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Friday, September 30, 2011

9-30-2011 Lunch Report

I decided to fly-fish a public pond during lunch, one I'd visited only a couple of times this year.  I got there, and there was a car parked near the sidewalk entrance to the park.  I looked down the walking path, and could see 2-3 kids and a mom/babysitter playing and enjoying the sunshine.

There was a decent breeze blowing, so I wanted the wind at my back if possible.  These folks were where I wanted to fish.  I left them to their spoils, and decided to try a second nearby public pond that I've only ever fished a couple times, ever.  I also have never had much success at Pond #2.  The water is usually stained, seems shallow, and no shoreline cover to speak of.  It can also get a bad case of algae mats along the shorelines.  In short...I wasn't too excited about it, had extremely low expectations.  But at least I wouldn't have kids running around behind me while casting!

I walked by the narrow shallow end where water enters the pond through a culvert.  There wasn't much more than a steady trickle/drip entering, so no current to speak of.  It was WINDY, however.  The water was clearer than I'd ever seen it, which isn't saying much...I could probably see some features on the bottom in water less than 18".   I saw one bluegill right near the culvert as I passed by.  I headed to another corner where a secondary culvert was slowly dripping water into the pond.  Theres a tiny bit of rip rap here I hoped fish might forage around.

I made a dozen casts with a chartreuse microjig.  Nothing.  Something about the water color made me decide to put on a dark-colored pattern, so I selected a black #10 Boudreaux from my fanny pack and attached it to my line.  I moved around the corner and started walking along the side of the pond.  I spotted 2 bluegills darting away from a thin strip of shoreline algae mat.  I also saw a couple of rings on the surface out away from shore.  With my polarized sunglasses on, I could see 2 bluegills feeding near the surface. 

I cast a bit further than I should have...closer to the furthest bluegill.  The near one started chasing the end of my fly line, then sunk out of site.  The further one also sunk out of site.  I picked up my line and cast back to the same spot.  Strip strip STRIKE!  Fish on.  Of course it was a bluegill.  It was 7.5"-8" range, and very pale in coloration, most likely due to the stained water.


I saw no more bluegills away from shore.  I caught one near shore from that area, then moved on down the shoreline to a smaller culvert.  I picked up a third bluegill near that one, and moved on down to yet another small culvert.  I caught another bluegill there.  It darted out from beneath some floating algae and hammered the Boudreaux.  I cast down along the shoreline and had another strike but missed it.

I began walking back towards my car to leave, looking along the shoreline for signs of fish.  I got back to the spot where I'd caught the first 2 bluegills, and saw one bluegill and one small largemouth bass near shore.  I cast near them.  The bass slunk towards deeper water.  The bluegill followed but didn't hit.  I cast again, and a small bass I had not seen darted out and hit the nymph imitator.  It too was extremely pale.  Its lateral line was nearly invisible.
I cast from 2-3 more spots on my way back to the car.  I caught 2 more bluegills and a slightly bigger bass near the shallow end of the pond.

Well...despite my low expectations...that was actually sort of fun!  There are a good number of ponds I'd rather go back to than that one, but at least it provided a good challenge and some action during my lunch hour.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Evening Report, 9-28-2011

I managed to get some time to fish last night...from about 7pm until 8:15pm.  It gets dark (not sunset...but DARK) around 7:30pm these days, so the last half the of the time was spent in the dark.

I fly-fished a local public pond.  I had a chartreuse microjig tied on my line, and that's all I used.  I did NOT use an indicator.  There was basically NO wind, and the air temp was around 75 degrees.  The water was stained...since we've had very little rain for the past couple of weeks, I wonder if the Fall "turnover" is occurring?  No wind also meant that the floating algae wasn't pushed up against the downwind shoreline, but was scattered all over.  This was a challenge, and I had to pick clumps of algae off my line/fly often, especially after dark.

There was evidence of large fish activity, mainly out in the middle of the pond.  There was another guy there who was fishing with spinning gear, so I didn't try to chum any of the big fish with bread, although I had some with me, and it would have been a perfect evening for such tactics.  I saw that fellow angler catch 1 medium-sized bass.

