Timing your fishing trip and tools to help

It’s been a wild weather spring in Iowa. Granted, Iowans never seem to be satisfied with the weather. We’re either too hot or too cold, too dry or too wet for the liking. One look at high school athletic schedules this spring and the mass number of cancellations and postponements, however, would show even the novice meteorologist this has been an odd start to 2013. Unseasonably cold temperatures, late accumulating snow, and then flooding was the story for the month of May. Now into June, we’re struggling to keep dry for a few days and to keep the mercury in the 70s, the warmer temps necessary for crop growth.

Despite the uncooperative weather, the fishing has been remarkably good if you can mind the stream flows, the forecast, and your schedule permits a certain degree of flexibility. My wife and I had the stream to ourselves last Sunday. The area had received a half inch of rain in the 48 hours preceding and the water was decidedly off color, clearing, but not high. This may have been key. It turned in to one of those days that you wished you could have spent another 6 hours with big, high water-hungry browns and bows feasting on attractor nymphs and streamers. It was fun to get creative with different patterns and combos, and seeing bright yellow and silver flashes in the water as you stripped streamers through a run. Images that make you want to go back….soon.

I had another opportunity to fish two days ago for about an hour before a hard rain was scheduled to hit the area. It had been 2-3 days since the last wet day, so the streams had had a chance to clear up. This time, the caddis were coming off in droves on a cloudy afternoon. Big, meaty, feathery caddis (#12-14) were everywhere and fish were keying in to an accurate cast with these bugs dropped on or skittered across the surface. The fish caught were not stock rainbows, rather wild browns with big shoulders, adolescent fish that are beefing up for the summer and fall. It makes an angler very excited for what is to come with terrestrial season coming in the next few months.

So, finding the time and place with the weather pattern we’re in can be tricky, but there are a few places that can help you out online without spending the gas money. First is the NOAA forecast page. Forecasting is tough, but NOAA rarely leads me astray. Once you have what the weather will hold for the next day, see what the weather has been like using the precipitation map. This gives you an idea how much rain has fallen in the last 24 hours plus and is zoomable to any specific location. Lastly, I check the river levels on the water chart to see what they are and where they are forecasted to land. Since all streams feed in or out of these major area rivers,  you can get a sense of what the levels will be like.

Obviously there are other variables to a good day of fishing besides the weather, but these help me get the most from my time on a trip. Ultimately, the moisture we’re getting now is going to provide us with a great summer of fishing in the months ahead. Check out our page at http://www.driftlessonthefly.com for information on guided trips and lessons as well as pictures from our most recent trips.

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