Monday, December 21, 2015

Fishing Report- November 14, 2015

This is a late report...this outing occurred over a month ago.  It turned out good enough that I wanted to include it here in the blog.

Daytime high temperatures had been in the low 50's (F).  Wind was @ 11 mph from the SSE.  I flyfished for 4.75 hours.

Hoping fish might be in the north end of the pond (which should have been the warmest area based on sunlight hitting that shoreline), and the fact that geese had taken over the shoreline around the rest of the pond, I spent my time working and reworking this portion of the pond.

I'm not going to lie.  I struggled for the first several hours.  I used a microjig under an indicator, and could hardly get any strikes.  In the NE corner of this pond, at least 3 culverts direct water into the pond, and at least one of these culverts was flowing pretty good.  I had fished here earlier in the trip with very little success, but on the second try here, I finally found some fish.  Crappies seemed stacked just out from where the one culvert was dumping water in.  They were shallow, I had to adjust my indicator to about 12"-14" above the microjig to keep it from dragging bottom.

I ended up catching 15 Crappies, which is really good for this pond.  I also caught 47 Bluegills!
I flyfished for bass for awhile, but didn't catch any.  A BIG bass did try to grab a nice bluegill I was fighting, but she missed it and didn't reappear.

Despite the really slow start to the day, the 62 fish turned into one of the top 10 best outings of the year!

Also watched a mink foraging around the shoreline and in the water.  At one point it was swimming right towards me and was maybe a dozen feet away, but it dove underwater and swam away when it noticed me digging my cell phone out of my pocket to take its picture.  I snapped a picture of it crawling back onto shore, though.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

10 Year Fishing Log Data Summary

I've kept an electronic Fishing Log for 10 consecutive years now.  I've run the numbers to get 10-year totals and averages, so see what an "average year" of fishing looks like for me.

Disclaimer:  I have an 8-to-5 office job 5 days/week.  I have a wife and 2 kids(that are 18 and 15 at the time of this writing) that I spend time with.  I help around the house, I go grocery shopping with my wife.  I drive my kids to most of their extracurricular activities (which occur on nearly every night of the week).  I'm not a guide...I don't fish for a living.  I owned a fishing boat for only the first year of this span, so nearly all of my fishing is done on foot (from shore or wading).  I just love fishing, and do it as often as I reasonably can.  Everybody has their "thing"....Fishing is mine.

Here's the analysis:

Over the course of the past 10 years:
-I fished 1,409 days, and made 1,727 fishing trips.  So, on average, I fish approximately 141 days/year.
-Fished 3,113 hours.  (311 hours/year)
-Caught 23,342 fish (2,334/year)
-Averaged 16.8 fish/day fished
-Averaged 1 fish for every 7.5 minutes of fishing.

-Least fish caught in a year = 1,846 (in 2009)
-Most fish caught in a year = 3,112 (in 2012)

Every year is different as fas as what months were most productive...but the fish totals & 10-year averages for each month look like this:

So, May has been the best month, followed by June and April.  And then the Fall fishing picks up again in October and September.

Although I had flyfished before this 10 years....I would say I started SERIOUSLY flyfishing near the beginning of this 10-year span.  During this 10 years, I caught 41 different fish species while flyfishing...34 in Iowa, and 7 others in Florida.

At the beginning, I started a yearly "Fish Species Breakdown" many of each species I caught, and what percentage of my total catch each was.  I didn't keep updating it when new species were added....typically their numbers were low, so I just threw them into the catch-all "Others" category.
The 10-year species numbers look like this:

I enjoy catching a variety of species, obviously.  Some fun highlights:
-Most trout in one year= 318 (in 2012)
-Most Crappies in one year= 808 (in 2010)
-Most Walleyes in one year= 253 (in 2009)
-Most White Bass/Wipers in one year= 466 (in 2006)
-Most Largemouth Bass in one year= 366 (in 2014)
-Most Bluegills in one year= 1,111 (in 2015)
-Most Smallmouth Bass in one year= 80 (in 2015)

Some not-so-fun observations:
-I haven't caught any Flathead Catfish since 2006.
-I didn't catch any walleyes in 2015...although I admit I never tried.
-In 2015, I only caught 2 catfish on flies, and only 1 carp on a fly.
-I caught only 22 White Bass and only 2 Wipers in 2015.