The crappies were active.  I discovered they would hit best if I kept the microjig near the surface, which meant retrieving a bit faster than I normally would have.  Maybe this is why I caught 20 crappies, compared to only 4 bluegills and 1 largemouth bass?  Maybe the faster retrieve discouraged the bluegills from hitting?  I'm wondering this, because for most of this year I've been averaging a lot more bluegills than crappies from this pond.

Because of the low light conditions, I didn't take any pictures of the fish I caught last night.  I could have used the flash on the camera, but it tends to wash out the colors on the fish anyway.  No pictures makes for a horribly (visually) boring blog entry, so....how 'bout a picture of microjigs?
I use 1/100oz and 1/80th oz jigheads.  The color I was using last night was a chartreuse marabou tail and chartreuse yarn body.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

9-26-2011

I fly-fished a local public pond during lunch today. It was cloudy, cool and very WINDY. I managed to catch 5 bluegills. This time of year, larger subsurface patterns seem to get the attention of the bluegills. I started out with a black Woolly Bugger. I caught several 'gills on that.



I then switched to a microjig under an indicator. I caught one or two more bluegills on that, but the fish were smaller.

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Around 7pm I had a chance to get back out and fly-fish another local public pond for an hour.  It was drizzling, windy, and getting dark early (thanks to the cloud cover).  I tried the microjig first, and caught 2 or 3 decent bluegills on it.  I put an indicator above the microjig and tried that for awhile, but didn't catch much except for a feisty 12" Largemouth Bass.  I switched back to the unweighted black Woolly Bugger, and caught several more nice bluegills. 

The fish seemed to be near shallow flats, probably hunting whatever aquatic insects were jarred loose by the waves and current.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fly-Fishing: 9-22-2011 Evening and 9-23-2011 Lunchtime

I had 1 hour to fish on Thursday (9/22).  I visited the closest public pond, which was in a nearby 'burb, since that is where I was at the time.  Like the last visit here, there was still a LOT matted floating algae around the edges of this pond...and the water clarity is still rather poor.  I neglected to fish the spots where I've had the best success in the past, because it would have been too much of a hassle trying to get a hooked fish up and through that much algae and get it to shore.
I fished a couple spots where the algae mats were less obtrusive.  I tried a microjig & indicator.  I had some hits, and even caught a couple bluegills, but it was tough and slow.  I had a few good strikes at the indicator, so I tried a foam topwater pattern, the Chernobyl Ant/Hopper.  Got some good strikes on that as well, but couldn't hook up with the fish.  I switched to a yellow boa yarn leech and caught a couple more bluegills on that.  There were some healthy 8-inch bluegills! I switched one more time to a chartreuse Docaroo, and fished my way back to the car.  No more fish were caught, however.


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Today (9/23) during lunch, I fly-fished a local pond for 1/2 hour.  I had the chartreuse Docaroo still tied on, and I fully planned to change flies right away...until I walked down to the pond.  There is a large fountain in the pond, but it was not on this time.  The wind died down several times, and combined with the bright sun and clear water, I could see the tops of aquatic weeds almost everywhere.  Even out in the area I'm pretty sure is the deepest part of the pond!  The weeds came to within 12"-18" of the surface in most places, and even touched the surface in a few places.

I decided to go ahead and fish with the Docaroo.  I could see a few fish near shore, most were small.  Well, small is a relative term, I know.  There are Crappies in this pond that might touch 10", Bluegills might top out at 8" to 8.5" and the abundant Green Sunfish are all sizes from 1"-8".  I didn't see or catch any Crappies today.  I did catch 4 nice chunky Bluegills, and at least 10 Green Sunfish...mostly the larger ones, but I did catch 3 of the tiny ones too.  They're rather cute when they are that small!

I thought about taking some pictures of the fish I was catching, but in the end I didn't bother.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

2011 Fall Fishing Season Starting

It has been cool lately.  It feels like Fall.  Hopefully we'll get a nice "Indian Summer", as we have the past few years.  The fish have started to behave like THEY know what's coming.  They are starting to feast a little more aggressively.  The bass seem more active.  The crappies are becoming more active in the shallows where I fish.  The catfish have actually become a bit less active.

