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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saylorville Lake Fishing Report, 10-25-2011

Because of the wind at the lake where I was fly-fishing for trout, I didn't hear/feel the cell phone in my pocket when my buddy Jay called.  Once I noticed it, I returned his call.  He answered and said, "I'll have to call you right back, I'm fighting a big fish right now!"

Ok, he had my attention!  He did call back a couple of minutes later and said he'd caught a really nice Wiper, and that he was catching White Bass and Wipers at Saylorville Lake on nearly every cast.  I told him how the trout-fishing action had long since slowed down, so I would meet him there after I stopped by my house to pick up some appropriate gear.

I was about 10 minutes away from meeting up with him when he called back.  I answered and said, "Let me guess, the hot action is over."  Yep.  The wind had died, changed directions, and the clouds covered the sun...and the fish activity had slowed immediately.  He was still catching some small ones, however.  Well, I was almost there, so I decided to meet up with him anyway.

I got there, he showed me where the fish HAD been hitting earlier. The wind had picked back up again.  I had a fly rod and a spinning rod with me.  I made one cast with the spinning rod, and caught a decent White Bass.  Then I set that rod down.  I tied a white Lefty's Deceiver streamer pattern on the fly rod, and cast it into the wind.  I was into a good White Bass almost immediately.  How fun!  I caught a couple more decent White Bass and a small but FAT Largemouth Bass, but it was work trying to cast into that wind!  So, I soon switched back to the spinning rod with the in-line spinner on it.

The wind came and went, and came again.  Fishing was very good!  I caught at least 30 White Bass up to 16.75", and at least 10 small Wipers (biggest was maybe 12").  The wind picked up even more, and the fishing slowed considerably, so we decided to call it quits for the day.
16 3/4" White Bass

Even little Wipers go absolutely BERSERK when hooked!!

Fly-Fishing for Trout at Lake Petocka, 10-25-2011

The 10-day weather forecast suggested that this MIGHT be the last 70+ degree day for the year.  Such a nice day should be spent outdoors FISHING, so I took the day off from work.  I had stayed up until almost 1am the previous evening tying flies for the day's adventure, so I was tired when the alarm went off at 6am.  I went back to sleep until almost 8am.  I looked out the window, and the remaining leaves on the trees were still...it was very calm.  ALRIGHT!  I figured that would help me located some trout near shore once I got to the lake.

I quickly got dressed and descended to the kitchen.  I looked out the back windows and...WIND???  Darn!  I knew it was coming (forecasted 10-15mph winds), but I hoped I would be at the lake before it started to blow. Oh well.

I ate breakfast and quickly got the few items I needed into the car and headed to the lake.  When I arrived, there were already 4 cars parked around the lake with fishermen scattered around the shoreline.  I parked, and decided to walk around the lake until I saw signs of trout, or otherwise found a spot that looked worthy fishing.

I had walked about a 1/3 of the way around the lake, when I saw some boils and swirls.  TROUT!  As I got closer, I could see a dark patch about 20' off shore, which was a pod of trout.  I had a yellow Boa Yarn Leech on my line from fishing for bluegills, crappies and bass the previous evening, so I tossed it out beyond the edge of the pod.  I didn't want to cast or retrieve directly through the pod in case this would make them scatter, so I tried to pick fish off the edges.  I caught the first Rainbow Trout of the day on that Boa Yarn Leech.

Since I had a good visual on the pod of trout, and found them to be willing to hit flies, I switched to a Blue Thunder streamer pattern, originated by Ian James.  I didn't have purple Flashabou, so I used pearl Krystal Flash under a thin topping of purple bucktail.


This was one of the patterns I had tied the previous night, and I wanted to see what the trout thought of it.  Turns out....THEY LOVED IT!  I was catching fish or missing strikes on nearly every cast for quite some time.  I caught both Rainbows and Brookies on it.





