Monday, October 5, 2015

October Bass in Iowa

I have no explanation for it, but many of my local fish in Central Iowa seemed to have a serious case of lockjaw during the month of September.  Fishing was great, but catching was TOUGH!

With the start of October, the fish seem to have gotten over whatever issue they had with holding up their end of the flyfishing game.  Perhaps they are satisfied with their contract negotiations?  I've been reading too many sports articles lately, I think.

Anyway, I went flyfishing Sunday morning, October 4, 2015.  It was cloudy, with a slight breeze that would occasionally die down to practically nothing.  Air temperature was chilly....started off around 40 degrees F, and rose to maybe into the upper 50's before I left.  I wore a hoodie over a longsleeve tee, and long underwear under my jeans.  Only my hands got a bit chilled, especially after getting wet.

Fishing was good!  As usual, I was hoping to spot a Grass Carp, but never saw one.  I caught a full size range of bass... from a trio of 3.5-inchers to a pair of 18-inchers.  Lost one good one after numerous jumps near shore.  Also had one break my line near the knot as lifted it from the water, and it fell back in and swam off, blockhead popper still sticking out of its mouth ahead of its nose.  I hate to see fish swim off with my fly still in them....I expected this fish to wear this foam jewelry for awhile, but just a few minutes later the popper floated back to the surface and I was actually able to make a series of, need I say, amazing casts....and retrieved the popper for future use. :)

Here's pictures of the two 18" bass:

Typically at this pond, a fishing trip might yield 0-2 Pumpkinseed Sunfish.  They seem to have an affinity for the color Chartreuse! I love catching them because they fight well and are absolutely beautiful I was pleased to catch 5 of them on this trip.  The biggest measured a hair over 8.5".  These two were practically twins:
Finally..a great day for CATCHING!  :)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Iowa Smallmouth Bass, 9-26-2015

I headed up to wade and flyfish a river for Smallmouth Bass on Saturday morning.  Fished from @ 8:30- noon.

The water in the river has been high to very high most of the summer.  The water level has been falling, but it was still a bit high and fast and not very clear.  The high water all summer seems to have scoured the river deeper, and there are lots more trees in the river, including some biggies that have fallen off the bank and nearly blocked the entire width of the river!

Wading in the deeper water wasn’t much fun, and the whole experience seemed a lot more like WORK than enjoyment.  But I really wanted to make one more trip up there this year, and this was my opportunity.  I saw 8 Wild Turkeys fly over the river, which was pretty cool.

I caught 8 Smallies, 2 Creek Chubs, and 1 Striped Shiner.

I waded out into the river in one spot, went up over my navel, and decided to back up before I went even deeper.  I walked back up onto the sandy tributary creek delta I’d just walked out on (had maybe 4” of water flowing over it), and the surface sand gave way and I went thigh deep into the sand, which instantly locked up solid around my leg and ankle.  It was weird.  My other foot was calf-deep in it.   At least when my deeper foot went down, it seemed to stop at a fairly solid subsurface.  Wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get out of that mess, but I wasn’t in a hurry.  Somehow I even managed to get out and still keep my shoes on!

I waded down to the next tributary creek, and saw another fly angler wading just downstream of me.  I saw him catch a decent smallie, so figured he knew what he was doing.   I got out and left.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Reservoir Carp

I owe my first flyrod carp of the year to my buddy Jay.  I was starting to think I wouldn't get one this year!  Its been a weird year locally...carp have been nearly absent from their usual shoreline feeding areas.
Jay was out at a local reservoir looking for White Bass yesterday.  Nothing going on, so he switched to his fly rod and tried for carp.  He made 5 casts with his fly rod, and caught 3 nice carp within 45 minutes!! Epic battles on his 5 wt!  He said he never had to wait long for a strike!  He also caught one the previous day.  His were decent sized fish....he estimated up to the 28"-30" range.
I made it out during lunch today. I managed to get one (and a bluegill), but not nearly as big as Jay's.

