Thursday, November 29, 2018

2018 Flyfishing Review

2018 Seemed to be characterized by an early ice-off, followed by a mild and dry Spring, a hot wet summer, and a very wet and cool Fall.

I reached some goals.
-I completed 12 consecutive months of catching an 18" or bigger largemouth bass from the local city public ponds.  January and February fish were caught by icefishing, the rest by flyfishing.

-I caught 15 Largemouth Bass 18" or bigger this year, 13 while flyfishing (the other two while icefishing).
-I caught 16 Channel Catfish while flyfishing this year, 15 were 18" or bigger.
-I caught 27 Carp while flyfishing this year, 26 were 18" or bigger.
The above totals 54 fish 18" or bigger while flyfishing (yes, all artificials) this year...all from the local public ponds!

-I caught a 10th Iowa Master Angler-qualifying fish species.  That resulted in obtaining the Iowa Master Angler Gold Award.  I was the 21st person in Iowa to reach that goal, and the first to do it entirely by flyfishing.  Pretty cool.

Speaking of Master Angler fish, I caught 7 qualifying fish this year, of 3 species...including Largemouth Bass (3), Pumpkinseed Sunfish (3), and a Common Carp (1).

I caught 18 fish species while flyfishing this year.

I caught my personal best Common Carp, 33", while flyfishing.
4 of the Channel Catfish I caught on flies measured 26"-28.5".
My biggest bass of the year measured 21.5".

Pretty good year.  Some really nice fish.  Only complaint is the mid-summer thru mid-Fall rains kept the local rivers very high at a time when they are usually wadable.  So, I only managed to get in two Smallmouth Bass wading trips.  That same high water kept the local reservoir way above normal pool...I only managed to get out once to flyfish the Fall white bass run before the water level got too high.
As far as flies that worked exceptionally well for me this year:

For Largemouth Bass, Blane Chocklett's GameChangers continued to catch some nice fish for me.  Mylar chenille bodies and feathered bodies both worked really well...and I had some with as few as 1 articulation, on up to maybe 5 articulations.  They all caught fish.  The more articulations, the better they swim when retrieved steadily.  With an erratic retrieve, they all have great darting action. I love this fly design.  These flies are achingly tedious to tie (not hard, just time consuming)...its like tying a separate fly for each articulation.  But the action of these streamers in the water is outstanding.  I tied them from 2.5" to 4.5", but a fly tier could go even even smaller and almost infinitely larger.  7"-14" versions have become popular for fly anglers pursuing Muskies!

Blockhead Poppers still caught a lot of nice bass for me.  I added another popper style to my arsenal, ones that use a Howitzer popper head.  I tried a variety of body styles behind this head, and they ALL worked well and caught bass.  The head gives a really nice pop. Just a bit different sound than the blockhead poppers, and I think that helped me catch some more fish that have seen my blockheads many times already. 

Here's another surface pattern that bass really reacted well to earlier this year.  At some point I stopped using it in favor of the popping patterns, but I will definitely be tying some more of these over the winter.  My version doesn't look as good as the original I saw...I don't recall the name of the fly or who originated it.

For common carp, variations of John Montana's Hybrid Carp Fly continued to produce decent numbers of carp for me.  Especially version tied with metallic gold chenille bodies.  If these fish are as smart as I think they are, I will probably have to use some other patterns this coming year for carp, because they've seen what I used this year enough times this past year and are probably getting wise to it.

That's really about it.  I flyfished for either carp or bass most of the time this year,  and didn't target bluegills and pumpkinseeds nearly as much.  I did well on crappies early in the season in particular, and they continued to hit a chartreuse microjig under a strike indicator.

I did ok on channel catfish while flyfishing this year, but don't really feel like I ever had a good, consistent fly pattern for them.
Below are some of my better fish caught in 2018:

Mid-November 2018

The local ponds have alternated several times between freezing over and opening back up again. Fishing has been good, catching has been slow.  I caught some bass and crappies on microjig/indicator setups on my fly rod, as well as a couple bass on a GameChanger.  I'm amazed that fly still works when the water is so cold!  I last flyfished Saturday after Thanksgiving, and then on Sunday the weather turned colder again and looks to have the ponds frozen over for the remainder of this year.

That's it!  Flyfishing 2018 has come to an end.  Good year. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Early November 2018

Feeding carp were located, but I could not detect any strikes when I presented them with flies.

I tied up these on a "chartreuse whim"...a Gamechanger, and a Howitzer Popper:

In one pond, at least, bass were still hitting topwater fly patterns (bass poppers) thru the first week of fact, one day they were charging top-speed from up to 30' away to smash the fly on the 2nd pop!

Feathered Gamechangers were still working as well:

As I write this on November 14, we've had some rather cold weather in central Iowa so far this month.  This past weekend, I visited 5 ponds....2 were 100% ice-covered, 2 were 65%-75% ice-covered, and one pond was completely ice-free.  I fished the ice-free one, and one of the partially-open ponds.  I only caught fish out of the ice-free pond.  Over 25 Crappies, plus 4 bluegills and a bass in a few hours of flyfishing.