Monday, January 27, 2014

Ice Fishing....BULLHEADS?

I did some icefishing with my buddy Jay on Saturday afternoon, 1-25-2014.  The wind finally start to die down (less than 16mph) around 2pm, and by dusk it was actually pretty nice out, besides still being really cold.  It had been windy all week, and the forecast is calling for possible blizzard conditions and really strong winds for most of the next week.  So...we had to try it.

The ice was at least 11" thick.  The water was, unfortunately, stained.
We caught small fish....small bass, small crappies, and small bluegills.  It was still fun.  When icefishing, sometimes the fish you would thumb your nose at during open water season give the biggest thrill.  Why is that?  I caught 2 fish I had never caught while icefishing before....Bullheads!

I caught all my fish on a vertical ice jig tipped with a waxworm.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ice Fishing at Big Creek Lake, 1-11-2014

Big Creek Lake, 1/11/14
Time Fished: 9:30a-5:15p
Ice Thickness: 10"+
Species Sought: White Bass & whatever
Fish caught: 10 Bluegills, 2 Walleyes, (1 White Bass, almost)

Everybody else is having a great ice season, and with the Yin and Yang of things...I'm struggling.
Jay and I hit the north end of Big Creek in the morning.  Marked few fish and caught even fewer.  I landed one small walleye, and had a nice (est. 12"-14") White Bass all the way up to the hole, but it tangled around my transducer, and while I untangled that it managed to hang the hook on the edge of the bottom of the ice hole and shake loose.  Used a spoon tipped with a WAXIE!  Yep, you read that right.  Jay bought the bait.  :)

Next we fished the south end of the lake.  Lots of people everywhere else on the lake, but nobody else in the southern part.  That soon changed, of was an extremely BUSY DAY for icefishing on Big Creek!
We fished a few areas.  Its amazing how much difference there is in just a few feet.  Although water clarity was good, fish would be under one hole, but wouldn't move 4' away to chase a lure/bait!
We found mainly Bluegills..decent ones.  At first they would be very aggressive, I had a few that took nearly the entire spoon into their mouths!  They probably averaged 8.5", and my biggest of the day was 9.25"...I think Jay said he landed a 9.5-incher.  Again, the spoon with a Waxie caught the fish, although I did catch one on a spoon tipped with Gulp! instead of live bait.

I also landed another small Walleye.

Overall, I would rate the fishing as POOR once again.  For a full day of fishing, I caught just 8 Bluegills and the 2 Walleyes.
We didn't fish any brushpiles...I don't know how much difference that made.  One guy who was running and gunning (on foot) walked by and talked for a bit...and hadn't caught anything all day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

First Fishing Trip of 2014!

Jay and I ice-fished on Saturday,  Jan. 4, 2014, from 10am-5:30pm.

We fished a different pond than last week.  There was 8" of good solid ice
Once again, we didn't have any live bait.  Once again, it almost certainly affected our success.  Last week when we fished a pond that has decent bluegills, neither of us caught single one....we only caught crappies and bass.

This trip, I had fish under me at least 95% of the time.  They would follow my lures quite willingly.  Few would actually hit.  We moved around on the pond looking for more aggressive fish.
In the first 6.5 hours, I only caught 2 fish!!!  And they hit within just minutes of each other.
Here's my first fish of 2014, a 16.5" Largemouth Bass:

The next fish was an 11" Crappie:

Jay had a bit better success during that time than I did, but it still wasn't good, considering the time and effort spent.

Around 4:30p.m., Jay and I both moved once more, and it was like a light switch.  I caught 14 more crappies (all were maybe 8"?) and (finally) 2 bluegills in the last hour, and Jay did about that well also.  The crappies all hit in the top 5' of water, and Jay had some strike just inches below his hole!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Fishing Review

Now that 2013 is all "in the books", I've tallied up the numbers from my Fishing Log.  I use this to compare one year to the next.

2013 open water season started rather late, in my estimation.  The ice didn't start melting off the local waters until the last week of March!  I went 52 consecutive days WITHOUT fishing...between February 3rd and March 27!  It got cold early, and we actually had earlier fishable ice than in past years.  Guys I know were ice-fishing in the first week of December!  I didn't get out until the last week of December, so I went another 36 consecutive days without fishing between November 22 and December 28.

The Spring was a long and cool one.  I didn't fish a 70-degree day until April 28.  Early Summer was cool as well.  The first week of June, the daytime high's stayed in the mid-60's.  July also remained mild.  Summer temps never really got into the 80's (for more than a week) until the beginning of August!  It did get hot, and the Spring and Summer were both fairly dry.  September temps had its ups and downs, and then it cooled down quickly at the beginning of October.

