Monday, June 21, 2010

Great Fly-Fishing Outing - 6 Species!

I got to fly-fish with Jenni, Julie, Scott and Steve on Wednesday evening, 6-16-2010, at their private townhome-association pond.
We fished it a handful of times last year.  We know there are largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegills, hybrid sunfish, crappies, and grass carp in the pond.
Our main target is always the grass carp, because they are big fish!  It is also probably the biggest challenge to get them to strike a fly.  In order to tip the scales in my favor, I wore a "lucky shirt"...the one I was wearing when I caught my first grass carp ever on a fly from this pond last summer.

We couldn't really see the grass carp, so we would occasionally toss out some chunks of old hamburger buns to get the fish to feed on the surface.
We had a few strikes on large floating fly patterns that somewhat resembled bread, but no good hook-ups.

We took breaks during which we fished for the "other fish" in the pond.  We caught some small- and medium-sized bluegills, and some medium- and large-sized hybrid sunfish, like this 9-incher:

Next, we noticed some good activity near the inlet culvert, where we had seen some good bluegills hanging out earlier.  I suspected largemouth bass were chasing the bluegills.  So, I put on a foam bass popper fly and headed to the edge of that area.  After just a cast or two, I got a good strike, and an excellent battle ensued.  The bass never jumped, but kept trying to dive to the bottom of the pond.  It was a good fish, which measured at 19"...probably around 4 pounds:
I also caught a smaller bass from that spot, before switching locations and flies again.
We continued to have fun with the bluegills and hybrid sunfish.  I eventually landed a small crappie, too.  Then we fished again for the grass carp.  I switched to a fly that is nothing more than a craft-store "fluff ball" type thing, trimmed to the hook to provide maximum hook gape.  Unfortunately, it sinks, but it is easy to keep it suspended in the water column by VERY slowly retrieving line....just enough to keep all slack out of the line.  This technique worked!  I got a strike, set the hook, and the battle was ON!
I could tell it was a smaller fish than last year's big one, but it was still very strong and a good fighter.  Scott helped with the net, and I was eventually able to lead the fish into the shallows and into the net.  It is NOT a big net, but it worked...HOORAY!
It measured out at 33" length, and I ran this through a lenght-to-weight conversion for Grass Carp, and got an estimated weight of 17.5 lbs.

Well, to complete a clean sweep of all the fish species in this pond, I still needed a channel catfish.  I didn't have high hopes for this, so I just tied on a soft-hackle nymph that had been working well for the bluegills and sunfish in the pond.  I tossed out towards the middle of the pond, near some remaining floating chunks of bread that the bluegills were occasionally pestering, and began retrieving. BAM!  A very strong strike, but not big enough to be another grass carp.  Still this was a decent fish, and catfish always fight good.  I estimated this one to be @ 18" long.

6 species of fish, all on flies, in one evening!  Very awesome!!  Thanks Jenni & Julie for letting me fish with you at your pond again, its ALWAYS a very fun time, even if we don't catch anything.  And thanks for taking such great pictures...again!  Thanks also to Steve, for smoking some good cigars with me, and introducing me to Leinenkugel's "Summer Shandy" beer.  It was so good, I went and bought a case!


  1. Hi Dave
    Just found your blog, enjoyed reading about the big haul on all the species in the pond you were fishing. Great shots and awesome trip. I too am an avid fly fisherman and love to catch warm water species as well as trout. I feel our blogs parallel each other. I want to read more of your post, so I am going to become one of your followers. If you would like to become one of my followers my blog link is great background on your blog.

  2. Awesome grass carp! I live in W. Des Moines and at the Jordan Creek Mall there is a pond that has some big grass carp. One of my little boy's (and my) favorite things to do at the mall is throw bread out to the gold fish and its great when the big grassies come up like submarines and suck the bread off the top. I want to tie up a bread fly and catch one but it is posted no fishing. I have a gar hotspot down here so if you want to fish for them sometime come on down! Yes, Scott and I used to fish the crystal clear trout streams together out west. I ended up here in the Midwest for school and we finally got together to fish recently. All these new species have been a blast to target and I hope to do a lot more of it this year!

  3. That sounds great, Ben! Yeah, we should fish sometime...I've been wanting to chase gar with flies for a couple years now, but only tried it at Grays Lake. I was definitely NOT in the right spot there, although there are gar in the lake. Years ago I caught gar at Blue Heron (Raccoon Valley Park)on spinning gear, back in that large shallow bay on the east side of the lake. I see you guys used float tubes. I don't have one, but could bring my Kayak. Another thing we should do is road trip to Omaha and catch some of Scott's GIANT pet catfish! :)
    You know what...I should probably just take a day off this week and fish Blue Heron...maybe tomorrow? I wonder how flooded it is....and whether the parking lot by the boat ramp is even open?

  4. Yes, the gar at Gray's are spot specific. That is good to know about Blue Heron I need some additional spots to mix it up. I am actually out of town for quite awhile. I'll be back the third week of July and will have a few weeks then for fishing before classes start in August. As far as the flooding, I believe it can foul the fishing up. The second time we fished for them the river flooded over and the water seemed a lot cooler and the fish were less aggressive. I am thinking the end of July into August is going to be prime for them with the flooding gone and the heat and humidity at its peak. Right now I know Fleur Dr. and the Gray's Lake has been closed. Anyway, in the meantime I'll be fishing the trout ponds and streams of Idaho and Utah. I'll contact you again in a few weeks and we can plan the gar attack.

  5. Oh yeah, and your kayak will be perfect! I would recommend a 5 or 6 weight rod since the rope flies once soaked need a little power to get them out there. Yes, I would like to try Scott's cat ponds. I actually asked him about them recently and he said the fishing has dropped off a bit, it would still be fun to try though.

  6. Sounds good, Ben! Good luck with your trout fishing!
    Blue Heron Lake is also closed due to the flooding, I just contacted them yesterday.

    Are you on FlyAnglersOnline ( by any chance? There's gotta be an easier way to keep in touch...
    Also, if you are interested, Central Iowa Anglers is a good group of multispecies anglers in the Des Moines area. The website is free (, or yearly memberships are only $20 for a Calendar year (or less if you join during the 2nd half of the calendar year). We have monthly meetins, but you don't have to be a Paid Member to attend the meetings. Not everyone in the club fly-fishes, but some do. Also, there is Central Iowa Fly Fishers in the area. They are a very helpful bunch. I can put you in touch with them as well, I'm friends with their Prez, who also lives in Ankeny.