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).