I fish local public ponds a lot, because of their proximity to my house, so catching a lot of Bluegills, Crappies, Largemouth Bass, and other sunfish is typical for me.  Perhaps a bit more unusual for a flyfisherman in Central Iowa is the trout.

Another seeming anomaly is the number of Largemouth Bass.  Most I catch as by-catch while fishing for Bluegills and Crappies.  Its only been the last couple of years that I actually started to target them with flies specifically.  Most folks would agree Bluegills are pretty easy to catch practically year-round.  Crappies are best in the Spring and Fall and Winter and seem to disappear to deeper water during the summer months.  The numbers indicate that on average over 10 years, I catch 1 Largemouth Bass for every 3.4 Bluegills.  That seems like a crazy high ratio of bass!  Another suprising ratio is the 1 Crappie for every 1.35 Bluegills.  Combined...I catch 1 Bass or Crappie for every Bluegill I catch.  I would not have guessed that to be true! about 1 Trout for every 5.6 Bluegills....what???? In Iowa????  Who'd have believed it?

I didn't separate my flyfishing data from my other fishing results for the first part of this Fishing Log process.  I did a better job of that during the past 5 years.

What I do know, is that in the past 9 years, I made 1.203 Fly-fishing trips (135/year average).
In just the past 5 years, I've caught 10,803 fish while flyfishing (2,161 fish/year)....averaged 15 fish/trip on flies, and caught an average of 18.5 different species/year on flies.

I have also kept track of my largest fish of each species caught on a flyrod since 2006.  Here's the current list of Fly Rod Personal Bests for some of the species ( I didn't include them all here):
Largemouth Bass - 21.75"
Smallmouth Bass - 17"
Bluegill - 10"
Hybrid Sunfish - 10"
Green Sunfish - 9.5"
Pumpkinseed Sunfish - 9"
Redear Sunfish - 9.5"
Crappie - 14.5"
White Bass - 16"
Wiper - 18.5"
Grass Carp - 41.5"
Common Carp - 32"
Bigmouth Buffalo - 28"
Smallmouth Buffalo - 24.5"
Shortnose Gar - 26"
Channel Catfish - 31"
Yellow Bullhead - 13"
Walleye - 19"
Yellow Perch - 10.75"
Gizzard Shad - 11"
Brown Trout - 17.25"

Its been a great 10 Years!  I don't need a Fishing Log to tell me that, but its nice to have the data to back up my thoughts.  The Fishing Log doesn't capture the essence of the fishing experience.  The wildlife, clouds, trees, flowers, rain, sunshine, sunsets...are all part of it, every bit as much as the feel of the tug on the other end of the line.  Of course, some of that can be captured in a photo and inserted into the Fishing Log too!  :)

Good fishing to all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

2015 Fishing Summary

As my friends and blog followers are probably aware, I keep an electronic Fishing Log each year.  Looking back over the years, it helps me figure out what should be biting and where...or put another way, it helps me figure out where I should be fishing and what I should be fishing for.

And it lends clarity to my memory.  If I'm unsure when a great bite was going on, I can look back at my fishing logs and find it.

And finally, with the tools available in the Excel spreadsheet format that it is in, it is a great place to include and organize my fishing pictures.

I find it fascinating to crunch the numbers and compare year-to-year results.  As this is my 10th consecutive year of keeping an electronic Fishing Log, I can see how my catches have changed over time, and what my yearly expectations (averages) should be...and how an individual year's weather patterns may affect those expectations.  I plan to have a separate blog entry regarding my 10-year results.

