North Bear Creek

My buddy T and I fished this stream after historic floods in the Decorah area.  I was worried about catching any fish on the weekend, but I had long had the nearby Fern Hollow Cabin ( rented for the weekend, and decided we’d give it a go.
North Bear was the #1 stream on my list, as I had read so many good things about it.  The sheer length of the stream made it a little intimidating.  Various sources talked about which of the 4 bridges would be most productive, most suited to which type of fishing style, etc.  My reasoning was that the further upstream we went, the clearer the water would be after the flooding.  So, we set off to fish upstream from Bridge #3.  As it turns out, I can’t read a map, and we landed at Bridge #2 and fished upstream from there.  This was fine, as we immediately began to catch ridiculous numbers of fish on gold Panther Martins (see movie above).  It was to the point that it was comical – every cast brought a very nice brown.  The area just north of the bridge is grazed down nicely.  As we proceeded upstream, it appeared that the valley would normally have chest-high weeds.  However, the flood had swept everything down, making it easy to follow the stream and cast at various holes.  Both T and I caught our largest fish of the weekend here – 14″ or so browns that fought like beasts.  I think we found some unusual confluence of displaced fish, a stream flooded with food from the rain, and who knows what else.  I’ll take it.  After a while we just couldn’t stop catching fish on every cast so we decided to try somewhere else.  Walking back downstream, we talked with a number of locals who were all fishing Power Bait on the bottom.  None of them were having any luck and they were flabbergasted that we were catching fish.
There is one thing about North Bear Creek that bears further examination.  A short walk from the access, there is a fenced yard with a willow tree, tire swing, dozens of bar stools, and a very large raccoon.  I’m not sure if this fellow is rabid, or if he is a pet and this is his yard.  He does not seem to have any fear of humans.  Mr. Raccoon took a long look at T and licked his lips.  T offered to get his pistol.  I sent him on along ahead and told him I’d deal with Mr. Raccoon.  I took a number of pictures, but didn’t have a zoom lens.  The above picture doesn’t do him justice, this fellow was at least 40 pounds.
On resuming my walk downstream, I saw T speaking with a local.  The guy was very surprised by T’s claims of catching 40+ fish.  I decided to play it cool, and said as I walked up, “Hey fellas, I usually like kitties a lot, but that one back there is awful bite-y.”  Then I walked on as the local looked over my shoulder to see Mr. Raccoon shivering in the warm September air, and did a double take back to me.
“Whut the???”
The locals don’t always know everything.
– September 24, 2016

Stream Name:
North Bear Creek
 Park or Wildlife Area: North Bear Creek WMA
 DNR Page:
 Access:  There are a variety of accesses along the length of North Bear.  These are referred to as bridges #1 – #4, going from south to north.
 Pros: Lots of very eager fish, nice scenery.
 Cons: A little crowded, possible rabid raccoon in his own weird little yard.
 Additional Information: Decorah visitor’s guide (large PDF)

My Ratings: (out of 10)

Fish Size:  10
 Fish Quantity: 10
Beauty: 7
Solitude:  5
Water Clarity: NA
Overall: 8.0

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