I fly-fished a local public pond last night.  Started fishing around 7pm, and fished until 8:15pm.  First fish was a crappie on a chartreuse microjig.  Then a small but really strong bass.
In the golden light of evening....
 And then a bluegill.  If ONLY these 3 species were followed up in succession by a green sunfish, channel catfish, hybrid sunfish and grass carp, I would have hit the GAME WINNING ULTRA MEGA GRAND SLAM I'M THE COOLEST GUY IN THE WORLD HOME RUN!!  Didn't happen, but a guy can dream, right?  I did spook some large fish along the shore that I suspect were grass carp.  I didn't see THEM until they were spooked, of course.  Uggg!  I shake a frustrated fist in their general direction and take deep breaths to maintain some fishing zen-ness.

I caught several more fish on the microjig, but wanted to try a few other patterns I had tied recently.  One was an all-chartreuse unwieghted Woolly Bugger.  I really thought this would work well at this pond if the fish were shallow.  I had some bumps on it, but the fish weren't too hot on it.  I still think it could be good, so I'll try it again some other day.

I switched to a yellow boa yarn leech, which historically has done very well for me at this pond, but not so much this year.  Consequently, I haven't been using it as much this year.  But it has repeatedly proven itself to be a killer pattern for me, so ....on my line it went.

The light was pretty much gone from the sky at at this point, and I started moving more quickly around the pond to get back (the long way) to my car, stopping to cast every so often.  I picked up several more crappies, a few bluegills, and another bass.  Not super-fast action yet, but its got that feeling to it.  The fish are definitely moving back in closer to shore, and the weedbeds/algae mats along the shoreline have nearly disappeared.  Its all good, and I expect the action to just continue to get better over the next month.

Stay tuned!  ;o)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NOTICE the Outdoors!

A nice gentleman on a website forum I frequent talked about just getting outside and bearing witness to all the interesting wildlife and happenings that occur in Nature.  It was a great reminder!

In the past 2 weeks I had a couple of opportunities to spend time outdoors without a fishing pole in my hands.


The first was a lake shoreline clean-up project (yes, that's me quoted in the article):
http://www.whotv.com/news/who-story-lake-cleanup-09102011,0,4225205.story

Our fishing club did this project in conjunction with a team of anglers from the Recycled Fish non-profit organization. As I was driving one of the other guys around the lake to the next access point we were going to clean up, we had to slow the car down for some deer, and we saw a rafter of wild turkeys (I JUST NOW learned that a group of wild turkeys is called a rafter!).

The second outdoor event was walking a mile-plus length of sanitary sewer that wound its way along a wooded creek. We saw all kinds of birds...goldfinches, cardinals, bluejays, robins, hawks. I saw deer, 4 different types of butterflies, squirrels, minnows and largemouth bass in the creek. I didn't see any turkeys, but found a BUNCH of turkey feathers scattered around, so they must hang out in the area frequently. Saw some HUGE oak and cottonwood trees. I like the way oaks branch in such jagged, irregular directions, so I took a picture of this dead tree (with my crappy cell phone camera):


I found a shedded snake skin...then about 10 minutes later I found a snake that looked like it may have been the one that shed the skin!
I grew up in a rural area, on 20 acres of partially wooded land with a creek flowing through it. We saw plenty of wildlife. I'd almost forgotten how many interesting things one can find in just a day or less spent wandering outside and looking. I DID see a red fox here in town last week, and of course we get plenty of ducks (mostly mallards) and Canadian Geese. And those darned rabbits.

Fish are part of wildlife that you can count on...you KNOW where they will be.  Is this why I like them so much?

Anyway....Get out there and see what YOU can spot.  Its bound to be pretty awesome!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mid-September Weekend Fishing 2011

Mixing fishing in-between my kids' extra-curricular activities is the name of the game for 9 months of the year.  I'm pretty good at it. ;o)

Since my wife was still in Belgium, I took my son to a B-day party he had been invited to.  When I got back home, our neighbor's daughter Morgan called and wanted to come over.  Sure!  She hung out with my daughter and I for a bit, then I had to take my daughter to piano lessons.  I told Morgan she could go along if she wanted to...we could try to do a little fishing while we waited for the piano lessons to finish.  She called home to make sure it was OK with her mom.  It was, so off we went.  It was 7:30pm when we dropped off my daughter, plus it had been a cloudy, drizzly day...so it was pretty dark outside already.  I mourn the passing of the long evenings of summer!

