Friday, September 28, 2012

Different Day, Different Results - 9/28/2012

During lunch today, I went flyfishing to the same place I fished yesterday (where I caught the Freshwater Drums, Channel Catfish, and Largemouth Bass).  I was hoping for more of the same...or at LEAST more Freshwater Drum.

Didn't happen.  Similar weather conditions, same spot, same time of day, ...just ONE day later.  And it was seemingly deadsville.

I just managed to avoid getting skunked by catching this one nice 12" White Crappie on a weedless Black Ops fly pattern.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lunchtime Drum! 9-27-2012

I went flyfishing during lunch today.  I visited a spot I hadn't fished since Spring.  I spotted some Common Carp and/or Smallmouth Buffalo near shore.  I put a conehead-weighted black nymph near them.  I think I had some looks, possibly a subtle hit..but no hookups.

I switched to's "Black Ops" fly that I had tied to be weedless with his monofilament "Y" technique.  Check out his blog/website if you want to see the fly pattern (and lots of other great ones), video instructions for tying the weedguard, ...and some fantastic videos of him catching Grass Carp, Common Carp, Gar, and other species on flies.  Really GREAT stuff!

Within a few casts, I had a "pecking" type strike.  I set the hook and watched what I thought to be a small crappie come to the surface.  Not a crappie, though.  A small Freshwater Drum!!

If you've been following along and paying attention, you've probably heard me say several times this year that I'd really like to add Freshwater Drum to my list of species I have caught on a fly rod.  Even though it was a small fish, I was really made my day!  This was it...the first one!
This one has pretty yellow pelvic and anal fins.

A Weedless Black Ops does the trick!

I made a few more blind casts around (having spooked the Carp / Buffalo).  Next fish was a small but chunky Largemouth Bass.  Something was chasing shad around...could have been this guy!  I didn't take his picture.

A few casts later, I got a nice strike, and a really nice fight out of this Channel Catfish:

Yeah...I guess he WANTED it!

Very nice!  Almost time to go...but I had to make a few more casts.  Another strike!  And another Freshwater Drum!!  Still small, but larger than the first one.  I'm guesstimating 10.5"-11".

That weedguard worked fantastic.  In fairness, it really didn't get tested by weeds or snags (since I was fishing over a sandy/silty bottom)...but it hooked fish perfectly!
Notice the shoe? don't go fishing in your office shoes??  :)

Been looking for Drum throughout the year...and FINALLY got a couple!  Excellent lunchtime flyfishing trip!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

FireTiger Craft Fur Clouser

Tied this up a few weeks ago.  Haven't tried it yet.  Think I might try some slightly smaller versions.  Should be excellent for the river, and perhaps the local pond bass might be interested as well!

Flyfishing Tuesday Evening, 9-25-2012

I flyfished Monday during my lunch hour, but spent the entire time trying to get Bigmouth Buffalo to strike a fly.  Didn't happen.  Or at least, the strike wasn't definite enough that I bothered to set the hook.  There was one time when the I did suspect a strike...but the fish could have just swam into the line.  I did have one foul-hooked for about 25 seconds.

Now...on to Tuesday evening.  I flyfished a pond where I had hooked (and eventually lost) a couple Grass Carp about a month ago(+/-).  I did actually get a good visual on a Grass Carp that was cruising across the pond just under the surface.  I put a cast out ahead of it and started bringing my fly across its path.  Something about this spooked the fish enough to make it quickly change direction and speed just as it was coming towards my fly.  By the time I could get another cast out, the fish was well beyond range.  Nevertheless, I spent a great deal of time fishing for Grassies.  I tried both a topwater Deer Hair Pellet Fly, and a subsurface Black Ops fly.  I did catch some Bluegills on both.

After it got pretty dark, I switched to fishing specifically for Bluegills.  I ended up catching at least 10, plus two small Largemouth Bass.  The big surprise of the evening was a decent 10.5" Crappie!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flyfishing Reports, mid-September 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012
I fly-fished a local public park during lunch.  I hadn't fished there since early Spring.  The water was lower than I've seen it for many years.  It was also muddier than I've seen it for a long time.  This could be from fall turnover, or from all the darn ducks and geese wading around in the shallows.
I flyfished shallows within a 2'-4' of shore.  I caught 14 small Crappies, 3 small Bluegills, and 2 small Green Sunfish.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
I had an hour + around dusk with time to kill, so I headed to the pond where I recently had very briefly hooked a Grass Carp.  I saw at least one Grass carp, but got not interest in my flies this time.  Wasted most of the time fishing for Grassies.  During the rest of the time, I managed to catch a small Largemouth Bass and a trio of decent Bluegills.

There were several deer around the pond...or maybe it was just one deer that was moving around a lot?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
I took the day off work and went fishing.  There was one place not far from home I considered fishing.  I drove by, but even though it was early on a weekday morning, there were already at least 3 cars there...and it isn't a big area to fish.  So, I just kept on driving.

I drove to fish Peterson Pits north of Ames, Iowa.  I'd NEVER been here before.  I followed another car into the parking area.  So much for fishing alone!  He was a nice guy who was going to be fishing from his kayak.  I told him I'd never been here before and asked what was in this pit.  He said he fished here often.  He fishes mostly with live minnows, occasionally with lures as well.  He said there were Largemouth Bass in the pit, a few Crappies and Catfish, and he'd heard of people occasionally catching a Freshwater Drum here too.  This particular pit is connected to the Skunk anything in the river could also be in this pit.  That means Smallmouth Bass.  I asked him about those, and he'd said he had caught a couple of those over the years, but it was rare. was a case of artificial lures and flies outfishing live bait.  I saw this fellow catch one Largemouth Bass, and one turtle.  I ended up catching 16 nice Bluegills (biggest ~ 8.5"), 10 Crappies (biggest ~ 10.5"), 13 Largemouth Bass (biggest ~ 13"), and 10 Smallmouth Bass (biggest ~ 12").

I didn't take any photos of the fish from the Pit.  I did see several Ospreys, and one flew over carrying a decent-sized fish that I think it caught from the nearby river.

I also briefly fished the Skunk River just downstream of the connection to the pit.  The river is extremely fact it appears to be just algae-lined connected pools, with no detectable current.  But there were fish in them.  I managed to catch 4 more Smallmouth Bass, 2 Bluegills, and a tiny Largemouth Bass out of the river.  I had a lot more fish strike, but I wasn't able to set the hook in them.

The river Smallies had some good colors!

I saw what looked like a bit larger bass in the river, but didn't get them to strike.  Its concerning that if the river doesn't raise before Winter, the water will freeze and wipe out all the Smallmouth Bass in the river.  The DNR says the Smallmouth Bass in the a large section of the Skunk River over-winter in the deeper water of the Peterson Pits.  With the river so low, few will be able to return to the pit this year. was fun and productive day of fishing at these 2 new spots (the Pit and River)!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fly Rod Grass Carp FAIL, 9-16-2012

I was able to squeeze in 1 hour of flyfishing (after driving time) this weekend.  I fished a public pond about a 40 minute drive from home.

I started out flyfishing for panfish.  I caught 2 Bluegills and a Largemouth Bass.  Then this 9" Hybrid Sunfish hit.  What a fight, and what a beast!  All fish were caught on a #8 yellow Boa Yarn Leech.

I had seen a few Grass Carp swim by in the shallows.  One nosed up to the surface  to touch my floating fly line.  I tried dropping flies ahead of them, and they showed slight interest, but mainly they just continued swimming on their way.  So, I tied on a ""-style deer hair pellet fly.  I tossed it out and soon had a (previously invisible) grass carp come up and check it out.  It nosed the fly, but then swam away.  A few casts later, another Grass Carp (that I had not seen before) came up and nosed it, then tried to suck it in, missed, and then tried to suck it in again.  I watched the fly disappear into its mouth.  I set the hook, the fish thrashed its head, and my 2x tippet snapped....with a sound like a pellet gun firing.  CRACK!

DANG IT!  I have hunted Grass Carp more diligently this year than ever before.  With complete failures too numerous to count at this point, I still have hooked more grass carp this year than ever before (including a couple years ago when I actually landed 3 Grass Carp!).  I've even had some pretty good fights.  But I haven't landed ANY of them this year!  I know my 5wt is not matched to such a task...but I also know Grass Carp CAN be landed on it, because I've done it before!  Ug.  Another miss.  But this one was especially exciting because I actually got to see the fish come up and suck in that fly.  THAT is a first in my Grass Carp experiences.  It will be a confidence builder for future situations, at least, knowing they will come up and hit this style of fly.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fishing the Des Moines River, 9/12/2012

After flyfishing the Des Moines River recently, I decided to try fishing a different segment of the river.  The area I most wanted to fish was a LONG trek upstream from the nearest parking area.  Years ago, we used to catch Flathead Catfish there in the Fall...on LURES.  That is what I hoped to try this time, and I convince my buddy Jay to go along.

Originally I had planned to take along both spinning gear and flyfishing gear.  But I ended up paring down a bit and at the last minute decided to leave the fly gear in the car.  This decision would pretty much preclude me from fishing for carp and gar.  A poor choice, but one I'll live with.  As it turned out, there seemed to be a gar population in one area we fished, and at one point during our trek I spotted a couple carp rooting in the shallows, and was able to walk right up within 6' of them and wave my spinning rod over their heads without spooking them.  With the fly rod, those fish would have been about the easiest carp targets I've ever witnessed!  Oh well.

During our trek upstream, we spotted a Bald Eagle, several hawks, Goldfinches, a number of Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Canadian Geese, and some sort of tiny shore/wading bird.

Although we spent a fair bit of time fishing the "Flathead Spot"...we didn't catch any Flatheads.  I lost at least 5 lures.  Jay had caught a small Wiper on the trek upstream, and added a NICE Bigmouth Buffalo (hooked in the mouth!) near the Flathead Spot.  I eventually caught a Smallmouth Bass and at least a dozen small White Bass and one small Wiper there.

On our way back downstream, we stopped and fished some sandbar drop-offs, and several other "fishy-looking spots".  Jay caught several nicer White Bass and a couple Channel Catfish...and I can't remember what else.

I caught 4 more Smallmouth Bass, more small White Bass, one Largemouth Bass, and a nice Freshwater Drum.  I also had a Channel Catfish on my line that broke/cut my Nanofil line when it thrashed at the surface. All my fish were caught on an inline spinner.

All in all, a fun day.

The spot in the picture below looked, a log, and current.  I caught 2 Smallmouth Bass next to that log!

(this is the same fish, different angle):

I had just caught a couple White Bass out of one spot, when I got a solid strike, and then an awesome bulldogging and drag peeling battle.  I was sure it was a nice Wiper.  Turned out to be a decent-sized Freshwater Drum.  Fantastic!

My last fish of the day was also the biggest Smallmouth Bass of the day.  A great strong fight, it didn't want to come to the surface at all!  It measured a good 16.5", and was very thick-bodied!

I ended up catching at LEAST 17 White Bass, one Wiper, 5 Smallmouth Bass, 1 Largemouth Bass, and the one Freshwater Drum.  This trip pushed my "total fish caught for the year" to over 2,000.  Hopefully there will still be many more fish caught before the end of December!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fishing Report for the 2nd Weekend of September, 2012

Saturday was the Iowa State University / University of Iowa football game.  I don't currently have cable TV, so I went fishing.

I decided to wade and flyfish the Des Moines River south of the Sycamore Bridge.  Actually, first I tried wading across from the washout cut below Saylorville Spillway.  Despite the extremely low water, I ended up in water much deeper than I had plannned or expected to find.  I did't catch anything, so I didn't stay there long and soon drove to a spot that would allow me to access the river further downstream.  There were some interesting-looking stretches of water, but I wasn't having much success.  I switched from a shad pattern to a black crayfish-type pattern and caught a small Wiper:

A fair distance downstream, I found a spot with decent depth, rocks, and slower current.  I put on a nymph pattern, dropped it down near shore, and soon caught 4 more fish...a Green Sunfish, a Crappie, a Largemouth Bass, and a Smallmouth Bass:

I found a pool that apparently had some Freshwater Drum in it.  I could hear them, but couldn't see them.  Didn't catch anything there, but had a few large fish follow my flies there.  Despite the SLOW fishing, it was interesting to catch 5 species of fish.

Sunday morning, temps were in the mid- to upper- 40's (F), and I (probably VERY prematurely) hoped maybe there were some remnant trout in a nearby lake that might have survived the summer heat AND might be attracted to the cooling waters along the shorelines.  I expected to maybe be the only person fishing at this lake so early on a Sunday morning.

Wrong.  There were plenty of people there.  Not fishing, but in the hour I was there, more people continued to arrive and walk around the lake.  Apparently there was to be a Triathlon event here starting at 10am, and participants were required to be there EXTRA early.  A canoe was on the water placing floating markers for the swimming portion, folks were walking their bikes from the parking lot to the roped-off area where they were to be stored until needed, and a rescue boat was launched to be ready for emergency situations that arose on the water.  In short, BUSY place!  So much for peace and quiet.

