Monday, April 30, 2012

Lunchtime Fly-Fishing Report, 4-30-2012

Today is overcast, 59degrees F, and fairly calm.  Pretty nice weather, really.  It is supposed to get sunny in the afternoon and warm up.  You get what you get when you fish during lunchtime...there's no waiting for the weather to change.

As long as it isn't too windy or below freezing, I'm ok with most any kind of weather for fly-fishing.

Caught mostly Bluegills.  A few had excellent colors, including this first picture, in which the sunfish's breast was such a deep, bright orange...I don't think the photo does it justice.

This was a good-looking fish as well:

I also caught a few Green Sunfish.  This monster measured 8.5"!!!!

I had hoped to get a glimpse of grass carp or catfish, but didn't see any.  I DID see quite a few tadpoles gulping air periodically at the surface out towards the middle of the pond, and I saw a decent number of large bullfrogs.  This is all indicative of a POOR bass population at the pond.

As I was walking around the pond to leave, I spotted this Painted Turtle rooting around in the water right next to shore.  I took his picture, and he remained oblivious to my presence.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dreary Saturday Fly-Fishing, 4-28-2012

I thought the weather forecast for Saturday had called for substantial wind.  When I finally rolled out of bed and looked out the window, the leaves on the trees were just barely moving.  I checked the hour-by-hour forecast to see if this was just a temporary lull in an otherwise windy day, but the next few hours looked pretty good.  So I grabbed a quick breakfast and headed out the door.

I probably should have gone to some more distant destination, since my family had no big plans for the day (which is extremely rare on weekends!)...but I couldn't come up with a better idea of where I wanted to go, so I went to one of the local public ponds I fish frequently.  In fact, the last time I fished this pond, I knew a bass was marking out a nest in one corner of the pond.  While I was unable to see the fish, I could see his wake when he charged around chasing the bluegills away.  I went directly to that spot and started fishing, hoping this fish that I couldn't get to strike last time would be easier to fool this time.  I tried topwaters, and a variety of baitfish-imitating fly patterns...but couldn't get any reaction from this fish.  I did finally get to see it, and it wasn't as big as I'd hoped it would be.  Probably a 14" fish.

Discouraged, I switched to an unweighted black woolly bugger, and set about the business of fooling some bluegills.  This was working ok.  I worked my way to another corner of the pond, and cast up near the shallows of the corner.  I set the hook on a strike and had a GOOD fish on the line!  It bulldogged, headed for deeper water, and then jumped clear of the water.  Nice bass!  Fortunately the hook held.  It went on several more good runs and jumped clear of the water again.  The second time I coaxed it into the shallows, I was able to reach down and grab the fish's lip to land it.  It measured 17.5".  Here's the cell-phone picture I took:
I released it back to the water, and it swam away.  I turned and started fan-casting the area...not so much because I thought there'd be another bass that size in this corner, but because I figured the bluegills would be more aggressive now that this big bass was tired out.  Within just a couple minutes, a large bass (I hesitate to suggest it was the SAME bass, but there are so few large bass in this pond, it seems unrealistic that there would be another large bass guarding a nest in the same area) was charging into that same corner and chasing the bluegills away.  I switched back to the bass patterns I had with me...the topwater and the baitfish patterns.  I did get a few small strikes that I must have just been some larger bluegills or maybe crappies.  I didn't get the strike I was hoping for from that bass.

I decided to try for a bluegill again, and then see if the hooked bluegill would elicit a strike as I brought it in to shore over the area I suspected the bass to be.  This worked immediately.  The bass grabbed the bluegill and ran.  I fed it line.  The fish came back almost to my feet again, as I slowly stripped the slack line back in.  The fish swam out again, a bit farther this time.  It eventually turned and slowly made its way back near me as I regained the line.  A good 5 minutes had elapsed since the bass had grabbed the bluegill.  I hoped by now the bass would have it far enough down its throat that I could attempt to land the bass, and this is what I set about doing.  The bass started fighting right away, and went on two good runs.  Then it headed for the sky.  It completely cleared the water, and as it shook its head, the bluegill came flying back towards me.