I picked a public city park pond that has some lights around it, to help us see.  We just shared one fly rod, since Morgan isn't comfortable casting a fly rod yet.  I would cast out a microjig under an indicator, and she would work it back in.  We missed a lot of strikes, but Morgan landed a couple of crappies.  She was pretty excited about that.  At first she didn't want to take the fish off the hook, but later she let me work the fly in, and when I'd catch fish SHE wanted to take the fish off the hook!  We ended up catching probably 10 more crappies, 1 bluegill, and 3 green sunfish.  The last fish of the night was a BIG CHUNKY Green Sunfish which, compared to the tiny crappies we'd been catching, seemed like a BEAST of a fish!  Its all a matter of "scale".  ;o)

Saturday morning, I took my daughter to Swing Choir practice.  That was scheduled to last for 5 hours.  Morgan came over right after her soccer game.  She played video games with my son for awhile, then she asked if we could go fishing again.  OF COURSE!  My son didn't want to go, he was really into the video game.  We had about an hour before my daughter would be ready to pick up.  Off we went.  It was cloudy and cool.  Fishing was kind of slow.   I took 2 fly rods.  I'd cast one out for Morgan, let her work it in while I cast the 2nd fly rod and work it in.  Morgan had a few hits, but didn't catch anything,  I caught 6 bluegills before we had to go pick up my daughter.

My wife got home from her work trip on Saturday afternoon!  Sunday evening, my son wanted her to play the video game with him.  Its fun to watch for a little bit.  I decided my time was better spent next to some water, so I got permission to go fishing.  I called my buddy Jay, but he wasn't feeling the best, so declined my offer to fish together.  So, I just headed to the closest public pond.  It was around 5pm when I got there.  It drizzled/rained intermittently the entire time I was there.  I fly-fished for bluegills for awhile, and caught some, but it was slow.  I tossed some bread to attract some catfish or grass carp, but only got bluegills to show up.

I could occasionally see the backs of pods of fish out away from shore in one area.  They would occasionally spook, but seemed to remain near the same area.  I put on a soft hackle wet fly pattern, and cast around that area.  I caught bluegills and crappies.  And then a green sunfish.

Crappie on a soft hackle.


As it got darker, action slowed on the soft hackle, so I switched to a chartreuse microjig under an indicator.  I caught mostly crappies on this rig.  I ended up tallying 15 crappies, 8 bluegills, 1 green sunfish, and 1 small largemouth bass for the trip.  I think this was the first trip since early Spring that I'd caught more crappies than bluegills from this pond!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Back to School Bluegills

...Well, sort of.  My kids actually started the new school year 1 month ago already.  How time flies!  With school comes the "after-school" extracurricular activites.

My wife, who has a much more interesting job than I, is working in Belgium (Europe) this week.  So, all chauffer duties are my lot.  I don't mind, especially if I get a chance to squeeze in some fishing while waiting for these activities to finish for the night.

As it turns out, there IS a public pond in the town (another suburb of Des Moines) I had to take my son to last night.  I haven't fished this pond since early Spring.  This pond has a few bass, but generally I catch mostly bluegills, with a chance at a hybrid sunfish or crappie.

One thing I noticed right away was that there was about 15'-20' of algae clogging the shoreline on my side of the pond.  The second thing I noticed was that the water clarity was about 6".  The third thing I noticed was that there was no visible fish activity on the surface at all.  This was going to be tough fishing.

I had a beadchain-eye nymph on already, so I made some casts with it.  It was very difficult to fish deep and slow along the outer edge of the algae mats without actually getting my line or fly caught up in the algae.  I thought maybe one fish that took a swipe at the fly might have been a nice little crappie, but I'll never know for sure, as it didn't stay hooked long enough.