Although the streamer was holding up really well to catching all those fish, I eventually I had to take the fish-shredded remnants of the streamer off my line and try some other patterns.  I caught quite a few fish on a beadhead softhackle nymph pattern:

And a few Rainbows on an olive Woolly Bugger with black hackle:


An angler who had been fishing unsuccessfully about 70 yards away with spinning gear and an in-line spinner noticed my success, and he moved his gear down to the opposite side of me. He fished there for a bit, but wasn't catching anything. He was amazed at how the fish were going after the fly I was using. He came over and asked what I was using. I said I would show him, and just then missed a good strike. My line, leader, tippet and fly flew out of the water and wrapped around John's (that was his name) spinning rod. I laughed and said, "Well, there it is!" We disentangled our gear, and he looked at the streamer. He said he has a fly rod, but has never really used it. He was amazed at how I was able to catch fish on nearly every cast (a slight exaggeration). I told him how I had spotted the fish, showed him the darker patch of water that was the pod of trout, and told him how I was trying to pull fish off the edges of it. I also told him to go ahead and walk down beyond the pod, so we could each cast to the fish from opposite sides. Over the next hour or so, he caught 5 trout on his spinner, compared to around 30 that I caught on flies. He got more and more interested in fly-fishing, and would sometimes just watch what I was doing, and ask questions. I tried to get him to try casting my rod, but he refused. I told him I at LEAST wanted him to see what one of those trout feels like on the end of the fly line, so I cast out about 20 times, and let him work the fly back in (by this time, I had a beadhead nymph under a strike indicator). He missed a few fish, but he eventually hooked, fought and landed 2 Rainbow Trout. He thought that was fantastic! He was saying how he was going to have to dig out his unused fly rod and start learning how to cast, so he could do this on his own. RIGHT ON! I also told him how fly fishing also works really well for Crappies, Bluegills, Bass, Catfish, Carp....just about everything!

John took this picture of me with a Brook Trout:

Anyway, the action had declined, but we had spent a good hour talking about fly-fishing and whatnot. He had kept his limit of 5 trout, which he wanted to give to his neighbor. He needed to get home and clean the fish, so we parted ways.

I had already caught 43 Rainbow Trout and 4 Brook Trout by this time. I moved to the opposite side of the lake so I wouldn't have to cast into the strong wind anymore. There wasn't much fish activity over there, but I stayed and fished. I caught a few more Rainbow Trout, then tied on a foam Chernobyl Ant/Hopper. I caught a couple more Rainbows and a Bluegill on it. It wasn't floating as well as I wanted, so I put on a larger foam Hopper. I caught a Brook Trout on that, which I thought was just fantastic!  The two pictures below are of the same fish.



Final fish tally was 48 Rainbow Trout, 5 Brook Trout, and 1 Bluegill. What I had hoped to achieve this day was to catch a good number of trout (did that) on fly-fishing gear, I wanted to catch at least a few of the Brook Trout on fly gear (did that), and catching one on a surface pattern was really icing on the cake! Although the action had started off very fast and then tapered off to almost nothing...I was very pleased!

My buddy Jay called and said the White Bass were hitting really good at the local reservoir, so I decided to give it up on a GREAT day of fly-fishing for trout at Lake Petocka.  I left at around 3pm, stopped by my house to pick up appropriate White Bass fishing gear, and headed for the reservoir to meet up with Jay. But THAT report is in the NEXT blog!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Copper Creek Lake Fishing Report, 10-23-2011

I fly-fished at Copper Creek Lake from 4pm-5:15pm.

It was a really nice sunny day, temps in the low 70's, reasonable breeze.  Two other people were fishing when I arrived, and they soon left without catching anything.

There was one fellow taking casual laps around the lake in a kayak.  Lots of folks walking and jogging around the lake.

I used microjigs under an indicator.
These are the ones that were working best:
Springbrook Wunder variant with Olive Mylar Chenille

Springbrook Wunder variant with Gold Metallic Chenille

I only used one microjig at a time, but I went through 4 or 5 because I was getting snagged up on a brushpile. Throughout the fishing time, I also had to stop and retrieve my jig out of the trees behind me. Occasionally when I set the hook, there would be no fish there, and the microjig-and-indicator would come flying up out of the water and lodge in the trees. Sort of embarrassing, but at least it was because I missed a fish.


I was pleased with the fishing. I caught 10 nice Crappies ( 10"-12"; a mix of White Crappies and Black Crappies), 3 Largemouth Bass, and 2 Bluegills.  The Crappies were healthy, chunky fish, and really fought well!

