Monday, January 12, 2015

Icefishing, January 11, 2015

Knowing a lot of local anglers can be interesting.  Many people I knew, and many people I didn't know, went icefishing on Saturday, January 10.

Most of the guys I know had an INCREDIBLE day!  I saw their pictures of awesome walleyes, big bass, super-fat perch, and personal-best crappies.

But I didn't go fishing on Saturday.  I went for 4 hours on Sunday.  Before I headed out, I heard from a friend that said nobody was catching anything.  Nobody was even ON the local ponds, whereas the day before there were lots of people out.  Later I heard from guys that fished both days, that Sunday was MUCH SLOWER.

So...I changed my plan to try to icefish for trout, and instead just headed to the same local pond I've been icefishing this season.  Its not even a particularly GOOD pond to icefish.  Its just convenient.

Well, I'm satisfied with my BIG fish were caught, but the numbers were satisfactory.

I started out using a Lindy Frostee spoon tipped with a dead waxworm (cuz I forgot to buy fresh ones during the week).  I caught some fish on that, but the number of strikes and number of fish hooked increased when I switched to a tungsten jig tipped with a waxworm.

I ended up catching over 35 Bluegills, 4 Black Crappies, 1 White Crappie, and 1 Largemouth Bass.

I forgot to mention....the ice the previous Saturday was 5" thick.  It was very cold all week.  This Sunday (8 days later), the ice had improved to 9" thick!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015! Let's Get It Started!

I ice-fished with my buddy Jay on Saturday, January 3, 2015.  Weather was a decent 32 degrees F, wind of less than 10 mph, mostly cloudy.  Ice was excellent quality, 5" thick.

We fished the same pond I had ice-fished back in November and December.  Really need to try a different body of water NEXT time.  :)

We marked fish in the main basin.  They seemed eager to bite at first, but soon turned to "lookers".  They would follow, but not strike.  So, it was fun to watch the fish on the electronics, but we weren't catching much.  My first fish of the year was a Largemouth Bass.

We drilled holes and checked all over the main basin for active fish, but the story was similar everywhere.  We finally moved towards the west end of this pond, and found a lot more fish, and many were very willing to strike.

I ended the day with at least 15 Bluegills (up to 8"), 1 Black Crappie (11"), 1 White Crappie (8"), and at least 8 Largemouth Bass (up to 13").  All were caught on a 1/16th oz Lindy Frostee Jigging Spoon tipped with a waxworm.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thank You, 2014!

Fishing has temporarily wrapped up in my area while I wait for the ice to get thick enough to fish on/through.
Time to celebrate and muse over what kind of year 2014 was (for fishing).

First, let me try to generalize 2014's seasonal weather patterns that we experienced here in Iowa.
2014 was characterized by a quick warm-up in the Spring.  I was icefishing through 14"+ of ice one day, went on Spring Break for a week, and came back to start fishing open water!
Spring was followed by a comfortably warm summer that never quite reached its typical hot furnace demeanor.  Actually, you could say it was unusually cool, and this would be substantiated by most of the U.S. having a cooler-than-average summer while the rest of the world was much warmer than average.
Summer in turn was followed by a long, drawn-out Fall.  Temps seemed to hover in the 60's for much of September, October, and first 1/2 of November.
We had the earliest safe-ice (4") for icefishing BEFORE THANKSGIVING (extremely rare), and then several ice-off / ice-on cycles, resulting in some VERY LATE-season open-water fishing...even for a day or two AFTER Christmas (also EXTREMELY rare)!  Crazy!
The white bass Fall run was ok, but would have been better with warmer stable weather.  It didn't seem to last as long as it should have, and was rather spotty.

Now on to the fishing statistics from my yearly Fishing Log.
I decided that rather than typing up a big long text description, I will just post the summary page from my Fishing Log here as images.

This summary page of my Fishing Log, I copy over and add onto each subsequent year, so I can directly compare each of the last 9 years (so far) that I've kept this electronic log.