There was a reasonable amount of surface activity when I arrived, but that diminished with all the activity in/around the lake.  The activity COULD have been Trout....some could have been White Bass, some could have been Largemouth Bass.  I tossed flies most of the time, and scored one Largemouth Bass.  In an attempt to reach some activity further away, I eventually traded the fly rod for a spinning rod, but didn't hook up with any fish, although I felt a couple decent "bumps".   I couldn't take the "hubbub" of activity around the pond, so left after just an hour of fishing.

I decided to try a public pond closer to home, and flyfished there for awhile.  For such an early hour on a Sunday, I was again disappointed at all the activity around the pond.  LOTS of families with young kids walking around the pond, feeding ducks near me, etc etc.  It isn't fun to constantly be looking over my shoulder when casting to make sure there aren't people behind me!  I caught a couple Largemouth Bass, 2 Crappies, and around 8 Bluegills.  I really wasn't enjoying it much, so I left.

Friday, September 7, 2012

MORE Praying Mantis Pics!

I took most of these pics this past weekend, but haven't had a chance to post them in this blog until now.  Got some more good shots.  I'm sure National Geographic will be calling me any second....

Love the colors....and the winged male Praying Mantis:

Or this female:

"Hello, Bug.  Isn't this a pretty flower?  Perhaps you should take a much CLOSER LOOK?"

I also have some yellow Hummingbird I had to get this next picture.  I had watched this Mantis go after a wasp.  It caught the wasp, and I hoped to get a picture of the Mantis eating the wasp...but the wasp somehow managed to escape.  Here, the Mantis was cleaning up.  Maybe the wasp SMELLED BAD?

This next one was up on our porch, right on the patio furniture.  It was posing.  I took this picture:
...and then took this next couple of without a flash, one with:

Although there was a high density of Mantises (Manti?) on one of the bushes in our backyard, they were mostly females.  I figured my chances of  spotting a pair mating were very small.  And then I saw it!

I had to use the flash light up this steamy scene:

The male Mantis was still healthy.  I'd heard that after copulation, the female Mantis will eat the male Mantis...or at least its head.  I wasn't going to wait around potentially for hours to find out.

Luck was with me.  The next day, about 35' further down the fenceline on another bush, I spotted a different female eating a male!  And it was just in the middle of eating the head!

This next series of 3 images was a Mantis that was watching a butterfly on a nearby flower stem.

It started to make a move on the butterfly:

As butterflies are prone to do, this one didn't stick around long.  The dejected look on the Mantises face is priceless.  I don't know if he was embarrassed that I'd witnessed his failure, or mad that perhaps I had caused it!  Yes...I know I'm anthropomorphizing the situation.

The rest of these pictures I just thought turned out well and were good shots:

Flyfishing for Buffalo?

Earlier this Summer I had posted a report on this blog of catching a couple Smallmouth Buffalo out of the river on flies.  I LOVE catching new species on fly gear!

I had spotted a few Bigmouth Buffalo in a local public pond this Spring.  I hadn't visited the pond for most of the Summer.  I went there yesterday during lunch.  It had rained the previous evening, and there was some current and clearer water flowing into the pond through a culvert.

I was absolutely astonished by the HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of Bigmouth Buffalo in this pond!  Many were near the surface, lined up near the clear water current line.  Many were in smaller pods of fish, moving around.  They'd mouth near the surface, then turn and dive head-down for the bottom...and eventually come up again.  Strange behavior.

I tried to take a picture of these fish.  Hard to see in the picture, but very obvious in person.

Bigmouth Buffalo are filter-feeders.  They gulp water and strain out the plankton with their gill rakers.  I've caught them on bait and on lures in the past.  I've not caught any on flies yet, obviously.

I tried egg patterns, I tried small Woolly Buggers, I tried midge patterns...I may have gotten one strike, but it was subtle.  Another time I suspected a strike, set the hook, and caught one!  Turns out it was hooked in the forehead...but it was a good fight all the same. counts as a fish since snagging these IS legal...but it doesn't count on my "Species caught on Fly" list.  Took some pics anyway.  I'd estimate it was about 24" long.

There was so MANY...I figure if I can discover a pattern / presentation they will hit, I could really have a great time Flyfishing for Buffalo on this pond!

Anybody have any tips or suggestions?