I switched to a Springbrook Wunder microjig set about 2' below an indicator.  I really didn't know how deep the water was where I was fishing, or if there were weeds or submerged algae or whatever beneath the surface.  I did pick up 4 bluegills this way, and most were fairly nice-sized bluegills for this pond.

In fact, one fought so well that I wasn't able to force it to the surface before it got into the algae.  I was lifting pretty hard, too!  Turned out be be a 8.5" Bluegill, which is very good for this pond.



I had gotten a few hits at the indicator I was using, so I took the indicator and microjig off my line and put a Chernobyl Ant/Hopper on.  I got a few big hits with it, but only landed 2 more bluegills.

I moved to another side of the pond, and it was also crowded with mats of algae.  I switched to a dragonfly nymph with beadchain eyes and cast that for several minutes, but had no more hits/hookups.

It was time to go back and pick up my son.  This pond usually fishes very well right before ice-up and just after ice-out.  So, as the water cools down during the Fall here, this pond will be worth fishing again.  Hopefully next time there will be less algae mats to deal with!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fly Patterns, 9-13-2011

Here's some patterns I've tied recently.
#10 Chernobyl Ant/Hopper.  This has been great for bluegills and crappies this summer.

I don't know if this on has a name....basically a biot-bodied dry fly.

This is an example of the Jumpin' Catfish Nymph.  Normally it doesn't have a "shell back" over the abdomen.  I tied it without reviewing the pattern first...Still works fine this way.

Birds Nest

This is a bucktail/calftail streamer...this is the sort of streamer that I have been catching nice catfish on this Summer/Fall.  I've used Craft Fur on some examples.

A generic EP minnow.  I haven't got this one wet yet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Breaded Catfish a la Fly Rod!

(No, this isn't a blog entry about a recipe for cooking catfish.  Its about a technique I've used a couple of times now on a certain public pond I fly-fish where the catfish have developed a taste for bread, thanks to a host of folks who visit the pond to feed the ducks.)

Headed to a different local pond tonight than the one posted previously (about the big catfish I caught on the Jumpin' Catfish Nymph).

Arrived at the pond fairly late...like 7:15pm or so.  This is the pond Ben and I had used bread to chum up some catfish, which we then enticed to hit bread flies.  I hoped to do something similar tonight.

I had fished the pond a couple times since fishing with Ben, but kept forgetting to bring some bread along.  So, all I caught on those trips were bluegills and crappies. Tonight, I brought some hot dog buns!

Waiting for another angler to clear out, I tied on a white kiptail streamer that I had tied on a #6 hook. I had hits and follows from bluegills, but no takers.  Also while waiting, a young family came down on the opposite side of the pond to toss bread to the ducks.  No wonder the catfish here have such a fondness for bread!

When the time was right, I tossed out some hot dog bun chunks.  Bluegills started attacking it immediately, like a swarm of pirhanas!  It was only a few minutes before the BIG swirls showed up.  I brought my streamer through the activity a half dozen times before THE HIT.  I had a nice fish on, and since I didn't see the take, I was once again HOPING it was a grass carp.  The fish went on some nice runs, and before I knew it, I was into my backing!  How awesome is that?!?!
When the fish wanted to run, I let it, but kept the pressure on.  When it slowed, I worked it back towards me.  It was one of those see-saw battles of give-and-take.  I started taking more, and after 5 minutes or so, I got the fish into the shallows and up next to shore.  I reached down and got my hand on it.  The fish was too wide for me to get a lifting grip on, so I had to set my rod down and grab the fish with both hands to lift it up onto the grass.

BEAUTIFUL Channel Catfish!  It was a solid, chunky fish that measured 27"...definitely the biggest catfish I've caught from this pond...by at least 3.5 inches!  Picture time:



I will say I've caught a fair number of catfish from the pond on a variety of fly patterns over the past several years.  Everything from bass-sized poppers to small nymphs and streamers when fishing for crappies and bluegills.  Tossing bread out seems a bit like "cheating" to me.  I admit I feel a little "weird" about doing it.  But its exciting to see these big fish swirling right in front of you.  I'm not using bread as bait, but as chum.  I'm not feeding fish, I'm still fooling them.  I'm stacking the odds in my favor, by bringing the fish to me and getting them in the feeding mood.

