Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ice Fishing in Central Iowa - December 24, 2016

After seeing the windy/rainy forecasts for Sunday and Monday, I decided to rearrange some plans in order to free up Saturday (24th) for icefishing, while the ice is still in good condition.

Visited one local pond, had 9" of good ice.  Caught a bunch o' fish....largemouth bass, bluegills, hybrid sunfish, and pumpkinseed sunfish.  First time I'd ever caught pumpkinseeds from this pond.

I tried a few different ice-lures, the most effective for this day seemed to be a Lindy Frostee Spoon tipped with a waxworm.


Hybrid Sunfish:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 Flyfishing Summary

So, yeah....brrrrrr!   I don't think I'll be going flyfishing in the next couple weeks, so its a good time to summarize this past year's open-water efforts.  I feel it was a pretty good fishing year.  I fished some new-to-me lakes and streams again this year, but as usual MOST of my fishing was at various local public ponds.
I didn't keep an electronic fishing log this year, so I don't have all the facts, totals, and statistics that I have been able to share in each of the previous 10 years.

Here's what I do know, however:
-I set 18" bass as an arbitrary minimum size to track.  I landed 11 Largemouth Bass over 18" on flies.  This was 1 more than last year.  2 qualified as Master Angler size of 20" minimum.  Of these big bass, 5 were caught on a little microjig!  Most of the other ones were caught on topwater.
-I landed 1 Smallmouth Bass over 18".  First ever that big on a fly rod for me, even though my all-tackle best is 20".  The battle was VERY impressive!
-I landed two Master Angler-sized Redear Sunfish.  Minimum size on those is 11".  Biggest one was almost right at 12", but I couldn't lay the fish flat enough in my kayak to get a better measurement, so I just called it 11.75".  Digital scale said 1.45 lbs.  Beautiful fish!
-I caught one Master Angler-sized crappie at 14.5".  It would be just an average nice fish from some of our bigger lakes/reservoirs, but its a heckuva nice crappie from our public ponds!
-I caught several 9"+ Master Angler-sized Pumpkinseed Sunfish.  Biggest measured 9.5".
-Caught at least 16 species on flies this year, all in Iowa.  Not quite as many as in some years, but not too shabby.
-Caught Flyrod Personal Bests for 4 species....Smallmouth Bass, Redear Sunfish, Black Crappie, and Pumpkinseed Sunfish.
-Hooked at least 3 (if not more) Grass Carp on flies this year.  Didn't manage to land ANY of them.

Again, I didn't keep an electronic Fishing Log, so unlike past years I don't know what my fish total for the year was, or how many days I fished.  I enjoyed it all the same, and I'm pleased with the results.
Hope you've enjoyed your fishing in 2016 as well. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 26, 2016

Weather in central Iowa recently has been unseasonably AWESOME.  Daytime highs in the low- to mid-60's (F), light winds, sunny.  The end to this great weather was in sight, so I picked the best day of the remainder of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to go flyfishing.  It was a slightly cooler (highs in the mid-50's and breezy), but still a good day for this late in the season.

I hit a couple local ponds.  The first one I drove by was hosting thousands of geese, ducks and seagulls (FYI, it always cracks up us Iowans when we see seagulls....we can't hardly get any farther from the ocean than we are!).  Waterfowl don't bother me much...they keep their distance, but they DO muddy up the water considerably by their activities along the shallow margins of the ponds.  So, I knew the pond would be pretty much ruined for fishing due to the waterfowl mud.  I proceeded to another pond.

The water was fairly clear.  Only a couple ducks around.  No fish were spotted in the shallows.  So, I set a microjig about 3' beneath an indicator and began fishing.  I'd fished nearly 1/2 way around the pond before I finally got a strike, but it was the first of many.  I ended up catching @ 15 Crappies and 6 Bluegills.  There is another pond just 20 yards from this one so I fished that one as well.  I caught some nice Bluegills to 9" in this pond, and 3 Largemouth Bass. The biggest bass measured an estimated 16".  I also briefly set the hook into something that really didn't move much, before the hook came free.  Was it a snag?  Giant bass?  Jumbo catfish? I'll never know, but it was an exciting second of a heavy weight on the end of the line!

