Monday, November 26, 2012

New Favorite Stocker Trout Fly Patterns

The IDNR continues to expand its successful Urban Trout Program to more small lakes across Iowa.  Having fished several of these lakes for trout, I will say fly anglers catch a LOT more of these "stocker trout" than do the folks using spinning gear (lures or bait).  In fact, defying all logic, the bait-fishers (using worms, minnows, corn, or scented prepared baits) seem to catch the fewest trout.  They still catch SOME, so if this is your preferred method, have at it.  For those wanting to try flyfishing for these trout, you are in for a FUN time!

The first thing you must do is forget the "wild stream trout" approach.  Realize these fish are fresh from the hatchery, where they have been raised solely on pelleted food.  They don't know what a grasshopper, mayfly or caddisfly is yet, for example.

Fish get wise to some patterns, or I learn of or create new patterns, so "favorite patterns" do change over time.  The following are some patterns that have been working very well for me over the past year.
The standard fly pattern for stocker trout is a beadhead Woolly Bugger.  Color combinations are nearly limitless, so try your favorites.  One of my favorites is tied with a black tail (marabou or rabbit), olive body, and black hackle palmered up the body.  Gold beadhead.  Thats the pattern I usually start with.  I let the fish tell me if it ISN'T what they want.  If this doesn't work, then I usually go with one of the next two patterns listed in this post.


Chili Pepper:  Rather than duplicate pictures/recipes/tying instructions, I will just direct you to this website:
Basically, it is a beadhead woolly bugger heavy on copper flash materials.

I tied mine using a #8 2xl Nymph/Streamer hook, a copper beadhead, and rootbeer marabou for the tail.  This caught a lot of trout for me, although one day I did get to watch a lot of trout follow but NOT hit it.  It happens.  Nevertheless, I definitely recommend this pattern for stocked trout.  Try it and see what the trout think!
I tied the following intending it to represent a soggy trout pellet, so for now lets call it the "BH SoftHackle Trout Chow".  When visible pods of trout are present, this pattern has worked extremely well for me using a retrieve or even under an indicator for less aggressive fish.

Hook - #10 1XL Nymph hook of your choice
Thread - 6/0 UniThread color of your choice (black used in the above picture)
Bead - your choice brass or glass bead
Body - tan dubbing, dubbed heavily and brushed out (can be reinforced with wire ribbing for extra durability)
Hackle - soft hackle feather of your choice ( I prefer hen pheasant, India hen, or grouse)

The bushy tan body seems to be the trigger, since the pattern continues to catch trout even after the hackle has been destroyed.  Works with a retrieve and also beneath an indicator. I sometimes also add a tail of turkey... Looks good and works....but doesn't seem necessary.


Blue Thunder Streamer
I've talked about this Ian Colin James pattern before.  I really like it.
For some reason, the purple Flashabou is difficult to find.  I've tied it like its supposed to be this:

I've also tied this pattern like this:

And also like this:
All versions work well.  Adjust the size to suit your needs.  For stocker trout, #8 and #10 hooks seem the best choice.

White Woolly Bugger
Try this.  Some days the fish just prefer white.  If they aren't falling all over themselves for the darker Woolly Bugger patterns, this just might be what the fish are trying to tell you they want!  I usually tie my white Woolly  Buggers for stocker trout without any extra weight, and often with white rabbit fur for the tail, and a white softhackle feather palmered up the shank over the white yarn or chenille body.

Springbrook Wunder microjig (gold, or color of your choice)
I tie these on 1/80th or 1/100th oz microjigheads.  This works especially well when you are using an indicator, and the fish keep striking at your indicator.  Put this 8"-12" beneath the indicator:

Flyfishing Report, 11/20 & 11/21/2012


I took the day off work and fly fished Lake Petocka this morning.  22 Rainbows.  Now I've caught 12% of those trout.  

Many like this one were caught on a Chili Pepper fly pattern.
I left decent action there to fish the trout stocking at Ada Hayden at noon.  The DNR guy said he counted 95 anglers there!  It was chaos.  I was practically bumping elbows with people on both sides ( I was there first...they crowded me).  I caught 5 fairly quickly and decided it wasn't fun anymore, so I talked with the DNR guy for awhile.

Today's fishies put me over 3,000 fish for the year for the first time EVER!


I took the day off, and Dale had the day off as well, so we agreed to do some fly fishing for trout again.  I suggested we visit lake Petocka.

