Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Smallmouth Bass 6/27/2017

I had planned to take this coming Thursday off work to flyfish for Smallmouth Bass.  The selected river had finally dropped into a marginally wadable level.  But with 3 consecutive days of rain in the forecast, the river is going to go back up again for who-knows-how-long.  So, I went last night after work and a quick dinner.

I'm glad I went, but the river was higher, muddier, and cooler than I would have liked for wet-wading.
First cast with a popper caught the biggest Smallmouth of the evening (14").

6 Smallies and the Green Sunfish hit the blockhead popper, with 2 additional bass hitting a chartreuse-over-yellow Clouser Deep Minnow.

Near the end of the evening, I noticed something bizarre struggling in the water as it flowed downstream past me.  I chased it down and lifted it from the water.  A bat! Cute lil' bugger....I researched it later, and believe this is an Eastern Pipistrelle (actually now known as a Tricolored Bat). I put it on shore....Hope it survives its dunking!
Eastern Pipistrelle bat aka Tricolored Bat

Mulberry Hatch, 6-26-2017

Jay and I took our kayaks and fly rods to Blue Heron Lake. I'd hoped for gar, but never really spotted any. The wind was minimal, which usually means the carp won't be in the shallows ...but fortunately for us, a few were there, as well as a few catfish.
I'd caught a couple fun, hardfighting carp (watched the first one chase down my swimming fly and eat it), and then got pushed in too close to shore...looked over the side of the kayak and could see a few smallish carp and a NICE catfish swimming between my kayak and shore. I got back out withing casting distance and anchored up. Then pulled the hook out of 2 carp (one while trying to land it next to the kayak without a net, one while trying to steer one away from the snags along the shoreline), and had 2 nice consecutive fish break my 11.8lb tippet during the hookset. I feel one might have been a big catfish. And then hooked a big fish near where I'd seen that big catfish earlier...but it took me into a snag and freed itself.
Lots of excitement with only a few fish to show for it. I settled down, took some deep zen breaths, and pressed on. Caught a small catfish...
... then a nicer one (19"), and another carp. The catfish was a heckuva bulldogged deep, and did NOT want to come to the surface at all!
Jay also caught a decent catfish...he really seemed impressed by how strong the fish was!
Action slowed there, so I moved along, looking for maybe some Orangespotted Sunfish, but caught a bunch of small bluegills and a bass instead.
Hit one more spot for carp, and managed to get a decent one...while I was fighting it, his buddy swam next to him for awhile, and came almost all the way to my kayak before finally sinking out of sight. I've seen that behavior many times...where one carp will swim along with one that is fighting on the line. With bass/white bass, they'll often do that, gulls hoping to steal the baitfish from another...but carp don't appear to be trying to steal anything...just kind of buddy-ing up and seeing what's going on. Smart? Social?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mid-June 2017

Interesting storms, great sunsets, sporadic fishing has characterized mid-June 2017 here in central Iowa.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bigmouth Buffalo on Fly

Since the water was relatively calm upon arrival, I planned to try for bass with a topwater fly. But it was quickly obvious there were some Grass Carp working near shore around me. So, I started trying for them. Its amazing how such large fish can be invisible even in shallow water...and I'm wearing polarized sunglasses! But there were big swirls, and even an occasional fin sticking above the water. I had a grassie give my fly a good look-over, but didn't eat it. I was deep in concentration trying to spot where the grass carp might be as they moved around.

And then...PLOP!  A lure landed practically right in front of me. I looked over my shoulder and saw a guy who had just cast his lure right next to me. I didn't recognize him at first, so I resumed my fishing. He said hello, and then I realized he was an angler I have talked to (along with his friend) a few times out here. We started talking, he made another cast, reeled in, and then 2-3 GIANT Grass Carp just 15' from my rod tip exploded towards deeper water, right from where his lure was dragging through.

"There go my Grass Carp!" I said.
"You were fishing for those?" he asked.

Maybe it was guilt, but he then shared some "hot bite" information about one of the other nearby ponds. And then fished his way on around the pond.

I stayed put. I saw the tail of a fish in the water in front of me. It was moving around as the fish fed, but stayed close to the same spot. It was a smaller tail than I would have expected to see from a Grass Carp of the size that are in this pond, and darker. Since it appeared to be feeding on the bottom, I assumed it was a Smallmouth Buffalo. I put on a fly that has been catching carp and catfish for me lately (basically a cross between a John Montana's Hybrid carp fly and Chris Vargas's Black Ops fly), and I've seen Instagram pics of a guy that catches buffalo on something very similar to this. I made several casts, and finally had the fly placed about where I hoped the head of the fish would be. I let the fly drop to the bottom, waited until the line twitched, then set the hook.

