Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hybrid Sunfish

Caught some 8"-9" Hybrid Sunfish this weekend while flyfishing at a local pond.  There seems to be 2 varieties of Hybrids here...a Green Sunfish x Bluegill Hybrid:

...and a Pumpkinseed Sunfish x Bluegill Hybrid:

They are all gorgeous fish, and fight really hard!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Flyfishing for Florida Redfish, 9-16-2013

Redfish have been on my "flyrod wishlist" for awhile.  I finally got an opportunity to hire a guide and pursue them in Florida this past Monday.
The guide was Bryan Pahmeier of OrlandoFlyFishing.com ( http://www.orlandoflyfishing.com/ ).
Bryan is a pleasure to fish with, and certainly knows the fishing in the area, since he's been fishing it since he was a kid.
We hit the water before sunrise.  The relatviely flat water made it easy to spot the schools of mullet, and the alligators.
The Redfish didn't show up right away.  Bryan explained that 95% of the water in the HUGE area we were fishing was actually 3' deep or less!

A couple small groups of Redfish went by.  I caught the Redfish in the first picture of this blog out of the first group.  The fish was aggressive, and it was a strong fight.    A couple line peeling runs, then just bulldogging back and forth.  Amazingly similar to a carp fight on a fly rod!

I also hooked up with a Redfish from the second group.  After the first run, the fly shook free.  That Redfish continued to pursue the fly, which surprised me.  I had already given up on that fish and was getting ready to cast to the rest of the passing group...I pulled the fly away from it.

We saw plenty of Spotted Seatrout, but I only caught one of the smaller ones.
During the slow points in the action, I joked that I was going to catch one of the Hardhead Catfish that were swimming around.  Eventually, I did catch one!
We sat down to rest from the heat and drink some water and eat lunch, when another group of BIG Redfish went by.  They spooked at our boat and turned 180 degrees and swam away.

After that, we pretty much saw only single smaller Redfish, and they were VERY SPOOKY!  The closest I got was one that put his chin on the tail of my fly and followed it for a few yards without striking.

I saw a few BIG Blue Crabs.  Also a number of Stingrays.  I cast out near a few of the Stingrays.  I've caught them before on spinning gear.  Most didn't go for the fly, but I had one swim right over my fly, so I set the hook.  It was foul-hooked, but still put up quite a strong fight on its first run.  I got it to boatside, and Bryan unhooked it while it was still in the water.  Just got this picture of me fighting the Stingray.

We saw dolphins, including this mother working hard to keep her not-so-small baby upright in the water.  But it was floating like a cork and stiff, so it had been dead for awhile.  Sad.
We saw manatees, and actually drifted right over the top of one feeding on the bottom.  I neglected to take a picture.  We also saw alligators.  We drifted over the top of this large one.  We spooked it and it swam off underwater.
And at the end of the day...this little treat tasted really good.  Its a brew we don't often find in Iowa, yet.
I didn't drink and drive, I just photographed one of the full bottles while I was in the car after purchasing it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Grass Carp Flyfishing Videos

There were more video clips....these two are pretty representative of the relentless back-and-forth battle.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Finally! Fly Rod Grass Carp #4!!

I finally FREAKING did it!!  After 2 seasons of not being able to land any Grass Carp (hooked yes, landed no)., I finally got fly rod Grass Carp #4 last night!  Total surprise, too.

My son had gymnastics last night, and my daughter went along for the ride.  After dropping him off, and the remaining two of us eating a nice healthy Taco John's dinner, I drove us to a nearby city pond.  My daughter stayed in the car to work on some schoolwork she had brought along.

I had 3 fly rods in the vehicle...a 5wt, a 6 wt, and a 7wt.  In general, this pond is good for catching some smallish panfish.  I had never seen a grass carp in this pond.  So, naturally, I selected the lightest of the 3 rods.  I was catching a few bluegills here and there, nothing major.  I was trying different fly patterns, hoping something would excite the fish.  I had put this fly on:
It was unweighted, and pushed quiet a bit of water, and sank very slowly.  It also made a good little "splat" when it hit the water.  I think all of this played a part in causing the Grass Carp to strike it.

