Friday, March 30, 2012

Lunchtime Fly-Fishing at Former Farm Pond, 3/30/2012

With the expansion of the City and associated new residential developments, an old farm pond became the public property of the City last year.  A couple friends had ice-fished it this past Winter.  Today was my first trip to the pond.

There were a few Mallard Ducks and a number of Canadian Geese on and around the pond.  There is a street near one side of the pond, timber on the opposite side, and fairly new houses back up to the other 2 sides.  Its not a large pond...maybe 1/2 to 3/4 acre.  Despite last night's rain and water flowing into the pond from a storm  culvert, the water was relatively clear for Iowa.  Although it was overcast, I could see down 2-3 feet.

I didn't wander around the pond...maybe next time.  I just fished from one spot since there was decent room for fly-casting there.  I used a microjig.  I tried it with an indicator, but hits were more aggressive and I caught more when I was just retrieving it without an indicator on the line.

I caught 2 small Crappies and at least 9 Bluegills, including this strong, deep-bodied actually took line from my hand!

I also got an excellent fight out of this 13.5" Largemouth Bass:

Hybrid Sunfish, 3/29/2012

Visited a public pond in a nearby suburb last night for about 45 minutes.  It was windy and cool.  I missed a number of strikes. Only landed 3 fish...a pair of bluegills and this 8" Hybrid Sunfish.  I'm just floored at how STRONG these hybrids are!!

Really pretty too!  Its a shame I've only had my cell phone camera for the last couple I've caught!
This was caught on a black microjig under an indicator.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Prairie Trail West, 3/28/2012

I visited the Prairie Trail West Pond for the first time ever.  Its a fairly new pond, which got stocked with fish about 4.5 years ago.
I fly-fished the upper 1/3 of the pond.  I wanted to see how big the fish are, but instead of using something small, I just used a #8 Woolly Bugger, black with reddish-black body.  The water was fairly clear, and I only saw frogs jumping into the shallows…no fish.  I thought that was odd.  Then I noticed the backs of fish occasionally sticking up above the water out in the middle of the channel.  That’s where the fish were for some reason!  In 45 minutes, I ended up catching 12 Bluegills, all about 7.5” long.  I also caught a hybrid sunfish that may have been closer to 8”.  That means it was stocked in the pond, not spawned.  It was STRONG!  I was leaning on my 5wt TFO BVK as much as I could to keep it from diving into an underwater tree branch.  It made it anyway!  I still landed the fish, but WOW what a strong fighter!!

I didn’t see any bass, and also didn’t catch any crappies or anything else.  I eventually DID see some young-of-the-year bluegills along the shoreline, so the fish must have spawned last year.  Also, some of the bluegills had small black specks on their skin, which I think is indicative of a parasite that passes through snails has one of hosts during its life cycle.

Below is a pic of the hybrid sunfish…it was very pretty, but I only had my crappy cell phone to take its picture with.

As I was getting ready to leave, I noticed 3 younger guys fishing the pond by the dam.  I didn't see them catch anything, but I think they saw me catch some fish.  As I was leaving, they moved up the lake to near the area I had been fishing.  They were carrying buckets.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lunchtime FlyFishing Report, 3/28/2012

Spent today's lunchtime fly-fishing a nearby public pond.  Used a size 8 unweighted black woolly bugger that had some red highlights in the body.  Caught 10 Bluegills and 5 Green Sunfish.  This Greenie measured 8", and is definitely one of the larger ones I've caught.  Picture was taken with a cell quality is what it is...

Group Fly-Fishing Outing, 3/27/2012

My friend Ben had a couple of  fly-anglers (Mark and his wife, April) that he wanted to bring to one of the local public ponds for an evening of fishing.  Ben is originally from Utah...Mark and April recently moved to Iowa from Washington State, where they fly-fished for salmon and steelhead in one of the larger rivers there.  Pond fishing is still a fairly new experience for them.  They took to it to water!  :)

April has ideas and aspirations to maybe become another April Vokey (fly-fishing guide/author).  Why not? ... same first name, similar passion for fly-fishing!

I met up with them at the pond around 6:30pm.

We were all catching Crappies and Bluegills.  Not super-fast fishing, but relatively steady.  It was windy and warm.  Chartreuse microjigs seemed to be working the best.

There was occasional "big fish" activity at the surface... swirls or splashes.  Not a lot...but some.

April hooked into a big fish, and the rest of us came to offer assistance as she fought it.  The fish was landed, and April caught her very first Channel Catfish ever...on a fly rod!  It was a CHUNKY 23.5" fish.  Awesome!