Anyway, it was an enjoyable late-season day of flyfishing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

First Week of November, 2016

The weather in central Iowa has been unseasonably warm.  Excellent fishing conditions for this late in the year!

Largemouth Bass have been hitting poppers, shallow/suspending baitfish, and unweighted black nymph/leech patterns.



Hybrid Sunfish:


9" Pumpkinseed Sunfish:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Late October-November 1, 2016

The Iowa DNR did their Fall Urban Trout Program fish stockings in one of the nearby lakes.  I fished it 3 days.  Water in the lake was higher than normal, so the fish seemed to enjoy touring/feeding over the shallow shoreline flats, where historically it was too shallow for them to feel comfortable. Consequently, the beadhead patterns we have become accustomed to catching lots of trout on did not work nearly so well so far this season.  Small unweighted and even floating flies have been far more effective.
Some fog on the lake early in the morning:

Here's my buddy Jay with a feisty topwater trout:
I would usually fish from @8:20am-11:30am.  The fish would seem to take a nap about then, probably gearing up for a big afternoon blitz.  I would head to some local public ponds to pass the afternoon.
12.5" White Crappie:

And a decent Pumpkinseed Sunfish:

On Tuesday, November 1, I finally went fishing during lunch again.  It had been at least several weeks since my last lunch-hour outing.  It started off slow, but then picked up for the last 10 minutes.  Ended up catching @ 7 Bluegills, 3 Crappies, and 1 Largemouth Bass.  The bass measured 16", but seemed bigger.
It hit an unweighted black mylar chenille "bugger".

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Good Few Days!

I flyfished a local public pond on the evening of Saturday, October 15.  It was cloudy with occasional light drizzle, and even a rather heavy drizzle for several minutes at one point.  There was surface activity on the pond...what appeared to be mostly bluegills and/or crappies chasing baitfish....but also the occasional BIG swirl or explosion of something much bigger working the area.

I tried for bass with a topwater, but had no takers.  I switched to a microjig under an indicator.  First fish of the evening, a 9" Pumpkinseed Sunfish.

Caught a few bluegills, changed out the microjig/indicator for other bluegill patterns, and caught some more bluegills.  Not many, though.
As the cloudy sky darkened, I put the bass popper back on, and fished my way down a shoreline.  I had a couple strikes, one probably a bass, one or two that were probably bluegills or hybrid sunfish.
And then...closer to shore than I would have imagined...a big strike!  Strong fish!  Landed and measured the Largemouth Bass at 20"...VERY GOOD for this area!

My next opportunity to fish came on the following Monday evening.  I have visions of hungry aggressive Grass Carp in my mind.  I planned to go to the pond where I recently lost a big Grass Carp when the hook straightened out....but rather suddenly had the impulse to try a different pond I had not visited recently that has a good population of Grass Carp.
This nearly always has pretty good to very good water clarity, but the low angle of the sun in the evening made it nearly impossible to spot any Grass Carp.  Once again I tried for bass, but only caught a few bluegills on the big popper.  I tried for bluegills, and only caught a few, plus a crappie.  I relocated to a different area of the pond as my fishing time was rapidly ending.  I fancast a shallow area, caught another bluegill or two.  Then I had a good strike, and a nice fish on.  I couldn't tell if it was a bass or crappie, but it was fighting very well.  I landed it, and the crappie measured 14.5"!

These are all Iowa Master Angler-sized fish.  I have had entire YEARS where I caught plenty of fish, but none that qualified for Master Angler submission.  The rules state you can only enter one of each species in a given calendar year, and I had already entered a Largemouth Bass and a Pumpkinseed Sunfish this year.  I did enter this crappie, though. :)  Catching 3 Master Angler fish of different species over a span of 3 days....  Very special!  Even more so when considering I typically flyfish small heavily pressured public waters.
I hope the great fishing lasts a while longer, but the season will be changing very dramatically soon.

