Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 Fishing Summary – Year In Review

As of December 12, 2012…I’m calling it “a year” as far as fishing goes.  With the weather (ice on the lakes) and family commitments between now and the end of the calendar year, I don’t foresee me doing any more fishing in 2012.

And what a year this has been!!  The ice melted away quickly and the temperatures wasted little time in heating up.  The Lower 48 States experienced the hottest first half of the year on record…and darn close to the record for hottest year ever.  With the heat came very little rain, so lakes and river levels were extremely low, in fact many area rivers (such as the Skunk River in Ames) dried to the point of having no measurable flow, Saylorville Lake continues to drop several feet below normal pool (the USACE has to release a minimum amount of water from the lake, which this year happens to be more than is coming in!), and even Big Creek lake is at least 6’ low and dropping due to low flows coming into the lake and a leaking valve on an outlet pipe that isn’t getting fixed.

These conditions made for interesting and unusual fishing circumstances.  For me, fishing was better for much of the year.  I’ve keep a Fishing Log each year since the beginning of 2006.  I set a personal goal of catching 1,000 fish each year.  I had “record months” in March, April, August, October, and November!  In just my best two months (November & April), I totaled 981 fish!  Conversely, my worst 3 months (January, December and February) resulted from only 10 fishing trips total, and 116 fish caught total.  This is typical for winter-time in Iowa.  In December, lakes are often frozen over, but the ice isn’t thick enough to fish on.  In February/March, the ice usually is melting away and again is not safe to fish on.  In January the ice is usually safe, but it takes longer to set up for ice-fishing, so I usually don’t go during my lunch hour, and of course that time of year it is dark by the time I get off work.  That leaves weekends, and those often find me busy with family.  So, I consider any Winter fishing I’m able to do to be a bonus.

I will say I spent an inordinate amount of time chasing such difficult (with a fly rod) species as Grass Carp, Channel Catfish, Common Carp, and Buffalo.  These aren’t high-number species.  I didn’t land any Grass Carp this year, but I had about a half-dozen hooked, which was much better than last year.

I added 5 species to my “Fly Rod Life List”, bringing my total Fly Rod Species list to 28.  The new species this year were Yellow Bass, Yellow Bullhead, Redear Sunfish, Smallmouth Buffalo, and Freshwater Drum.  Too bad Crayfish isn’t a real fish…I caught one of those on a fly this year, too!  J

Here’s some of the “raw numbers”.

Days Fished:  166 (not a record)
Fishing Trips: 211 (I consider it a separate “trip” if I visit multiple bodies of water in the same day, or fish during my lunch hour, then again in the evening (for example).)…(not a record)
Hours Fished: 336 (not a record)
Average Fishing Day Duration: 2 Hours
Average Fishing Trip Duration: 1.6 Hours
Fish Caught: 3,112 (NEW RECORD! This beat my previous record of 2,626 by a substantial margin…486!)
Species: 21
Fly Rod Species: 18
Fly Rod Trips: 190 (NEW RECORD!  This is 90% of my overall fishing trips, @92% of my open-water fishing trips)
Fly Rod Fish Caught: 2,846 (NEW RECORD!)  This works out to an average of 15 Fish per trip (using a fly rod), or 9.4 fish/ hour, or 6.4 minutes between fish.  Statistics geek!  J

Each year it is interesting to see how many fish of each species I catch, and how those ratios change from year to year.  Bluegills and Crappies are what I fish for most, so those will probably always be my top 2 species.  Lets review the top 11 species from this year:

Species                                                            No. Caught
Bluegill                                                            1,341 (New Record!)
Crappie (White and Black)                             776
Rainbow Trout                                                318 (New Record!)
Largemouth Bass                                            236
Sunfish (Green and Hybrid)                           165
White Bass                                                      144
Smallmouth Bass                                            51 (New Record!)
Common Carp                                                 24 (New Record!)
Channel Catfish                                              13
Wiper (Hybrid)                                               12
Yellow Bass                                                    11 (New Record!)

Although the numbers were extremely few, I did set new Records for Redear Sunfish (3) and Smallmouth Buffalo (2).

I definitely caught some nice fish, with approximately 34 fish over 20” long.  I tied my biggest Fly Rod Largemouth Bass with a 19-incher.  I landed 10 Channel Catfish between 21”-27” (nearly all of these were on flyfishing gear/flies), and 23 Carp over 20”.  Longest fish of the year was a 31.5” Common Carp.  "Best Fish" might be the 14.5" White Crappie I caught on a fly rod during my lunch hour.  It qualified for an Iowa Master Angler Award.

I had two 100-fish days, and 1 days with 6 species caught.  I fished with 13 different folks this year.  I fished 30 different waters, 8 of which were completely new to me.

There you have it.  The numbers have been crunched!  I’m looking forward to seeing what 2013 has in store for fishing.  Best of luck to you! J


  1. A stellar year. You certainly have me beat. I think I need to hit the lake for lunch more often.