Saturday, September 22, 2012

Iowa Farewell

I have not fly fished for quite some time unfortunately.  I have done recon but I have not wet a fly line in several months, probably one of the longest droughts since I began fly fishing about 10 years ago.  These pictures are from one of my last fishing outings in Iowa (if not THE last outing, can't remember).  I met my friend Dave a local Iowa pond and we found some feisty gills spawning.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Urban Creek

I fished an urban creek recently.  In most areas it was easy to forget that I was surrounded by neighborhoods, businesses, and all things urban.  In many places the stream had very high banks.  Add to this the fact that it was heavily wooded and it felt like I was fishing far from the urban sprawl.  I heard a rumor this stream held smallmouth bass and that was my target species for the trip.  I began fishing a few good looking holes under an overpass.  No big fish but I ran into a pack of hungry green sunfish and creek chubs.  All the green sunfish I caught were pint size runts but eager to hit my fly.  The chubs were easily as aggressive and had a little more size to them.  Oddly enough they reminded me of small trout, just with squashed heads.

I worked my way downstream but most good areas I wanted to fish were hard to get to.  The banks often had 6 to 8 foot vertical drops, no way to get down or up so I moved on.  I came to another bridge and was able to access the river again.  I came upon two good size carp on a flat.  They were burying their faces and lazily working the flat sucking stuff off the bottom.  I placed a few casts in front of them but did not get them to eat my fly before I spooked them.  In the pic below there is a carp with its back out of the water.

 It is the thing that looks like a rock just breaking the surface of the water.  Below the bridge there was some good looking water with a little current to it but I did not get a hit from anything, strange.  Daylight was slowly fading so I headed back toward my car.  I want to return again sometime and see what I can find.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Topwater Cats

Dave and I attempted to try our bread trick on some grass carp in a few smaller community ponds recently.  At the first stop we did not get any fish feeding on bread, or I should say any grass carp.  We caught some bluegills, and I managed to catch a nice little largemouth while we waited for the grass carp to start sucking down the bread.

They never did eat our bread.  On to pond number 2.  We breaded the surface and waited.  The some big fish started popping the surface in our slick of bread!  It really got the pulse racing.  We assumed some big grass carp were responsible for the big boils on the surface.  Something smacked Dave's fly and bend his rod over.  It got into the moss but he waded out and got his line free.  The fish was still on and it turned out to be a large channel catfish!  Not a grass carp but a really nice catch on the fly rod.

We did not know if any grass carp were in the mix creating the big boils on the bread or not.  A bit later Dave hooked up with another nice cat!  I think my fly may have been sinking a little too fast.  I think the fish were really focused on the top.  Somehow some bluegills managed to get caught on the big size 4 hook I was using on my bread fly.  No grass carp were caught but it was a fun evening out on the pond.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cyprinus Carpio

For several months my friend Dave and I have been discussing targeting common carp at a local reservoir.  These carp are accustomed to being fed bread from people on the docks.  We thought we could have success by showing up in the off hours of human traffic and throw our own bread in the water to get the carp feeding.  Then we would attempt to hook up to these carp by casting bread flies to the feeding carp and hopefully fool them into taking the fake.  Definitely not traditional fly fishing but similar to the accepted practice of the "bait-n-switch" used to catch sharks or sailfish on the fly.  We each tied up various versions of bread flies using a variety of materials.  The common element was something white that would look like a piece of bread in the water.  My favorite looking fly was made with the core material of a nylon rope.  We met in the morning and launched our watercraft into the lake and headed toward the docks of interest.  We chummed up the water with bread and nothing happened for quite some time.  Then after waiting for a bit a few carp showed up and started vigorously smacking the bread on the surface.  We both cast into the area and bam!  Fish on for me first.  While Dave was shooting video of my battle a fish slammed his bread fly as well.  Double hook up with our target species!  It was my first carp on the fly rod and I learned very quickly how hard these fish fight and how much endurance they have.  We you manage to get them "close to the boat" the battle is only half over.  And once you finally can see your leader these fish will continue to bulldog you making mini runs and trying to stay down as much as they can.  Then once they see the net they get an additional surge of energy and try everything possible to evade it.  An extremely worthy opponent!  With the help of Dave and his huge landing net I finally had my first fly rod carp in hand.