All I could do was shake my head and smile.  That was pretty cool!  I moved on and continued fishing for bluegills, and caught some pretty nice ones for these ponds.  I measured one at 8.5".

As I summarize this trip, I can't help but wonder about a few things.  If those bass are chasing bluegills away from their nests, and are obviously willing to grab and eat them if they catch them...then why weren't the baitfish-imitating fly patterns getting more attention from the bass?  Conversely, I landed 3 bass on the day (the other 2 were smaller)...and they all took smaller flies I was using for bluegills.  Why would the bass eat this small stuff they normally ignore?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rainbows End, 4-21-2012

Saturday was breezy, with sporadic rains.  I was out-and-about with my family. On our way home, the sun peeked out, and the kids saw a huge rainbow.  Not a DOUBLE RAINBOW...but it was a complete single rainbow.  It was really pretty against the dark stormy sky backdrop.  I took some pics as soon as we pulled in our driveway.

Since we were done with "family stuff" for the day, and it was already after 7pm, I decided to go fly-fishing.  It had been cool and breezy for several days, I hoped the rainbow trout in a nearby lake would be active in the shallows.  This lake received its most recent stocking of trout back on January 26, so 3 months of fishing pressure has certainly reduced the trout population to a fairly low number.  My optimism keeps making me forget this fact.  I keep thinking I can go and catch plenty of trout.  I'm going to have to give up this little fantasy soon.  :)

As I was driving to the lake, I was chasing the rainbow.  One end seemed to be near the lake I was heading for.  The water was suprisingly clear, and with the darkening evening sky, I wanted something the fish could spot from a distance.  I tied on a #8 Rubber Legs Stonefly Nymph.  I ended up catching 4 Largemouth Bass, 2 Bluegills, and 1 Rainbow Trout.  Had a couple other nice fish on that managed to shake free.

It was sweet to catch a Rainbow Trout at the rainbow's end.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

4-18-2012 Fishing Report

Once again I wasn't able to start fishing until much later than I'd hoped.  The sun had set by the time I headed for a nearby public pond.

The water was calm for a change...wind was only 1-3mph.  I hoped this would help me spot bigger fish working in the shallows.  Water clarity was considerably reduced from the past weekend's rain/wind storms.  I definitely could have caught a lot more crappies and bluegills, but I quickly switched to a bass-sized foam popper and fished that until dark.  The reason was this...I must have seen more than a half-dozen Giant Black Water Beetles either in the water or flying to/from it.  This may not sound like a major "hatch".  As much time as I spend around water, you'd think this would be a common sight...but I rarely ever see them, and NEVER this many.  These are HUGE beetles.  They look like this:
This is not my picture.  Credit goes to this blogsite:

They are about 1.5" long.  With this many big bugs around the edge of the water (I'm certain there were a LOT more than just what I saw in a few glances around in the near-darkness), I figured the bigger fish might be feasting on them.  That's why I was using the bass-sized foam popper.  Long story short, I didn't catch any big fish.  I did catch some bluegills and crappies on the popper, and missed a LOT of strikes from these smaller fish.

After about an hour, I moved over to the smaller pond about 30 yards south of the larger one.  Water clarity there was also severely diminished compared to my last trip here.  I saw evidence of decent-sized fish, but caught only some bluegills on a yellow boa yarn leech. There were a mix of sizes...6"-8.5".  I also saw a toad swim across the pond unmolested, and had a muskrat snagged on my line for a few exciting seconds.

Overall, it was a pretty uneventful evening.  The most exciting part was those Giant Black Water Beetles!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lunchtime Fly-Fishing Report, 4-17-2012

I fly-fished a local public pond near work during lunch today.  It was a bit cooler than I'd hoped, and a bit windier as well, but all in all a decent day for fishing.

This pond still had just a tiny bit of run-off from our weekend rain still flowing into one corner of the pond.  Well...more like a trickle, but fish notice this!  There was evidence around this pond, like others I'd seen, that the water had been up about 2' above normal during the storm, and had since receded to normal.  Definite signs of shoreline erosion, and the water was murky compared to recent trips to this pond.