 






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A couple of times I caught fish just as there were parents walking behind me with there young children.  I'd hear them say, "Look, that man just caught a fish!"  So, I'd unhook the fish, set my rod down, and walk over to see if they wanted to see the fish.  The first child was in a stroller.  She just sort of grunted and looked a bit scared of the fish.  The second child was walking and talking.  She touched the fish, and when they went on their way, I could hear her repeatedly exclaiming loudly (and proudly) that SHE had just touched a big CRAPPIE!  She obviously thought that was pretty cool! :)

Fly-Fishing Late Petocka, 10-22-2011

I went to Lake Petocka to fly-fish for trout.  I fished from about 3pm to 6pm.  It was a nice day, not too windy, mostly sunny, warm (low 70's).  The trout have been in the lake for over a week now, and should be acclimated, and hopefully HUNGRY.

I started fishing the area where I had caught fish on the past 2 trips to the lake.  I wanted to fish a different spot, but there were a number of people lining that shoreline, and I don't enjoy fishing in crowds.  They weren't catching anything anyway.

It was just dead.  No fish activity at all.  But I didn't want to leave, so I drove around to the opposite side of the lake and tried fishing there.  The FISH were there!!  It wasn't fast fishing, but seeing the signs of fish in the area was a definite confidence booster.  I ended up catching 8 Rainbow Trout and 3 Bluegills.

I saw a dozen or so Brook Trout.  I even got one or two of them to strike at my nymph pattern, but I wasn't able to hook any of them.

Here's the beadhead softhackle nymph pattern that caught all the fish for me:

I was using a strike indicator, and several fish hit the indicator...one even took it down for about 8 seconds before I popped it out of the fish's mouth and back to the surface!  So, I tied on an Elk Hair Caddis dry fly.  I had several good hits on it, but wasn't able to hook the fish, and eventually the fly got waterlogged and wouldn't float anymore.  I then switched to a foam Hopper pattern.  I had one Rainbow going NUTS over it...repeatedly rising, boiling, diving, and then charging back up...But I never did hook that fish.

The biggest bluegill I caught was a really NICE fish of 9.25"!
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A fellow came down and fished near me.  We talked some.  He had just gotten back from 18 months tour-of-duty in the military in Afghanistan.  He was extremely appreciative of the peacefulness of being at the lake...the quiet, the Canadian Geese that took flight off the water, and TENNIS SHOES!  He said the first thing he did when he got off the plane was go to a McDonalds!  I gave him a trout, he caught a trout, and another angler gave him 2 trout.  He was SO looking forward to having a nice FRESH MEAL...his first in 18 months!  He said we was probably going to relax for about 3 months, then go back to Afghanistan for more active duty.  He said his favorite thing over there was escorting the children to school.  He grew sort of attached to an 8 year-old girl.  When he first met her, she could speak her own language, of course, but couldn't read it or write it.  When he left, she had mastered reading and writing here language, as well as English, and she was also doing very well with French and ...one other language.  He said the kids there, especially the girls, are like sponges, they just soak up everything they are taught.  He said she cried when she found out he had to leave.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Iowa Lakes "Trout Stocking Day" Fly Pattern Selections

Just a quick blog today to show you what I tied up last week for the Trout Stocking Day here in Iowa last Friday.  I will be taking these same patterns with me to another central Iowa lake next month when it gets its first batch of trout for this Fall season.
The photo above...that's IT!  Now, this selection may change/grow as I gain more experience with fooling trout on "stocking day" around here....but for now, this will do it.  The column of flies on the left side of the picture are simple patterns consisting of 3 feather fibers from a peacock sword for the tail, olive dubbing for the body, with brown or grizzly hackle palmered over it, and a small glass bead for a head.  Not sure what the name of this pattern is.  A kind gentleman at a trout stocking last year gave me one to try, and it worked AWESOME!  Actually, first he gave me one without a bead, and it caught so many fish that the hackle was starting to unravel, so then he gave me the beadhead version.  I sort of like the beadhead version better, it sank just a bit faster to get down to the trout sooner.  Below is another picture of some of that pattern.