I worked my way along the shoreline, and cast towards a small clump of floating algae that was floating about 30' off shore.  Something swirled on the fly.  I set the hook and missed, and suspected the fish was just a bluegill.  I immediately tossed the fly right back into that spot.  A fish lunged, grabbed, and darted to the side with the fly.  I set the hook, saw the fish, and knew right away I FINALLY had another Grass Carp on.  I was so excited!

Once I decided the fish was hooked well enough to stay on the line for awhile, I started trying to find a place to land the fish.  I had no net with me.  When a shore angler hooks a big fish and doesn't have a net or partner to help with landing the fish, the best situation you can hope for is some shallow water that you can drag the fish into so that it has to turn on its side.  Once on its side, it loses its advantage in the water, and can be landed at that point.  At this pond, the shoreline is limestone rip rap, which dropped almost straight off into knee-deep water.  There was just once spot that was a little bit shallower (but not shallow enough to "beach the fish")...where I could at least stand in the water and maybe try to land the fish while in the water. So, I got in the water.  The fish was constantly going back and forth.  I had collected some clumps of floating algae on my fly line, leader, and tippet.

 I checked the time on my phone.  I figured I was in for a long battle.  I was very skeptical that I would ever actually land this fish.  I continued fighting the fish.  Mostly it was the constant back-and-forth, with the occasional darting for deeper open water.  My daughter was in the car just 50' away, but since I was down the bank, standing in the water, she probably couldn't see what I was doing.  She was still working on her homework or reading a book.  I called her.  She answered, knew it was me, but couldn't hear me.  So, I just started waving my hand towards her, beckoning her to come to the shoreline.  She saw me, got out of the car and walked over.  I explained what was going on.   I told her I wasn't sure I could land this fish, and I wanted her to see it, and maybe she could take some video of the battle with her iPhone.  She did.  After 5-10 minutes, I told her the fish was tiring, but we seemed to still be at our stalemate.  So, she stopped taking video and went back to the car.

While she had been shooting video, I had been trying keep lifting the fish towards the surface and get its head up.  After my daughter got back to the car, I tried it again, and this time the fish let me KEEP its head above water.  So, I dragged the fish towards me.  It came, without spooking or thrashing this time, so I guided its head straight towards the rocks along the shoreline, and got its head up on a rock.  It still didn't thrash, so I dropped my rod in the water and grabbed the fish and carried it up onto shore.

No doubt about it, I was a VERY HAPPY GUY!

Chunky Fish.  It measured 30.5", with an (probably under-)estimated weight of 14 lbs.

After the photos, I got it back in the water to revive it, and within a couple of minutes, it swam out of my hands.

Hopefully I can get the videos added to this blog soon.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saylorville Lake, Evening Fishing 9-4-2013

I fished Saylorville Lake last night from around 6:20pm-8:10pm.

There were many boaters up on the flats...in water less than 3' deep, and within 30' of shore.  This is extremely unusual...but it was a good sign that the fish weren't out in deeper water.  I avoided the stretch of shoreline the boaters were working.  I walked around "the long way", checking the shoreline for signs of carp in the shallows.  I didn't really see any until I got to the point, but they were spooking before I could get near.

So, I tossed a surface plug with my spinning gear.  It was slow going, but within a few casts I caught a decent white bass, and then a couple more.  The biggest was this 15-incher:

I moved around the point a little further.  Saw some more carp, and decided to try flyfishing for them.  Once again, I couldn't get near the fish that were visible in the shallows near shore, but there was some swirling going on just beyond them, so I tried blind casting for awhile with a beadhead mylar chenille bugger.  Jackpot!
I could have kept fishing for carp, and probably caught a few more, but it would have been slow and tedious since I couldn't really sight-fish for them.
So, I resumed chucking a topwater plug for White Bass with a spinning rod.  I found 'em, and caught one on nearly every cast for the next hour or so.  I also caught a largemouth bass.  As the sky started to get dark, the action slowed, but I was still catching them when I decided to leave.