I've read an article or two recently about guys doing something similar when fly-fishing for sharks in saltwater....they'll chum the water to bring the sharks to them, then use giant bright-colored hackle-flies
to toss out.  The sharks will then attack the flies.  Its efficient.

If you have public ponds near you where folks have taken to tossing bread to the ducks/geese...you might want to give this technique a try!  It can work on carp and catfish...and it should work on grass carp too.  But those grassies seem ultra-wary of humans!

Friday, September 9, 2011

45 Minute Evening Outing, 9-8-2011

I had a 45-minute window after supper in which to squeeze in some fly-fishing.  All necessary gear was already loaded in the car...so, I jumped in and headed for one of the local public ponds.  I chose a pond that has a few nice bluegills in it, but they can be hard to locate when they aren't spawning.

I had a #6 Jumpin' Catfish Nymph tied on my line already.  I didn't change, since the big bluegills in this pond could certainly fit that in their mouths.  Here's a link to the pattern...
http://freestateflyfishers.org/jumpin-catfish-nymph/

This was only the 2nd time I've used this nymph pattern, and I like it already!  I worked about a 70' section of shoreline.  I tried casting parallel to the first dropoff near shore.  I cast out towards the middle...I was searching for fish.  One 10" bass.  A second.  A third.  They were all surprisingly strong for their size!  Next I finally landed a bluegill.  Then a fourth bass.

Fishing wasn't fast by any means.  The water right next to shore seemed decently clear, but beyond that first drop-off the water looked rather turbid.  Anyway, I was running out of time.  I walked about 3/4 of the shoreline back towards the parking lot and decided to make a few "last casts" from here.

The surface of the water was starting to calm down a bit, so I cast out and then started looking around for signs of surface activity.  The line tugged against my hand, and my automatic reflexes set the hook.  OH MY!  I immediately knew this was a big fish.  You can't know how much I was HOPING it was a grass carp, since I haven't caught one yet this year.

Line peeled off my reel.  I could see the backing, but there were still a few wraps of line over it when I got the fish stopped.  It seemed like a good 5 or 10 minutes passed before I was able to get a glimpse of what was on the line.  Channel Catfish, and a good one!

Nautilus FW 5 (Black)I was using 9' 5wt custom TFO BVK rod I recently purchased from a very talented rodbuilder who goes by the moniker of "ApacheTrout" on the Fly Anglers On-Line bulletin boards.  Its a heckuva nice rod!  And I was also using a used Nautilus FW-5 fly reel I also recently purchased and mounted on the rod.

I had attached about 2' of 6 lb test mono to the end of the tippet.  And I knew when I attached it to the tippet that I had "stressed" a short section of the mono, and this was on my mind all during the battle with this fish.  Could I let it run, but put enough pressure on the fish to coax it unwillingly into the shallows without breaking the tippet at that weak spot?  The drag on the reel did its job perfectly during the half-dozen or so powerful runs.

The rod did its job in putting the right amount of pressure on the fish, yet still giving the right amount when the fish shook its head.

I landed the beast, which I felt was quite the accomplishment considering I was alone and didn't have a net with me.
I put a tape measure to it.  The length was 27".  According to a website I found (http://www.fish.state.pa.us/images/pages/fishin1/weightlength3.pdf), the weight would be estimated at 9.4 lbs.  I don't typically concern myself much with weight, but I wondered what kind of strain that "stressed" 6 lb mono tippet was up against.

Chunky fish!
What a mug!
After taking the pictures, I released the fish. Although catfish are quite hardy, I spent a couple minutes gently reviving him until he swam away as if he was late for a meeting.  I made a few more casts and caught a couple more bluegills before heading for the parking lot.

This was my 2nd outing with this rod/reel combo.  I think I can now say it is "broken in". :)  I like it very much and look forward to putting that Jumpin' Catfish Nymph in front of some more big catfish!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fly-Fished a Local Public Pond Last Night, 9-5-2011

To finish off the holiday weekend, I went fly-fishing to a local pond last night from about 7pm-9pm.
It started off slow.  I could see fish hitting the fly, but they weren't getting hooked, just batting it around.
I figured a surface pattern would do the trick, but I couldn't quickly locate what I wanted in my hip pack.

