Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Central Iowa Icefishing, Feb. 1, 8 & 16, 2020

Mostly really slow days of icefishing....uncooperative fish.  But, enough fish were caught to keep us interested.  Some of the better fish included 3 bass that measured 18", 18.5", and 21.5", respectively.

And another view of the biggest one:

Monday, January 27, 2020

Central Iowa Icefishing - January 25-26, 2020

Had about 4 hours to icefish on Saturday.  Visited a pond where I caught quite a few 18"+ bass in 2019, but the action had tapered off considerably around mid-year after I saw 3 guys catching and putting bass in a 5-gallon bucket.  I wanted to check the pond out during the winter to see if some of those nice bass were still in there.

Well..I caught 18 bass, 5 bluegills, 1 green sunfish, and 1 hybrid sunfish.  NONE of the bass were over 13".  So, looks like the damage to the population of bigger bass by those 3 guys was pretty thorough.  That's really sad, selfish, and misinformed. 

Anyway, some of the bluegills were pretty nice...some were 9"+.

We visited 2 ponds on Sunday.  The first pond, my buddy Jay caught a couple bass right before I got there. His nephew Nathan also joined us.  I drilled a half-dozen or more holes, fished a few of them.  Saw just one fish the entire time.  The other two guys didn't catch any more either.  We moved to a 2nd pond.  This was also pretty slow, but we all managed to catch fish.  I did ok.... Caught 6 or 7 bass (none over 14"), at least 8 crappies, 2 pumpkinseed sunfish, and over a dozen bluegills.

While I take pictures of some of the fish I catch, its always been about the fish, so if you go through my blog archives, there are very few pictures that I am actually in.  I got the iPhone 11 recently, and it has a much better "selfie" camera than my previous iPhone 6.  So, I'm starting to experiment with including me in more of my fish pictures, as you can see above. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

2019 Iowa Flyfishing Summary

Another year of flyfishing has wrapped up.  It was a good year!  Here's the overview and highlights:
I caught 22 species on flies this year.  They are:
Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Rock Bass, Bluegill, Hybrid Sunfish, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Green Sunfish, Redear Sunfish, Black Crappie, White Crappie, White Bass, Channel Catfish, Black Bullhead, Common Carp (and Mirror Carp!), Bigmouth Buffalo, Smallmouth Buffalo, White Sucker, Creek Chub, Hornyhead Chub, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, and Rainbow Trout.

13 of these species were from Ankeny public ponds!

18" Fish
I've arbitrarily chosen 18" as the length of fish that I keep track of.  I mainly keep track for data to provide to folks who might think flyfishing is only for small fish.  (In my own opinion, 18" is a satisfying-size fish of many species, while also being challenging in that it pretty much discounts all panfish species such as bluegills, redears and crappies.  Crappies can exceed 18", but that size is pretty uncommon.  I've never heard of an 18" bluegill...but can you imagine if they grew that big??)

Anyway....I caught 60 fish on flies that were 18" or longer (plus some more while icefishing), a combination of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, carp, catfish, brown trout, bigmouth buffalo and smallmouth buffalo.

Master Angler-sized fish
I caught 10 MA-sized (20"minimum) Largemouth Bass on flies (plus another one while icefishing), 1 Bluegill (10" min.), 1 Carp (32" min.), and 1 Brown Trout (18" min.).

I caught fewer carp this year, only 10.... but one of those was my Personal Best at 35" long, 22.5" girth, and calculated weight of 22 lbs.

I caught far fewer catfish this year...only landed 3 Channel Catfish on flies this year, plus 3 Black Bullheads.

Here's the big story.  2019 was by far my best year of 18"+ bass on flies.  I caught 43 (plus 2 more while icefishing)!  These were caught from 10 separate bodies of water, which is a very positive sign of the future of the local fishing.  10 of these bass were 20" or bigger (plus another one while icefishing).  These 20"+ bass came from 4 different bodies of water, another good sign, as opposed to being from just one or two ponds.  6 of the 20"+ bass were caught between Oct. 3-Nov. 9.  Unexpectedly, two 20" bass were caught in July.  The monthly breakdown of 18"+ bass looked like this:
February-2 (icefishing)

I carry way too many flies with me...I don't USE that many!

Here's what those 18"+ bass were caught on, and how many were caught on that style of fly:
Gamechangers(and all variants): 17
Howitzer Head Popper: 11
Microjig: 7
Blockhead Popper: 6
Foamhead swimmer: 1
Woolly Bugger variant: 1

So...carry Gamechangers, Microjigs, and some good big Poppers....and you'll be set.  And the Microjigs only came into play starting in the month of October.  So, the rest of the year is Gamechangers and Poppers.  There it is....the secret of my success!

Jay and I made 3 trips to NE Iowa streams this year.  This added 7 or 8 species to this year's list.  I don't think I can remember all the streams we I'm not going to try to list them.  Despite the weather (very hot, very cold, rain), it is always fun and the surroundings are beautiful.

All fish were C&R'd.
I'm very thankful for all the nice fish caught this year.  I hope your year of fishing was as enjoyable, and your 2020 is even better!

December 2019

No big fish were caught, but when the ponds weren't ice-covered, the crappies and a few bass were still willing to strike.  The best tactic was  a microjig under an indicator (flyfishing, of course).

Sometimes a Micro Gamechanger worked well also, which was surprising considering how cold the water was.
These Micro Gamechangers are @ 2" long.

November 2019

The ice on the local public ponds kind of formed, then melted, then reformed, and remelted....had to keep watch on the ponds to find the days when the ice melted and the ponds could be fished.

I won a fiberglass fly rod, and gave it a try.  Caught a couple bluegills and a bunch of crappies at one pond:
At another pond, bass fishing was very good.
Here's a pair of 20" bass, caught on consecutive casts!
More crappies:

The following 3 bass were all caught on a single afternoon, and measured 18", 18.5", and 20.5":
I didn't catch any more big bass after November 11...after that date...when the ice conditions allowed flyfishing, the biggest were only 16"-16.5" or less.

October 2019

Flyfishing has remained very productive here in central Iowa.
20" Largemouth Bass on a Gamechanger (fly):
Pumpkinseed Sunfish:


20.5" Largemouth Bass:

Caught my biggest bluegill ever.  10.5" on the left (and a 9.5" fish on the right):

Tied and tried a Micro Gamechanger (fly).  Measures @ 2" long.  Caught crappies and a HUGE SURPRISE 13.25" White Bass!

Towards the latter part of the month, my buddy Jay and I made a 3-day visit to NE Iowa trout streams.
We caught naturally reproducing Brook Trout:

Naturally reproducing Brown Trout:

And some good-looking Rainbow Trout:

Then back to central Iowa, where I caught some crappies:

And my biggest Largemouth Bass of the year, 21" long, on October 27th:

September 2019

Still flyfishing.
Caught my Personal Best Common Carp (ever) on a fly... 35" long, 22.5" girth...calculated weight of 22 lbs:
9" Pumpkinseed Sunfish Hybrid:

Caught some river Smallmouth Bass:

18.5" Largemouth Bass on a Blockhead Popper:

Green Sunfish.  One has purple on it opercle, while another has red: