Monday, March 5, 2018

First Open Water Fish for 2018

Much anticipated.  My last open water fish were caught on December 1, 2017.  Then the local waters became covered with ice, and so the icefishing season progressed.  About 3 months from the last open water fish, my first open water fish for 2018 were caught on March 3.

The ice disappeared VERY fast this past week.  We had high temps in the upper 40s (F) and into the 50's this week.  Couple that with the warmer-than-ice water under the ice, the ice eroded from both sides.  I was fishing on 6.5" of decent ice last the previous Sunday. 6 days later, these same waters (local public ponds) are wide open.  CRAZY!  Usually a warm rain will help the ice disappear faster, but we didn't even need that help this year.  Hopefully the weather and ponds don't experience a relapse and freeze over again.

So, I flyfished 2 local ponds, from @ 11am-3pm.  At the first pond, I caught bluegills and small crappies.  I used a microjig under a strike indicator.  I was fun to watch that indicator go down and feel a fish on the fly rod again!  I tried a larger jig under a bigger indicator...the same setup that worked for bass at the end of last season...but did not get any fish....I did have a couple strikes, but they were feeble, so I assume they were bluegills or crappies messing with it.

I try to take a picture of the first open water fish of the year, but it flipped out of my hand and back into the water while I was trying to get my phone out of my pocket.'s bluegill #2.

And the first small crappie of the day:

At pond #2, I continued trying for bass for awhile with the larger jig & indicator.  Caught totally inhaled the jig!  I didn't measure it, but it was probably a 14"-15" range bass:
I had no more strikes on that, so I switched back to the smaller microjig and indicator to try for bluegills.  Actually ended up catching at least 5 more (smaller) bass on that, along with a mixture of sizes of bluegills.  This was a really nice one:

A very successful start for the season!  The fish were reasonably aggressive, considering the water temperature is still very cold.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Icefishing February17,2018

Jay and I formulated flexible icefishing plans for Saturday.  We didn't know where we might find safe & accessible ice, so we had a series of "contingencies". 

Fortunately(?) the first place we tried was accessible.  The ice looked "iffy"....lotsa bubbles trapped in the ice, surface cracks....but not really honeycombed.  6.5" of ice.  We fished here most of the day, before hitting another place for the last couple hours.

Fishing alternated between very good, to zero throughout the day for each of us....usually only one of us was having success at any one time.  And then the fish would completely disappear for both of us.  Very bizarre.

Despite not catching much for hours at a time....we had fun and we did catch some decent fish!
We caught some crazy-aggressive chunky Hybrid Sunfish:
Hybrid Sunfish (presumably a Bluegill / Green Sunfish cross)

Even the Pumpkinseeds seemed more aggressive than the bluegills:
Pumpkinseed Sunfish

(BTW...the bottom right fish in the picture above is a Pumpkinseed hybrid.)

We didn't catch any crappies, and just a few bass.  This was the biggest of the day at a chunky 20" (see picture at the top of this post.)

I was looking down the hole when that one showed up and hit!

In other news....remember the ice rod that got ripped out of my hands and flew down the back in January?  Well...that pond's water is typically pretty stained all year.  But on Saturday I discovered it was strangely clear....I could see my lure tipped with a waxworm down to 8' +/-.   When we had arrived at the pond, Jay had initially drilled a couple holes to check ice thickness/quality.  Before we left that pond for the day, I decided to try and fish those holes since we couldn't find fish anywhere else.  I picked a hole that was over 6' of water.  I didn't mark any fish.  I dropped my lure/waxie to the bottom....then noticed something off to the side a bit.  Looked like my lost rod laying on the bottom!  I drilled 2 more holes before getting directly over the top of it.  I put on a rattle spoon and dropped it down.  Within a minute or two, I managed to hook THE CORK HANDLE (not the line or rod or eyelet like you would expect)....and reeled it up. I GOT MY LOST ROD BACK!!!  We decided the chances of finding it and retrieving it were astronomical.  CRAZY how everything worked out like that!  The uncharacteristically clear water was definitely the biggest factor.

Anyway....pretty cool stuff!  Oh....and no muskrats this time, but I did look down a hole once to see a ginormous bullhead slowly swimming just a couple feet under the ice.  I would have loved to catch it...I reeled up as quickly as I could, but it never turned or showed any interest and was quickly gone from view.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Icefishing in Iowa, January 28,2018

It just figures, right?  The past 2 Saturdays have been GREAT weather for icefishing.  The past 2 Sundays....not so much.  But Sundays are when I have time to do it, so we each take what we can get.