YES! Turned out to be a 28" Bigmouth Buffalo, which is super-cool, considering they are typically filter feeders...but they do occasionally eat nymphs and whatever else they might find. On spinning gear it isn't unusual to snag one, or even have them eat a twister tail jig or other lure (especially in the river). I've caught a couple of these on flies in the past, and a couple other foul-hooked individuals. This one ate the fly, and it was lodged nicely in the corner of its mouth.
Bigmouth Buffalo, 28"
It was a good fight, mostly because of the size of the fish and trying to drag it in...but it did take a few good strong runs.  I got it to shore and tried to land it...had a hand around its tail and one under the belly...and it freaked and flopped out of my hands back into the water, and took off through/under the moss, throwing mud and water all over me and the new long-sleeved sun hoodie I was wearing (which seems to work pretty well, by the way).   In the process, the line was so buried in moss, weeds, and algae, I was afraid the fish would break the line or throw the hook.  I could barely even pull line back in through all that junk, and finally I had to just stop and reach out and start picking it off the line just so I could get the fish in.  Which I eventually did, as you can see.  Definitely glad I was using 2x tippet (11.9 lb test)!

By the time I decided to give up on the Grass Carp, the wind had picked up. And not just a little. It was considerable work to get reasonable distance on the bass popper I put on. I caught one smallish bass and missed several strikes before deciding to just target panfish instead.

I did catch a Pumpkinseed Sunfish on a floating fly before it got windy. Later I just went with unweighted slow-sinking flies.
I caught some Bluegills and 2-3 mid-sized bass (13"-15" range) before giving up for the evening.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Catfish (on Flies) for Lunch

During my lunch hour today, I went to the carp pond hoping to flyfish for....more carp.  Saw mud clouds and bubbles, but can't say that I actually definitely saw a carp this time.

Had a few decent strikes that I missed...who knows what they could have been.

I caught some bluegills and Hybrid Sunfish that were near/on nests...and 3 Channel Catfish that were hiding down in (and so probably MAKING) some of the mud clouds I was probing (with the fly) for carp!

Multiple Channels Cats on flies...during lunch??  YES PLEASE!

All fish were caught on a John Montana's Hybrid Carp Fly.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Carp for Lunch

A coworker chose to go flyfishing with me during lunch on Friday, June 2, 2017.  I had some bass and panfish flies I tied the previous night that I wanted to try out to check on their "action".
For at least the 3rd time in a row, others were fishing my usual lunchtime pond, and so we went to the carp pond instead.

I'm glad we did!  I didn't get to test the flies...instead, I spotted some carp in the shallows right away.  Some were following each other and splashing in the shallows....typical spawning behavior.  Others were near shore and willing to eat a fly dropped near them.

A very good lunchtime would be catching a carp on a fly.  Catching 2 or more is really special!  I did catch 2 (must be because of my LUCKY SHIRT?), and both carp fought really well.  The first measured 25", the second measured 25.5".  The second one I hooked just to my left....and then it took off and ran straight down the opposite shoreline to my right for@ 130' before I could finally get it slowed and turned!  VERY fun!

Check out the sail fin on this one:

Both hit a pattern called a John Montana's Hybrid Carp Fly:

After the 2nd carp, the shallow area sorta cleared of fish, except for a few spawners.  I moved down the shoreline a bit, and saw a shadow in the water near shore.  I dropped the fly near it...twitched it, and thought I got a strike.  SNAPPING TURTLE!  I did manage to land the turtle AND get my fly back, so all is good.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Last Week of May 2017

We had a week or two of cooler weather in the 50's....surprisingly, the bass were hitting VERY well for the first week or so.  That aggressiveness has since tapered off considerably.
I used to catch a lot of these Green Sunfish...not as many anymore.
This Bluegill had a lot of orange on it...all the way to the tail!
Chunky carp caught during my lunch hour on a Black Ops fly:
While flyfishing mud clouds for invisible carp, I caught this catfish instead!  Actually, it was unintentionally foul-hooked...but still pretty cool.  Look how fat it is!

Crappies have been hitting right about dark, near the surface, out away from shore.
Snapping Turtle:
Next generation of lake-polluting crapping machines: