Monday, February 26, 2024

February 25, 2024

 Got out fishing for just the 3rd time this year.  Warmer weather recently had me thinking the Golden Shiners might be willing to strike, as they often do early in the year.  Hoped for other species as well, but you never know this early in the year what else might willing to play.

So, went to a pond that has Golden Shiners.  Used a microjig that was made by a local angler, on a #14 hook.  Missed some and lost some fish, but managed to catch 5 Golden Shiners, plus a couple small Redear Sunfish, a few small Bluegills, a Green Sunfish, and a little Largemouth Bass.

Golden Shiner on Fly





Redear Sunfish

Green Sunfish

I stopped at a creek on my way home.  Water was low, clear, and slow.  Didn't see many fish at all, which isn't unusual this time of year, but also somewhat alarming given how clear the water was.  I did see a couple grass carp.  I tossed a beadhead woolly bugger their way.  They seemed to be following it, but I lost track of where the fly was, and felt it had sunk to the bottom, and they were unlikely to eat it.  I made some more casts, but didn't see those fish again.

I did manage to catch one bass at the creek, it had excellent markings!


Monday, February 5, 2024

February 3, 2024

 First "local" fishing outing of the year.  I like going after the Koi especially, since they remain fairly active when the water is cold, plus they fight good and can be very colorful.  What's NOT to like??

The takes were generally more subtle this trip than in warmer months.  I was able to get the fish to start feeding by throwing some cat food out onto the water.  Took awhile to get some takers to come to the surface.  Before that, there were almost no fish seen anywhere.

Used a microjig under an indicator, the microjig tied with white rabbit fur tail and eggstasy chenille body.  The Goldfish hit that as well.  Ended the short session with 6 Koi and 4 Goldfish.




Goldfish:



Monday, January 29, 2024

January 26-27, 2024

 Drove the 6.5 hours from St Louis to west-central Arkansas to fish with a buddy.  He'd previously scoped out the location, and the plan was to get me my first Striped Bass on fly, and hopefully get both of us our first Blue Catfish on fly.  Goals were achieved, despite the cool wet weather and the water being more muddied up than usual.

I tried a number of fly patterns...but ended up catching EVERYTHING on this trip on the fly below.  Pearl estaz grande body, silver flash and white peacock tail, on a 1/8 oz jighead (Waspi Super Jig Head).  That heavy jig wasn't easy to cast very far on the fly gear.  I did do some fly casting, using a sink tip and also floating lines, but in the end vertically jigging this heavy deal to get down and stay down on the bottom got me the fish, plus I've been having elbow issues in my casting arm, so this technique was easier on me.  I tell you what...when those Drum would thump the jig, and I'd set the hook, those dudes are STRONG and definitely sent pains up my arm!  Fun!

I didn't catch big numbers of fish, but they were strong fighters.  I caught 5 Freshwater Drum, 4 Striped Bass, (3 French Hens), 2 Blue Catfish, 1 White Bass, 1 Largemouth Bass.

Day 1:

Striped Bass on Fly




Freshwater Drum on Fly

Day 2:

Blue Cat on Fly




White Bass on Fly

2nd Blue Cat on Fly

The Striped Bass and Blue Catfish enabled me to reach my goal of 100 U.S. Freshwater Species on Fly.  This also put me at 115 Species on Fly.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Redspotted Sunfish on Fly

  ***I haven't shared much regarding techniques for quit a while, my recent posts being more about the fish with which I am so enamored.  I'm going to start sharing more specifically what I've learned for the various species I've caught.

We all know fish in different waters can behave differently and have different preferences.  But I think overall this will give folks who want to try for certain species more info that can hopefully get them started off on the right foot, rather than going blindly.  We can all shorten our personal learning curve by first learning from the experience of others.***

This blog post is about Redspotted Sunfish.

Redspotted Sunfish on Fly

Although I had taken Ichthyology in college, and had been nearly a lifelong angler, Redspotted Sunfish were basically unknown to me until a couple years ago.  I'm certainly no expert, but I just don't see anyone talking about these fish, especially as a target for fly fishing.  So, I will share what I've learned so far.
Below is the range map for Redspotted Sunfish, an excellent visual created by KOAW.ORG.  Check these guys out, they have really done some great research on all the sunfish species!



I've caught them in small creeks and swampy areas in southern MO and northern AR.

Really cool fish!  I've caught them on surface flies (like a foam bug), on microjigs, and on a small black unweighted woolly bugger.

They don't get very big, so keep your fly small.  #10 or smaller will do the trick.
These are #12 or #14 microjigs, which work well for Redspotted Sunfish.  Small Woolly Buggers also get eaten.