I ran to get some bait for my buddy Jay and I, and then scouted some local ponds to see if we could even get on them.  I drove by 2 ponds....looked pretty dangerous.  Third pond....MAYBE we could have gotten on, but would almost certainly have broken through with our first step on the ice.  Pond 4....Looked like there was one spot that we could have gotten on.  As I was walking back to my vehicle, a pickup truck pulled up, and one of the guys jumped out to talk to me.  They were looking for somewhere to fish too.  They had been on a small pond near Polk City earlier in the morning, and had broken through the ice.  The guy had plunged in thigh deep through the ice.  They went home and changed pants/socks/boots and were looking for safer ice.  I told them I thought they could get on in a certain spot at this pond, so they went out on the ice (successfully), and drilled some holes.  I checked some other ponds.
At pond 5, there was thin ice along the edges, but I thought I could see where we could probably step off shore and onto thicker ice.  At pond 6, it looked like it was accessible, and there was already a guy fishing there.  At pond 7, I thought maybe in a few select spots it may have been accessible, but other areas had thin ice around the edges.

I reported back to Jay, went home and suited up/loaded the vehicle and met Jay at the pond we decided to try first.
We got on the ice ok.  Holes were drilled, I measured 6" of ice.

Fishing wasn't super fast, but one side of the pond definitely had more fish activity than the other side.
I had a muskrat come up into my hole....3rd pond this has happened to me in just 3 days of icefishing this season.

Jay lost a big fish they took off on a blistering run, then either broke his line or cut it off on the ice.  He also caught the nicest Pumpkinseed of the day.
I had 2 nice fish that somehow took the Swedish Pimples off my line without even bending out the clip I had them attached to.  I'm puzzled about how that happens.
I did catch some bluegills, a couple pumpkinseeds, and two bass.  One bass measured 15", the second measured 19".

Monday, January 22, 2018

2nd Icefishing Outing of 2018

Jay and I went icefishing again on Sunday.

We fished 2 ponds we didn't fish last trip.  But this post isn't really about that.  Its about "the other stuff".

At each of the two ponds, I had muskrats pop up in the hole I was fishing.  At the 2nd pond, it almost looked like the little bugger was gonna start chewing on my transducer cable so I had to shoo him away!

And something else happened that I've never had happen before, and...yes, its rather embarrassing to have to admit it, but it was interesting all the same:
I set the hook on a fish... I could tell it was a nice fish. The rod was about forehead height and I was reaching up with my other hand to start reeling in some line.  The fish was apparently MUCH bigger than I thought and it TOOK OFF!  It ripped the rod from my hand and it harpooned right down the ice hole...didn't even touch the sides, I don't think.  I plunged my hand down the hole to grab the rod but missed.  LOST MY FRIGGIN' FAVORITE ICEFISHING ROD-N-REEL TO A FISH!  All I could do was shake my head and laugh about it.  The fish definitely won that round!

My son even came out and icefished for awhile.  He did well, catching at least a dozen fish.  He had fun, which is the best you can ever hope for.

We caught bass, bluegills, hybrid sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish and crappies.
Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

First Fish(es) of 2018

After 2-3 weeks of subzero temperatures, the weather finally warmed up into the low 30's (F) here in central Iowa.
Time to icefish!
My buddy Jay and I visited 4 local public ponds on Sunday, January 7.  We fished from @ 9:15am-5pm.
I measured the ice thickness at 2 of the had 8" of good ice, one had 6.5" of good ice.

We caught fish at each pond.
We hoped for crappies at the first pond, but only caught bluegills. We had the pond to ourselves until 3 other anglers showed up.
First fish of 2018!
At the 2nd pond, which we also had all to ourselves, we caught bass and a couple bluegills.  We didn't mark many fish.

At the 3rd pond, there were 2 shacks already on the ice when we arrived....and by the time we left there were at least 18 people on the pond (including us)!  Fish were the most active in this pond, and we caught bass, bluegills and crappies.

At the 4th pond, we had it to ourselves and marked plenty of fish the entire time.  Apparently they were all tiny....we caught tiny crappies 5" and smaller....and small Green Sunfish as well.  Near the end of our outing, we each caught a couple bluegills that were in the 5"-6" range.   Lots of fish in the pond, they are just really small!

It was good to catch fish again...the last fish I caught were from open water about a month ago!