Sunday, January 20, 2013

No Pout for Iowa's Winter Trout


For all the years that I have traveled eastern and central Iowa I apparently have not been to every location - shocking, yes. Yesterday for example the 42N staff was out on a drive enjoying the last day of this week’s January thaw. So it was up to Manchester, Iowa to see the sites and enjoy the country side.

A sign posted a few miles southeast of town on county road D22 points to the state’s trout hatchery. I hadn't been to an open hatchery in decades so off the beaten path we went to investigate.

Along the way the land turns from relatively flat farm fields to hilly, timbered and with a spring-fed creek running along the road. At the Iowa DNR hatchery location there are a few one story buildings which are like extended ranch houses. In the hatchery’s open area tall fences surround holding ponds where you can see swarms of growing trout. Visitors can feed the fish using a bucket of fish food and Dixie cups available at the fence’s corner. Just pour a little in your hand and throw it over the fence, then watch the water boil in activity as the trout youngsters race to claim the food pellets.

On the west side of the parking lot a clear creek flows. There you can see freed trout in the stream which is only a few yards wide. We observed two anglers, one leaving and the other preparing to fish. The man dressed in waders walked down to the bridge, turned and began throwing a trout line upstream. A sign posted nearby proclaims any caught trout under 14 inches in length must be returned to the water immediately. By just glancing at the stream’s population of trout it appears that nearly a third of the fishes are over that minimum.

Need more of an Iowa trout fix? Then go to the DNR’s web site or see the hatchery’s live trout swimming in the holding ponds at this site.