Monday, January 30, 2012

Icefishing for Trout, 1-28-2012

I went to Lake Petocka, near Bondurant in central Iowa, on Saturday to ice-fish for stocked Rainbow Trout.  A fresh batch of trout had been stocked last Thursday.

I thought it would be easy to catch 'em, but I was wrong.

There was 8" of good ice on the lake.  I didn't take any live bait.  I planned to spend most of my time fishing near shore over 4'-7' of water, and aggressively jigging lures to draw the trout in.  I started out with a Reef Runner Cicada blade bait.  After missing 5 trout in a row that hit 2-3 times each, I switched to a Salmo Chubby Darter.  The first trout hit the Chubby Darter a couple times, then took a tungsten jig tipped with a Gulp! Alive! Fish Fry.

All the trout I saw came up to hit within 2' of the bottom of the ice.  When in the shallows, I didn't bother using the flasher.  When I ventured out to deeper water, I did use the flasher, but saw very few fish, and none that were willing to strike.  I did get a couple of "looks".

It had been slow all day....long periods between sightings of fish.  I did eventually catch another trout on the Chubby Darter.  This one was a bit larger than the first, and its fins were not clipped, indicating it was probably from a previous stocking back in October.
There were quite a few folks out fishing, but nobody was having much success.  A couple of guys fishing deeper water with minnows apparently caught 3 trout.  The DNR arrived and checked licenses.  A few people left right around then.

The big question...probably around 1500 trout had been stocked 3 days before I fished...SOMEBODY should have spotted decent groups of trout somewhere in the lake.  Nobody did.  Where are all these fish??

REAL Teal Blue Silver

A generous fellow fly-fisherman & fly tyer from Oregon sent me some Teal feathers...HOORAY!
I'm not able to tie a BONA FIDE Teal Blue Silver!  Check back a few blog entries to see my "variations".

He sent more than just the barred feathers.  He also sent some Teal feathers that each sport a single spot.  I figured that spot would make a nice "eyespot" on streamers.  So, I tied up a #4 Black Ghost streamer using those eyespot feathers for the "cheeks".

I also tied up a few more of the Teal Blue Silvers....two #8's and one #12.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Muncher

This is a fly pattern created by Ian Colin James.  It looks great, and Ian claims to have incorporated 3 "triggers" into this fly that will encourage fish to bite.  Those triggers are:
1. Horizontal Legs - move better and more lifelike in the water.
2. 2-Tone Body - more effective than a single-color nymph.
3.  Double Wing Case - anglers claim the double wing case gets more strikes than a single wing case.

Here's a link to Ian's write-up about this pattern:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fishing opportunities have been scarce recently. Leaves a bit more time for sitting at the tying desk pondering what to tie/use for the coming open-water season. Here's a few items I've tied over the past week.
First up is a "Skip's Anatomical Nymph":

Next up is a Deer Hair Bass Popper:

My buddy Jay had found some fly-tying materials at a garage sale a year or so ago.  He gave it all to me.  Included were some size 12 and size 10 cork bodies for making bluegill poppers.  I hadn't used them, but for some reason I was compelled to pick out a size 12 and "give it a go":

The dark spot behind the eye is an imperfection in the cork surface.  No biggie.
Here's the same fly under a UV light:

The next one is just a streamer I threw together.  Can't decide if I like it much:

And last...I'm following a blog called "[url][/url]".  Interesting around the north side of St. Louis, often from his kayak in backwaters off the Missouri River.  He catches mostly Grass Carp, Catfish, and some Wipers.  I'm fascinated...he doesn't usually try to imitate plants for his grass carp flies (even when fishing under ripe mulberry trees)....usually he just uses his own design of nymph and swims it back in.'s a couple of his more productive patterns:

The top two with the softhackle legs he calls the "Rabbit Tail Dragon".  The bottom one is basically the same pattern without the softhackle legs.  I used rabbit for the tail on this one too, but he uses black turkey feather barbules for the tail.  He calls it the "Black Ops".

That's it for now!  :icon_salut:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teal Blue Silver....sort of

I'm still re-perusing The Fly-Tying Bible by Peter Gathercole.
Another streamer pattern caught my eye, the "Teal Blue Silver".

My main problem is I don't have any teal feathers.  Mallard is SORT of similar, but without the nice barring. I tried it anyway.
Would this be considered a "Mallard Blue Silver"?

I'd never tried the "folded wing" before, and it turned out much smaller in profile than I wanted.  Something to remember and improve upon for next time.

Next, I tried using grizzly hackle feathers for the wing.  ("Grizzly Blue Silver"?) This turned out ok.  I did coat the heads with Clear Cure Goo.

Monday, January 23, 2012

First Fishing Report of 2012

On Sunday, January 22, 2012, I finally made it out fishing.  It had been over a month-and-a-half since I'd been fishing, which I think is the longest non-fishing spell I've had in the last 6 years!  Mainly to blame was the weather, which couldn't decide if it wanted to be Winter or not.  But at last, we had reasonably safe ice for ice-fishing.

