This is a guest post from my fishing buddy and brother, Mitch.
Most people reading this blog are already aware of the abundance of trout streams in the northeast corner of Iowa, but you may not know of the lone urban trout stream that runs through the middle of Cedar Rapids, just outside downtown. A cold water spring around 42nd Ave provides a year round supply of 55* water that flow roughly two miles to Cedar Lake.
The portion of the stream from 32nd Ave to J Ave is a city park and therefore is generally more free of trash and debris due to biannual stream clean ups. This stretch has also been “made over” to stabilize the banks and provide better cover. Though the run north of 32nd Ave lacks the stabilization and cut banks the park run contains, it contains a great number of trout with the occasional large (18 inch) fish.
As far as I am aware McLoud has no natural reproduction in the stream. It is stocked every June with many thousands of brown and brook trout fingerlings as well as several hundred catchable (~12 inch) rainbow trout. As a special fishery catch and release is required as well as the use of artificial lures only. This corresponds to very good hold over in the stream, which should account for the larger rainbows that I have encountered, as well as catchable brown and brook trout.
Now for the fun part. After being made aware of its presence in August of 2012 I have fished every part of the run from J Ave to where the spring dumps in. Most of the stretches on this roughly 1.5 mile course are fishable and hold fish. Be aware that if you see a number of large fish that you may actually be seeing creek chubs as they are plentiful. There are a number of riffles, deep holes, cut banks, and shallow stretches. Combine these with tight overhanging brush and you have incredible, but very challenging, trout habitat.
The vast majority of my experience on the stream has been with a spin set up. 4’8″ ultralight throwing size 0 Mepps. Using this I have caught fish in all areas of the stream. My favorite technique is to cast just below, if not into, a riffle and quickly reel out, but I have had just as much luck running a spinner past cut banks or through deep holes. Always look for structure in the holes that trout may gravitate to, such as large rocks or timber.
I haven’t had much time with a fly rod and will start off by saying it is a difficult stream for a novice to begin casting on. Being able to position yourself in and around the stream is key. This doesn’t necessarily involve wading, but being able to cross the water makes things easier. I would suggest using the shortest rod possible while still being able to perform a roll cast, 2-4 weight being ideal for the average size of trout. My best luck has been with woolly buggers along cut banks and below riffles.
While the past several years have been good to the trout population, McLoud’s ecosystem is always in a delicate state. The main water source is the aforementioned spring, but during rain events the run acts as a storm sewer. This means rain water falling on streets and parking lots is funneled into the stream. This causes chemical pollutants and garbage to be washed into the stream. However, it is another pollutant, heat, that does the most damage to the trout. In summer rain events, water falling on pavement absorbs heat from the asphalt or concrete and transfers the heat to the stream water. This can cause the temperature of the stream to spike to above 70* which is above the maximum a trout can survive. These temperature spikes have caused the deaths of thousands of fish in the history of McLoud Run. It has only been in recent years that the problem has been addressed, and therefore the current trout population is strong, at least for now.
I struggled with the idea of writing this post because I didn’t want to give up my own secret fishing hole, but in the end I thought it best to try to get word out about this awesome piece of trout heaven in the middle of Cedar Rapids. It also helps that I’m moving in a month. In general, the fishing is never crowded on McLoud, but remember to be courteous if you do run into a fellow fisherman. Keep a hole or two distance. When you encounter children throwing rocks in the water please inform their guardians they could potentially be destroying habitat and/or spooking fish. Lastly, and most important,if you ever get a chance to vote for or support improvements to McLoud Run, DO IT! One visit and you will recognize it for the jewel it is.