I hoped to find some catfish active near where the water enters the pond.  I haven't seen any catfish in this pond for a couple years, but I'm hopeful they are still there.  I did not see any today.  Discouraging sign.

I also hoped to spot some grass carp, but once again did not see any.  I saw some earlier in the year, so I KNOW that are there...somewhere.

I actually had a rather GOOD time at this pond!  Caught more and larger fish than I have for several years.  Large is a relative term in this case, but this pond is "recovering", and seems to be doing ok so far.

I ended up with a dozen Bluegills (mostly 7.5"-8"), 5 nice Green Sunfish (7.5"-8" and FAT), and a surprise Crappie (just over 11").  I can probably count on one hand the number of crappies I've caught from this pond over the years.  This one was CRAZY strong for a crappie!  I caught most of the fish on a black "Daedalian Damsel".

On to the fish pics...first, the Green Sunfish.  Recent pics of Green Sunfish from this pond, had showed the normal progression of Green Sunfish coloration that tends to get more bright yellow in the belly and pelvic fins as spawning time approaches. This first one especially showed a lot more BLACK, and had a lot of black spots.:
This one was a bit more normal, but still had a lot of black on its pelvic and anal fins.
Just thought I'd throw this close-up head picture in for kicks, to show the coloration and mouth size.

This is the 11+" Crappie that fought so hard:

And finally, a couple of the Bluegills.  This one had a lot of metallic blue between the eye and opercle.
And this one was pretty colorful as well, but the sunlight disappeared behind clouds by this time.

One last thing that had me sort of excited.  I saw a large (~12"?) white goldfish swimming around.  Seemed to be following me around a bit.  I left it alone the first time I saw it, but later it was just hanging out near me, so before I headed back to work, I put on a smaller fly under an indictor and tossed it out.  After a couple casts, I got the "drift" by the fish that I wanted, and I think it hit the fly!  The indicator twitched a bit.  I didn't set the hook because I was waiting for the indicator to do something more than that.  It never did.  Nevertheless, I was that much closer to catching a Goldfish on my fly rod.  Some day....!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Post-Storm Fly-Fishing, 4-15-2012

Saturday I didn't go fishing.  Weather was PERFECT for it.  Light breeze, overcast, humid, big storms moving in later in the day....all these things usually add up to EXCELLENT fishing.  Well...I missed out this time.

Saturday evening gave us high winds that knocked over utility poles, snapped trees, and blew over road signs.  Winds were 39mph with gusts to 56mph.  And rain.  HEAVY rain.  From Saturday evening to Sunday morning we got between 2.84" and 3.43" of rain.  A couple public ponds I drove by showed evidence that they had gone up nearly 2' above normal, and had since receded but were still high.  Water clarity had gone from relatively clear (~2.5') to MUDDY (4").

I headed out to fish after supper for a couple hours...from 5:45pm-7:30pm.  Winds were still high...and gusting.  Horrible conditions for fishing, and probably the main reason I decided to go...because nobody else would be!  Full disclosure...another reason to go was because with all the influx of water into the ponds, I hoped the catfish would be actively feeding in the shallows.

I drove to a nearby public pond and headed to the most wind-protected spot to start fishing.  I started with an unweighted black woolly bugger.  I caught several nice bluegills on it.
...and then broke it off on a submerged log.

I tied on a microjig under an indicator, but didn't catch anything.  I removed the indicator and put on another black woolly bugger.  I caught some more bluegills and a largemouth bass.  By this time I had worked my way around to the side of the pond that the wind was blowing into.  I had a great strike and had a nice fish on for about 7 seconds.  It took my fly with it.  BUMMER!

The wind was really strong here.  I had 2 or 3 casts that didn't reach the water!  I put on an indicator again, and tied on a Black Ops fly .

I caught a bluegill or two on this, and then BAM!  Another nice fish on.  This felt bigger than the one that got off.  As usual, I was hoping for a Grass Carp, but several minutes later when I finally got my first glimpse of the fish, I could see it was a good-sized Channel Catfish.  The battle raged quite a long time.  We strolled together back and forth along the shoreline.  It didn't want to come in! With the water high, there was no good place to land it.  After several failed attempts, I finally did get it to come into the shallows, and as I reached down for it with one hand, my line broke.  Fortunately as the fish turned, it paused for a second and I was able to drop the rod and jam both hands into the muddy water and I luckily found its pectoral fins to grab onto, and lifted it onto shore.  WHEW!