My buddy Jay and I planned to meet up at a local public pond.  I arrived first and started drilling some test holes with my new Strikemaster Electra 2000 electric auger.  The ice was a good 6" thick everywhere.  As I walked back to my car to retrieve the rest of my gear, my friends Ron and Jim were waiting in the parking lot.  Awesome!  This particular pond has some pretty nice bluegills in it, plus I caught-and-released a 14" crappie and 27" channel catfish here in 2011.  There aren't a LOT of fish, but the potential for a nicer-sized one is fair.  The tough part would be FINDING them, so I was happy to have all the help I could get!  Jay soon arrived as well.

I drilled areas where I hoped to locate fish.  There were a lot of fishless holes!  One of the first holes I tried fishing got a few "lookers", but they wouldn't strike.

First, I should say that I had made a decision to NOT use live bait during this ice-fishing season.  I would try fly-fishing flies, plastics, and even scented plastics like Gulp! or Powerbait....but no minnows, waxworms, or maggots.  Why?  I dunno, I just wanted to challenge myself, and work more on "fooling the fish instead of feeding the fish".

Anyway, I drilled a lot of holes, fished a lot of spots.  Most places were fishless.  A few spots had fish, but they would look, smell the Gulp!, and SPOOK!  This went on for several hours.  Ron and Jim eventually left.  Apparently Jim managed to find some fish and caught a fair number of Bluegills.  Ron wasn't as fortunate.  Jay had caught 5 bass using jigging spoons.  I was skunked.

I moved back to the main basin of the pond and searched holes we'd already drilled, looking for fish.  And I drilled some more.  One hole I was checking had some "used" waxworms laying on top of the ice.  I picked 'em up.  I moved to the far end of the pond, where none of us had yet fished.  I tipped a 4mm tungsten jig with one of the waxies, and caught 2 bluegills.  HOORAY!  I wasn't skunked!

Jay was exhausted and decided to head for home.  I fished just a little longer, then decided to head to a 2nd public pond not far away.

When I arrived there, one other shack was on the ice.  They left after about an hour.  I drilled some holes in areas that typically held fish during the winter.  I wasn't disappointed.  I used up the other two "used" waxies in catching 2 more bluegills.  I kept the same jig on, and tipped it with a Gulp! maggot.  This worked pretty well.  I also took a Powerbait Honey Worm (Honey Grub?), a sliced it longitudinally into 3-4 thin strips.  This also worked well.

I ended up catching at least 16 bluegills here and 2 bass.  One bass was small, the other one was at least 15.5".  I hooked it on my wimpiest rod, and it peeled drag a bunch of times and fought for a long time.  THAT was fun!  I ended up calling it a day before it got dark.
Here's the little bass:
And here's the bigger one:

the "Garry"

I was looking through "The Fly -Tying Bible" by Peter Gathercole.   This streamer, called the "Garry", caught my eye.  I love the colors.  I have to admit I tied this up just for fun, not to fish with it.  Its too pretty to fish with!  :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fly-Tying Mid-January 2012

Here's some more junk I've tied up recently:
A Craft Fur streamer with a Clear Cure Goo-covered head:

Some "bass worms" made of feathers...I tested these in the sink, and they weren't 100% dried yet when I took this picture:

An innovative Gar fly pattern designed by an angler in central Iowa...the top one is tied on a clipped hook shank, the bottom two are tube flies:

A yellow Jumpin' Catfish Nymph:

A Stalcup's Gilled Nymph:

A favorite of mine..size 10 Gartside Sparrow:

A Chironomid I plan to try out on bluegill through the ice soon:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fly-Tying, Early January 2012

Ug.  I haven't fished since November.  Due to an unforseeable and lingering series of unfortunate events (weather), I've been in the "no man's land" of fishing.  That is the period when the area lakes have frozen over, but the ice isn't thick enough to safely fish on/through.  Normally that period last 2-3 weeks.  This year it has lasted for about 7 weeks.  It appears to be nearly over, as the ice is finally getting thick enough...but then again, there are some 40-50 degree days being forecast in a few days, which might prolong this fishless spell.
What's an angler to do?  Thank goodness for fly-fishing and fly-tying!  No, I can't fly-fish right now, but I can tie up fly patterns that I will be able to use in the coming open-water season AND I can tie some fly patterns or "lures" that I will be able to use for ice-fishing.

I don't have the time or attention span to sit and tie a handful of one fly pattern.  Which is unfortunate, since I hear that is the best way to get GOOD at tying that particular pattern.  This explains a lot.  But the gist of this is that I tie one nymph here, then a streamer there, then a foam topwater, then a bass bug, then a softhackle wet fly, get the picture?

Here's a small sample of some of the things I've in the past few weeks or so (pardon the hodge-podge disorganization):

Morrish's Anato-May

Some generic BH nymphs for ice-fishing (or open water)

Craft Fur Thunder Creek Minnow

Rick Zeiger's Goldie Jr variants

Muddler Minnow

Deer Hair Bass Popper

Goldie Jr's (silver)


Muddle May

Generic Soft Hackle

UV Nymph

Craven's Gonga

Misc. Streamers

Ice Flies!

More ice flies

Craft Fur Clousers for Bass

Wiggle Worm variants

Calftail Wing Streamer

Fox fur Streamer

Deer Hair Bass Popper

Rootbeer Diamond Braid nymph

Unweighted flies for ice-fishing "Michigan Rig" style