Monday, April 17, 2017

Fishing on April 16, 2017

Beautiful day on Sunday!

I didn't get out to fish until mid-afternoon.

Found some Grass Carp in a corner of the pond, in the in 18"-24" of water.  They had the mud stirred up, so they were nearly impossible to spot.  Occasionally there would be a big swirl, and on very rare occasions, a fin or back.  I was still forced to blind cast instead of casting to targets.  I very briefly foul-hooked 3 grass carp, but didn't have any strikes.  I eventually gave up and moved on.

I caught 4 nice Pumpkinseed Sunfish on a chartreuse microjig.  I caught 1 small bass on a blockhead popper, one one on a black mohair leech, one on a chartreuse microjig.  I lost one crappie, but landed the second one.  Bluegills were hitting a wide variety of flies, including suspended flies, floating flies, and swimming flies.
I flyfished during lunch today (Monday, April 17).  Caught bluegills and crappies.  The fish weren't particularly aggressive.
I did have a Garter Snake slither along the shoreline right in front of me:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Mid-April 2017 Update

I fished one evening earlier this week.  I was DETERMINED to catch a bass on a blockhead popper!  The water was finally warming up, the wind was finally managable.  Well...the bass had other ideas.  My buddy Jay caught plenty of bass on another pattern.  I walked 3/4 of the way around the pond before I finally got a strike and  hooked up!  But....I did it, and you can't take that away from me!  ;o)
Also caught a Pumpkinseed Sunfish:

During lunches, I got out a few times.  I flyfished, and caught bass, bluegills, and crappies.  I rarely ever see snakes when fishing, but one day I saw 6 Garter Snakes!  I even bent down and touched one of them.  Unfortunately, I didn't have my phone/camera with me.  But a couple days later I did, and got a picture of one.

Today (Friday, April 14), I went to my typical "lunchtime pond".  Somebody was already fishing there.  I let them have the pond, and drove 5 minutes to a nearby alternate pond.  Its one I seldom fish, because fishing generally sucks there.  On the list of ponds in Ankeny, I'd probably rank this one 2nd from the bottom.  Its that bad.

But, it is what it is, and despite my opinion, every pond deserves a chance now and then.  I know there are carp in this pond....I don't recall ever being successful at hooking one here.  The water is muddy enough that I usually can't see the fish before they spot me.

So, I thought I saw movement in a large muddy area that it was obvious carp had been feeding in.  I cast a #8 black mohair leech, and swam it slowly through the area.  I made contact with a carp.  I don't know if it hit my fly, or if I hit the fish, but the result was that it took off after the hookset, without the hook getting stuck.  I moved further down the shore.

Several years ago I found a few crappies in certain spots, and cast  through those areas.  No crappies today, but I did catch one small Hybrid Sunfish.  A dozen casts later, my line tightened a bit, so I set the hook.  Nice fish!  It swam straight for the opposite side of the pond, taking almost all of the 123' of fly line....there were just a few wraps left on the reel over the backing.  I was in no danger of getting spooled, but this portion of the line rarely gets exposed.  I slowly worked the fish back to me, and lifted on the rod to get the fish near the surface.  I could see it was a carp, and a minute or so later I could even see the front 1/2 of the fly sticking out of its mouth.  Not foul-hooked!  Excellent!  :thumbsup:

It really didn't want to come into the shallows, so that attitude lengthened the battle by another several minutes.  I finally felt it was tired enough to try and horse it to shore so I could land it.  And I did.

Beautiful yellow-gold carp.  I measured it at 24".  Not huge, but substantial, and certainly VERY fun!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April 9, 2017

Flyfished a local public pond on April 9th.  Jay joined me for a few hours.

Trying for bluegills/crappies, I caught quite a few bass.  When I changed flies and tried for bass, had just one missed strike.  Casting into the wind was a lotta work.

Had a really nice bass...estimated 18"-20" range. Got it near shore, it was still fighting.  I grabbed my line to pull it close enough to shore so I could land it.  It was tiring.  I got it a couple feet away and it shook free of the hook.  It was still sitting within reach, but as I reached out to grab it, it darted away.  DANG IT!  Thought I had that one beat!  ;o)

I did catch a 9.25" Pumpkinseed.  Comparing pictures, it appears to be the same fish as one I caught while icefishing in January.

Jay caught a nice Pumpkinseed as well.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Visited 2 ponds.  At the first pond, I spend an hour or so flyfishing for bass.  Missed two strikes from a bass, and missed a swipe or two from crappies.  Finally switched to trying for crappies, and caught one.  4 guys with coolers, stringers, and fish baskets arrived and appeared to be keeping everything they caught.