I got a few pics of my fish then proceeded to help Dave net his fish and also take a few pics.  

My rod was getting in the way so I decided to stick it between my back and the float tube.  After the commotion died and we were focused on getting back to fishing I went to grab my rod but it was nowhere to be seen.  I quickly looked at Dave thinking I may have given it to him to hold.  Nope, my rod somehow slipped off my tube and was now sitting in 30 feet of water!  Bummer!  I was a little upset but just had to laugh it off.  Luckily Dave had a backup 7 weight he let me borrow and it worked great!  We periodically would get carp coming through to feed on the bread.  It was never a big pod of frenzied carp but usually a few boiling over our bread.  Five more fish were landed between the two of us.  A few break offs occurred as well.  In one instance Dave hooked up and the fish was so strong he could not turn or slow down the fish.  It ran way under the dock and managed to get wrapped around something then broke off.  All the carp we caught ranged between 7 and 12 pounds.  I managed to catch the 12 pounder pictured below.  Overall it was an awesome time fishing for these beasts.

 Even though I was thoroughly satisfied with my first carp experience I still wanted more and we decided to return the next day.  The fishing was a lot tougher because the carp that did come through would grab a few bites of the bread then move on.  They did not stick around long at all.  I don't know if they caught onto us the previous day or not.  I managed to break off a fish or two.  Dave had a leviathan on at one point that ran super hard under his kayak and broke him off, it was a determined and strong fish.  Toward the very end of our time out a fish decided to show up and munch on the bread.  On his way out I managed to cast my fly and put it right on his nose.  He took my fly then all heck broke loose.  My reel was screaming as this fish ran back and forth.  At one point he ran straight to the bottom then came straight back up to the surface.  This was definitely the most spastic carp I had battled over the two days of fishing for them.  Finally I landed a beautiful carp over the 9 pound mark.

We did some bluegill fishing while waiting for the carp.  Dave managed to catch several really nice gills and a beautiful hybrid bluegill/green sunfish.

I managed a few bluegills as well. It was a great two days fishing that left me wanting to target carp a whole lot more often!  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mixed Bag

I headed to a small community pond with a few friends, Blake and Colin.  We caught a mixed bag of crappies, green sunfish, and bluegills.  I'll break the afternoon into three parts.  Part I:  There was an intermittent breeze that would kick up and we saw a few fish rising which were most likely eating bugs that were being blown off the trees above.  Blake started "swimming" his fly right near the surface of the water which started producing a lot of fish.  We decided to switch to some foam beetles which drew plenty of hits and fish on top.  Blake even got several crappie on his beetle pattern.  We caught quite a few crappie overall but the green sunfish ruled the first part of the day.  Colin used my vintage Fenwick FF806 glass rod and was doing just fine tallying up the fish.

Part II:  We walked down a different bank and noticed some spawning areas where the green sunfish were milling around in the shallows guarding nesting areas.  The fish were ultra aggressive and we started pulling them out one after another.  They were so aggressive I switched it up and put on a red foam popper which I caught some very nice and chunky green sunfish on.  We all added many more fish to our tally in this area, mostly green sunfish or "black perch" as Blake called them.  At one point Blake added a dropper off the beetle and three separate times landed fish on both flies at the same time!

Part III:  Colin and I continued fishing the nesting area while Blake wandered down to one of the four corners of the pond.  He called us over after a bit as he seemed to be on to something special.  He was on to something!  He was catching nice bluegills practically every cast.  There was probably a ten foot square area about 25 feet off shore where he was landing his fly.  We started targeting the area and we too started catching some nice chunky bluegills.  Blake must have found either a big stationary school or a big time nesting area because the small spot was machine like in producing bluegill after bluegill.  It was nonstop hits and/or landed fish for quite awhile.  We kept catching fish out of the area right until I had to leave.  Overall it was a killer day and we probably all landed around 50 fish each, maybe even more since we lost count early on.    Flies fished included foam beetles, panfish poppers, small clouser minnows, scuds, myakka minnows, and a variety of other weighted panfish style flies.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Crappies on Glass

