank and nailed it right on the edge.  It was pissed and started lots of runs as it flung itself from the creek.  Finally exhausted it gave up and I reeled in my little trophy.  It was a beautiful fish weighing in at a whopping 1 pound 2ounces.  What a monster!!!  A few quick photos and it was released back to the water, with nothing more than a bruised ego.
     So that's the story of my second fish in pursuit of the Trout Royal Slam.  I have really enjoyed working on this goal.  I am learning so much about an entirely new family of fish and am quickly understanding why so many anglers chase trout world wide.  Next up I am going to try and catch a rainbow trout on a fly rod.  Seems that I will have a lot to learn to make this next fish a reality (like how to fly fish).
Tight Lines.

Battle of the Ponds 2014 Scout Fishing Derby

     This years fishing derby started with absolute chaos.  My family is going through a cancer struggle so my wife and strongest supporter has been out of town.  Meanwhile my daughter was spending the weekend camping with her girl scout troop so we were on the road all morning.  My son and I scrambled to get the signs placed at the street corners so people could find this little known park more easily.  Then it was off to the local tackle shops to pick up the prize donations.
     My buddy Pat agreed to arrive early and help with the setup.  This year we were expecting a bigger turnout since we had opened it up to all scouts.  Just as I finished setting up the sign in table, the first of the scouts started to arrive.  Pat and I were kept busy with questions like, "how do you tie the hook on" and "why would a fish even want to eat a worm?"  We fielded the questions and helped them get there rods rigged up and it was time to start fishing.
     It didn't take to long and I heard, "I got one, now what do I do?"  I hustled over to Duncan and saw a little bass, his first bass, fighting like a marlin.  He reeled in the little bass and after we measured it he said, "I caught my first fish!"
     He was so excited, I pulled out the measuring tape and we had a starting point for the biggest fish, cub scout class.  From that moment on we were busy.  Fish were being caught left and right.  All I was doing was running from one pond to the other.  The kids were having a blast and everybody was catching fish.
     One of the things I like most about these derby's is getting the parents out with their boys.  It never fails that one of the parents finds out that they just may like fishing.  This year was no different.  Lars had never fished before in his life.  In fact I was informed that before they came to the derby, they were practicing casting in the street outside their house.  He said that his wife had to come outside and show him and the boys how to cast.  He was also dedicated to catching his first fish and with a lot of patience and some handy tips from yours truly, he was soon proudly holding up a very nice bluegill.
     As the day wore on more and more people showed up.  The nice thing was that few people stayed for the whole event.  A lot of families came, caught some fish, then headed out.  This allowed the derby to stay manageable despite the fact that we had so many boys fishing in a rather small area.  
     I was constantly asked by the different groups who was in the lead and how much time was left to fish.  The rivalry between the cub scouts and boy scouts was really starting to heat up.  I even heard a little good natured trash talking going on.  The boy scouts were in the lead and then all of a sudden my son pulled out the biggest bass.  It cleared 18 inches and he was pumped up.  I still can't believe that I forgot to take a picture, but in my defense I was a little overwhelmed.
     Then 5 o'clock came and it was time for the awards.  We officially had a winner in each category.  The cub scouts had also won the bragging rights for biggest fish and my son beamed with pride as he held his new rod up.
My son in yellow with his new combo.
     Right after this photo was taken my son pulled me aside.  He said he already had a fishing rod and thought he would give his rod to one of the visiting scouts that didn't have a fishing pole of his own.  In scouts we call this "Doing a Good Turn."  I was so shocked by this that I still get a little teary eyed even as I write this a few weeks later.  Everybody that knows me knows that I am extremely proud of my children, this is the kind of stuff that makes me so proud.
Notice the little guy in red.  Smiling with his first fishing pole.
     This entry wouldn't be done without thanking a few individuals.  First off a big thank you to Pat.  He retied knots, baited hooks, and sorted out more than his share of tangled lines.  Also a big thank you to Bog Baits, they donated some prizes and enough make your own lure kits, so that the kids that remained for the trash clean up were able to take home a prize.
     Here are few more pictures of the outing.  Next year this derby of mine will be going into it's 5th year.  Every year more kids turn up to fish, which is exactly why I started this event.  So please take a kid fishing, you might ignite the spark, that starts a fire.
Tight Lines.