The second column of the top picture has some "experimental's" included in it, several of which use ginger-colored ostrich plumes for the body.  Let's face it, we are targeting fish that are fresh from the hatchery.  The only food they've known for most (or all) of their lives is manmade fish pellets.  The ginger (tan, brown, or gray might also work) ostrich looks similar to a pellet, with just a bit of movement and a soft texture when the fish tastes it.
Something sort of similar to that, for those that would rather use/tie a pattern that looks like a trout's NATURAL food item (but could also pass for a pellet in a pinch) is to use some sort of scud pattern like those at the bottom of the 4th column of flies in the top picture, also shown below:


The third column of patterns in the top picture are microjigs.  Now, technically the "microjig" pattern has rubber legs, but I rarely use them on my own microjigs.  I've caught a LOT of fish, including trout, on them without legs.  I prefer to use some color of grizzly marabou/chickabou for the tail.  For the body of microjig, I like to use a sparkle chenille, with gold being my personal favorite.  I've also done well with an olive mylar chenille.  Other colors may also work well.

I've been told a Beadhead Prince Nymph under an indicator can work well for these stocked trout.  I haven't tested that yet.  If using an indicator, it would seem that a pattern that has more inherent movement to it would work better...like maybe something using rabbit fur, marabou, or soft hackle.

If you have some patterns that have worked well for you at these "stocking day" events, I'm always glad to hear about them.  I think I will also throw some brown or black Boa Yarn Leeches into my kit for one particular lake where the trout like to hang out in the shallows for the first day after being stocked...I think it might get their attention!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lake Petocka, 10-16-2011

I made it back to Lake Petocka on Sunday evening, fished from 4pm-6:30pm, caught 6 Rainbow Trout (AGAIN! Third time... must be my lucky number?) and 1 Brook Trout.  All but one were on a Kastmaster, the other one was on a fly rod microjig.

Wish I would have caught the Brook Trout on my fly rod....I've really been wanting to add that species to my "fly rod" list.  But I was just glad to catch one on any gear.

Once again, I didn't photograph any rainbows, but did take pics of the Brookie, which happened to be a gravid female...she started squirting out eggs as I was photographing her (but not in THIS picture).
Female Brook Trout

She laid on her side in the shallows after I released her, but she soon righted herself and swam away.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Trout Stocking Day at Banner Pits and Lake Petocka, 10-14-2011

Because of the wind forecast (20-30mph gusts) and the lack of any sort of wind break around Lake Petocka, I decided to fish the trout stocking at Banner Pits, which is further away.  It was windy, but not too bad there since it is surrounded by trees.

I arrived at Banner Pits a couple hours early to get a "good spot" to fish from.  I knew I wanted the wind at my back if possible, and as much open casting room in front and behind me as possible since it can get crowded and I didn't want to accidentally hook someone that was walking behind me.  So, I chose to fish from the end of a short dock next to the boat ramp where the DNR would be dumping the trout into the lake.  I saw a handful of fellow Central Iowa Anglers (CIA) members, and we all had plenty of time to chat for a bit.  I helped one of our Members launch his pontoon boat, and learned (from his depthfinder) that the surface water temperature in the lake was 63 degrees F.  A bit warm for trout coming from the 50-degree hatchery water.  That plus the bright sunlight...the stocked trout wouldn't be hanging out in the shallows by the boat ramp very long!

Then the DNR Fisheries Biologist for our area, Ben Dodd, arrived to help with the stocking (although the stocking truck which came separately was 1/2 hour late).  We had a great talk about local fisheries.  I always seem to learn a LOT in a very short time when talking with Ben.  I think I know the fisheries pretty good from the sheer amount of fishing I do...but Ben always has the absolute most current information from ongoing studies, stockings, sampling results, current and up-coming projects, etc.  He also expressed his gratitude towards Central Iowa Anglers for the fish-habitat placement projects we had done this year at Lake Ahquabi, Blue Heron Lake, and Saylorville Lake.

