Friday, March 12, 2021

Flyfishing for Koi and Goldfish

Since I'm still pretty new here in the St. Louis area, I was researching places to fish online, and stumbled onto a little nugget of info.  I dove down the rabbit hole and found more and more supporting pieces to the puzzle.  I had to give it a try.

I enjoy flyfishing for everything.  That covers bass, trout, crappies, trout, catfish and bullheads, grass carp and common carp, gar, etc.  I appreciate was each fish offers.  So, carp are a sight-fishing challenge and they fight really well.  They are beautiful in their own right, from their golden bronze-colored scales, yellow bellies, and red/orange tails.  What could be better?

What angler hasn't looked at the colorful Koi and thought, "Wouldn't that be cool to catch some of those?"  I certainly have thought that for many years  On the extremely rare occasion I might spot a Koi in a public pond that someone probably released from an aquarium or backyard water garden, they seem pretty spooky and hard to fish for.

June-July of 2020, I fished a couple public ponds in Iowa that had some jumbo Goldfish.  11"-13.75" GOLDFISH!  Over a period of ~ 2 months, I managed to catch 18 of these big goldfish on flies.  The water was stained in both ponds, prevented any sort of sight-fishing.  It was total "blind luck" to stumble onto one.  I think the most I ever caught in one day was 3, usually it was one.  From the same ponds, I managed to also catch a couple Grass Carp, and good numbers of bullheads and channel catfish.  I think its safe to say the common belief is that you need to use bait to catch these fish consistently, but it really boosted my confidence at how often they would hit an artificial fly.

I figured I'd be able to fool a Koi on a fly.  Others have done it, I'm not the first.  So, I set off to give that a shot.  Now, its really early in the year, I really didn't know how active or visible these fish would be...I'd never been to this place before.

I used a 1/80th microjig under a strike indicator.  This had worked well for me on those Iowa Goldfish.  Suspending the fly like this means the fish wouldn't have to chase even a slow-sinking fly.  They could just swim over and casually eat it if they chose.  And the indicator would signal most of the strikes.  It would be up to me to time the hookset correctly.  I tried 3 different microjig colors (silver, chartreuse, and white), and they each caught fish.  I would say white has been my best color for Goldfish and Koi...but they certainly hit other colors.

It wasn't a fish every cast, but it was pretty steady all morning until I finally decided to give the fish a reprieve from me.  I ended up catching 13 Koi and (surprise!) 7 Goldfish in 2 hours of fishing!  It was really fun.  Getting them to strike was pretty awesome, but seeing them up close with the variety of colors and scale patterns was stellar!  If you know a little about Carp, you may know there are the common scale pattern variety, a "mirror carp" variety that has scales of different sizes and shapes that may be patchy, in lines, etc.  And then there are Leather Carp that have few or no scales.  I caught all of those varieties, with the color patterns of Koi.  Cool!

Alright...picture time.
First up....the Goldfish.  It was fun getting to see the fish and watch them attack the fly.  Some were subtle, some were pretty aggressive... swam over quickly and hit.

And the Koi:

I'm stoked!  This made my whole year!   😍

First Week of March 2021

 Late February 2021 was the coldest week or two of the entire winter.  Not just here in St. Louis, MO, but almost everywhere in the US.  Texas got hit unexpectedly hard by snow and freezing temps.  Even the big lakes in central and southern MO froze over.  Most people living near them couldn't remember that happening before. 

With that weather system finally moved on... it started to warm up rather quickly.  The ice melted off all the local urban ponds within a week or two.

Started catching fish, although the action was certainly slow.

The first trip out was a struggle.

The 2nd trip out saw things start to pick up pretty good in some spots, still slow in others.

Caught 15+ big Golden Shiners up to 11" long one day.  This size, they actually fight pretty well, they were a lot of fun!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Freshwater Species Caught on Topwater Lures/Flies

 I was on a fishing-related forum, and the conversation turned to topwaters.  Fish smashing your offering on the surface is always so exciting!  I decided to start a list of freshwater fish I've got on topwater lures or flies.  Some are species you'd expect, some you might not.

Here's my list:

1. Largemouth Bass

2. Smallmouth Bass

3. Kentucky Spotted Bass

4. White Bass

5. Hybrid Striped Bass

6. Northern Pike

7. Muskellunge

8. Walleye (!!)

(No picture, it was caught on a Pop-R at night while wading near shore at Big Creek Lake, Iowa.)

9. Channel Catfish

10. Bluegill

11. Pumpkinseed Sunfish

12. Longear Sunfish

13. Rock Bass

14. Green Sunfish

15. Hybrid Sunfish

16. Black Crappie

17. Grass Carp

18. Creek Chub

19. Hornyhead Chub

(No picture, it flipped out of my hand as I was getting ready to snap the picture with the other hand.  It hit a yellow Blockhead Popper on the Volga River, Iowa.)

20. Rainbow Trout

(This one hit that same blockhead popper!  Not your typical "dry fly" for trout!)

21. Brook Trout

.... that's all I can remember at the moment.  White Crappie might be on the list as well...I just can't verify that at the moment.