Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 19, 2017

Its like February and March switched places this year.  February was unseasonably warm, and ice melted off the local ponds about 3-4 weeks earlier than usual.  March has been a roller coaster....warm days and cold days....more snow than December-February combined.  The local ponds actually refroze for a few days, before melting away once again.  Then, Monday was really nice...windy, but temperatures in the upper 60's F.  And today the temps are around 40, and it was just snowing an hour ago...around 11:30am.

Fortunately, I was able to get out and do some flyfishing locally on Sunday afternoon.  It was really windy.

I caught a fish on my first cast!  And on my last cast!  And on some casts in-between!  ;o)

Tried to keep the wind at my back or side for much of the time.  But fishing slowed, and I decided to try the downwind side of the pond...and attempt to cast into that brutal wind.  Well...the fish were definitely there, and in better numbers and more aggressive than on the upwind side of the pond.

I ended up landing/releasing 2 Largemouth Bass, 1 Hybrid Sunfish (Pumpkinseed x Bluegill), 4-5 Crappies, and well over 20 Bluegills.  It was a very enjoyable afternoon.  Although I tried for Largemouth Bass with a larger fly for awhile, I didn't have any strikes on it.  Everything was caught on a chartreuse microjig about 18" below a strike indicator.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Last Week of February, 2017

Still seems crazy that we even have OPEN WATER right now.  It has cooled of a bit since our week of unseasonably warm weather....but we've still had some warm days and cooler days.

I flyfished on Monday during my lunch hour.  The previous week I was catching lots of crappies, but this cooler week, I didn't catch any crappies at all.  Just a couple bluegills and a 9.5" Hybrid Sunfish:
Then I flyfished again that evening, for about an hour before it got too dark.  Caught a few more bluegills from a different pond, and a Pumpkinseed Sunfish:
On Tuesday, temps hit @ 60 around noon, but then started cooling off into the low 50's a couple hours later after the wind shifted to out of the north.  I started fishing around 2:30pm.  My buddy Jay caught a couple crappies, but I couldn't get any decent strikes.  I put on a bass fly I call the Jerkbait Fly, because its foam underbody allows to nearly suspend high in the water column.  I've tied it in various colors.  Here's some I tied last night:
I ended up catching 3 bass and missing 3 others.  Biggest was a beautiful 20"!

Here's the smaller ones:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Here in Ankeny, Iowa, the ice on all the local public ponds is gone. On February 10, there were still some guys icefishing these ponds. A week later on February 17, they 100% open! Crazy warm weather for mid-February! Its very unusual, but I can't say I don't enjoy it.
So, I took Friday off and tried out a new fly rod/reel.
As I mentioned previously, I got an Allen Kraken reel and a Douglas Sky 9' 6wt rod. The Sky won the Yellowstone Angler 2016 6wt Rod Shootout.

Anyway, I fished 6 ponds on Friday. Caught 1 Crappie at the first one, 1 Bluegill at the second one, skunked at the 3rd, 6 Crappies at the 4th, Skunked at the 5th, and 4 Bluegills, 1 Crappie and 1 Bass at the 6th. Crazy day, slow fishing, but beautiful weather for it.

Lots of Muskrats out and about too:

Then I went fishing Sunday late-afternoon. Again, very nice weather. I was hoping to get a Pumpkinseed Sunfish, and was successful.  Caught 2...plus 2 that looked like Pumpkinseed x Bluegill Hybrids...and 6+ Bluegills.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Some New Gear to Play With!

I've been pretty happy with the flyfishing gear I've been using the past year or two.

I read Yellowstone Angler's 2016 6wt Fly Rod Shootout:

I've never owned "top of the line" expensive flyfishing gear.  And yet....flyfishing is what I do.  I love it.  Why DON'T I have some truly top-notch gear?  It isn't really that I don't WANT it.  Of course I do.  My 2nd fly rod was SO MUCH better than my first one....it made me actually enjoy using it, put a smile on my face when I was fishing.  So, yeah, I KNOW there's a difference in gear.  Its up to each individual to determine whether expensive gear is worth the price tag....and whether they are willing to pay that price.

Normally...I'm not willing to pay a high price.  I'm still not, really.  But after reading that review, I decided I wanted to try the Douglas Sky rod, the one that won their "Shootout".  It sounds perfect for the varieties of flyfishing I do.  And I also wanted an Allen Kraken reel for it.  I've had excellent experiences with a variety of Allen products (rods, reels, hooks, beads, etc.). The Dorado color option on their Kraken reel has captured my attention for some time.

To lessen my guilt of buying these items, I decided to fund their purchase by selling some of the flyfishing rods and reels I no longer use much.  Some items I sold locally, some online, and some I traded in.  I feel I got really good deals on the items I purchased, and so far actually have a surplus of money from the sale of my items....so I may buy an extra reel.  Haven't decided for sure, yet.

