Special Oregon to Iowa Fishing Report

By Scott Satterlee

After living in Portland/Lake Oswego for the last 8 years I finally joined the Clackamas Fly fishers about the time that Covid hit, and I don’t think I’ve had a chance to meet anyone from the club. We moved to Iowa about two months ago and I decided I would fish my way east. I fished the Madison, Gibbon, Tongue, and Henry’s Fork. I had the best luck on the Tongue in Wyoming. However the most picturesque was the Madison. Throughout the day I saw hundreds of fish come to the surface, yet, even with sound advice (and flies) from the fly shop in Island Park, Idaho I walked away empty handed. Nevertheless it was so beautiful I did not feel disappointed. The Gibbon was better, though not crazy, just some good consistent fishing or rather catching. The Tongue was the best fishing, partly because I saw several Moose (from a safe distance), and had really good Brown trout fishing, though nothing huge. I fished that river in the Bighorn National Forest.

For those of you who might wander to Iowa or Wisconsin there is some good trout fishing here. Much different from Oregon or Washington, yet the Driftless region, particularly, offers many opportunities for both wild and stocked fish. In Iowa there is a native Brook trout population, and in some rivers, a well-established and naturally reproducing Brown trout fishery. Most of the time there are few, if any, other Anglers, and strangely the season is open year-round. Rattlesnakes are rare and Cougar are virtually unknown in these parts. One last bit of information, The Brule river in Northern Wisconsin offers some wonderful Brown trout fishing, when last I fished it with a guide, we started at about 9 PM and fished until 3 AM. I caught several large Browns, including one that was worthy of mounting (they all went back into the river). Fishing at night brought some interesting challenges, not the least of which was fishing in a tight bend as the sun set completely and the bats came out to feed. Like a scene from a Batman movie, we were surrounded by bats. It was only for five minutes, but it was a LONG five minutes. That said, I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

Finally, my wife and I went to Northern Minnesota and fished for Walleye. We did not fly-fish as they range from a minimum depth of 6 feet, and can be found as deep as 40. We also fished for Smallmouth and the fly-fishing was excellent. Many of the lakes on the Minnesota-Canadian border have wonderful Smallmouth fishing. For Walleye and Northern Pike we took a guide for three days, we caught our limit, and had shore lunch of Northern and Walleye (that we had caught that morning) daily. I can think of few things that we have enjoyed as much. As an aside, Northern Pike are super tasty, some say better than Walleye, and Walleye are the prized fish here. 

I would be glad to share any information I have, for any that have occasion to visit Minnesota, Iowa, or Wisconsin.

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