A little bit later, I hooked into a big fish as well.  It put itself "on the reel" and did NOT want to come near shore!  It was a really nice Channel Catfish too!  I didn't measure it.

See the microjig?

Next I caught another bluegill (I ended up landing 5 Crappies and (at least) 15 Bluegills for the trip).  Then I hooked what I thought was a much heavier Bluegill or Crappie.  When I got it to shore (it was getting pretty dark by this time), I thought maybe it was a small Channel Catfish, which would be weird, since they aren't usually able to spawn successfully in these ponds.  Turned out to be a 10" Bullhead!  A "first" for me on the fly rod!
Bullhead on a fly rod...who woulda thought??
Very enjoyable night!  Got to fish with Ben, met some new friends, caught a big fish, and a new fly-rod species!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekend Fishing Report, 3/23-3/25/2012

Had 30 minutes of free time after work.  Took advantage of it and fly-fished a local public pond.  Landed 8 bluegills and 2 crappies.

Called my buddy Jay to see if he wanted to fish for a few hours on Saturday morning.  We decided to meet at Saylorville Lake.  Lots of people fishing there.  I fished for 2.5 hours and used fly-fishing gear along rocky shorelines.  I landed (at least) 25 largemouth bass (all under 12"), 1 bluegill, and 3 green sunfish.  Almost all the fish I caught were within 5' of shore in water 2' deep or less.

All fish were caught on the  Beadhead fly shown above with white marabou tail and  silver holographic mylar chenille body.

I drove a carpool downtown DM on Sunday, and had an hour to fly-fish at Copper Creek Lake.  Lots of folks out there!  Saw a guy catch a really nice bass....maybe a 4-pounder.
I caught 12 bluegills, most on a Boudreaux, one on a topwater Chernobyl Ant/Hopper, the rest on a black Beadhead Furl-Tailed Mohair Leech.

Later on, my family settled down to watch a movie we had recently seen, so I decided to go fishing while they watched it.  It was almost dark by the time I started fishing.  I fly-fished from 8pm-9:30pm.  I caught 20 crappies and 13 bluegills.  All fish were caught on an unweighted chartreuse Woolly Bugger. Not bad for fishing in the dark!

That was 84 fish for the weekend, and brings this month's total to 215 fish.  I checked my fishing logs back to 2006, and this is the most fish I've ever caught in March (even though I was gone for a week on Spring Break).  March typically sucks because we get that time period where the ice on lakes is too poor to fish on, but the water isn't fully open yet, or the water is too cold for the fish to be active.  This year is a FREAK year!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fishing in the Dominican Republic

While on Spring Break in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in mid-March 2012, my son (Carson) and I signed up for a 1/2 day charter of deep-sea fishing.  They often catch mahi mahi, wahoo, marlin and sailfish in this area.

We shared the boat with 2 pair from Michigan, one pair from Colorado. The pair from Michigan had been checking the success of the returning charter boats for the past week or two.  Most boats had been coming back fishless.  Only one had come back with more than a couple fish.

Long story short, our boat returned with 2 fish....a pair of barracuda.

Carson started out strong, but couldn't get his sea legs.  He ended up not feeling well for most of the trip.  Didn't help that one of the women on the boat was hurling into a bucket every few minutes.

As a was my duty to get this picture of my son hugging the side of the boat.  At this point, he hadn't chummed the fishes yet, but he eventually did.

Lunch Fly-Fishing Report, 3-23-2012

During lunch today, I fly-fished a nearby public pond. This one was close enough to work that I actually fished for about 45 minutes.

This pond was the one that got destroyed by overfishing during the winter about 3 years ago.  Its isn't what it was, and has several problems ongoing such as filling in, algae, lack of bass, etc. high hopes for today, just wanted to give it its yearly "test".

I caught 15 bluegills and 2 green sunfish.   All on a beadhead woolly & olive.

This is an improvement over the past few years.  The optimistic news was that nearly all the bluegills were very thick-bodied and healthy...although they still probably don't measure more than 7.5".  I was pleased, because this at least gives a ray of hope for the bluegill population in this pond over the next few years.

Chunky male Bluegill...about 7.5" long.
Nice Green Sunfish...also about 7.5" long.
Same fish as the first picture...just a closer look.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Warmwater Fly-Fishing Report, 3-21-2012

This post is a bit out of order.  Just got back from a Spring Break trip with my family to the Dominican Republic.  I'll probably blog about that here (separately), but THIS is the blog of my first fly-fishing outing since our return to Iowa.

Our flight got in around 10pm, but you never know about possible delays, so I took the following day off work as well.  The kids are still officially on Spring Break.

I'd stayed up late and unpacked, so I was ready to go fishing Wednesday morning.  I didn't get up very early.  The sky was cloudy, threatening more rain to follow the overnight rain we received.  I went to a local public pond and started fishing around 9am.  Fishing was good!  In the next 3 hours, I caught 28 Bluegills, 13 Green Sunfish, and 7 Crappies.  I measured one decent crappie at 11", then caught an even bigger one that measured 13".  That is a very nice crappie for around here, and HUGE for any of the public ponds.  I was very pleased!

Here's pictures of a few of the fish:
A nice Crappie.

Love the colors and patterns!
An 11" Crappie...very chunky fish.

This (and the picture below) is the 13" beast Crappie.  All the others I caught were Black Crappies...this was the only White Crappie I caught this day.

I also spotted this large Bullfrog under the water amongst the rocks near my feet:

Oh...and I CAUGHT a Crayfish on my line!  I saw it walking around underwater, so I dropped my microjig to the bottom near the crayfish and moved it a bit.  It turned and started chasing it.  Once it grabbed hold of the microjig, I lifted it and swung it out onto the grassy area behind me, where it finally let go and dropped to the ground.  Fly-fishing for crayfish!  :)

I tallied up my fish total for the morning, and discovered I was 2 fish shy of 50.  I decided to hit another pond on my way home.  I fished the 2nd pond for 1 hour, and caught 12 Bluegills.  For the entire 4 hours I spent fishing then, I caught 60 fish total....which works out to an average of 1 fish every 4 minutes.  Not bad!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fly-Fishing Lunch Report - 3/13/2012

I visited a pond reasonably near work (ok, I had to drive by at least 3 others to get to this one...) to fly-fish during lunch today.  Wind was about 12mph out of the SSE, and it was sunny with a balmy March temperature of 65 degrees F.

Water was very clear, but fish weren't visible near shore.  I used a black microjig about 4'-6' below an indicator.  Nothing was happening for the first several casts, so I readied myself for disappointment.  Soon, my indicator ducked under the water, but I missed the fish.  DRAT!

Things slowly picked up after that, as I worked my way downwind along the shoreline.  I ended up catching 9 Bluegills, 1 Green Sunfish, 4 Crappies (biggest measured 11"), and I grabbed a HUGE crayfish that was marching beneath the water near shore.

Ended up being a pretty good lunch-time fly-fishing expedition!  Plus, it was so nice out that this was the first fishing outing of the year where I got to comfortably wear a short-sleeve shirt, and there was "No Jacket Required"! the fish porn:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Iowa Trout...Hat Trick Saturday, 3-10-2012

On a whim I decided to get out of bed earlier than I normally prefer on a Saturday...and go fly-fish for trout at a nearby lake.

Wind forecasts yesterday called for winds up to 15mph for today.  I can do that.  When I got up this morning, I checked the weather forecast again.  They had boosted up the wind speeds again.  But that was nothing compared to what REALLY was going on!  By the time I got back home again after fishing, I checked to verify my suspicions...sure enough, winds from 24-32 mph!!!  Cripes!  It was brutal indeed!

There were two gents fishing when I arrived at 7am.  One was fly-fishing.  After I had been fishing for a bit about 100 yards away, I saw the fly angler catch a trout.  He waved and started walking over.  It was my friend Dale Gooding, fellow member of Central Iowa Anglers!

Dale had caught 2 trout so far, including the one I witnessed.  He told me the shoreline I was working hadn't been producing, and invited me to join him.  He showed me the pattern he was catching fish with, which was similar to what I was using.  I'd been wanting to give him some flies I'd caught trout with at this lake in the past, so I brought out my fly box and picked out a trio for him to add to his fly box.  I decided to work a bit more of the shoreline near me, which I did unsuccessfully, and then walked down to fish near his spot.  I slowly worked down the shoreline away from him, making a half-dozen casts, then moving on.  I missed a strike.  Then had a big heavy take that quickly broke my line as I strip-set the hook.  Darn!

I caught a couple fish on the olive & black beadhead woolly bugger I'd been using.

Dale caught another fish or two.  He gave me a fly he'd tied that was working for him.  Looked good, so I accepted it and put it on my line.  Soon I was catching a few more trout.  I ended up catching 7 trout on that fly, before it started falling apart.  Not bad!  That kind of abuse on a fly gives it that ragged "Badge of Honor"!  Definitely a good fish-catching fly pattern!

Dale had caught & released 6 trout total, and decided to call it a day.  Casting into that wind was a lot of work!

I was one trout shy of a double-limit (5 trout is considered a limit, but of course I was not keeping any), so I decided to stay a while longer.

I switched to an orange-n-black beadhead bugger. I found a good spot or two, and caught some nice trout.
This was the biggest trout of the day for me...very chunky!
I caught 5 before the new fly I had tied on (one that I had tied) started falling apart.  I really need to reinforce the hackle with counterwraps of wire!  I switched back to an olive-n-black beadhead woolly bugger, and caught 2 more trout before I decided to call it a day at 11am.  I was BEAT!  It had been tough fishing conditions, and the trout were willing to hit, but hard to locate.  Plus our casting distance was extremely limited due to the strong winds.  I ended up catching & releasing 16 rainbow trout (that's a limit hat-trick plus one!), plus had long-distance releases on about 4 others, plus one broken line, and a bunch of missed strikes.  All in all...a pretty fair day of fishing.  I was happy with the results.

Thanks for the tips and the fly, Dale!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Evening Report, 3-6-2012

Yesterday during lunch, I barely had enough open water to fish since the local lakes and ponds had all iced over during the night.  Still got it done.
Today was very warm (upper 60's) and windy.  The ice disappeared during the day.  It was still sort of windy by the time I got home from work, but do-able.  It was too nice and warm to NOT visit a local public pond!

I started fly-fishing at around 5:45pm, and fished for one hour.  I used a chartreuse microjig under an indicator. I had a couple strikes at the indicator, and all the fish caught were either near shore or right at the edge of the first drop-off.  Based on these clues, I should have switched to an unweighted pattern without an indicator, but I can be a lazy fella sometimes.  I did ok with the technique I was using...I ended up catching 6 crappies and 2 decent bluegills.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lunchtime Limit, 3-5-2012

This past Saturday was COLD and WINDY (30mph winds).

Sunday wasn't as windy, but still cold (27 degrees F).  I squeezed in about 45 minutes of fly-fishing at a nearby lake that had been stocked with trout.  Ice was starting to form along the edges of the shoreline, and it was snowing.  I managed to catch just one trout, but that was better than not catching anything.

On Monday...WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES!  It was sunny!  Air temp had reached 37 or 38 degrees F by noon, and wind was from the SSE at around 12mph.  During my lunch hour, I drove back to this same lake to try fly-fishing for trout again.  When I arrived, 95% of the lake was covered with ice.  In fact the only open water was a 30' wide strip along the west shoreline.  There were a half-dozen anglers with spinning gear fishing the open stretch.

I used the same olive-and-black beadhead woolly bugger that had been catching trout for me last week and over the weekend.  I started fishing near the south end of the open water since it was furthest from the other anglers. I didn't have a lot of hope of catching much.  And it started pretty slow, but I finished strong and managed to catch (and release) my 5-fish trout limit in about 30 minutes of fishing.  During that time, I saw one of the guys with spinning gear land a fish that appeared to be a trout.  I did also see a few other trout that I didn't catch.  A couple of them were pretty dark, but I wasn't able to verify whether they were Brook Trout or Rainbows.  I saved time by only taking pictures of one of the trout today.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lunchtime Limit, 3-1-2012

I’m so EXCITED!!!!  I just fly-fished Lake Petocka from shore during my lunch hour today.  It was so fun!

I caught (and released) my limit (5) of trout, which I felt was impressive for a number of reasons:
- I had no idea what to only recently melted off the lake, and we had 50 mph winds just yesterday!
-I couldn’t see any fish, so I was really just blind casting.
-I didn’t fish the area I had planned to, but instead just fished a  fairly random location that wasn’t ideal (for casting) based on the wind direction.
-When driving time was figured in (and yes, I probably stayed longer than I technically should have), I had only about 35 minutes to fish.
-Most of my time was spent re-tying a line (because the first or second trout demolished my No-Knot Fas-Snap) and taking pictures of each fish.
-My line was getting tangled in rocks at my feet and in sticks, trees and brush behind me.  I was a mess!
-Trout were last stocked in this lake at least 35 days ago ( on January 25th, 2012).  They generally get tougher to find/catch the longer they've been in the lake.
-Judging by the fin clips...some of these fish were from at least 2 stockings ago (October 14, 2011)! it worked out, Probably every 3rd or 4th cast resulted in a trout on the line.  I even missed one good hit!  If only I'd had more time...  I was retrieving in quick, short jerks (no indicator), and the fish hit and fought very well.

All the fish were caught on a #10 olive-n-black beadhead woolly bugger.

And the fish:
Trout No. 1

Trout No. 2

Trout No. 3

Trout No. 4

Trout No. 5