As the stocking truck started dumping trout into the lake, I caught my first fish of the day!  Except it was a small Green Sunfish, which I turned and handed to a small boy that was standing behind me on the dock.  He thought that was pretty cool!  I was hoping to catch the first TROUT of the day, but that honor when to the older gentleman standing next to me.  He wanted his limit of 5, so he could take them home to his trout-loving wife to cook up for supper.  Fishing was pretty slow, however.  He caught 2, and I added two to his bucket.  He left with those 4.  I eventually caught another off the dock, all on fly gear with a microjig under an indicator.  When the fishing slowed, I tried other fly patterns, some spinning gear with lures, and even PowerBait Honey Worms.  The PowerBait didn't get ANY strikes at all.  I moved off the dock to a different section of shoreline, where some of my CIA buddies were still catching a few fish.  They left with their limits, and I caught 2 more on flies and one on a Mepps spinner.

I ended up catching 6 Rainbows by the time I left Banner at 3pm. Yeah, it was SLOW!  It was about what I expected for this early in the Fall season.

Then I headed to Lake Petocka, which wasn't far out of my way on my return trip home.  I was surprised to discover just ONE angler there fishing.  Turns out he got there about 20 minutes before I did.  It was FREAKING WINDY and COLD!!!!  Way different than Banner!  I've heard it said there is a beautiful woman behind every tree at Lake Petocka.  Maybe they should plant some trees there!  Because of the howling wind coming from the WNW, I didn't try the fly rod, I just used a plain silver #1 Mepps on spinning gear.  I saw trout scattered along the shorelines.  Some were really dark.  Turns out those were Brook Trout.  The first fish I caught was a bass.  Then I caught a really NICE Rainbow...probably 15" and VERY fat.  I was getting my camera out to take a picture of it when the other angler walked over.  He was a friendly younger guy who had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.  We talked for awhile, and instead of getting a picture, I just gave him the trout.  He said he had caught a nice Brookie.  I went back to fishing my way along the north shoreline of the lake.  I ended up catching a total of 6 Rainbows at Petocka (plus the bass), and also foul-hooked a Brook Trout in the chin.  I took a few pics of that one because it was so pretty, then released it.  I had a handful of other trout on that didn't stay hooked.  It was rather slow too, but despite the wind and cold, I enjoyed it more than the fishing at Banner for some reason.  I left Petocka at 6pm.
Brook Trout at Lake Petocka, Bondurant, Iowa



Total for the day: 12 Rainbow Trout, 1 Largemouth Bass, 1 Green Sunfish...and the one foul-hooked Brook Trout.

Ben said the trout that went to Banner and the trout that went to Petocka were from different hatcheries.  I thought it was AWESOME they brought some brookies to Petocka!  From what I saw, the Rainbow trout at Petocka averaged slightly bigger, while the trout at Banner had better colors.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lunchtime Fishing Report, 10-11-2011

With yesterday's rain, and this morning's fog, continuing above-average temperatures...I figured fishing OUGHT to be pretty good today during lunch!

Unfortuntately, by the time Noon rolled around, the fog lifted and the bright sun came out, plus a moderate wind out of the South.

Not exactly the conditions I was anticipating.  Still, anything is better than sitting at my desk during lunch.  So I headed to a nearby public pond, maybe 5 minutes from our office.  I approached the pond with an eye on one particular corner where I'd seen a pod of grass carp on my previous visit here...but there were no fish visible.  And unlike the other ponds I've visited lately, the algae mats in this pond were still crowding the shorelines and covering the bottom and any aquatic plants that were still rooted to the bottom.  Not a pretty site.  There was abundant activity along the shoreline.  Not fish, but DOZENS of small bullfrogs.  I spotted a couple BIG ones, but they weren't as alarmed by my presence as the small ones.

Because of the wind speed and direction, plus the expanse of algae I'd need to clear to reach open water, I moved around the corner from the shoreline I'd hoped to fish.  No fish visible.  I put on a brownish microjig under a medium-sized football-style strike indicator and began casting my way along the shoreline.  Something aggressive struck at the indicator.  I made a couple more casts, then adjusted my microjig to be closer to the strike indicator and tossed it back out once more.  I thought maybe it was going to be a bluegill or tiny largemouth bass, but...I caught a Green Sunfish!