With the cooler temps in the Spring, spawns were later than usual, and longer lasting.  Crappies were on nests in ponds even during and after the bluegill spawns!

Everyone noticed the Late Summer/Fall White Bass blitz on the local reservoir started a lot later than normal, and seemed to be shorter-lived.

Fishing (catching) overall seemed tougher this past year.  Also, I didn't feel I fished as much as in past years, for whatever reason.  I noticed I only fished 13 days each in June, July and August!  That is compared to 22 and 21 days, respectively, in April and May.

So... these were the general conditions I dealt with.

I caught 2,489 fish this year.  It was my 3rd best year since I started keeping track at the beginning of 2006.
Since I sometimes fish during lunch, and then again in the evening, or fish two distinctly separate bodies of water in the same day, I keep track of both fishing DAYS and fishing TRIPS.  This past year, I fished 123 days, and made 145 fishing trips.
I fished a total of 325 hours, making the average fishing trip 2.2 hours long.  That is the longest fishing trip average ever for the past, trips averaged much shorter.  That's probably because I made a lot fewer lunchtime fishing trips, and spent more time fishing on weekends/evenings.

I flyfished 120 trips (83% of the time, including ice-fishing trips), and caught 2,033 fish while flyfishing.  While neither of those numbers were my best ever, I averaged 16.9 fish/trip while flyfishing and that WAS my best ever.
Also, I caught 25 species of fish overall, 24 species while flyfishing this year...and that also was my best.
New flyrod species for me this year were Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Bigmouth Buffalo, Gizzard Shad, Hardhead Catfish (saltwater), Redfish (saltwater), and Spotted Seatrout (saltwater).  The only species of fish I caught this year that I didn't catch on flyfishing gear was a Quillback.

My best 3 months were April, May, and October, when I caught 554, 410, and 319 fish, respectively.  It was my best April ever, but no other month set a new record for me this past year.

Fish breakdowns is as follows:
Bluegills - 969
Crappies - 498
Rainbow Trout - 237
White Bass - 180
Largemouth Bass - 173
Sunfish (Pumpkinseeds, Greens, & Hybrids) - 171
Walleye - 139
Wipers - 30
Northern Pike - 28
Smallmouth Bass - 16
Common Carp - 12
Yellow Perch - 12
...and 10 or less of everything else.

I caught my 2nd biggest Channel Catfish ever on a fly at 28.5" long...but only 5 catfish total for the year, which was the worst ever.

I also caught about 1/2 the number carp on flies compared to the previous year, but I enjoyed every one of them!
Speaking of carp...My "fish of the year" was the 30.5" Grass Carp I caught on a fly.  I've caught them on flies before, but I'd been chasing them for a couple years unsuccessfully before finally catching another.  I was SO excited, and it was a great 20+minute battle.

I was also excited to catch some Pumkinseed Sunfish this year.  They are beautiful fish!

It was fun to finally have the opportunity to catch a Redfish on a fly rod.

I caught more Wipers this year than ever, and there were some real solid fish mixed in there.  No big ones by any means, but some real solid 16"-20" range fish that were great fighters on flyfishing gear. And those are good fish for around here.  I'm pretty sure I caught my biggest fly rod Wiper this year, but one day they were hitting so good, I didn't stop to measure them.  They were AT LEAST 18" long.

At 9.5", I caught my biggest fly rod Green Sunfish this year, and I also caught my biggest fly rod Largemouth Bass, at 20.25".

I had a fair number of Shortnose Gar on the line this year, but never managed to land one.  Every one of them jumped, shook its head, and threw the hook!  I'll try to get after them again in 2014, and try out some newer fly designs on them to see if I can find something that will hook them without getting thrown so easily.

Overall, it was a tough year for fishing, but it was still good.

12-28-2013--Last (Ice) Fishing Outing of 2013

Locally, ice has been thick enough for safe ice-fishing for several weeks.  I just haven't bothered to do it.  My buddy Jay and I finally fixed that when we went ice-fishing on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013.

The weather was actually really nice...the high temperature exceeded 50 degrees F on the day, which was a really nice change from the sub-zero weather we had been having.   That is Iowa for you!

Typically this pond has some nice bluegills, extremely few crappies, and a few smallish bass.  It is also notoriously difficult to find fish on it during ice season.  One day a year or two ago, Ron, Jim, Jay and I drilled at LEAST 50 holes in this pond and just couldn't find fish anywhere.  Well...Jim found a few fish in one hole.

Anyway...long story short, neither Jay nor I caught a single Bluegill, although I'm sure there were a few around.  I ended up catching 10 Crappies from 9"-11", which is absolutely uncharacteristic for this pond.  And I caught 5 bass up to 13".

Jay also caught crappies and bass, neither of us used any live bait.