So I tried a variety of subsurface patterns, and finally settled on a gold Springbrook Wunder.  In the meantime, I had my eye competitive eye on an angler using spinning gear on the far side of the pond.  He seemed to be taking some stuff off his lure...I assumed were fish, but could have been weeds.  He was using a lure under a bobber for awhile.  Then I watched him struggle to reach the lure which somehow got stuck in the back of his shirt.  He finally had to remove his shirt to free the hook.

The Springbrook Wunder worked very well.  I caught at least 20 bluegills and a couple of crappies on that pattern.

As the sky grew dark, I switched to a bucktail streamer I had tied with a short chartreuse craft fur tail, silver mylar cord body, white kiptail, pearl angel hair & chartreuse bucktail wing, and I had wound some chartreuse hackle at the head.  I caught a few bluegills on this, but more crappies (as I had hoped), at least 10 before I decided to quit for the evening.

High Trestle Trail Bridge

Loaded our bikes onto the bike rack Sunday evening and took the family to the bike/pedestrian trail near the High Trestle Trail Bridge.  It is located west of Madrid, Iowa, is about 1/2 mile long, and rises 13 stories above the Des Moines River valley.






Friday, September 2, 2011

Unpredictable Fishing

You think you have one of your local waters figured out pretty well.  Its predictable.  Right?  Not always.  And this keeps fishing interesting.  Or frustrating.  And this is where we throw in the disclaimer:
"Its always nice just to get out."  It is.  At least we ALWAYS have that.

Here's an overview of my experiences at one particular local lake over the past week:
-Trip A.  Wind moderate, fish biting reasonably well.  Caught 14 fish.  This is GOOD (but not EXCELLENT).
-Trip B.  I get a call from a buddy who says the fish are hitting on every cast.  I go.  The wind had died and changed directions.  I'm told, "You should have been here 1/2 hour ago!"  Still caught some fish (like 10), and some decent ones.  This is still OK.
-Trip C.  Relatively high wind (@15-20mph all day), usually means excellent fishing at this lake.  My buddy calls, says he caught only 3 small fish, and it was difficult to cast into the wind.  I go anyway.  I catch 5 small fish in 40 minutes.  This is SLOW.
-Trip D.  Fished during my lunch hour.  Light wind.  Almost no visible fish activity on the surface.  I catch 1 fish.  This is POOR fishing.

I keep going back, knowing the "success meter" will eventually swing in the right direction for me, but it has been declining all week.  The fact is, it changes all the time, and I know I've just not hit it during a peak moment.  Just gotta keep trying.
At least today's fish was pretty.  Its a naturally occurring hybrid sunfish:


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Praying Mantises & Hummingbirds 8-31-2011

Have I mentioned Hummingbirds are a tough challenge for me to take a picture of?  I don't have a fancy camera, and I usually see them in the evenings when the light isn't the best for picture-taking.  The zoom on my camera isn't particularly impressive.  Its still fun to try anyway.
Here's what I've gotten in the past week (mostly last night):
 The ones below were from last night.  This Hummingbird popped up from the other side of the fence, then stopped about 5' away and hovered...looking at me.  (This is the 2nd time this summer this has happened, and both times I was holding a camera, but not ready to take a shot!)  I suppose he wondered if I was a threat or not.  Apparently only a slight threat...he went down the fenceline a ways, started feeding on the flowers and worked his way back towards me.


 The reason I was out in the backyard with a camera in the first place was because I had seen this dark brown mantis with green legs, and I wanted to photograph it.
Bath time...

He's looking RIGHT AT ME!


  Below is the 2nd Mantis I saw.
Cool silhouette.

It was light brown with wings.
 Then I saw movement, looked over and saw a 3rd Praying Mantis.  The movement was that it just caught a bee/wasp, and was starting to feed on it.  It was green with wings.

All of this happened in probably 20 minutes...and in that time, I had been standing in just one spot!