I will say that 2014 missed tying my 2nd best (most fish in a year) year by 8 fish!  Dang...I should have stayed longer on my last trip!!!  :)

Other than that, 2014 was not my best in any category...but 2nd best in a couple.  I did catch more Largemouth Bass this year than in any of the previous 8 years.

Some notable catches this year:
I caught my first Dorado (Mahi Mahi) this year, and my first Goldfish(es) on a fly rod.  I also caught Personal Best FLY ROD fish of the following species:
-Smallmouth Bass (17")
-Hybrid Sunfish (9.25")
-White Bass (16")
-Rainbow Trout (14.5")
-Smallmouth Buffalo (24.5")
-Pumpkinseed Sunfish (8.5")
-Goldfish (6")

-I had previously caught pike on flies in Canada, and this year I finally landed one on a fly in Iowa!

I caught 18 species on the fly rod this year.

Some highlights were the Dorado:
The Goldfish:
Some 13" Crappies:
A 20" Largemouth Bass I managed to catch 3 times on flies this year:
And a 30" Common Carp:

2014 was a pretty decent year for fishing, all things considered.
I'm looking forward to what 2015 will have to offer!

Good luck to all of you, and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 29, 2014

LAST Open Water Flyfishing for 2014

I flyfished a local public pond on December after Christmas.  Still had open water.  As I write this today, December 29, the local ponds are once again (4th time this season?) covered in ice, and it appears they will remain that way until Spring.

I flyfished for 3 hours in 33 degree F weather, used a chartreuse microjig under a strike indicator.  Caught 45 small crappies.
That should do it for fishing this year.  :)
I'll post a separate blog entry detailing my year, and giving all the year-end statistics. :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Open Water Flyfishing Report, 12-14-2014

I'm reiterating some of this, as I find this season's weather so far very interesting.

As I may have mentioned in my previous blog entry,  central Iowa had fishable ice abnormally early in the season.  I fished through 4" of ice on November 22.  This was the EARLIEST in the season I have ice-fished, as far as I can remember.

Then, the ice melted COMPLETELY, and we had open-water once again.  It soon re-froze, and I fished through 4"+ of ice on Dec. 6.

By the following weekend, the ice turn sour again. By Sunday afternoon, some local ponds had at least SOME open water, and a couple were 100% ice-free.  I went ice-fishing.  This was the LATEST in the season I flyfished open water.  Of course streams and rivers can stay open year-round, but for pond fishing in Iowa, this is extremely unusual.

I did well...flyfished for 90 minutes around dusk, caught 33 Crappies, 1 Largemouth Bass, and 1 Hybrid Sunfish on a chartreuse microjig under an indicator.

The local ponds eventually lost ALL of their ice, again.  And as expected, the weather has again turned cold, and the lakes are freezing over once again, for the third time this season!

Monday, December 8, 2014

IceFishing Report, 12-6-2014

I got out icefishing locally on November 22, which is pretty early for this area!  We had  safe 4" of ice for a couple of days.   I didn't have any live bait, so I just tried a variety of icejigs and small spoons tipped with plastics (some were scented, such as various Gulp! products).  I caught bass, bluegills and crappies, but it warmed up that afternoon, and I felt unsafe with the ice cracking under me, so I left.  Within a couple days after that, the ice deteriorated and completely disappeared again.

Fast forward to this week.  Ice started appearing again last weekend and got better over the course of the week.
I ice-fished a public pond in town on Saturday from 9:15am-1pm.  I would have like to have stayed longer, but I had other stuff to do.  The ice was 4" or better everywhere.  It was still in good shape when I left, but once again there are some warmer days in this week's forecast.  Not sure if the ice will stay good or not.

I was using a 1/16th oz Lindee Frostee spoon the entire time, tipped with a waxworm.  The waxworms made a big difference in getting the bluegills to commit, compared to tipping with plastics.