I got the Douglas Sky 9' 6wt fly rod.  Looks and feels great! As the ice melts off the local waters, I hope to use it maybe later this week.

And the Allen Kraken reel....its beautiful!  To some it may seem gaudy.  But to a fisherman, Chartreuse ROCKS!  And everybody loves electric blue....so the Dorado color pattern suits me just fine!

I'm certain when the fish see me approaching the water with this awesome new gear, they will be jumping onto the bank BEGGING for me to catch them!  That's how this is all supposed to play out, right?

Early Season Warmwater Flyfishing Game Plan

Its about a month earlier than normal, but the ice is starting to melt off the local public ponds.
Its time to get ready or BE ready to flyfish at any moment.

My buddy Jay shared with me that a recent issue of one great fishing magazine, In-Fisherman, recommended the use of a small hair jig under a bobber for catching early season Largemouth Bass.

I hadn't really associated the two before, but its basically the same fly rod technique (microjig - indicator) I use early season for everything....bass, crappies, bluegills, etc.  I tie my own, many colors, but ALWAYS have plenty of Chartreuse on hand!  I use 1/80th oz jigheads, with #8 hooks (or #10, but I like the #8's better if I can find them).

I don't target bass with this method, but I do catch them.  One of the first bass I caught last year was 18.75", caught in this manner.

The beauty is in the slow movement of an apparent easy "meal"...the water is cold the fish's metabolism is still somewhat slow, they aren't super-aggressive yet.  But icefishing has shown us that many warmwater fish never really stop eating during the winter...and sometimes they are downright FEROCIOUS beneath the ice!  So...I've learned to temper my mindset of what the activity of early-season fish really looks like.

Now, this technique doesn't just work early season...it can and does work all year.  Even for nice bass.  I caught plenty of nice bass with this technique last year, while targeting bluegills, crappies and other sunfish.  Of the 11 Largemouth Bass 18"-20" I caught on flies last year, I think 4 of them hit a little microjig under an indicator.  It always surprises me when it happens.  Its such a small morsel for a big-mouthed fish....its seems like a marlin eating plankton.

But anyway, this is a great early season flyfishing technique for MANY early-season warmwater fish.  If you haven't tried it yet, give it a shot soon!  :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Darned Paparazzi!

They never leave a guy in peace!  There I am…just a guy minding his own business and icefishing….and I end up on the Des Moines Register website AND the Channel 5 ABC NEWS broadcast! ;o)
At least, in the times we are living in, I can appreciate being in the news for something that isn’t BAD!

So, actually, I was helping out at an ice fishing event at the DMACC Pond in Ankeny on Sunday.  The Ankeny Optimist club and DNR hosted the event, and Central Iowa Anglers helped.  The purpose of the event was to get folks of all ages, who hadn’t tried icefishing or wanted to learn more about it, out on the ice and show them how to do it.  There was a good turnout.  Had folks from as far away as Ames, Altoona and Waukee show up.  Lots of kids.  Seemed everyone caught at least one fish, and nobody fell through the ice.

Here’s a link to more photos from the event on the Des Moines Register website, and a screen capture of the best picture (right?):

Here’s the link to the Channel 5 news video that they broadcast on Sunday at 5:30pm…and a screen capture from their website:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Icefishing 1-1-2017

Fished with Jay.  We visited a different pond than the one I fished last week.  7" of decent ice.  Jay was smart and knew when to cut his losses, although he certainly caught his share of fish.  I stayed way too long...fished from 9:15am-5pm.
Action was very slow and the fish really seemed negative.  Had a few aggressive crazy fish that helped the day pass.
I caught 1 bass, 4-5 pumpkinseeds, 4 hybrids sunfish, and 20 +/- bluegills.
Caught 2 Master Angler-sized pumpkinseeds...9" and 9.5".

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ice Fishing in Central Iowa - December 24, 2016

After seeing the windy/rainy forecasts for Sunday and Monday, I decided to rearrange some plans in order to free up Saturday (24th) for icefishing, while the ice is still in good condition.

Visited one local pond, had 9" of good ice.  Caught a bunch o' fish....largemouth bass, bluegills, hybrid sunfish, and pumpkinseed sunfish.  First time I'd ever caught pumpkinseeds from this pond.

I tried a few different ice-lures, the most effective for this day seemed to be a Lindy Frostee Spoon tipped with a waxworm.


Hybrid Sunfish:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 Flyfishing Summary

So, yeah....brrrrrr!   I don't think I'll be going flyfishing in the next couple weeks, so its a good time to summarize this past year's open-water efforts.  I feel it was a pretty good fishing year.  I fished some new-to-me lakes and streams again this year, but as usual MOST of my fishing was at various local public ponds.
I didn't keep an electronic fishing log this year, so I don't have all the facts, totals, and statistics that I have been able to share in each of the previous 10 years.