Although there may be some fishing left in 2015, the Holidays season tends to be a busy one with family, and short daylight hours and cold weather reduce my fishing opportunities during this time of year.  So, I'm going to blog my 2015 fishing results up to this point (11-24-2015) below.

I fished 135 days in 2015, and made 167 fishing trips (if I fished during my lunch hour, then fished again after dinner, I consider those as separate trips...similarly, if I fish Lake X, and then go fish River Z, etc.).

I fished for a total of 328.75 hours, and caught 2,409 fish.  That works out to a yearly average of 17.8 fish/day(fished) or 14.4 fish/trip...or 1 fish every 8.2 minutes.

I flyfish most of the time.  I made 157 flyfishing trips and 6 icefishing trips, and used spinning gear on 4 trips.  I caught 2,191 fish while flyfishing, and caught 21 species while flyfishing (and 23 species overall).

I fished with 13 different people over the course of the year, and fished 32 separate bodies of water.

My best 3 months were (in order) October, March and April.

As far as the top species, I caught 1,111 Bluegills, 421 Crappies, 349 Largemouth Bass, 186 Rainbow Trout, 97 Hybrid Sunfish, and 80 Smallmouth Bass.

I caught the Iowa Trout Grand Slam (Brown, Rainbow & Brook in the same day) 3 times, on 3 different streams.

I caught pretty good numbers of bass in the 13"+ sizes, including 10 that were 18"+.  The biggest was 21.75", which I managed to catch twice.

It was my 2nd best year (in terms of numbers) for Largemouth Bass, and best year for Smallmouth Bass, Rock Bass, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Creek Chubs, Striped Shiners and Redear Sunfish.

It was by far my worst year for Wipers, White Bass, Walleyes, Common Carp and Channel Catfish.

I love catching new species on my fly rod.  This year I was able to add 5 new species on my fly rod list, including Creek Chubs, Striped Shiners, Rock Bass, White Sucker and Golden Redhorse.  These additions bring my Fly Rod Species total to 40 (33 in Iowa).

In addition to those new species, I caught new "Fly Rod Personal Bests" for Largemouth Bass (21.75"), Bluegill (10"), Hybrid Sunfish (10"), Grass Carp (41.5"), Brown Trout (17.25"), and Pumpkinseed Sunfish (9").

My "Fish of the Year Award" goes to the big Grass Carp (41.5", ~ 35.5 lbs), that hit a fly and I landed with a 5wt rod with 8lb test tippet.  That was SO AWESOME!
"Most Beautiful Fish Award" is a tie (cuz I love 'em both!)....Pumpkinseed Sunfish and Brook Trout:

Runner Up goes to this beautiful Bull Bluegill in spawning colors:

"Most Unexpected Fish Award" goes to some Redear Sunfish I found in a pond in town.  I've been fishing ponds here for 14 years, and this was the first time I've ever found Redears.
Runner-up in that category was for a couple of Northern Pike I discovered in a trout stream.
"Craziest Catch Award" goes to the Cliff Swallow I managed to lasso out of the air during a backcast.
"Best Sunset" was a very competive category.  I'm gonna go with this one:
All in all...its been a pretty darn good year!  :)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Flyfishing Report, 10-31-2015

Saturday was cloudy, cold (40'sF), breezy, and damp (it had rained earlier in the morning or overnight).
I flyfished a local public pond.  I had fished it earlier in the year and caught some decent crappies, but in the half-dozen trips since April, I had only caught a grand total of 6 more crappies.  I was worried about the population, and also concerned about all the algae and weeds that had rimmed the pond all summer.

The algae and weeds have mostly died off now, but may decompose over the winter, robbing the water of precious oxygen and possibly causing a winterkill.  I hope my fears do not come to fruition.

The migratory geese and ducks have stirred up the sediment in the pond, reducing the water clarity significantly.

The rest of the story is good news.  I found plenty of crappies and bluegills, and they are in GREAT SHAPE right now....all very chunky and healthy!  I caught one 13" bass, and my "pet" bass...the 20-incher I caught 3 times last year...showed up.  She hung out right in front of me for quite awhile.  Because of the mud stirred up by the waterfowl, I could only see her when she was very shallow, right in front of me.  She gave chase to a nice bluegill I had hooked, but she didn't catch it.  I released a crappie back into the water, and as it swam towards deeper water, she appeared and gulped in the front 1/2 of the crappie, then turned and swam off with it still in her mouth.  Pretty cool!

Pretty much all the fish hit a chartreuse 1/80th oz microjig suspended @ 18" beneath a Fish Pimp strike indicator.

And the pictures:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Iowa Urban Trout, Fall 2015

The Iowa DNR seasonally stocks trout in (currently) 17 lakes scattered across Iowa each early Spring and Fall.  The idea is to provide a put-and-take trout fishery in parts of the state where anglers might not otherwise have an opportunity to catch trout close to home.  Increased trout license sales pretty much pays for this program, which is really awesome!

There is no comparison or replacement to fishing NE Iowa's Driftless Region coldwater streams for trout.  But I do enjoy flyfishing these lakes for trout as well, and this situation poses its own unique set of challenges.

Finding the fish is always the most important key to a successful outing.  The saying "90% of the fish are in 10% of the water" seems to hold true.  Once found, you gotta present them a fly they will try to eat.

The best fly seems to change over time.  Trout have teeth and will shred a fly over time, so easy-to-tie patterns get my vote.  Year after year Woolly Buggers in various colors have caught more of these freshly-stocked trout than anything else.  #10-#8 Woolly Buggers seem the perfect size.  Depending on the depth the fish are feeding in, I tie some unweighted, some with glass beadheads, and some with brass and tungsten beadheads.  Best colors often include Gold, "Chili Pepper"(copper-colored), black, white, brown and olive.  The gold and copper ones are flashier, and seem to get the most attention from the fish.

I flyfished one of the Urban Trout lakes 3 days so far this season, and caught 34, 39, and 64 trout, respectively.  Weather conditions covered the spectrum from "good", to "super-windy", to "rain".  You never know what you'll get, you just gotta keep fishing!

Monday, October 5, 2015

October Bass in Iowa

I have no explanation for it, but many of my local fish in Central Iowa seemed to have a serious case of lockjaw during the month of September.  Fishing was great, but catching was TOUGH!

With the start of October, the fish seem to have gotten over whatever issue they had with holding up their end of the flyfishing game.  Perhaps they are satisfied with their contract negotiations?  I've been reading too many sports articles lately, I think.

Anyway, I went flyfishing Sunday morning, October 4, 2015.  It was cloudy, with a slight breeze that would occasionally die down to practically nothing.  Air temperature was chilly....started off around 40 degrees F, and rose to maybe into the upper 50's before I left.  I wore a hoodie over a longsleeve tee, and long underwear under my jeans.  Only my hands got a bit chilled, especially after getting wet.

Fishing was good!  As usual, I was hoping to spot a Grass Carp, but never saw one.  I caught a full size range of bass... from a trio of 3.5-inchers to a pair of 18-inchers.  Lost one good one after numerous jumps near shore.  Also had one break my line near the knot as lifted it from the water, and it fell back in and swam off, blockhead popper still sticking out of its mouth ahead of its nose.  I hate to see fish swim off with my fly still in them....I expected this fish to wear this foam jewelry for awhile, but just a few minutes later the popper floated back to the surface and I was actually able to make a series of, need I say, amazing casts....and retrieved the popper for future use. :)

Here's pictures of the two 18" bass:

Typically at this pond, a fishing trip might yield 0-2 Pumpkinseed Sunfish.  They seem to have an affinity for the color Chartreuse! I love catching them because they fight well and are absolutely beautiful I was pleased to catch 5 of them on this trip.  The biggest measured a hair over 8.5".  These two were practically twins:
Finally..a great day for CATCHING!  :)