Monday, March 31, 2014

Trout Fishing at Lake Petocka - March 29, 2014

Saturday was a beautiful day, but it started out below freezing.  I arrived at the lake @ 9am, and slush was forming in my rod line guides for about the first hour.

Dale G. arrived at the lake first, and had caught 2 trout on flies by the time I arrived.  Wearing fingerless gloves, his hands were very cold!  We split and hit different parts of the lake to try and find more trout.

Of course I would be on the wrong side of the lake!  Dale found some trout about the same time that my friend Jay showed up to flyfish.  We joined Dale, and caught a few fish.  It was spotty fishing, slow but fairly steady.  I left around 1:15pm or so, but returned later in the evening to try again.  I only caught one more fish, which brought my total to 13 trout for the day.  A lot of work for few fish, it seemed, but it was a great day to be outside, and it was still fun to catch some fish.  And some were decent-sized.  The DNR stocks them at @ 12", but I caught some the measured up to 14".

Here's Jay with his first flyrod trout of the day:

And here's some of the trout I caught:

I used mostly beadhead woolly buggers...flashy gold seemed to work best for me today.  I also caught a trout on a beadchain-eye fly I tied to look like a baby sunfish...the fish in the 3rd picture was caught on that, and the fish in the last 2 pictures were caught on a fly I tie that has a marabou tail, gold mylar tubing body, and a few turns of black ostrich at the head.  They like that one!

Allen Olympic Switch Rod - Trial Run

I wasted a bunch of time on Sunday (March 30, 2014)...but when 4pm rolled around, I finally decided to visit a local pond and try to figure out how to cast with the new 12' 5wt Allen Olympic switch rod I got.

For those that don't know, a typical Single-hand fly rod is usually less than 10' long.  A Spey rod is a long fly rod, generally over 12' long, and is designed to be cast with two hands on the rod.  Spey rods make use of specialized lines to make longer casts possible with heavier flies.  They are especially popular for fishing saltwater and for fishing larger rivers for salmon and steelhead.  A Switch rod is sort of between these two types of rods.  Switch rods are usually between 10' and 12' in length, and can be cast using single-hand or two-hand techniques.  I got one with the idea of making longer casts in lakes for white bass, wipers, and trout.

So anyway, it was very windy.  And I had visited another local pond the previous day and found it to be muddied by waterfowl and with globs of decomposing organic material floating up from the bottom.  So, I didn't expect to catch much, if anything.

I arrived, rigged up the rod, and started casting.  I tried a Snake Roll cast, a Snap-T cast, a Switch Cast, and maybe one or two other 2-handed casts, as well as a single-hand Roll cast and Overhead cast.  I'm totally new to this, but I thought I was doing reasonably well.  Next, I figured I may as well try to catch something, to see how the rod feels when hooking, fighting and landing a fish.  I knew I might not catch anything at all.  But then I proceeded to have one of the best days I have EVER had at this pond!

I ended up landing at least 13 Bluegills up to 9", and 33 nice Crappies up to 13"!  What a blast!  I was very happy to discover that these fish put a very nice bend in my Switch rod!

Below is the 13" Crappie.  BEAST!  Fought like a bass!

Below is a 9" Bluegill.
What a GREAT evening!!!
I should mention that I used a 1/80th oz chartreuse microjig set about 18" below an indicator.  I tried slowly swimming some flies through the area, but didn't have any takers.  The indicator allowed a slow presentation, while the wind and waves pushed the indicator slowly along and gave a nice vertically jigging motion to the fly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Costa Rica Fishing, 3-18-2014

Got back late Thursday night from a weeklong Spring Break trip with my family.  We had a great time, saw lots of cool stuff.  We saw Howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, lots of big lizards and smaller colorful ones, geckos, big toads, coati mundi, beautiful birds and butterflies, hermit crab...

I scheduled one day for us to do some saltwater fishing.  The sights were beautiful.  Lots of islands and sea arches/caves.  We saw sea turtle, dolphins, frigate birds and brown pelicans, MANY devil rays (many jumping, many just sticking their wing tips above water)...and lots of fish.

