Hatches. As fly-anglers, we like to identify a hatch, and then match the hatch to catch fish. Well, last night there was an EPIC hatch going on. It was CRAZY!
I didn't get out until after sunset, but the sky was still light. I think it was around 8:45pm when I started fishing, and I stayed until 11:30pm.
When I arrived, there were dimples on the surface of the pond...fish were picking off emergers and adults. I couldn't really see what that hatch was. I used a Gurgler style foam topwater, and caught a crappie and a handful of bluegills. I wanted more crappies, so I tried something else that didn't get much attention. There were some bigger splashes occasionally, that looked like bass chasing sunfish near shore.
I started seeing what I initially thought was some large flying insect skittering over the surface of the water. These would get harassed by fish, and occasionally disappear in a big explosive strike from below. Well, I finally saw a few of these "bugs" swim over to shore. And the realization finally dawned on me as I started looking around along the shorelines.
There was a HUGE hatch going on…of TOADS! Holy buckets, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many toads at one time. They were croaking, mating, swimming ALL OVER the pond! It was CRAZY! I would turn my cap light on them, and they would be hopping all over each other, many puffing out their throat sac and filling the night with their loud music. Sometimes it got so loud, I wanted to turn down the volume on that music. Too bad there wasn't more light...I could have gotten some sweet videos of all this. At times, I would walk down the shore 20 feet or so, turn around, and shine my light on the water...and see dozens of glowing eyes on the surface of the water following me! The weren't scared at all.
Occasionally one out in open water would disappear in a BIG splash. I tossed a bass-sized popper for quite awhile, and had a couple half-hearted strikes, and caught a crappie on it (crappies LOVE toads!...right?).
With other patterns, I caught a grand total of 6 other crappies, 3 bass, 9 bluegills, and a 23.5” channel catfish. The battle with the catfish was a long give-and-take episode. It was a nice fish, so I took pictures.
Also had a HUGE explosion on a bait right before I left. Several casts later, I realized my fly was gone…so whatever it was broke my line. I think it may have been a grass carp! I headed for the car without tying on a new fly.
So…fishing was sort of slow despite all the "activity" going on, but it was really fun just being out there and seeing all those toads!