It stayed still in the grass as I took a quick measurement (24") and a couple pictures.  2 websites I found suggested this fish weighed 6.3 pounds.  As thick as this fish was, I'm sure it was ALL of that!

I released her back to the water, and she swam away immediately.  I resumed my fishing, and caught another dozen or so bluegills before I called it quits.  Man...that wind can beat you up!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fly-Fishing Lunch Report, 4-12-2012

Fly-fished a nearby public pond during lunch today. Caught 10 Bluegills and 2 Green Sunfish. One Bluegill especially had decent size and really nice colors...I debated taking his picture...but in the end I just let him go.  And then I regretted NOT getting its picture!

I did take a couple pictures of these nice, chunky Green Sunfish. I didn't measure them, but I measured my hand later, and determined these fish are in the 7.5"-8" range.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

5 Species Suprise! 4-7-2012

Our incredibly warm weather in March has given way to more seasonally normal (cooler) weather in April.  I woke up Saturday morning, looked outside to see a good breeze, clouds, intermittent drizzle.  Dreary conditions.  I asked myself, "If I were going to go fishing today, WHERE would I go?"

That really warm March weather warmed local water temperatures FAST.  A nearby lake, Lake Petocka, that had been stocked with trout during the winter offered up some good trout-fishing immediately after ice-out, but the fast-warming shallows caused the fish to drop to waters further from shore...difficult to reach with fly gear.  I thought maybe this cooler weather might encourage some trout to come back in near shore again.  So...Lake Petocka is where I thought I would try.  I mentioned this to my wife, and she said, "Go."  I had to be home around Noon.  I arrived at the lake a little before 10am.  Total time fished was 2.25 hours.

Wind was from the South.  I fished from the North shoreline.  I started at a spot that produced a fair number of trout when I last fished the lake.  I didn't get any strikes there.  I moved down the shoreline a bit further, and got something on my line!  It wasn't a good sign that the first thing I happened to catch was...a clam shell!

 I worked my way down the shoreline.  While at one spot, I noticed a large area just a bit further down the shore that looked like a bunch of fish or baitfish just crashed the surface.  So I moved down to that spot.

I saw a silvery fish slash across the surface.  I started casting.  I was using a beadhead woolly bugger.  After a few casts and a few missed strikes, I got a solid hookset.  A fantastic battle ensued on my 5wt.  I was surprised when the fish came in that it was a nice White Bass!  I shouldn't have been so surprised...My friend Dale G. reported that had caught some on his last trip to the lake a few weeks back.

Let me take a step back here and explain that in all the times I've fished this lake, I have caught MOSTLY Trout (Rainbows and some Brookies), maybe a half-dozen or so Bluegills, a couple small Green Sunfish, and a few small Largemouth Bass.  Without the trout, there really aren't enough fish in this lake to make me want to pick this lake over the dozens of other choices I have closer to home.

Back to the fishing.  I measured this White Bass at 14", and it was a nice healthy fish.

I decided to switch to a Clouser.  I selected a gray-over-white one from my fly box.  I was so excited to get back to fishing, I dropped the fly and started casting.  I quickly realized I hadn't actually ATTACHED the fly to my line!  Total Rookie mistake!  :)

I thought I had chucked the fly into the water, so I didn't look for it, I just dug another one out of my fly box.  The next one I selected was a chartreuse-over-yellow version that was sort of the 3"-4" range.

I caught another white bass.
 I love catching White Bass, so I was pretty excited already (obviously).

Next, I hooked into a different fish.  It looked like about the size and shape of a trout, but the flash was yellow.  Couldn't be a brown trout, they've never been stocked here.  I got it closer to shore.  Yellow Perch!  No way, this couldn't be happening!  It measured 10.75"

That Clouser was a big bite for this fish!