At the second pond, I fished for about an hour before my buddy Jay showed up.  I'd caught just one bluegill.  He said the barometric pressure was really low (?), which generally means poor fishing.  Nevertheless, he started catching bluegills pretty frequently on a little fly rod popper!  I didn't switch, and consequently my catching didn't improve.  Jay decided to leave, probably exhausted from catching so many fish trying to teach a dumb pupil (me) how to do it.  Then in the last hour, I caught a bass, a pumpkinseed, and 4 more bluegills (doing it MY way) before I decided to give it up.  Caught 3 times as many fish in the last hour as in the previous 5 hours!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Late March 2017 Update

I've been out flyfishing a few times in the past week or two.
Weather has stayed cool, compared to February.  We've gotten rain, and its been cloudy quite a bit.  So, the waters haven't warmed appreciably since that 2nd round of iced-over lakes we had earlier in the month.  I would guess the local waters are currently sitting around the mid-40's F for temperature.

Compared to previously, the bass haven't been as active.  I haven't caught any more Hybrid Sunfish or Pumpkinseed Sunfish.  I've caught a few, smaller bass, a fair number of bluegills, and also a good number of crappies.  All on a chartreuse microjig about 18" beneath an indicator.

I saw a fellow angler catch a really BIG bass one day.  After getting some pictures, he released it back to the pond, which I was VERY happy to see.  After his group left, I fished my way over to where he had been fishing.  I discovered he had been using a Pumpkinseed Sunfish for bait. The bait was dead in the water next to shore with a huge hook hole through its back.  The angler may have been trying to target a big catfish?  At any rate, it was good to see a big bass getting released back to the pond.  I thought it looked substantially bigger than the 20-inch bass I'd caught earlier this year.  Hopefully I will have a chance to catch that fish this year and see just how long it is.  Maybe its the 22-incher I thought got harvested?  Or a new fish I haven't yet caught?  ;o)

This crappie was caught during my lunch wasn't very big, but I thought the perspective was interesting....showing how their eyes are set and why they like to strike upwards.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 19, 2017

Its like February and March switched places this year.  February was unseasonably warm, and ice melted off the local ponds about 3-4 weeks earlier than usual.  March has been a roller coaster....warm days and cold days....more snow than December-February combined.  The local ponds actually refroze for a few days, before melting away once again.  Then, Monday was really nice...windy, but temperatures in the upper 60's F.  And today the temps are around 40, and it was just snowing an hour ago...around 11:30am.

Fortunately, I was able to get out and do some flyfishing locally on Sunday afternoon.  It was really windy.

I caught a fish on my first cast!  And on my last cast!  And on some casts in-between!  ;o)

Tried to keep the wind at my back or side for much of the time.  But fishing slowed, and I decided to try the downwind side of the pond...and attempt to cast into that brutal wind.  Well...the fish were definitely there, and in better numbers and more aggressive than on the upwind side of the pond.

I ended up landing/releasing 2 Largemouth Bass, 1 Hybrid Sunfish (Pumpkinseed x Bluegill), 4-5 Crappies, and well over 20 Bluegills.  It was a very enjoyable afternoon.  Although I tried for Largemouth Bass with a larger fly for awhile, I didn't have any strikes on it.  Everything was caught on a chartreuse microjig about 18" below a strike indicator.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Last Week of February, 2017

Still seems crazy that we even have OPEN WATER right now.  It has cooled of a bit since our week of unseasonably warm weather....but we've still had some warm days and cooler days.

I flyfished on Monday during my lunch hour.  The previous week I was catching lots of crappies, but this cooler week, I didn't catch any crappies at all.  Just a couple bluegills and a 9.5" Hybrid Sunfish:
Then I flyfished again that evening, for about an hour before it got too dark.  Caught a few more bluegills from a different pond, and a Pumpkinseed Sunfish:
On Tuesday, temps hit @ 60 around noon, but then started cooling off into the low 50's a couple hours later after the wind shifted to out of the north.  I started fishing around 2:30pm.  My buddy Jay caught a couple crappies, but I couldn't get any decent strikes.  I put on a bass fly I call the Jerkbait Fly, because its foam underbody allows to nearly suspend high in the water column.  I've tied it in various colors.  Here's some I tied last night:
I ended up catching 3 bass and missing 3 others.  Biggest was a beautiful 20"!

Here's the smaller ones:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Here in Ankeny, Iowa, the ice on all the local public ponds is gone. On February 10, there were still some guys icefishing these ponds. A week later on February 17, they 100% open! Crazy warm weather for mid-February! Its very unusual, but I can't say I don't enjoy it.
So, I took Friday off and tried out a new fly rod/reel.
As I mentioned previously, I got an Allen Kraken reel and a Douglas Sky 9' 6wt rod. The Sky won the Yellowstone Angler 2016 6wt Rod Shootout.

Anyway, I fished 6 ponds on Friday. Caught 1 Crappie at the first one, 1 Bluegill at the second one, skunked at the 3rd, 6 Crappies at the 4th, Skunked at the 5th, and 4 Bluegills, 1 Crappie and 1 Bass at the 6th. Crazy day, slow fishing, but beautiful weather for it.

Lots of Muskrats out and about too:

Then I went fishing Sunday late-afternoon. Again, very nice weather. I was hoping to get a Pumpkinseed Sunfish, and was successful.  Caught 2 that looked like Pumpkinseed x Bluegill Hybrids...and 6+ Bluegills.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Some New Gear to Play With!

I've been pretty happy with the flyfishing gear I've been using the past year or two.