First disclaimer: this is near the end of their dry season, and fishing really picks up starting in late May or June.  Second disclaimer: we didn't bottom fish any reefs for some reason...I kind of expected to, since they seem to have some really nice Cubera Snapper in the area...instead, we spent some time trolling and some time casting shallow running and surface plugs with heavy spinning gear.

We found baitfish along the rocky sides of a bay that had a sand beach at the back of it.  The first mate, Mauricio, started casting a saltwater Rapala.  He hooked a couple Crevalle Jacks, and my son and daughter each fought and landed one.  The fights were surprisingly long!  This worked in my favor, because the kids were both worn out and they let me land all the rest of the fish! :)

Mauricio then set me up to cast with a rod.  Heavy spinning gear, lots of work to cast the big plugs!  Every time I cast, it sounded similar to all the line coming off a gas-powered trimmer/weed whacker!  I had some good follows, before a boat came in with a couple of divers.  As soon as the divers got in the water, the jacks disappeared.

We left that bay, and cast around a nearby island, where I picked up a jack on a topwater plug.

We trolled for a few hours.  I got 3 Skipjack Tuna, and a "baby" Mahi Mahi of about 39" (my guesstimate).  I had caught the jacks and tuna before, so I was excited to catch something new!

They cleaned the Mahi for us, and we had one of the restaurants at our resort prepare it for our dinner.  HEAVENLY!!

Great trip!

Oh...and I almost forgot!  Here's a short video clip I took of a "Tuna Frenzy" we trolled through:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

First Open-Water Flyfishing Trip of 2014!!

While en return route from my family's Spring Break trip (a post or two on that will be forthcoming), my friend Dale G. sent me a text that he had fished Lake Petocka earlier that day.  It had some open water (still had a lot of ice on it, though), and that he'd caught 48 trout while flyfishing!

I had planned to check it out once I returned to Iowa, but now I KNEW it was ready for fishing!
I was excited.

So, I headed for Lake Petocka the very next day, fly rod in hand.  Long story short, I didn't do nearly as well as Dale had.   I can only speculate on the reasons.  In the first 3 hours of fishing the NW corner, I had only caught 3 trout.  I headed down along the shore, and picked up another before I ran into the NE corner of the lake.  Here I found a small concentration of fish, and fairly quickly caught 15 more trout, all on beadhead Woolly Buggers.  White ones and gold ones worked best for me this day.

Fished the entire length of the west side and didn't catch any more fish.

Here's some pics:

And next is the first video I've shot with my GoPro camera.  I'm still learning how to use it and edit videos...So hopefully they will get better as time goes on.  Anyway, you can see the ice sheet on the lake in the background.  Hopefully this works!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ice-Fishing w/ Jay, 3-8-2014

Date: 3-8-2014
Time Fished: 10:00am-5:30pm
Water Clarity: From 5" to 6.5', depending on where you were
Water temp: 14" of ice
Species Sought: Any
Fish caught:  Crappies, Bluegills, Largemouth Bass

Planned to maybe hit a few ponds/lakes, but it was fun enough to keep our attention all day.  I drilled a hole and marked a couple fish.  They would come and go....more often they would be GONE than actually present.  Jay showed up after I did.  He drilled holes in usual spots, didn't mark ANY fish.  Finally had ONE show up, and caught it...a crappie that was deep.  He eventually came over by me, and I drilled some new holes as well.  The fish would come in waves, it seemed.  Most often is was a couple fish that would come in.  Occasionally the flasher would be lit up from 3' down to 14'!  The bluegills seemed to be hanging just a bit deeper, while the crappies seemed to prefer 2'-6'.  In some holes, I could see my jig down to 6'. I would sight-fish then.  THAT was FUN!  I had a few crappies that came in just a foot below the ice!  Wish I had video of that!   After awhile, we had to hole hop to keep finding fish, because they would disappear out of some holes, but might come back later.  It wasn't a stellar day by any means, but it was the funnest, most consistent action I've had this ice season.  I didn't do a good job of tracking how many I caught, so I'm underestimating to say I caught at least 23 crappies, 18 bluegills, and 1 largemouth bass.  Lost a decent bass just under the hole.
I started out with a vertical jig / waxie.  Caught a lot of fish on that.  Later in the day, I tipped with Gulp! instead...the crappies and bass liked that every bit as much, but the bluegills hit it less frequently.