This spot I continued on down the shoreline.  Next fish was the species I had come here targeting, a Rainbow Trout!  I measured this one at 12.5".  
The Clouser was a pretty big bite for this fish too, even though trout DO have large mouths.  Nevertheless, I was still sort of surprised.

I continued moving along the shoreline.  At one spot I got a couple missed strikes, had a nice fish on briefly, and then lost the Clouser to another good strike.  I switched to an unweighted deer hair streamer in a similar color scheme to the Clouser I had just lost.

 Next fish was a Largemouth Bass.  Nothing big, but it fought well.

Next fish was another White Bass.  I didn't measure the last two, they probably weren't quite as big as the first one, but they were nice fish, probably more like 13"+/-.

I quickly fished my way back to the spot I first caught fish.  On the way, I caught another Largemouth Bass.  It wasn't much different than the first bass.  No picture.

I got to that first spot again, and it seemed pretty dead.  I did get a couple small strikes, and then caught a little Smallmouth Bass!

It was time to head home.  I was really excited to have caught 5 Species from this lake in one trip...3 of them were species I had never caught from this lake before, and the White Bass and Yellow Perch especially were nice fish.  I had some excellent battles with fish today.

I had the lake to myself the entire time, with the exception of the last 20 minutes, when another angler with spinning gear arrived, but was fishing a good distance away from me.

I have to wonder if this combination of species has ever been caught before on a fly rod from one lake on one trip?

After Work Bass, 4-6-2012

Not a lot to say on this one.  I got home after work on Friday to discover my family was not there and would not be home for about 45 minutes.  Out the door I went!

I fly-fished a public pond I had not fished yet this open-water season.  I was targeting bluegills.  It was really windy, but blowing from the side, so casting wasn't overly difficult.  I caught  5 bluegills.  The last fish I caught before my 45 minutes was up was a chunky bass that gave me a good battle.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fly-Fishing Report, 4-2-2012

When you fish as often as I do, and post reports on most of those trips, it gets really hard to come up with a catchy title for the blog post.  Hence the boring titles I usually use, along with the date of the fishing trip.  Just for kicks, maybe I should start making up completely nonsensical titles that have nothing to do with the post, but may have some comedic value?  How 'bout "Eliot Spitzer Steals Canine Droppings from my Yard"?  Or, "Sasquatch - A Binge Leaf Recycler!"?  "Angry Trout Falls Off an Iowa Mountain"?  "Chew First, Then Swallow"?  "Angler Tells His Version of the Truth"?

I hopped over to a local public pond last night for some evening fly-fishing.  It was good.  Caught plenty of Bluegills and Crappies on a variety of fly patterns.  3 kids (2 girls around 10 years old, 1 boy around 6 years old...totally guessing on these ages, of course) had been working their way around the pond, trying to spot small fish that they were trying to catch with their hands.  They didn't manage to catch anything, but as they worked their way closer to me, they saw me catch a fish, so they ran over to see it.  I probably caught at least a dozen more fish, and they took turns holding the fish and releasing them back to the water.  They all thought that was pretty cool!

Later on, my friend and fellow fly-angler Dale S. stopped by the pond for some fishing.  He was also catching plenty of fish.  He had got a new 12' 5wt (switch?) fly rod, and generously let my give it a try for a bit.  Casting it was interesting...and I managed to catch a few fish while I was at it!  It was getting dark, and Dale had to leave to get some other stuff done.  Before he left, he asked me if this was about the time the catfish had started hitting last week.

I worked around one corner of the pond, catching more fish here and there. It was very dark, and I was about done fishing.  I put on a yellow Boa Yarn Leech, and decided to start working my way back around the pond the way I had come, towards my car.  I cast out, and started looking around at the water, the ducks, the stars...when the surface of the water just EXPLODED about where my fly was as I was slowly working it back in.  Holy Crap!!  For some reason, my first thought in situations like this is "Maybe I accidentally snagged a muskrat?"  Then its, "Maybe its a GRASS CARP!".   As that initial splash subsided, I noticed movement in the water coming right for me.  This was weird, because while I assumed it could be the fish I was fighting, I also felt through my rod that the fish was farther out from shore, and moving to the side.  I turned on my cap light, shined it onto the movement in the water and discovered a very chubby TOAD swimming frantically towards shore from the direction of where the fish had struck my fly.  Maybe the fish had been following the toad when it hit?