I read Yellowstone Angler's 2016 6wt Fly Rod Shootout:

I've never owned "top of the line" expensive flyfishing gear.  And yet....flyfishing is what I do.  I love it.  Why DON'T I have some truly top-notch gear?  It isn't really that I don't WANT it.  Of course I do.  My 2nd fly rod was SO MUCH better than my first made me actually enjoy using it, put a smile on my face when I was fishing.  So, yeah, I KNOW there's a difference in gear.  Its up to each individual to determine whether expensive gear is worth the price tag....and whether they are willing to pay that price.

Normally...I'm not willing to pay a high price.  I'm still not, really.  But after reading that review, I decided I wanted to try the Douglas Sky rod, the one that won their "Shootout".  It sounds perfect for the varieties of flyfishing I do.  And I also wanted an Allen Kraken reel for it.  I've had excellent experiences with a variety of Allen products (rods, reels, hooks, beads, etc.). The Dorado color option on their Kraken reel has captured my attention for some time.

To lessen my guilt of buying these items, I decided to fund their purchase by selling some of the flyfishing rods and reels I no longer use much.  Some items I sold locally, some online, and some I traded in.  I feel I got really good deals on the items I purchased, and so far actually have a surplus of money from the sale of my I may buy an extra reel.  Haven't decided for sure, yet.

I got the Douglas Sky 9' 6wt fly rod.  Looks and feels great! As the ice melts off the local waters, I hope to use it maybe later this week.

And the Allen Kraken reel....its beautiful!  To some it may seem gaudy.  But to a fisherman, Chartreuse ROCKS!  And everybody loves electric the Dorado color pattern suits me just fine!

I'm certain when the fish see me approaching the water with this awesome new gear, they will be jumping onto the bank BEGGING for me to catch them!  That's how this is all supposed to play out, right?

Early Season Warmwater Flyfishing Game Plan

Its about a month earlier than normal, but the ice is starting to melt off the local public ponds.
Its time to get ready or BE ready to flyfish at any moment.

My buddy Jay shared with me that a recent issue of one great fishing magazine, In-Fisherman, recommended the use of a small hair jig under a bobber for catching early season Largemouth Bass.

I hadn't really associated the two before, but its basically the same fly rod technique (microjig - indicator) I use early season for everything....bass, crappies, bluegills, etc.  I tie my own, many colors, but ALWAYS have plenty of Chartreuse on hand!  I use 1/80th oz jigheads, with #8 hooks (or #10, but I like the #8's better if I can find them).

I don't target bass with this method, but I do catch them.  One of the first bass I caught last year was 18.75", caught in this manner.

The beauty is in the slow movement of an apparent easy "meal"...the water is cold the fish's metabolism is still somewhat slow, they aren't super-aggressive yet.  But icefishing has shown us that many warmwater fish never really stop eating during the winter...and sometimes they are downright FEROCIOUS beneath the ice!  So...I've learned to temper my mindset of what the activity of early-season fish really looks like.

Now, this technique doesn't just work early can and does work all year.  Even for nice bass.  I caught plenty of nice bass with this technique last year, while targeting bluegills, crappies and other sunfish.  Of the 11 Largemouth Bass 18"-20" I caught on flies last year, I think 4 of them hit a little microjig under an indicator.  It always surprises me when it happens.  Its such a small morsel for a big-mouthed fish....its seems like a marlin eating plankton.

But anyway, this is a great early season flyfishing technique for MANY early-season warmwater fish.  If you haven't tried it yet, give it a shot soon!  :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Darned Paparazzi!

They never leave a guy in peace!  There I am…just a guy minding his own business and icefishing….and I end up on the Des Moines Register website AND the Channel 5 ABC NEWS broadcast! ;o)
At least, in the times we are living in, I can appreciate being in the news for something that isn’t BAD!

So, actually, I was helping out at an ice fishing event at the DMACC Pond in Ankeny on Sunday.  The Ankeny Optimist club and DNR hosted the event, and Central Iowa Anglers helped.  The purpose of the event was to get folks of all ages, who hadn’t tried icefishing or wanted to learn more about it, out on the ice and show them how to do it.  There was a good turnout.  Had folks from as far away as Ames, Altoona and Waukee show up.  Lots of kids.  Seemed everyone caught at least one fish, and nobody fell through the ice.

Here’s a link to more photos from the event on the Des Moines Register website, and a screen capture of the best picture (right?):

Here’s the link to the Channel 5 news video that they broadcast on Sunday at 5:30pm…and a screen capture from their website:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Icefishing 1-1-2017

Fished with Jay.  We visited a different pond than the one I fished last week.  7" of decent ice.  Jay was smart and knew when to cut his losses, although he certainly caught his share of fish.  I stayed way too long...fished from 9:15am-5pm.
Action was very slow and the fish really seemed negative.  Had a few aggressive crazy fish that helped the day pass.
I caught 1 bass, 4-5 pumpkinseeds, 4 hybrids sunfish, and 20 +/- bluegills.
Caught 2 Master Angler-sized pumpkinseeds...9" and 9.5".