Best times to catch them are Spring close to when they are spawning, in my experience, but I also haven't gone looking for them after about mid-summer.

As you might expect, I feel it helps immensely if the water is clear enough for sight-fishing....where you can present the fly to an individual fish or spot, and see how they react.  But I've caught ones I did not see before they ate the fly. 

They seem to like being near vegetation, but I've caught them near rocks as well.

They don't get particularly big, usually, and they aren't particularly strong fighters. Redspotted Sunfish can be enjoyed on 3wt-5wt fly rods.  I use a weight forward floating line, and tippet should be 2lb-6lb Fluorocarbon.  

Redspotted Sunfish are very challenging, uncommon, unusual, interesting, and fun.  I really enjoy catching them on flies. They are a native fish that needs to be more appreciated.  Do some research, find some fish near you, and get after them!  Good luck! 

Here's some pics of Redspotted Sunfish I've caught while fly fishing:
















Channel Catfish on Fly

 ***I haven't shared much regarding techniques for quit a while, my recent posts being more about the fish with which I am so enamored.  I'm going to start sharing more specifically what I've learned for the various species I've caught.

We all know fish in different waters can behave differently and have different preferences.  But I think overall this will give folks who want to try for certain species more info that can hopefully get them started off on the right foot, rather than going blindly.  We can all shorten our personal learning curve by first learning from the experience of others.***

This blog post is about Channel Catfish.

Channel Catfish on Fly

Channel Catfish on Fly

Channel Catfish on a Bass Popper!

Channel Catfish can be found in the middle of the U.S., east of the Rocky Mountains, and west of the Appalachian Mountains... and Canada thru Texas.

They have been widely stocked, and can be found in rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and ponds.

Channel Catfish are fairly omnivorous, but in my experience, they seem to become more and more predatory the larger they get.  All sizes will hit a fly.  They will feed everywhere from the very surface to the very bottom.  In a reservoir or spillway where they may be feasting on Shad, I've caught them on white fly patterns that resemble a shad or other baitfish.  In a pond where they may be feeding on nymphs, I've caught them on flyrod versions, like a Gartside Nymph or Jumpin' Catfish Nymph or Woolly Bugger.  I've caught them on bass-sized fly rod poppers in the evening when they may be hunting for frogs or small bluegills.  I've caught them on a Zonker fly pattern, and I've caught them on sculpin or crayfish patterns on the bottom.  I've caught them on microjigs suspended beneath a strike indicator.  I've caught them on flies tied for carp fished on or near the bottom.  There truly is no wrong way to fly fish for Channel Catfish, but the fish will have to tell you what they want.

Stu Thompson catches nice channel catfish on his DDH Leech fly pattern in the Red River in Manitoba near Winnipeg.

Where I fish, I catch Channel Catfish most often during the warmest months of the year.  I don't know what they do when it gets colder, but I just don't see or catch them then.  I say that, but I've also caught them while ice-fishing.

As you might expect, I feel it helps immensely if the water is clear enough for sight-fishing....where you can present the fly to an individual fish or spot, and see how they react.  But most often I'm fishing stained water.  When ripe mulberries are falling into the water, channel catfish will hang out in the water underneath those trees and eat the fruit that drops in...or a fly that looks roughly like a mulberry.  Even during the rest of the summer, I've caught catfish under overhanging trees.  They probably like the shade, but they will certainly check out any "plop" sound on the water to see if it is food.

They do seem to like feeding along rocky shorelines.  They will feed just under the surface at times, but most often are feeding near the bottom.  They will also feed along weedlines.

Channel Catfish can get big, and are excellent, strong fighters. They can be enjoyed on 4wt-6wt fly rods.  I use a weight forward floating line, and tippet should be about 8lb Fluorocarbon.  

Handle Channel Catfish with care, as the spines in there dorsal and pectoral fins can poke you.  It stings, but they are not poisonous.  Also, don't lip them like a bass.  Expecially the larger ones have very rough tooth pads on their jaws, and a VERY strong bite force.  They WILL clamp down on your finger!  

Channel Catfish are very challenging, strong, and fun.  I really enjoy catching them on flies. They are a native fish that needs to be appreciated by more fly anglers.  Do some research, find some fish near you, and get after them!  Good luck! 

Here's some pics of Channel Catfish I've caught while flyfishing:









Small Channel Catfish will hit flies too!





Big  Channel Catfish on a nymph.


31" Channel Catfish... approx. 12 lbs, caught on a small fly during my lunch hour.