Tuesday, April 30, 2019

First Month of Open Water, 2019

Ice melted off the local ponds here in central Iowa on March 23rd 2019.
Fishing started off on fire almost immediately!
I'd just gotten back from a family Spring Break trip to Jamaica...and within an hour or so I was out flyfishing.
First pond I visited, I caught some bluegills, tried for bass with little success.  Spotted a large catfish in the shallows that I thought might be the Flathead Catfish I'd seen in the pond the previous year.  I want to catch a Flathead on a flyrod!   So, I dropped the bass fly around its head, hoping to induce a reaction strike by providing an easy meal....But it wasn't going for it.  Instead, I only ended up foul-hooking it.  Bummer.  It doesn't count, and of course it was released...but what a beautiful fish! 29" long...Weight estimate from an online table is 11.9 lbs.

Within the first few weeks after ice-out, I was catching some nice bass on a variety of GameChanger fly patterns.
 Here's some of the better bass:
This one measured 20.75":

This one measured 20":

This one measured 19.5":

These two measured 18" each:

Not bad for a guy chucking flies, right?  Also caught good numbers of bass in the 15"-17" range.

In addition to the bass, some good crappies were caught....not jumbos, but plenty in the 11"-13" range.

Also got a few Common Carp.  Two (28" and 21.5") hit microjigs under indicators while I was fishing for crappies:

And a beefy 26.5-incher on a Hybrid Carp Fly variant:

I've also caught some nice (naturally occurring) Hybrid Sunfish, Bluegills, and even a couple Pumpkinseed Sunfish and a Green Sunfish.
Pumpkinseed Sunfish


Hybrid Sunfish

Hybrid Sunfish

Green Sunfish
I've had such good results flyfishing variants of Blane Chockletts GameChanger fly pattern, that I keep tying up more.
The feather ones have excellent action.  For mini versions down to 2.5", Palmer Chenille bodies have produced well.

I've tied up more Hybrid Carp Fly variants....I realized these look like birthday cake candles...

Hopefully the fishing will continue to improve throughout the Spring months here.  As of the last full week of April, crappies are already guarding nesting areas, and bass have started to guard nesting areas as well.
Oh...and I have caught a few bass on topwater already this year:

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Early 2019 Icefishing Season

Ice season is over.  It was a short one.  My last open-water flyfishing outing was November 24, 2018.  After that, we had ice, but it wasn't good safe ice thick enough to fish on.  Consequently, there was no fishing in December 2018 at all, and then the icefishing locally finally got underway on January 20.

My buddy Jay measured 17" of ice on March 2nd, and 20" of ice on March 8.  My last icefishing outing for this season was March 10.  Then we got some rain, I went on Spring Break, and when I got back on March 23, the ice was gone from most of the local ponds.

Caught some nice fish, especially bass.  I gotta give HUGE credit to Jay Ohm, who out-bassed me by a HUGE margin all winter long.  The funny thing is...we were usually fishing not far from each other, and also using the same lures/bait.  Different colors, maybe.  One other difference was he was using a stiffer ice rod, while mine had a very sensitive tip for detecting light bites from panfish.  What we think was the difference is that Jay would drop his spoon down and pound the bottom a few times, then raise it up a few feet.  He couldn't detect light bites very well with this rod, so he usually moved his lure away from fish when they showed up on his ice flasher, forcing the fish to hit more aggressively.  Bass would come in and HAMMER it.  My success improved when I tried to mimic his technique, but I still didn't catch as many as Jay.  He was fully charged with BASS MOJO!!  :)

We also hit one pond twice during the icefishing season to target catfish.  I didn't use special bait or lures....just used the same thing I was using for crappies, bass & bluegills.  Basically, it was just fishing a pond that had a good catfish population.  They aren't real big, but it was still fun.  The first time we tried it, I caught something like 6 catfish (plus other fish), with the biggest being 24" long.  Pretty fun! The next time we tried it, I only caught one smaller catfish (plus other fish).

Here's some pictures from the season:
Jay with a good ice bass.

This was the biggest catfish of the season at 24" long.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish are so beautiful!  Even during the winter!

Occasionally I think Jay would let a bass swim on by so I could try to catch one. ;o)

This is a beautiful fish:

I'm trying, and failing, to keep up with Jay's bass productivity.

One of these many bass (maybe this one below?) was Jay's biggest bass in years, he said.  I think it was just under 20".... like 19.75".

Yeah.  See what I mean?  The bass were going crazy for whatever it was Jay was doing differently.
My biggest bass of the winter season was this 20" fish:

Big Hybrid Sunfish:

So, it was a very short icefishing season this time around, but we got out a few times and caught some good fish.  That's what we hope for when riding out Iowa winters!