Monday, December 4, 2017

Float-n-Fly for Late Season Bass

Here's something we can all use....whether you are using spinning/baitcasting gear or flyfishing gear:

The Float-n-Fly.

Historically for me, bass have stopped biting when the water gets cold, so I usually finish off my open-water flyfshing season targeting trout and crappies.  This year, bass held my attention later in the year than usual.  In September and October, I mainly went to using larger flies, some as big as 4-4.5", like Blayne Chocklett's Gamechanger, and my own variants of that pattern.   That works great for awhile.

But once the water dropped to 45 degrees F or less, the bass didn't seem to want to chase a bigger fly at all, no matter how slowly it was worked.  I switched to using 1/80th oz microjigs under a strike indicator first, and caught some good bass.  But I wanted a jig with a bit larger body, and a larger hook....because those little microjigs aren't really designed to hook and hold a fighting big bass.  They will hook and hold one, usually....but that small hook always worries me when a big fish is on.

I found some 1/32 oz South Bend jigheads that had a decent sized hook, and a head design that let a jig ride close to horizontal when suspended at rest.

I'd read an article that suggested using jigs SHORTER than 3" late in the year.  Most of the ones I tied were around 2" in length.

These are too heavy for my usual Fish Pimp medium-size strike indicator, so I floated one of these with a large size Fish Pimp Strike Indicator.  This rig is still somewhat heavy for a fly rod to cast....I managed it with an extra-fast 6wt Allen Azimuth fly rod overlined with an 8 wt SA Titan Taper fly line.

I was able to leave work around 2pm on Friday, December 1.  I flyfished from 2:45pm until around 5 pm....which is when it is getting dark in Central Iowa at this time of year.

Based on a very credible tip, I visited a pond I don't normally fish.  Fishing wasn't fast or particularly exciting...which is to be expected since the water temperature is so cold and....its DECEMBER in Iowa! :)
I ended up catching 5 bass and 4 crappies.  The bass were mostly pretty nice ones....with the 3 largest measuring 17.75", 18.5", and 20.5" (in that order in the picture below).

These are really nice bass for Iowa...I was THRILLED!

I may have gotten lucky(?)....I tried that pond again the following Sunday, and only managed 2 crappies an 1 bass (17").
I then went to a 2nd pond and managed to catch 4 bass there...with the biggest, again, being 17".
I went to a 3rd pond, and ended up getting skunked there.  I wasn't surprised.
This Float-n-Fly technique absolutely works on late season cold-water bass.  I'd read that folks typically fish this system in deeper 5-15' down.  I tried to fish it deeper in the deeper pats of the public ponds I was fishing....but I ended up catching all the bass closer from water @ 3' deep, with the jig set about 2' below the surface.  Experiment to see what is working for the waters you are fishing.  Give it a shot!

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