Here's what I do know, however:
-I set 18" bass as an arbitrary minimum size to track.  I landed 11 Largemouth Bass over 18" on flies.  This was 1 more than last year.  2 qualified as Master Angler size of 20" minimum.  Of these big bass, 5 were caught on a little microjig!  Most of the other ones were caught on topwater.
-I landed 1 Smallmouth Bass over 18".  First ever that big on a fly rod for me, even though my all-tackle best is 20".  The battle was VERY impressive!
-I landed two Master Angler-sized Redear Sunfish.  Minimum size on those is 11".  Biggest one was almost right at 12", but I couldn't lay the fish flat enough in my kayak to get a better measurement, so I just called it 11.75".  Digital scale said 1.45 lbs.  Beautiful fish!
-I caught one Master Angler-sized crappie at 14.5".  It would be just an average nice fish from some of our bigger lakes/reservoirs, but its a heckuva nice crappie from our public ponds!
-I caught several 9"+ Master Angler-sized Pumpkinseed Sunfish.  Biggest measured 9.5".
-Caught at least 16 species on flies this year, all in Iowa.  Not quite as many as in some years, but not too shabby.
-Caught Flyrod Personal Bests for 4 species....Smallmouth Bass, Redear Sunfish, Black Crappie, and Pumpkinseed Sunfish.
-Hooked at least 3 (if not more) Grass Carp on flies this year.  Didn't manage to land ANY of them.

Again, I didn't keep an electronic Fishing Log, so unlike past years I don't know what my fish total for the year was, or how many days I fished.  I enjoyed it all the same, and I'm pleased with the results.
Hope you've enjoyed your fishing in 2016 as well. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 26, 2016

Weather in central Iowa recently has been unseasonably AWESOME.  Daytime highs in the low- to mid-60's (F), light winds, sunny.  The end to this great weather was in sight, so I picked the best day of the remainder of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to go flyfishing.  It was a slightly cooler (highs in the mid-50's and breezy), but still a good day for this late in the season.

I hit a couple local ponds.  The first one I drove by was hosting thousands of geese, ducks and seagulls (FYI, it always cracks up us Iowans when we see seagulls....we can't hardly get any farther from the ocean than we are!).  Waterfowl don't bother me much...they keep their distance, but they DO muddy up the water considerably by their activities along the shallow margins of the ponds.  So, I knew the pond would be pretty much ruined for fishing due to the waterfowl mud.  I proceeded to another pond.

The water was fairly clear.  Only a couple ducks around.  No fish were spotted in the shallows.  So, I set a microjig about 3' beneath an indicator and began fishing.  I'd fished nearly 1/2 way around the pond before I finally got a strike, but it was the first of many.  I ended up catching @ 15 Crappies and 6 Bluegills.  There is another pond just 20 yards from this one so I fished that one as well.  I caught some nice Bluegills to 9" in this pond, and 3 Largemouth Bass. The biggest bass measured an estimated 16".  I also briefly set the hook into something that really didn't move much, before the hook came free.  Was it a snag?  Giant bass?  Jumbo catfish? I'll never know, but it was an exciting second of a heavy weight on the end of the line!

Anyway, it was an enjoyable late-season day of flyfishing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

First Week of November, 2016

The weather in central Iowa has been unseasonably warm.  Excellent fishing conditions for this late in the year!

Largemouth Bass have been hitting poppers, shallow/suspending baitfish, and unweighted black nymph/leech patterns.



Hybrid Sunfish:


9" Pumpkinseed Sunfish:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Late October-November 1, 2016

The Iowa DNR did their Fall Urban Trout Program fish stockings in one of the nearby lakes.  I fished it 3 days.  Water in the lake was higher than normal, so the fish seemed to enjoy touring/feeding over the shallow shoreline flats, where historically it was too shallow for them to feel comfortable. Consequently, the beadhead patterns we have become accustomed to catching lots of trout on did not work nearly so well so far this season.  Small unweighted and even floating flies have been far more effective.
Some fog on the lake early in the morning:

Here's my buddy Jay with a feisty topwater trout:
I would usually fish from @8:20am-11:30am.  The fish would seem to take a nap about then, probably gearing up for a big afternoon blitz.  I would head to some local public ponds to pass the afternoon.
12.5" White Crappie:

And a decent Pumpkinseed Sunfish:

On Tuesday, November 1, I finally went fishing during lunch again.  It had been at least several weeks since my last lunch-hour outing.  It started off slow, but then picked up for the last 10 minutes.  Ended up catching @ 7 Bluegills, 3 Crappies, and 1 Largemouth Bass.  The bass measured 16", but seemed bigger.
It hit an unweighted black mylar chenille "bugger".