That was something of a surprise for this pond.  I enjoy catching Green Sunfish, although it generally suggests the pond has a deficient population of largemouth bass.  I guess that shouldn't surprise me, since the numbers of small frogs around the pond pretty much indicates the same thing.  My mind belabors what this (formerly) good pond used to be, and what it has become.  I decided just to enjoy the fishing for now.

I worked my way towards another corner of the pond.  I started getting some good strikes.  While I missed a fair number of good strikes, I landed 5 bluegills:

This male bluegill still has a bright orange chest.

I cast out more towards the middle of shallower end of the pond, and watched my indicator disappear into the jaws of a fish.  I probably SHOULD have been using a topwater fly pattern!  I shortened my leader beneath the indicator once again and cast out a couple more times before the indicator shot underwater, this time because a fish had hit the microjig.  Turned out to be another Green Sunfish, this one even bigger...in the 8.5"-9" range!


I quickly fished my way back towards my car.  I caught one more bluegill.  I was standing above a concrete culvert/flared end section.  I looked down and saw a frog sitting in it.  I hadn't seen one of these for awhile...the others I'd seen today were bullfrogs.  This one was either a Leopard Frog or Grass Frog.  Without investigating its identity it further, I'll just say that I'm GUESSING it is a Grass Frog.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fly-Fishing Report, 10-9-2011

It was once again my turn to drive the carpool of teenage girls to their Iowa Youth Chorus rehearsal in Des Moines.  I had 1 hour 15 minutes to fish at nearby Copper Creek Lake before I needed to pick them up again for the return trip home.

It was a sunny day, unseasonably warm at 85 degrees, and rather windy at 15-17 mph, with gusts to over 20mph.  The area of the lake closest to where I like to park was also the end of the lake that had wind blowing directly into it.  This should make for good fishing, but also a bit more work for fly-casting.

I've noticed over the past week that the algae mats and weedbeds have nearly disappeared, as they do every Fall.  Its been really warm and sunny lately, so it must be an "angle of sunlight" thing?  As the weeds die off and start decomposing, the water clarity diminishes a bit because of the release of nutrients back into the system.  Then the water clears up again as the water temperatures continue to drop for Winter.

Anyway...so the water clarity was noticeably worse than my last visit to this lake 2 weeks ago and this was no doubt worsened by the churning of the wind & waves over the past several days.  I could still see down at least 12".

In this lake, darker colored fly patterns have been good to me, so I used a black microjig with a black dry-fly hackle collar.  I tried it at various times both with and without an indicator about 3' above the microjig.

I caught a decent, but skinny, bluegill right away, and then nothing for awhile.  I eventually caught 5 very small largemouth bass, and 2 more bluegills.  I moved up and down the shoreline, trying some different areas before I left, and found one spot where I caught 2 crappies.  The first one was the bigger of the two, very deep-bodied.  I'd guess it was close to 12".  Then I had to head out.



Right before I'd left the house to start the carpool, I looked out on the back deck and saw a gray female Praying Mantis working on something in a spiderweb.  I grabbed the camera and went to see what was going on.  She was feeding ravenously on SOMETHING.  Judging by the size of her abodmen, she will be depositing her egg case soon.  I could't positively identify what she was feeding on, but I strongly suspect it was the funnel-web's owner, a large spider.  The Mantis seemed quite comfortable walking on the web without getting stuck.  I checked later and it was gone.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fly-Fishing for Catfish



I love catching Channel Catfish on fly-fishing gear.  They are so strong, and they love to run and take you to deeper water.  Although I have specifically targeted Channel Catfish with flies with some success, it is more common that I will catch them while fishing for bass, bluegills and crappies.  You may have read some of my previous blogs regarding catfish on flies from earlier this year.

I'm not an expert, but perhaps those wanting to try fly-fishing for catfish will find something useful from my experiences.  With this in mind....

I have not tried fly-fishing for catfish in rivers or streams...all my catfish have been caught in ponds or large reservoirs.