Dale arrived at 7am.  By the time I got there at 8am, Dale had already caught 8 Rainbows.  We gave up 2 hours later.  I had caught 7 trout(including 2 on my first 2 casts! This gives me 12.5% or 1/8 of the trout stocked here so far!).  Dale had not caught any more, and between us we had covered pretty much the entire perimeter of the lake.  The fish activity died.

I asked Dale if he wanted to try Ada Hayden lake.  He was game.  We got there and wind was howling out of the South, waves pounding the north shoreline.  We started fishing there.  A dozen others were also fishing there.  We saw one trout caught.  We started walking/ fishing our way around the north lake in a counterclockwise direction.  At the halfway point, we hadn't caught a single fish....and Dale brought out the venison sticks and cherry Cokes.  That really hit the spot!

Re-energized, we continued our circuit of the lake.  At about the 4/5ths point, we finally found trout.  Lots of them.  Dale got on a pod and immediately started catching fish.  I got off to a slower start.  Dale was the first to 10, and 20, and 30, and 40.  I caught and passed him at 43.  We finally called it quits at 3pm.  My final tally at Ada Hayden was 62 Rainbows, while Dale ended on 50.  What started out looking like a "skunk" ended up very satisfying.  Between us, we'd caught 5% of the stocked trout in about 2 hours!

Many times there would be 3, 4, or 5 anglers fishing the same pods of fish.  Dale and I with fly gear out-caught the spin fishermen by a very substantial margin.  Several of them mentioned that next time they weren't going to be leaving their fly rods at home!

While there, I heard interesting stories of some good Wiper fishing at Ada Hayden this past summer.

This was the sunrise looking out my front door on 11/24/2012.

Monday, November 19, 2012

50,000 Views - THANK YOU!

I noticed this weekend that the views on my blog have now exceeded 50,000 views.  A big THANK YOU to my followers!  :)

Weekend Flyfishing, 11/17 & 11/18/2012

Flyfished for trout on Saturday morning.  It was tough.  The fish were definitely in a negative mood, the way they reacted to flies.  Still managed to land 8 Rainbows, but it took 3.5 hours to do it.  Beadhead Buggers fished really slow worked best for me.  Took some pictures of my friend Dale G., who arrived ahead of me and definitely caught more fish than I.


Flyfished a City pond late afternoon Sunday, from 3:45pm-5:30pm.  Targeted Bluegills.  Uses a glass beadhead woolly bugger pattern for awhile.  Caught some nice Bluegills and a chunky bass.  Switched to a chartreuse microjig under an indicator, and caught quite a few more dandy Bluegills.  Ended up landing 28 really nice Bluegills (up to at least 8"), and the one fat bass (guesstimated 13").

The Bluegills and Bass all fought REALLY well.  As usual, I was impressed with the size of bluegills in this particular pond.  We've ice-fished it in the past, and for some reason the fish are always extremely hard to find in this pond.  One thing I noted was that some of the bigger bluegills had some sort of lesions...that looked like globs of slime stuck to them.  I've seen it before in other places, not sure what the cause is.  Also caught one 'gill that had it so bad that it had a large open wound on one side of its body.  Strange.  Again...with all the fertilizers and herbicide/pesticides that run into these ponds, I sure wouldn't ever EAT any of these fish.  :icon_puke_l:  Still great fun to catch, though!  :toothy4:

Here's some pics:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lunchtime Flyfishing, 11-16-2012

Rather than chase those nice crappies again today during lunch today, I flyfished another public pond instead.
It was slow going, but the Bluegills were decent.  Several shook free partway in. I used the same setup as yesterday.  I landed 8 Bluegills.  This pond is looking good as a potential spot for ice-fishing this winter.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lunchtime Flyfishing, 11-15-2012

Different day, same pond, similar results.  Flyfished during lunch at a City pond.
Caught a few trees on backcasts...lost a microjig, tippet and indicator.

Wind was out of a slightly different direction, and not quite as strong.  It was more breezy than windy today.  Sunny!

Used the same color microjig as yesterday, about 2' under the indicator.  Landed 9 Bluegills, 4 Crappies.  Lost one nice Crappie that I watched throw the hook underwater.  The Crappies were all 10"+, with the biggest being a VERY strong-fighting 13-incher.  I compared it to yesterday's 13" Crappie, and determined today's is a DIFFERENT fish!  That is GOOD!

Here's the first Crappie of the day:

...and a pic with the microjig in its mouth:

And this is today's 13-incher:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lunchtime Flyfishing Report, 11-14-2012

Forecast said 11mph winds today...I guarantee is was closer to 20mph!

