Thursday, December 27, 2012


Yesterday afternoon Beau and I took a hike down along the stream with the two dogs.  We saw several small groups of deer sneaking among the snow covered cedars.  When we reached the stream we saw these interesting tracks that we soon identified as river otters.  Pleasant creek  feeds into the Mississippi River just a few miles down stream from our place.  

 Through hard work, some wildlife that disappeared over 100 years ago can now be seen again. In 1900 there were no white-tailed deer or wild turkeys in Iowa. Now hunters come from across the nation to pay for the right to hunt a big buck or gobbler. Trumpeter swans, river otters, peregrine falcons and prairie chickens can be seen in increasing numbers. Following these successful reintroductions, some animals are coming back to Iowa on their own. Bobcats sightings are becoming more common.  Several guys have caught them on trail cameras or seen out in the timber. Occasionally an elk, mountain lion or even a bear wanders into the state too.

 Like much of the rest of North America, river otter were abundant in Iowa during European settlement, but unregulated trapping and hunting, and loss of habitat caused them to be essentially extirpated in the state. Wildlife managers began reintroduction efforts in the 1970’s that have helped make otters widespread in North America.

 Iowa’s river otter reintroduction was initiated in 1985 at Red Rock Reservoir. Sixteen otters from Louisiana were released, initiating a pilot project to determine the suitability of Iowa’s aquatic resource for otters. These otters survived normally and subsequent releases were continued until 2003.  In total 345 otter were released in Iowa between 1985 and 2005. This reintroduction coupled with wetland restoration and conservation contributed to the growth and widespread distribution of otters in Iowa.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

* Flurricane *

 Our first measurable snow fall dropped over a foot of snow on us.  Closing school two days early for Christmas break. 

I ventured down to the hoop house to get out of the 40 - 50 mph wind gusts, to find the temperature just above freezing. 

Then I noticed the walls of the hoop house were collapsing inward under the weight of the accumulated snowfall. 

After I remove the snow from the sides  they popped right back with only minor damage.


Shortly after lunch the electricity shut off which gave me a good excuse to sit by the fire and read and have a cup of tea as Susie slow cooked a grass fed beef roast on the stove top.

Susie got several gifts wrapped and it wasn't long before the electricity came back on. 

Looking forward to getting back on the cross country skis
after this storm passes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Clasic Grouse Hunting Photo

When I was going through a box of old photographs the other night, I came across this great shot of Susie's grandpa and his hunting companions who hunted the upper peninsula for years.  They look like they just came off of a LL Bean catalog cover.  What a great looking bunch.


  Over the holidays I'm going to see if I track down any more info on this crew.  


The ruffed grouse has been called the all-American gamebird, partridge, pats, ruffs, native pheasants and some unprintable names by hunters who experience the bird's uncanny talent for avoiding shotgun pellets. A good day of grouse hunting comes complete with fresh air, the scent of pine and spruce, beautiful fall colors and the smell of a dew-soaked dog. The early season hunter, in mid September, may encounter green leaves and tough hunting. Without a dog the birds take to the air from dense cover and more times than not, the thundering sound of their explosive flush is all that you get for your efforts. You can increase your odds a bit by knowing or surveying your hunting area and planning the best way to hunt it. It is always desirable to position hunters in such a way that the flushing bird will be likely to venture into some kind of opening.  Another good cause for an argument around the campfire, what gun and shells to use. Personally I use Big Jim's old Remington 1148 28 gauge it's a nice little gun that you  can carry all day, with 7-1/2 or 8 shot, either game loads or good target rounds. A little smaller or a little bigger is fine.

The everyman's bird will fall to whatever you have in the closet, even Grandpa's old duck gun. But if you try a gun more matched to the challenge of the ruffed grouse on the fly, you won't be disappointed.   


I  finished up the school week and after a quick trip to the store  I took off for the stream.  The water cress has really taken off with the warm temperatures we've had so far this winter. The fact that areas of the creek support water cress plants is a positive sign.  


An article in our local paper recently reported that successful brown trout reproduction has been confirmed on another Jackson county stream, bringing the total to 46 Iowa streams with reproducing populations.   




 Brown Trout generally spawn between October and December by depositing and fertilizing their eggs in shallow depressions in the riverbed. These light colored depressions are called "redds." The trout's requirements for a successful redd area are quite specific. As anglers, understanding these requirements will not only help us in identifying redds; but key us in on river locations that we may want to concider avoiding during the most critical period in the Brown Trout's yearly cycle. 

So, I  stuck to the deeper holes.  After creeping up and seeing several nice trout flash, I managed to place a spinner in just down stream from a bank hide that held this nice trout.


It's about time...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Casting A Voice

Casting A Voice

Casting a Voice is a fly fishing conservation film, using the perspective of anglers to examine the risks facing one of British Columbia's most precious resources - wild fish. The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project would run through some of the most abundant wild salmon and steelhead waters left on the planet. The Skeena River and its tributaries remain a rare stronghold for healthy populations of fish, while wild fish stocks have declined elsewhere.

The more time you spend outside in a natural setting will relax and ease your body and mind. All of these factors reduce stress and worry, which will enable you to attract and manifest at higher levels.  Going outside is an investment that pays huge dividends in many ways !

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A River Runs Through It

Cut out after school to fish some more new water.  With an afternoon high of 68* I would have been a fool to not go.

I keep thinking this nice weather has got to come to an end soon.  Lately my fishing trips have been more exploration than setting the hook.

 I watched A River Runs Through It last weekend.  From the opening line, "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing", to the last, "I am haunted by waters".

 I replayed it in my mind as I shadowed cast, roll cast, flipped and pitched my panther martin into each and every hole  along brush creek.

I've lined up several beautiful stretches of  private land to fish this past year.  It gets me back into some very remote areas.

 Geologically the high cliffs rising some 100 feet above the stream are really a region feature you will find here in the driftless region.  The algific slopes that produce cold air during summer, creating climate conditions much cooler than surrounding areas.  Canada yew is one of the unique plants found on Driftless Area.  My father, a former Game Warden,  pointed these unique cold climate plants out to me as a child, as we fished the upper end of the Maquoketa at Backbone state park. These shrub of Canada’s boreal forests, have been separated from the main population in isolated patches, are considered disjunct populations. There are many climate relict species and disjunct populations living on the Driftless Area algific slopes of  North Eastern Iowa.

 One hundred years ago nearly every deep valley in these parts had a pristine trout stream running through it.  The call of the kingfisher reminds me just how remote the area in the center of the section is.  Just down stream i startled a small heard of deer that's been bedding down in the valley.  It was just opening shot gun season and I was glad to see a few nice bucks still out there.

This time of year the sun sets early, so my time along the stream is limited by the fading day light.  But if I'm blessed with another beautiful afternoon  you can bet I'll stop in to wet a line and maybe next time I'll get a chance to set the hook.