First...fish somewhere that you know to have a very good population of Channel Catfish.  Fish in the shallows (4' deep or less) at dusk, sunrise, after dark, or on overcast days.  If you can SEE the catfish, that is a very good thing, however, either light conditions or water clarity will most likely prevent sight-fishing.  Fish during the warm months...July-September seems to be when catfish are most active in the shallows in the Midwestern U.S.  5-weight to 7-weight fly rods and lines are adequate for catfish in still waters up to around 10 pounds.  I use at least 3x tippet, but prefer 2x for catfish.  I'll go even heavier if there are sharp rocks or trees/brush in the water along the shoreline I'm fishing.

Fish with fly patterns (mostly nymphs or streamers) that are tied on size 8 hooks or LARGER.  You can try to match what you think the fish are eating.  If they are chasing schools of shad in a reservoir, for example, a large white streamer/baitfish pattern can work well.  Judging by the number of catfish I've caught on "metal" spinning lures such as spinners and blade baits, flash materials tied into your pattern will NOT deter a catfish.
 A white baitfish bucktail streamer pattern that has caught several large (24"-27") Channel Cats for me, when catfish were feeding on shad or bread.
This 27" Channel Catfish was chummed in using hot dog buns, and then hit the white bucktail streamer.

This 26" Channel Catfish was working a school of shad before it hit a white bucktail streamer
On ponds, catfish might eat small bluegills, but an easier and more common meal would be large aquatic nymphs.  If there are lots of rocks, catfish may be eating crayfish.

Jumpin' Catfish Nymph

This 27" Channel Catfish was taken on the nymph shown above.

In reality, I think Catfish will hit just about anything, especially if they think it is alive.


Catfish will scavenge, but the bigger they get, the more they become predators feeding living prey.  If you don't know what the fish might be eating, try a simple Woolly Bugger.  A white or grey Woolly Bugger is a fair imitation of a minnow. Olive, brown, or black Woolly Buggers can imitate large nymphs.  Beadhead (or beadchain/barbell eye) tan or rust-colored Woolly buggers can imitate crayfish.

I watched a catfish rooting around the base of some algae/weeds in a pond.  I dropped a weighted nymph to the bottom near the fish's head, and it turned and ate it.  Another time, I was slowly swimming an unweighted wet fly, and saw a catfish literally touching the tail of the fly with it's lips...only to turn away at the last moment as the fly neared shore.

A couple years ago I was having remarkable success on bluegills and crappies with a yellow Boa Yarn Leech.  I also caught a fair number of catfish on this pattern, as well as a silver version.  I think the reason I caught so many catfish on it was simply because THAT is what was tied on my line at the time.
These are just two of many Channel Cats that I've taken on yellow Boa Yarn Leeches.

One pond I fish has a good population of frogs and toads.  I've caught several Channel Catfish at night on foam poppers I was using to try to catch bass!
The catfish above and below were taken on bass-sized foam poppers at night.


Catfish have excellent sensory perception....good vision, but also very good sense of "smell" and vibration.  Because of that, I think nymph patterns incorporating natural materials such as hair or feathers should work even better than the synthetic boa yarn material.  I have caught catfish on Woolly Worms and Woolly Buggers in sizes 8 and 6.

As described in one of my earlier posts from this year, I tried "chumming bread" for catfish a couple times.  It actually started when I was trying to chum bread for Grass Carp, but ended up catching some catfish instead.  In situations where the catfish are eating bread, use a large fly pattern that looks like a hunk of bread.  Actually, it doesn't even need to look like bread, it just has to be white and moving slowly through the area where the catfish are feeding on the (generally floating) bread.

This fat catfish hit a "bread fly" pattern.

Feeding catfish are moving, so I feel it is wise to keep your fly pattern moving SLOWLY through the water.  You can try slowly hopping weighted patterns on the bottom (especially if you are using a crayfish fly pattern), but a slow steady retrieve will also work just fine.

As I've mentioned, I think your chances of hooking into a Channel Catfish are best in the evenings or after dark...



Look at the BELLY on this kitty!


As with every rule, there are exceptions...and many of my largest fly-rod catfish are taken during the middle of the day, even when it is bright and sunny:



The catfish above, a 31-incher, was caught during my lunch hour!


So if you like seeing the backing on your fly reel now and then,
or just like fighting a fish that will put a big bend in your fly rod,
then you might want to give Channel Catfish at try!

This Channel Catfish, 31" long, hit a #8 silver/gray Boa Yarn Leech.