It was a fairly long battle...I didn't see the fish for probably 5 solid minutes.  Back and forth...I followed it down the bank for probably 35 yards, scaring a few frogs into the water as I walked along.  In towards shore, then surging back out to deeper water again.  I finally got its head next to the bank once, saw that it was a catfish, got down on my knees to reach down to grab it...and off it ran again.  Dang!  Another couple of minutes passed before I was able to bring it in once again.  I got on my knees again, reached low and grabbed one side of the fish.  No way could I hold it with one hand, so I set my rod down and grabbed the thrashing fish with both hands behind the pectoral fins and hoisted it onto shore.  LANDED!!  I saw something that looked like weeds coming out of its mouth, so I reached down the line to unhook it...and the fly just fell right out of its mouth!!  What the heck??  The hook must not have been in the skin, but just pressed against its jaw bone!  With that much fighting, the only thing that kept the hook from coming out must have been the constant pressure I had maintained.

I measured it...27 inches!!!  Nice full belly, wide head...must be a male.  I snapped some pictures, carried it back to the water, revived it for a few seconds, and it was ready to swim away.  I didn't even make another cast.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Pair of First Fishes on 4-1-2012!!

My friend Brandon was in town this weeking visiting his family.  He brought his young boys with him, along with a couple fishing poles.  He asked me if I wanted to help him take the boys on their first fishing trip.  SURE!  I knew JUST THE PLACE.

When we got to the local public pond, the first thing I did was cut off the bobber, sinker, and snap swivel off each rod.  I tied a microjig (that I had tied up earlier in the day just for this trip) and added a large fly-fishing strike indicator about 2' up the line.  The boys were catching fish within just a minute or two.

Below are the pictures of each of them with their First Fish ever!  They each caught plenty more, mostly Bluegills with a few decent Crappies in the mix.  They had so much fun, they did NOT want to leave the pond when it was time to go!  I can still totally relate to that feeling!  ;o)

Younger brother, Ethan, with his first fish ever...a  Crappie!

Older brother, Preston, with his first fish ever....a nice Bluegill!

Crappies vs Bluegills, 3/30/2012

I got out for a late-evening of flyfishing on Friday.  I fished from 7:45pm-9:45 pm.

For those who have been following my blog, I will mention that Mark, April, and a co-worker of Mark's were flyfishing this public pond when I arrived.  It was good to see them.  They reported they had caught a LOT of fish (crappies and bluegills), but no catfish this time.

I started out cathcing several bluegills and a couple of crappies.  I decided early on that I wanted to try to catch MORE crappies than bluegills this evening.  So the contest was on.  I'd catch several more bluegills, then a couple crappies.  I'd get close with the crappies, then catch a several more bluegills.  I  was starting to think it wouldn't happen this night.  Then, I was able to TIE at 28 fish each.  Then I caught one more bluegill.  Then 2 crappies.  That made it 30-29 (crappies to bluegills).  I figured I'd catch one more fish to make my evening total an even 60 fish.  It was a crappie...HOORAY!  31-29.

I was tired from catching so many fish, and ready to head home.  I cast all my line out so I could reel it all back onto the reel (this works better than just reeling up the loose line piled on the ground at my feet)...and I couldn't even believe that as I started reeling in FAST, a fish was on my line again!  Bluegill.

Final tally 31 Crappies, 30 Bluegills for the evening.  I didn't take any pictures.
Does anyone else play these silly games while fishing?  Just for the record, several years ago it was normal to catch about twice as many crappies as bluegills from this pond.  Then the past year or so it switched heavily in favor of bluegills.  This year has been more bluegills, but some days the crappies have been pretty it IS a challenge to catch more crappies from this pond on any given day, but it is also a definite possibility.  The fun thing is to try to locate where the crappies tend to congregate.  And while I COULD switch to a larger hook size to put the odds in favor of hooking more crappies...but I haven't gotten that desperate!  :)