Monday, November 22, 2010

Fishing Trout-Stocking Days in Central Iowa

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has an "Urban Trout" program that entails stocking trout into warmwater ponds during the cold months, to provide a seasonal trout-fishing opportunity near some of the larger cities throughout Iowa.   This program does slightly better than "break-even", by increasing sales of the Iowa Trout License, an optional add-on to the normal state fishing license.
I've been fishing these "stocking days" locally for several years.  I've learned that the fastest fishing is usually within the first couple hours after the fish are stocked.  The fish are usually still concentrated close to the spot where they have been released from the stocking truck.  Being able to cast to where the fish ARE is a major factor in any successful fishing trip.  A second major factor is figuring out what the fish will be willing to hit.

Some folks like to use live bait or commercially prepared scented baits such as Berkley Powerbait.  While these methods will catch fish, when the fish are bunched up and excited like they are immediately after being stocked, artificial lures and flies will usually outfish the "bait" by a very wide margin.

After a day or two, its usually a MAJOR struggle just to locate the fish, and I have the highest regard for anyone who can catch them, regardless of tactics.

The IDNR stocks these fish as a "put-and-take" fishery.  They want anglers to fish for and keep what they want (within the legal limits) to eat.  The trout will survive until the lake water reaches 70 degrees F the next summer, and then they will die.  The DNR would prefer the fish were enjoyed by anglers before they died.

Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010.  2pm-4:30pm.  DMACC Pond, Ankeny, Iowa.
There's a large pond within sight-distance the office building where I work. During the warm months, it is a difficult lake to fish due to the expansive shallows choked with algae mats. So, most people don't bother. Ice-fishing is another story altogether, and it is quite a popular local fishing destination during the hard-water season.  This is the 2nd year that the DNR has picked this pond as one of the Urban Trout lakes.

I got to the pond around 2pm, since I was working until a bit after noon, then ran home to eat lunch and change into warmer clothes.  There were still a LOT of anglers fishing, and it was pretty crowded near the location where the fish were stocked into the pond.  I wanted to do some fly-fishing, and wanted plenty of room around me, so I chose a spot a very good distance from the other anglers.  Folks were still catching a few fish, but it was obvious the fastest action had already passed by.

I fly-fished close to shore, and used spinning gear to toss small blade baits out to the middle of the pond.  I ended up catching 5 rainbow trout on fly gear, and 6 on the spinning gear.  The fly I used was a 1/80oz Springbrook Wunder:

I released all the trout, but took a couple pics.  This one was probably the smallest trout I landed, I really have no idea what possessed me to pick this one to take a picture of!
This one was a better fish:

Friday, Nov. 19, 2010. 12:15pm-3:00pm. Ada Hayden Lake, Ames, Iowa.
This was the first time trout have ever been stocked in to this lake.  I was hopeful since there was a stocking the previous day, closer to Des Moines metro area, that fewer people would make the drive up to Ames.  I think I was correct.  There were a lot of people, but it seemed a good 1/2 of them were observers only, not anglers.

I'd never fished this lake before.  Its an old quarry pit, and drops off to 30-40' near shore.  A good chunk of the shoreline is rip-rapped, and there is a paved boat ramp, a floating dock, and a fishing pier.  Of course most of today's fishing was focused around the boat ramp where the trout were stocked.

I got a good position on the dock next to the boat ramp that allowed me to flycast without worrying about hooking people or shoreline behind me.  Within a couple minutes of trout getting into the water, I had a fish hit, but it shook loose before I landed it.  A cast or two later, I landed the first trout of the day amongst all the anglers!
I was using the Springbrook Wunder microjig again, and it was working very well for me.  A fly-angler next to me from Missouri was struggling a bit, so I gave him a spare fly, and he started catching fish too.  After he lost it to a fish, I gave him another.  After awhile the fish were still there, but weren't hitting my pattern as well.  So, a fellow next to me gave me one of HIS flies to try.  It worked really well, and I was back in business!  This is my version of what he gave me, since the hackle on the one I was using eventually unravelled.
This gentleman then offered me another fly, so of course I took it!  It had a glass beadhead and sank a little faster than the previous pattern, but it caught fish just as well.   Here's my version of that one:
 Eventually the fish seemed to get wise to this pattern too.  I switched back to the Springbrook Wunder, and caught more fish.  I tallied 36 rainbow trout with my fly-fishing gear.

Finally, before I left, I dropped a 1/8 oz gold Reef Runner Cicada on spinning gear straight down into the water in front of me and vertically jigged it.  I got quite a few hits, but was having a tough time hooking them.  I did finally land one, and then decided to call it a day.  I had 5 trout on my stringer (these are the first fish I've kept for a meal in 2010!), and wanted to get home and prepare them for supper.  I must have prepared them properly this time...they were delicious!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lunchtime Fly Fishing Report 11-17-2010

I fly-fished during lunch once again today at a local public pond. Weather is cloudy, 42 degrees, 11mph wind. COLD when you are dressed in office attire with no gloves or long underwear! At least I had a zip-up hooded Carhartt jacket to put on over my fleece jacket.

I used a blue-n-chartreuse microjig. Didn't bother with an indicator. Action was...ok.  I landed 11 crappies in 1/2 hour.

I took a couple pics this time, since although I've been catching fish lately, I hadn't taken any pictures.
This one...this is again why they are nicknamed "Papermouths". You can see individual marabou strands THROUGH the skin!

It was cloudy, but the colors of a crappie are still beautiful, if somewhat subtle.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lunch Fly-Fishing, 11-2-2010

'Tis the season, I guess, for Crappies here. I apologize in advance for more crappie pictures...but you get to see some of what I've been catching.

Today I got a late start on lunch, but still took the hour allotted to me. That gives me 1/2 hour to fish when you cut out the driving time...more or less.

So, I hit the "HP" pond again. (This isn't really a code word, just an abbreviation. If it was a code, somebody slap me for being uncreative! :) I'd tell you exactly where it is...but most of you will never visit this area. And those who live here...well, you probably know where it is already. If not, shoot me a PM.)

The fishing (catching) started of pretty good, I caught 4 crappies (a couple in the 10"-11" range) from the first spot. With all the ducks that get fed around this pond, I always wonder exactly what the crappies think as the ducks race around over their heads...either racing towards somebody throwing stale bread...or racing away from somebody they realize ISN'T GONNA FEED THEM (me). The crappies still bite, so all is well. They are obviously very used to all the commotion.

I tried a couple other spots, and they were slower. I ended up with just 2 more crappies, but had at least one other nice one shake loose. I probably could have caught another one or two, but I was forced to waste time trying to unsuccessfully get not one but TWO flies out of a large tree behind me. Ended up having to break my line both times, and the second time I decided I should just give up for time being.
The first one I had to fish outta the tree, some folks were walking by on the sidewalk. I said,"I just caught a tree. DON'T TELL ANYBODY!" The woman smiled and said she once hooked her husband in the back of the head. I chuckled as they went on their way.

All the fish were caught on a Springbrook Wunder microjig (without the red thread for "gills").