Fall Urban Trout stocking starts at the end of this week in my county!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fishing Update... Mid-September thru Mid-October, 2016

Temps are cooling....we've had temps as low as 33 degrees (or less...I've had FROST on my windows a couple mornings).  But some days have seen high temps into the mid 70's and even low 80's.  Fish don't seem as confused as I do....:)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ankeny Ponds Map - 2015 Edition

Here is a map to the ponds in Ankeny.  It shows which ones are public or private.  Any public pond, whether designated as a Fishing Pond or not, may be fished.

One error is Sierra Hills Pond.  It is NOT public.  It is PRIVATE and is also posted with signs for NO FISHING.  FYI.
I'm not sure if you can download this from here in a legible size or not.  No problem.  I've also posted the original PDF file here (see link below), which will enable you to view/download/print the PDF at your convenience.
Link to Ankeny Ponds Map

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Encounters with Nature, Update 9/16/2016

My original post on Encounters with Nature was fun to put together: .

Approximately 3 years later, I've got some additional encounter pics to share.  Many of these were included in blogged fishing reports here, but I wanted to compile them into their own blog entry.
Many great encounters involve wildlife, as in the original post....but some cool encounters might also involve plants, weather-related phenomenon, or sunrise/sunsets.  I've included some of those here as well.
I always figured snagging/catching a seagull was bound to happen at some point.  Seagulls will dive-bomb lures, or fly overhead when you are casting lures.  Well, one evening I was wading a shallow flat of a local reservoir, tossing a topwater lure for White Bass.  2 Seagulls had already tried to drop down on the lure and snatch it from the water.  The third one was quicker than I gave it credit for, and it managed to outwit my manuevers of "keep-away".  It caught the lure.  It really could have gone MUCH worse from that point.  But after a few wing flaps, it alighted on the water and calmly allowed me to pull it in, where I used needle-nosed pliers to grab the hook and free it from the gull's beak.  It was not in past the barb, and was not in any fleshy area.  After freeing it, it simply flew away.

Geese & Ducks:
Geese and ducks LOVE my local public ponds.  Some are so overrun by them, you can't take a step around the pond without stepping in their poo.  They muddy the pond waters horribly.  Their poo contributes an amazing amount of fertilizer to the ponds, causing algae blooms that last most of the open-water season.  Geese especially are sometimes extremely loud and obnoxious when all the angler wants is some peace and quiet.  I like 'em....and yet they are something of a nuisance in this situation.

I even hooked a duck this year that swam over my line.  It was horrible!  It was a female, and once hooked, a group of male ducks swarmed her and began doing what male ducks do to female I tried to use my line to pull her away from them.  It was several minutes of absolute mayhem....feathers flying & flapping wings everwhere!  The hook finally came loose.  I was mortified at what had just happened!

Redwing Blackbird:
These birds can be very protective if you get near their patch of cattails!  They will ruthlessly dive-bomb you, raise heck, and even hit you.  I ignored this one, but it finally got brave enough to tap my on top of my without looking up, I pointed my fly rod straight above me and made some slow circles in the air.  The rod gently bumped the bird still hovering over me, but that bump seemed to discourage it from bothering me further.  No need to be mean to the bird, right?

Cliff Swallow:
In keeping with the bird theme...I blindly "lassoed" a Cliff Swallow out of mid-air during a backcast while flyfishing.  Only the line was around the bird, the hook did not catch it.  It flew away just fine.

Other Birds:
I forget now what I determined this to be...Dowitcher?....but its the only time I've ever seen one in Iowa.  Must have been migrating through?


Deer are generally good about keeping their distance.  Its always nice to see them out and about when I'm fishing.

Of course there are the pesky, annoying bugs like mosquitos and biting flies that hang around near water.
Definitely a very personal "encounter with nature" each time.  But who wants to photograph those?
So here's some of the more interesting insects might see when enjoying the great outdoors.

Brood III of the 17-Year Cicadas:

Bald-Faced Hornets:

Cicada Killer:

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly:

Sunsets and Skies:
I'm rarely fishing before sunrise these days.  But I frequently fish beyond sunset.

I see these occasionally around the ponds.