Still, it was a decent day, so I went flyfishing during my lunch hour.  Visited a nearby public pond that I hadn't visited for about a month.

Started off really slow...not catching much, then found a current break and started catching a few bluegills, and missing a lot of strikes.  Continued working my way around the pond until I ended up on the downwind side.  Tough casting into that wind!  I noticed a narrow mudline that extended out away from shore for 30' or so, which I assumed was caused by geese, since there were some hanging around the pond.  Now I'm thinking it may have been caused by wind...but whatever the reason, there were fish around it.  I caught several more bluegills, including one really nice fat Bull, and I also landed 3 surprise Crappies!  The first Crappie was 13", and the other two were 10"-12" range.

Everything was caught on a 1/80 oz Springbrook Wunder-style microjig tied with an Olive Glimmer Chenille body, and grizzly marabou tail.  I fished this about 2' beneath an indicator and retrieved slowly.

I took a couple pictures of the 13-inch Crappie:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fishing Getting Tougher?

I went flyfishing today during lunch.  Probably should have tried for Trout, since they seem very active right now.  Instead, I tried for Bluegills.  Fishing seemed really slow compared to my previous trip to this pond.  Probably a sign of the season to come?  I landed 4 decent bluegills, rolled several others on botched hooksets, and had one or two instances where a missed hookset felt pretty heavy!  Could have been some other fish species, or ..maybe not.  Gotta love that "who knows?" feeling!  Makes you want to go back and try some again.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

10% of the Stocked Trout in 1 week!

10%...its official!

So, if you've been following my recent blog (s) about flyfishing for stocker trout at Lake Petocka… 5 (trout caught during Thursday stocking day) + 64 (trout from Friday) + 78 (from Sunday) = 147.  I needed 3 more trout to “officially” catch 150 trout…10% of the 1,500 Rainbow Trout the DNR stocked into Lake Petocka.

I went flyfishing during my lunch hour today.  HOLY CRAP WAS IT WINDY!!!!  It was bright sunlight and the wind was blowing almost straight out of the south.  Weather service says wind speed was 16mph, but there is only open harvested farm fields around the lake, no wind breaks at all, and it always feels much windier there than anywhere else.  Only one guy fishing when I arrived, there were at least 8 when I left!  Because of the drive time from where I work, I could only fish for 20 minutes.

Flyfishing was tough.  Couldn’t cast far, no visible trout activity anywhere that I could see.  I fished near the area in the NW Corner where Dale G. and I flyfished on Sunday.  I cast straight out, and I also cast more parallel to shore. I managed to catch 3 Rainbows, and lost a 4th.  The fish all hit within 5’ of shore during the parallel casts.  Used a #8  black woolly bugger with a 4mm gold bead.

Other interesting stats…it took me 12.33 hours to catch 150 trout…a rate of over 12 fish/hour…or an average of 1 fish every 5 minutes.

Sound like bragging?  It is, and I hate bragging, unless its all in fun.  And I DO fish for fun...I'm not a guide and I'm not fishing for food.  I fish a lot...catch plenty of fish, and it isn't often that I impress myself.  But for some reason this impresses even me!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lake Petocka - Nov. 1-4, 2012

Lake Petocka was stocked with 1500 Rainbow Trout on Thursday at Noon.  I took Thursday and Friday off work to fish it.

Thursday morning I fly fished a local public pond to waste some time before heading to Bondurant (Lake Petocka).  Using a chartreuse micro jig,  I landed 100 small fish...81 Crappies, 15 Bluegills and 4 Green Sunfish.  Not bad for two hours of fishing!

At Lake Petocka, fishing was tough after the stocking.  Most folks left fishless.  Maybe one or two caught their 5-fish limit.  I did better than most, and caught 5 trout and 1 chunky Largemouth Bass, but it took me all of 2 hours to accomplish that.  I also fished my way around nearly the entire lake.  I didn't keep any.

On Friday, I fly fished Petocka for 6 hours.  I fished one corner of the lake for awhile.  Caught 10 Trout there, before my friend Dale G. called and said he'd been there awhile longer and had caught 18 fish where he was.  He told me to come down and fish with him, if the action slowed where I was.  It did slow.  I caught one more trout before heading over to his corner of the lake. I saw a few small pods of fish working quidkly along the top of a drop-off, and landed 2 trout from those groups.  Then the action died at that spot.  I saw some more fish further down the shoreline, so I started following where I could see fish.  I caught quite a few more fish, at least one from almost every small group that came down along the shoreline.  Dale came down and fished by me.  The action slowed.  I headed back to the corner of the pond where I had started the morning.  There were fish there...quite a few!  I was catching fish on nearly every cast for awhile, and Dale came over to see what was up.  We both caught fish here.

