Thursday, December 26, 2019

2019 Iowa Flyfishing Summary

Another year of flyfishing has wrapped up.  It was a good year!  Here's the overview and highlights:
I caught 22 species on flies this year.  They are:
Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Rock Bass, Bluegill, Hybrid Sunfish, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Green Sunfish, Redear Sunfish, Black Crappie, White Crappie, White Bass, Channel Catfish, Black Bullhead, Common Carp (and Mirror Carp!), Bigmouth Buffalo, Smallmouth Buffalo, White Sucker, Creek Chub, Hornyhead Chub, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, and Rainbow Trout.

13 of these species were from Ankeny public ponds!

18" Fish
I've arbitrarily chosen 18" as the length of fish that I keep track of.  I mainly keep track for data to provide to folks who might think flyfishing is only for small fish.  (In my own opinion, 18" is a satisfying-size fish of many species, while also being challenging in that it pretty much discounts all panfish species such as bluegills, redears and crappies.  Crappies can exceed 18", but that size is pretty uncommon.  I've never heard of an 18" bluegill...but can you imagine if they grew that big??)

Anyway....I caught 60 fish on flies that were 18" or longer (plus some more while icefishing), a combination of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, carp, catfish, brown trout, bigmouth buffalo and smallmouth buffalo.

Master Angler-sized fish
I caught 10 MA-sized (20"minimum) Largemouth Bass on flies (plus another one while icefishing), 1 Bluegill (10" min.), 1 Carp (32" min.), and 1 Brown Trout (18" min.).

I caught fewer carp this year, only 10.... but one of those was my Personal Best at 35" long, 22.5" girth, and calculated weight of 22 lbs.

I caught far fewer catfish this year...only landed 3 Channel Catfish on flies this year, plus 3 Black Bullheads.

Here's the big story.  2019 was by far my best year of 18"+ bass on flies.  I caught 43 (plus 2 more while icefishing)!  These were caught from 10 separate bodies of water, which is a very positive sign of the future of the local fishing.  10 of these bass were 20" or bigger (plus another one while icefishing).  These 20"+ bass came from 4 different bodies of water, another good sign, as opposed to being from just one or two ponds.  6 of the 20"+ bass were caught between Oct. 3-Nov. 9.  Unexpectedly, two 20" bass were caught in July.  The monthly breakdown of 18"+ bass looked like this:
February-2 (icefishing)

I carry way too many flies with me...I don't USE that many!

Here's what those 18"+ bass were caught on, and how many were caught on that style of fly:
Gamechangers(and all variants): 17
Howitzer Head Popper: 11
Microjig: 7
Blockhead Popper: 6
Foamhead swimmer: 1
Woolly Bugger variant: 1

So...carry Gamechangers, Microjigs, and some good big Poppers....and you'll be set.  And the Microjigs only came into play starting in the month of October.  So, the rest of the year is Gamechangers and Poppers.  There it is....the secret of my success!

Jay and I made 3 trips to NE Iowa streams this year.  This added 7 or 8 species to this year's list.  I don't think I can remember all the streams we I'm not going to try to list them.  Despite the weather (very hot, very cold, rain), it is always fun and the surroundings are beautiful.

All fish were C&R'd.
I'm very thankful for all the nice fish caught this year.  I hope your year of fishing was as enjoyable, and your 2020 is even better!

December 2019

No big fish were caught, but when the ponds weren't ice-covered, the crappies and a few bass were still willing to strike.  The best tactic was  a microjig under an indicator (flyfishing, of course).

Sometimes a Micro Gamechanger worked well also, which was surprising considering how cold the water was.
These Micro Gamechangers are @ 2" long.

November 2019

The ice on the local public ponds kind of formed, then melted, then reformed, and remelted....had to keep watch on the ponds to find the days when the ice melted and the ponds could be fished.

I won a fiberglass fly rod, and gave it a try.  Caught a couple bluegills and a bunch of crappies at one pond:
At another pond, bass fishing was very good.
Here's a pair of 20" bass, caught on consecutive casts!
More crappies:

The following 3 bass were all caught on a single afternoon, and measured 18", 18.5", and 20.5":
I didn't catch any more big bass after November 11...after that date...when the ice conditions allowed flyfishing, the biggest were only 16"-16.5" or less.

October 2019

Flyfishing has remained very productive here in central Iowa.
20" Largemouth Bass on a Gamechanger (fly):
Pumpkinseed Sunfish:


20.5" Largemouth Bass:

Caught my biggest bluegill ever.  10.5" on the left (and a 9.5" fish on the right):

Tied and tried a Micro Gamechanger (fly).  Measures @ 2" long.  Caught crappies and a HUGE SURPRISE 13.25" White Bass!

Towards the latter part of the month, my buddy Jay and I made a 3-day visit to NE Iowa trout streams.
We caught naturally reproducing Brook Trout:

Naturally reproducing Brown Trout:

And some good-looking Rainbow Trout:

Then back to central Iowa, where I caught some crappies:

And my biggest Largemouth Bass of the year, 21" long, on October 27th:

September 2019

Still flyfishing.
Caught my Personal Best Common Carp (ever) on a fly... 35" long, 22.5" girth...calculated weight of 22 lbs:
9" Pumpkinseed Sunfish Hybrid:

Caught some river Smallmouth Bass:

18.5" Largemouth Bass on a Blockhead Popper:

Green Sunfish.  One has purple on it opercle, while another has red:

July- August, 2019

The flyfishing continued thru the summer months in central Iowa.
27" Common Carp:
20" Channel Catfish:
Bass....many on topwater!
24.5", 7 lb Smallmouth Buffalo:
Nice bluegills were caught:

My buddy Jay and I made another trip to NE Iowa.  Jay caught his biggest trout ever, and beautiful 21" Brown:
And I caught my biggest fly rod trout, a 19" Brown:
And a white sucker:

You never know what you might see or find in NE Iowa.

Back in central Iowa, caught this 20" bass on a Howitzer Popper (fly):

Green Sunfish:
Caught some nice Smallmouth Bass:

This one measured 18":

This Largemouth Bass measured 20.5" and hit a Howitzer Popper:

This 19" Largemouth Bass hit a Blockhead Popper: