Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Flyfishing for Goldfish with David Wyner, 5-20-2014

Yeah...we did it.  We flyfished for Goldfish.
A little history: 30+ years ago I caught some Goldfish from a pond near my Grandparents townhome.  It was a fairly new pond at the time, and being a kid who liked catching fish, it was a lot of fun!  We used spinning rods and some sort of bait on a hook.

Ever since I started flyfishing, I've wanted to catch some Goldfish on a fly with flyfishing gear.  Over the years, I've seen at least one BIG Goldfish in almost every local public pond in my town.  Its rare that I see them, and even rarer that I've cast to them with a fly they might even consider.  I've gotten them to look at my fly on rare occasions, may have even had a light strike or two, but have never been able to hook one.

Flash forward to a week ago.  David Wyner took up flyfishing earlier this year, and managed to catch a rather HUGE HUGE Goldfish on a fly within the past week.  Seeing that fish made me want to put some serious effort into trying to add Goldfish to my flyfishing Life List of species.  I asked Dave if he was interested in trying it, and he said there was a pond near his house that "has WAVES of Goldfish".  Its not the pond where he caught his jumbo-sized fish, but that seemed like kind of a fluke to me was a solitary fish, and probably not worth the effort to try and catch another one from there...if there even WAS another one in there.  When he told me where he lived, I discovered the pond he was talking about was THE SAME pond I had fished 30+ years ago!  How cool!  We made arrangements to meet up and go fishing.

We parked the car about 50 yards from the pond.  As soon as we got out of the car, we could see pods of Goldfish swimming around in this pond.  Hey, if you are going to attempt something difficult, its a good idea to stack the odds in your favor as much as possible.  Well, there was no shortage of Goldfish in this pond.  After getting a closer look, I'd estimate the numbers to be in the tens of thousands!  They were swimming around in groups, sometime milling about in a circular pod, other times streaming out playing follow-the-leader in a line up to 20' long.  I'm kicking myself for not taking any pictures of some of these massive pods of Goldfish...In one area, the fish would occasionally turn in a circle, rise to the surface and practically fight to be on top, apparently trying to feed on something at the surface, although no food was visible in the area.

The fish probably averaged around 5"-6" long.  I was hoping for bigger, but am glad they were at least big enough to hit a fly!  And there WERE some bigger ones in there, they were usually solitary fish or there might be one mixed in with each pod of smaller ones.  They were hard to get to, and didn't seem very interested in eating.

We did see a loaf of bread (looked like the size/shape of a foot-long Subway sandwich bun/loaf) that someone had tossed in the water, probably to feed the ducks that were swimming around.  The Goldfish seemed attracted to it, but did not feed on it while we were standing on shore next to it.  But it did seem to keep them coming back to our area, which was definitely a plus.

At first I had tried a different area of the pond, were the fish would come by only occasionally, and they would usually swim right on by quickly.  I had a few strikes on a chironomid pattern under an indicator.  I discovered that if I led a group of fish far enough with my cast, they were attracted to my indicator hitting the water...whereas if I cast too close, they were spooked.

David caught the first few Goldfish, and invited me to fish closer to him.  I did, and it made all the difference.  I started out in that 2nd area fishing with a #18 Elk Hair Caddis.  After I tied it on, I discovered that is also what David was using.  I had a few strikes on it, got one hook-up that broke my 6x tippet.  It wasn't a big fish.  Next, I tied on a #14 Red Fox Squirrel Nymph variation that I tied up to be somewhat shaggy-looking, and no tinsel ribbing.  The Goldfish LOVED that! We discovered if we cast into the pod of fish while they were doing their aggressive surface thrashing, they would often hit the fly quite willingly.   I caught 4 Goldfish in short order.

They were absolutely beautiful fish!  Such deep orange-red coloration and fins.

We could have caught many more, I'm sure, but decided to try another pond adjacent to this one.  No decent-sized goldfish were seen there, and by the time we came back to the first pond, there was a Dad & son standing in the area where we had been fishing, trying to recover the floating bread.  We left and fished another pond (a new one for me, since I had never tried it before) and both did really well on decent-sized crappies, bluegills, and 12" average bass.

So, I caught a new-to-me flyrod species, and got to fish one pond from my childhood, and another that was completely new to me.  It was definitely a great evening of fishing!  Thanks for indulging me in my quest, Dave!!  :)


  1. I have seen them in some Pond waters also in my area. Have not fished for them. Could be an interesting challenge though. Plus, another warm water species on the fly rod. All good things..............................

  2. Where is this at? Ive been looking at a lot of things of yours on Lake Petocka. I live in Bondurant and am starting fly fishing this weekend. Wanted to know if you had any tips on Petocka, and what tips you have for fishing for carp as there is a pond nearby that I go to. Thanks

    1. {\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
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      \outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec2 Brandon, sorry this reply took so long, we had a funeral to attend yesterday. Hope you did well. \
      This pond is a small neighborhood pond in Urbandale. I don't know if it has a name.\
      For Petocka, I would recommend a 5 or 6 wt rod over lined with a tip heavy weight forward floating line, because it is often windy there and long casts often necessary. The few trout still in the lake will be in deeper water away from shore for the remainder of the summer. I wouldn't bother fishing there until after the first trout stocking this Fall, but it is a good place to practice your casting. Instead, I would recommend you flyfish the ponds in Ankeny if you can. It's not far from Bondurant, and there are plenty of ponds to choose from, most have decent numbers of fish in them. It doesn't seem like practice if you are also catching fish! :)\
      Carp flyfish is more of a visual-hunting game. They are very wary. Move slowly and softly once you spot a fish feeding in the shallows. The closer you can get without spooking the fish, the better. Next, you need to place the fly close to the fish's nose, on the bottom. Saylorville Lake can be a good place to try this. Do not rush. Take your time to do everything right. It's not easy, you will often get skunked ( I do). But it really is fun and totally rewarding once you've hooked and landed a few.\
      I hope this helps, Brandon. I'm sure you will have many more questions as you tackle flyfishing. I am glad to help you as much as I can, just let me know. :)}

    2. I managed a trout and bluegill at petocka. Im going to take your advise and stay away from there for awhile due to its lack of activity. I have a private pond that I go to in here that has Bluegill, bass, and carp. Well, that's all Ive seen so far anyway. Im sure there is more. I'll stay there and possibly see you at Petocka some time this fall?

    3. I am impressed you were able to catch a trout this late in the season! You must have been doing a lot of things RIGHT! Good job! :).
      I will definitely be there this Fall. The trout will be smaller, but catching 30 or more in a few hours is a lot of fun! I'd enjoy hearing about your pond fishing this summer, Brandon.

  3. Today I went fishing and caught 8 bluegill and a few crappie. It was awesome! So much fun!

    1. Excellent! Flyfishing IS fun..and effective! :)
      Good job!