Fly Fishing the Driftless // The Hidden Treasure of the Midwest
Iowa. Flat, cornfields, bean fields, more pigs than people... Most get to experience Iowa via Interstate 80 while passing through, which can give one a dull opinion of Iowa. The biggest cities in the state are centrally located, and outside of that you get farms and farmland. Oceans of corn fields and bean fields. Then you go north and east, towards Minnesota and Wisconsin, to find the Driftless. An area littered with spring fed, cold water streams that have more bug life and trout than you can shake a fly rod at. It's also anything but flat. Hills and limestone bluffs are everywhere, the woods are thick and you'll most likely spook a deer or a beaver.
Maybe it's beautiful and there are lots of nice little streams, but it certainly can't be productive and fun to fish, right? Wrong. It's extremely productive. The Iowa DNR and organizations like Trout Unlimited have done an incredible work keeping these streams healthy and able to sustain trout. Working with farmers to keep run off minimal, allowing land easements and keeping Iowa prairie land has proven to be effective. How good is the fishing?
I took a trip recently with Drew, and old college friend, who was introduced to fly fishing while he lived in Colorado. Colorado, where they have rivers and streams loaded with trout. This was Drew's first Driftless trip and we got into some trout right away. Lots of trout. In all we fished for 6 hours and caught 30+ fish. They were hungry for top water BWO, little nymphs pulled way down and even some noisy mice after sunset. I'd call it great fishing. Different than the rockies, than the west coast, than the east coast... It's unlike anything else. You have to experience it to understand it.
It's a hidden treasure. Trout fisherman know of it, a few outdoorsmen frequent it and you'll run into people camping every once in a while. But, for the most part people aren't here. No one thinks to themselves, "I'm going to travel to Iowa to go trout fishing." And you know what? Most of us who frequent this area are okay with that. It's difficult, really. When you know of something so beautiful and so true, you want to share it with everyone. You want them to know the freedom and experience the joy in truth. But don't share it too much, we can't lose out beloved hidden treasure. We want to be selfish. Keep it for ourselves. talk about our fishing spots in nondescript language. How do we move forward with our thoughts?
Come to Iowa if you want to catch fish. But really, don't tell too many people about it.