I thought I had heard reports from the previous year that there were large bluegills in Diamond Lake. Memory being what it is, I may have misremembered the name of the lake. The IDNR website says the lake has a population of Redear Sunfish, which I've been wanting to catch. A friend at the IDNR said he had heard there were nice crappies in the lake too.
I took the day off work, and it turned out to be about the nicest weather conditions one could ask for! I took my kayak and 2 fly rods and got on the lake around 9:45am. I crossed the lake and searched the shoreline shallows for evidence of bluegill spawning beds. Found them right away.
I caught bluegills on foam Gurgler topwaters and yellow Boa Yarn Leeches. I caught a few crappies too, as I worked my way down the shoreline.
I reached a shallow bay and saw a HUGE tail fin waving from the water, and then saw the back of the HUGE Grass Carp! I'm somewhat obsessed with these creatures. I've only caught 3 of them so far, but they are a lot of fun when you can get them to strike your offerings. Bad thing (for me) is that they are extremely wary and picky creatures. They will take nymphs and streamers, but not nearly enough for my liking. After all, they are vegetarians who normally dine on aquatic lake plants. I've heard from more than one source that they seem to like white Woolly Bugger fly patterns. I don't think I was carrying any of those, so I put on a white Boa Yarn Leech. I spent some time casting to these creatures, but had no takers. Probably a good thing, I'm sure they would have snapped my line in seconds...but then again it would have been very interesting to be taken on a kayaker's "sleigh ride" by one of these big beasts!
I eventually made my way to the dam. It had some taller grass and weeds along the edge of the water, but beyond that was mown grass. I figured it would give me a better vantage point to spot fish and it was easy to walk along and cast, so I beached the kayak and fished from shore for awhile. Almost right away I spotted some really nice Largemouth Bass hanging near nests. Well, one was definitely on the nest, and the other 2 or 3 were just hanging around. I didn't have all the patterns I would have liked to try in this situation, but I tried large topwaters, a bunny-strip leech (5-incher), a hard-hackle rubber worm, a Clouser Deep Minnow, EP Minnow, a large Woolly Bugger...absolutely NOTHING got anything more than "a look".
I gave up and moved on, but there wasn't much else going on along the section of dam I walked. Back to the kayak! I decided to try the upper end of the arm of the lake across from the boat ramp. I could see a culvert under a road there, and it looked like a little water was flowing through it. On my way there, I noticed a Loon on the lake. Loons are awesome birds that we encounter a lot when fishing in Canada. Sometimes they are extremely friendly and will swim around our boat and beg for fish like a dog begging for a treat. This one kept its distance.
As I was heading towards the culvert, I passed an overhanging tree with some branches in the water that had a dozen or so small Common Carp sitting completely still beneath it. Then I passed a small stick poking above the surface that had a crappie hiding beneath it. Next, I steered slightly around a clump of "gunk" floating on the surface that turned out to be a large sleeping snapping turtle. He spooked when I got next to him...I think I could have grabbed his tail I was so close!
Its amazing how stealthy kayaks can be and how close you can get to fish and other creatures. I have a paddle for emergencies or for backing up, but I have a Hobie Outback with the Mirage Drive propulsion system. You basically pedal the thing almost like a reclining bicycle, and there are fins beneath the kayak that make it go forward...quietly. There is a rudder at the rear of the kayak whose direction you control with a lever near your left hand. Otherwise...its hands-free operation.
I made it to the culvert, and could see the bluegills swarming where the water was dumping into the lake. I caught a handful of bluegills here, plus a chunky 13" bass. The drawback of this kayak is, without grabbing the paddle, you can't just "stop" when you want to, but rather you glide until wind or water friction stops you. I ended up getting too close to the culvert and the remaining bluegills scattered.
I headed halfway or more back down this arm of the lake and decided since I didn't catch any Redear Sunfish by fishing the shallow spawning areas, I would fish the deeper weedline in 4 to 7 feet of water and see if I could use a black microjig and strike indicator to get the fly near the bottom where Redears might be foraging for snails. Each time the strike indicator would jiggle or dive, I would set the hook and hope it was a Redear. But each time it was another Bluegill. They were fun, but the biggest one I caught all day was probably 8", and most were smaller at 6.5"-7.5".
I also caught bunch more of the smallish Bluegills, and about another dozen or more Crappies. The Crappies were all 8"-10"...fun, but small.