For the day, there were lulls in the action, but overall it was fairly steady.  I used a variety of fly patterns.  White was a very effective color this day.  I ended up catching and releasing 64 Rainbow Trout.  Some were caught by casting straight out with beadhead White Woolly Buggers.  Others were caught on Blue Thunder Streamers worked along the top of a drop-off when small groups of 3 or 4 trout would come along the bank.  And others were caught on unweighted white Woolly Buggers cast really shallow along the shoreline when small pods would come in and search for food within 4-5' of shore.  And still others were caught on a gold Springbrook Wunder microjig suspended about 10"-12"under an indicator in a small pocket of water with 2-5' depth.
This one hit an unweighted white Woolly Bugger.

This one hit a glass beadhead dubbed-body softhackle.

This one hit a Blue Thunder streamer.

Hard to see...but a number of fish had sort of rosy-pink bellies.  I assume this might be the coloration of a spawning male Rainbow Trout?...since most of the fish with such bellies were dripping milt.

This was Trout #60 of the day!

Dale G. And I fished together much of the time.  He even supplied some buffalo meat sticks to help re-energize us after noon.  They were tasty, thanks Dale!

I finally left when a very rude Dad used his 3 year old son as an excuse to cast into the small area we were fishing.  Really irked me.  Don't misunderstand, I thought it was great the guy brought his son out to try for trout.  But fishing really close to other guys and then casting the son's rod (with a huge bobber on it) over in front of those other guys into the area they had clearly been fishing for some time, and then moving himself between the son's rod and the closest guy and start casting dead-center where the established angler had been casting and catching fish.  Dale was that guy first...and he left without complaining.  So then the Dad picked up his gear and moved over by me and repeated the same situation.  Each time he would cast his son's giant bobber over in front of me, I'd turn and look right at the dad.  He wouldn't make eye contact with me at all.  But it was ridiculous and obvious what he was doing, and it was outrageously and sickeningly rude.  What a horrible example he was setting for his young son!  I just reeled in and left as well, and saw the  dad then move into my position and start casting over by the guys that had come down to fish on my other side, but were not crowding me.  Unreal.  I'm still pissed.  The Dad finally hooked a trout, and handed the rod to his son to reel in.  THAT was a good move, and I admired him for that.  But with a lake full of fish and tons of vacant shoreline to choose from, to crowd out people who are catching fish is still unacceptable.

Unexpectedly, I found myself with some time to go fishing on Sunday, Nov. 4.  I headed back to Lake Petocka.  The sky was overcast, with occasional light drizzle.

I first fished the last spot where I had caught fish on Friday. Not much going on there.  I had only made about 10 casts when I got a phone call.  Dale G. was at the lake again, and had seen my car.  There were fish where he was, so he invited me over.  Fish indeed!  The two of us were soon catching plenty of fish.  Guys next to us bottom-fishing with bait just looked on and shook their heads.

Because of the weather, I had my hoodie hood pulled up over my cap.  After awhile, I became aware that I was being watched.  I looked to my left, and there was a guy standing about 6' away, facing me and just looking on with a scowl on his face.  "Hi," I said.  He said "I'm just going to watch you."  Weird.  "OK," said I, and turned back to the business of fishing and catching.  The guy just watched me for about 20 minutes!  At one point he asked to see what I was using.  I showed him, and went back to fishing.  He finally moved about 25' down the shoreline and fished.  Turns out he was using spinning gear.  He was casting into an obvious pod of trout, but not catching any.  Over about 1.5 hours, he did land 3 or 4.  That's him in the background of this picture (of me holding a rather fat toad of a trout!):

Dale caught plenty of Rainbows as well:
Fishing eventually slowed.  Dale had to get on home.  That guy to my left who had been watching me caught one more, and decided to leave.  His pod of trout were still there, so I moved over and caught a bunch more fish from that pod before it slowly moved beyond my casting range ( plus I was casting into the wind).  I ended up catching 78 Rainbow Trout in 4 hours!  Pretty good day!

Dale pointed out later that my total trout caught over 2 days (64+78=142) amounted to nearly 10% of the fish that had been stocked!  Actually, I need to catch just 3 more trout (since I had caught 5 on Friday, so a total of 147) to make it an official 10%.  I think I can "get'er done"...if I can find time to get back over to the lake!  :)