We were both just floating an unweighted white woolly bugger (fly) under an indicator! When they hit, they just...swim off.  Not super-fast, but the takes weren't subtle.  Pretty fun!
I had two carp try to eat my indicator, and watched another one eat something that was floating on the surface.  If I'd had more time, I would have switched to topwater, and probably would have been able to catch one that way!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Summer / Fall Bass on Topwater

Don't forget about Largemouth Bass at this time of year!  They feed aggressively as the water cools down through Fall.  And yes, they definitely will hit topwater flies.
Here's some nice fish from this month:





This healthy bass measured 19.5":

Friday, August 21, 2015

NE Iowa - Waterloo & North Bear Creeks, Aug. 19-20, 2015

Day 1:
Crazy weather for August 19th (my birthday)!  Drizzle and 53 degrees when we arrived to fish Waterloo Creek.  We layered up to stay warm/ yes, l looked absolutely ridiculous in what I ended up wearing. :)
Waterloo has naturally-reproducing Brown Trout (no stockings), and stocked Rainbows & Brook Trout.  We fished the stretch below the parking access  that is downstream of the Bee Rd bridge.
Tough section!  Very few deep pools, and lots of weed-packed shallow stretches that look devoid of fish, or extremely difficult to fish properly.
I did make friends with cows...
Jay got on the board quickly, with a Brookie and a Rainbow.  It took me awhile to finally find a fish, but it was a nice, 17.25" Brown Trout:
I did manage to catch the trout Grand Slam here, but overall numbers were very low.
After an early dinner, we hit the lower C & R section, which I think has recently been "improved".  The weed growth was nearly impenetrable along the banks, and the creek bottom was really soft clay crap that really wasn't conducive to safe wading.  I caught a Creek Chub and one more Rainbow here.
The big surprise in that stretch was...Jay caught a chunky Smallmouth Bass...
...While I was shocked to catch 2 Northern Pike!

Day 2:
Day 2 was still unseasonably cool, but better than Day 1.  And the wind was more of a factor today, as we fished a pasture section of the upper North Bear Creek.  (We didn't get pictures of our new set of bovine friends, but they seemed to like us....and sang to us for quite awhile.)  Casting was easier in the cow-mowed pasture area, but the abundance of thistles still caught our lines WAY more often than we'd care to admit.
I like this stream section!  Interesting runs, which the Brown Trout seem to prefer, and intermittent deeper pools to waste time trying to catch non-feeding brookies, rainbows, and the occasional brown.  :)  I got a trout Grand Slam here as well, along with better numbers of fish.  Jay caught his first-ever Brown Trout, and his first trout Grand Slam.
We were worn out by 1:30pm, so we gave it up and began our journey home.  NE Iowa is always a good time!
Thank you to everyone that gave me tips on where to fish, where to stay, and where to eat!  I appreciate it! :)
Everything was caught on a gold Springbrook Wunder microjig, or a Beadhead Gold Woolly Bugger.  Here's the microjigs I tied up for this trip:

Monday, August 3, 2015

McLoud Run, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

My wife and I went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa,  Saturday evening to watch Jim Gaffigan (comedian) live. We spent the night, and I woke up early to flyfish McLoud Run, Iowa's only urban trout stream. I'd never fished it before.

The banks were overgrown with tall vegetation, and trees overhanging the water. Really NOT the most enjoyable place to flyfish. The stretch I fished paralleled I-380 and a paved bike trail on one side, and train tracks on the other side. At one point, my ankles and calves were swarmed by biting ants... Its not a big stream, but to avoid the ants and brush, I was soon wading the stream. Wet wading. Being spring-fed, the stream maintains a temperature of @ 55 degrees F year-round.... or so I've read. I believe was cold! I managed, but at one point standing in deeper water, it became almost uncomfortably cold.

The stream is stocked in June mainly with fingerling Brook & Brown Trout, along with some catchable size Rainbows. Again, this is what I've read, but I can't easily verify it. I saw some nice fish of all 3 trout species, and some large suckers. What I caught, however, were smaller fish, including the Rainbows. Could there be some natural reproduction here?

The stream is Catch & Release Only, and Artificial Lures Only, so all trout could be holdovers.

Anyway, with my first 3 fish landed, I'd managed my first trout "Grand Slam", catching all 3 species. I ended with 1 Brown Trout, 5 Brook Trout, 7 Rainbow Trout, and 1 Creek Chub.

All were caught on a gold Springbrook Wunder (microjig) indicator.