I ended up catching 35+ bluegills, 4 bass (to 13"), 3 crappies (11", 11", 10"), and 1 green sunfish.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Most Effective Fly Patterns of 2014

The title of this makes me chuckle.  Ask 10 fly anglers what their favorite fly patterns were this past year, and you will more than likely get 10 different answers.  Everyone has favorite patterns, ones that work well for them.  Sometimes they work well for others too, sometimes not.

And that's OK!  Some of my favorites from several years ago no longer get fished as often, and have dropped lower on my favorites list.  Are those "old favorites" still effective?  In most cases yes.  When they no longer perform up to my expectations, sometimes I can explain it away that my local fish have LEARNED not to hit that pattern as much over the years.  True or not, it makes me feel better.

In other situatons, I have a much more difficult time explaining why something works less well this year than in past years.  Stocked trout are a good example.  They haven't had time to get caught and learn to avoid something.

I'm going to list my favorites by species, but I will only touch on species where I actually HAVE a new favorite, or at least a solid presentation.  Maybe some of these will work for you, too.

This isn't new to me this year, but is the best crappie presentation I've seen the past couple of years.  It is a 1/80th oz microjig, usually set @ 18" beneath an indicator.  If crappies are around, they will hit this.  Best color can vary, but usually chartreuse is a color they can't seem to leave alone.  Other good colors are red body/chartreuse tail, or gold or silver metallic chenille bodied microjigs (a version also called a Springbrook Wunder).   I'm sure lots of other colors would work, so try your favorite crappie colors.

Largemouth Bass & Smallmouth Bass:
Topwaters are definitely my favorite way to fish for Largemouth Bass.  I mainly tried 2 types this year.  I think I talked about each of them in detail in earlier blogs this year.

The first type is a sort of smallish (by bass standards) pre-formed foam head popper:
This caught a very good number of both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass this year, and is reasonably easy to cast.

The second type is a "blockhead popper", made from cut pieces of foam flip-flops.
These are odd-looking natural bass food items have such sharp angles.  With the light weight and large flat face, these take a bit more effort to cast.  Totally worth it, these things catch BASS!  Like the popper style above, I caught both river Smallmouth Bass and pond/lake Largemouth Bass on them.  These REALLY push a lot of water, and seemed to excite large bass in the waters I fished.  These Blockheads are my new favorite bass poppers!

As far as subsurface patterns for bass, I didn't stumble onto any new great patterns for Largemouth Bass.  I did, however, have a pretty good day flyfishing for Smallmouth Bass using a Pearl Shiner:

I caught good numbers of Smallies from a local river that day, including a pair of 17-inchers, and lost a third one of around the same size.  Those are NICE fish around here!

Channel Catfish:
I didn't catch many catfish while flyfishing this year, like only 4 I think.  But 3 of them were caught on the same evening on the same I will share that here.  Its a fairly simple baitfish imitation tied with Craft Fur and some Flashabou, and eyes.  The catfish hit this in a reservoir where gizzard shad is the main forage.

Stocked Rainbow Trout:
For the past couple of years, I've done well using a copper-colored beadhead Woolly Bugger variant called a Chili Pepper.  For some reason, that pattern didn't produce well this Fall.  Instead, I caught a lot of fish on SimiSeal Leech / Mohair Leech style fly, with a glass beadhead.

White Bass:
I tried a variety of flies for White Bass this year.  I caught fish, but also a lot of missed strikes on some baitfish imitations.  The pattern that got a lot of strikes AND good hookup percentage was a small, 1.5" long chartreuse over white Marabou Clouser Deep Minnow.

Yes, GOLDFISH!  :)  I'd been wanting to catch Goldfish on a fly for years...and finally did it this year.  Found a pond FULL of 'em...And its been that way for many years.  I first caught goldfish there as a kid....probably around 35 years ago!  Still, I tried a few things and just wasn't getting much interest from the fish.  I finally tried a #14 Red Fox Squirrel Nymph variant, and the fish really liked it.