Death, Blood, and Trout


Tenkara rods travel well.

     This past weekend I finally got the opportunity to head home to Iowa.  Unfortunately I don't make getting back to see family as big of a priority as I should, but they are always happy to see our family when we do make it back.  Anyways...I refused to let this visit mess with my fishing and I quietly snuck a Classic series rod from Badger Tenkara into my backpack (thanks again guys).  The tenkara rod being the only rod packed meant I would be chasing trout.  Normally I'm only a fan of pursuing trout on the Great Lakes or if I get invited out to a Driftless stream by Tristan Kloss.  When it comes to Iowa trout though, one stream is special to me because I grew up in the neighborhood it runs through.
     Waking up early Saturday morning  quietly grabbed my gear so I wouldn't wake up my in-laws and headed to Walmart to buy an Iowa fishing license.  This was when I found out about the die off.  The clerk asked me where I was fishing, "McLoud Run" I said.  "What about the trout die off?" he asked, "Die off?"  "Yeah it was all over the news earlier this year."  "Hundreds of trout were found dead in the water."  I bought my license and headed out to the truck.  I did a quick Google search on my phone and he was right.  Over 300 trout died this year and nobody had any idea why.  Still I wanted to go fishing, and there must be a couple of trout left right?
     Pulling into the parking lot I was amazed at how empty it was.  I began rigging up my rod and a cyclist pulled over to let me know that all the fish were dead.  I told him that I had heard, but I really wanted to fish this creek.  He wished me well and I started walking the shoreline making my way downstream towards Cedar Lake.  I know you're not supposed to fish upstream of the trout, but I didn't have any waders with me and the overgrowth along the shoreline is insane.  I had to use old trails off the beaten path that I remembered from mountain biking this area when I was younger just to get a chance at making a cast.
     I worked my way through the trees amazed at how beautiful the area had become.  When I was a kid this was just a random trail that nobody really cared about.  Now it's an integral part of the cities layout.  A gem hidden in the urban sprawl of the city of Cedar Rapids.  Wildlife was everywhere and I was shocked when I rounded the corner and saw a whitetail deer cooling itself in the creek bed.  Sure you could still hear the sirens, trains, and residential noises, but it felt special, it felt like home.  Occasionally I would see a fish flying through the shallows.  Not sure if it was a trout, but something was still very much alive in this creek.  I continued to work the shore as best as I could.  The fishing could be considered strenuous at best.  This creek seems to eat flies due to being so crowded and overgrown with plant life.  Even with the precision casting the tenkara rod afforded me I was struggling.  Suddenly, while teetering on the edge of a sketchy undercut bank, the ground fell out from underneath me.  The whole thing just collapsed and took me along with it.  I managed to save the rod, but my pride was a little wounded and so was my leg.
Ouch!
      It was at this point that I decided to call it.  I slowly made my way up the embankment and back to the car.  No trout today, zip, zilch, nothing.  It was as thorough a skunking as I've ever had, but I was happy.  Coming back to Iowa always brings a smile to my face.  I didn't fish here as a kid so everything is new yet familiar.  McLoud Run is an amazing urban fishery with 3 different species of trout present when it's at it's best.  It may be struggling a little right now, but the DNR is already restocking the creek.  When it's back up to par I'll be back to get my revenge, and I'll be sure to tell the story right here.
     Tight Lines.

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