And most of the fish came from faster water. I spent too much time fishing a single large pool with some decent fish visible. Some were occasionally hitting the surface. I drifted a beetle imiation through the pool a number of times with no interest from the fish. I tried a bunch of other stuff, and the only thing that seemed to get the fish interested was a beadhead Pearl Bugger. No strikes, but boy they sure liked to follow and look at that. Compared with ignoring my other offerings, I though I was onto something. Again....I spent way to long at that pool. It was the closest deeper pool to the parking area. Highest fishing pressured hole on the whole stream, most likely. I knew better, but was too lazy to move on. I had to get back to the hotel to pick up my wife before check-out time anyway.

Of course I almost never take a photo of the "boring" or "typical" stretches of the stream, but at least you can see something from these pics:

There's a line of big eletrical poles going right down through the stream in the section I fished. Fortunately, the poles anchor fish habitat in some spots.

And below is the pool where I overspent my time. If you can zoom in, you can see a bunch of fish in the middle of the pool. Many are suckers, and some are trout.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Warmwater / Coldwater Flyfishing in NE Iowa

After reading a blogged trip report ( ) from my friend Chad, I decided I had ignored the flyfishing potential of NE Iowa for FAR too long.

My buddy Jay and I loosely planned a 2-day fishing trip to the area.  I picked the town and hotel we would overnight in.  Yeah....hotel.  :)  We could have camped, but that would have just added a lot more stuff we would need to pack and organize.  It was just easier to spend the night in a hotel, and be able to sleep in air conditioning, shower and eat a free breakfast.  We used to have camping fishing trips, but we are older and more susceptible to weather than we used to be.  And other lame excuses.

We knew for sure we wanted to hit one river to target Smallmouth Bass at least one day.  The rest we would "play by ear".

So, it was roughly a 3-hour drive from Ankeny, Iowa, to our destination.
We drove straight to the river access we had chosen (not the same one Chad used, as it turns out).  The first thing we noticed is that the river was rather low.  The flow when Chad visited it was 136 cfs.  The flow when we arrived was 28 cfs.  The water was still crystal clear as Chad had described.  Beautiful water, beautiful river valley with limestone bluffs reaching the waters edge on one side.  The river supports an abundance of for Smallmouth Bass.  There were crayfish, chubs, various suckers and other smaller minnows, plus aquatic nymphs living amongst the rocks in the sections between the sandy runs.

LOTS of suckers!

I enjoy catching new species to add to my "fly rod species" list.  The first day, I added 4 new species!
In addition to Smallmouth Bass and Creek Chubs that I'd caught before, I also caught a Golden Redhorse Sucker, a White Sucker, some Rock Bass, and some Striped Shiners.
Here's pictures of all of those species, in order:

The best fly of the day for most species was a Tequeely:

A Pearl Shiner also did well:
(And...a random picture of a couple Tiger Swallowtail butterflies we saw hanging out on a rocky sandbar.):
Around 5pm, we checked into our hotel, changed clothes and found a place to eat dinner in town.  After dinner, we figured we had a little time to scout a nearby trout stream, so off we went.  It was an embarrassingly tiny creek.  Neither of us had ever fished a stream this small for trout.  There were a few slightly deeper pools like this sweet-looking spot:
It took a bit to figure the stream out, and then the catching started.  In the brief time we had before the sky darkened, I landed 7 Rainbow Trout, all on a gold microjig.  3 came from the pool above, and 4 others came from more marginal areas further upstream.

We had lost most of our good Smallmouth Bass flies, so I suggested we try another nearby trout stream.
The stream was on private property, but posted for public fishing.  The parking area was strategically far from the creek.  This is probably why we didn't see any other anglers all day, although there was one other car in the parking area when we left.
After reaching the stream, we headed upstream and walked quite a long ways before we saw water deep enough to hold trout.  There were plenty of other fish in the shallow sections, though...Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Creek Chubs, suckers, etc.

We finally found some trout.
From the spot above, we took turns catching fish.  I caught 2 Brook Trout:

They sure are pretty!
Jay caught 2 Rainbows from the same spot.
We moved upstream and found some pools with decent depth, and there were trout in most of them.  These are some that I caught:

With plenty of Creek Chubs in the shallower sections.

Jay found a good little pool, and I let him have it while I moved further upstream.  I soon came upon the mother of all pools.  It was big and deep.  Beautiful scenery around it.  Trout occasionally grabbing stuff off the surface, but were otherwise invisible.  I caught a bunch of Rainbows and Brookies there.  Jay eventually joined me and caught some as well.

It was a LONG uphill walk (actually only about a mile) back to the car.  We headed back home from there.  Such and an awesome trip!  I'm already looking forward to going back!