A few months back I won an old Fenwick FF806 fiberglass fly rod off of ebay.  Among glass enthusiasts it is known to be a very versatile rod and a great caster.  I tried lawn casting just after it arrived in the mail but it did not feel all that great and I was a little unsure of my purchase.  I was pretty constricted though and was hitting a tree
during my back cast half the time.  Well luckily over Spring Break I had several opportunities to meet up with Dave (FishnDave) at his local crappie pond.  I was able to open the rod up a little more out on the pond and it really shined.  I paired it up with an vintage Pflueger Sal Trout click pawl reel and some sort of double taper fly line that came on the reel.  I could roll cast this rod just as far as my modern Sage graphite rod!  Needless to say I was highly impressed and thoroughly satisfied in taking my first step into vintage glass rods. The rod definitely made me slow down my casting stroke but it is fun that even small fish put a nice bend in glass.  I'll be fishing this vintage combo a lot more often this year!  The fishing was pretty good overall during the break despite some questionable fishing weather and many crappie and green sunfish were landed.  Flies fished by Dave and me included Myakka minnows, microjigs, boa yarn leeches, craft fur clousers, orange legged mohair bodied nymph (something I threw together that caught a few fish with) and some others with and without thingamabobber indicators.  

Dave braving the elements

Micro green sunfish caught on a microjig

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Back to Trouting

I headed back to the Rockies over the holidays and of course was excited to sample a few of the tail waters I had grown accustomed to over the years. In the Midwest I have made the transition to warm water fly fishing, mostly in stillwater. I love the mixed bag you find in warm water fly fishing but I was excited to see if I could dredge up a few trout out in the frozen tundra. David and I headed up to a tailwater that sits in between two reservoirs and found a beautiful looking stretch of river. We had zero hits in the first good looking hole.

We moved down to a fairly deep and uniform stretch just upstream from a small bridge and after several drifts David hooked up with a decent brown which put a nice little bend in his rod.

It was all good water but the fish didn't feel like playing all that much so we headed down to a different section of river.

I must mention I tried borrowing Jim's fly rod, but when I went to open the tube and piece the rod together there was nothing inside except a rod sock. It was not a big deal since David and I usually trade off drifts anyway at the best holes. We did just that and David made a really nice drift on his turn and something munched on his nymph and tore off downstream. We were hoping it was a big brown which are fairly common to the river but it turned out to be a Rocky Mountain bonefish (a.k.a mountain whitefish). David let me show it off to the camera.

Not fast fishing but the inversion resulted in a beautiful day once you got out of the valley.

I made sure I grabbed the right rod tube the next time we headed out. We went to one of my favorite holes that holds large numbers of fish but most are 14 inch cookie cutters. I have seen some large browns porpoise in the hole but most are middle weight and pretty scrappy. If you hit a good hatch at the hole in can be nuts with dozens of fish rising. Despite a few midges the bug activity was fairly minimal. We worked hard and nymphed up a few stubborn browns of the cookie cutter variety.

We tried heading up ice fishing the day after a big storm and we could not make it up to the reservoir because deep snow was covering the road and the plows had not cleared the way in. We should have brought our fly rods but left them at home. We still wanted to get some fishing in so we decided to hit a river with our spinning gear. We had our big white tube jigs on and started getting some good follows right off the bat. I casted into a fairly small side channel and as my jig bounced up into a shallow riffle I saw a fish in hot pursuit. He nailed it and I landed the fish. The fish probably went 13 inches and I was surprised it hit such a large jig. I have heard fish will hit large prey in comparison to their body size but this was the best real life example I had seen. I wish I had taken a picture. While on the river we used some ski style masks we got for Christmas and I had to get a picture of David looking like a river ninja.

A few days later we tried heading up ice fishing and we made it. It turned out to be a perfect afternoon. The best bite is early morning and it proved to be slow. We thought it might turn on as the sun faded in the late afternoon and we were right. There was a burst of activity as the sun started to disappear behind the mountains. In fact, I probably caught the largest trout of my life but it was too cold and my camera would not turn on. It was a beautiful Bear Lake cutthroat that was probably around 23 inches and it had some girth to it for sure. We did get a picture of one of the other fish we caught.

Before the early evening bite turned on David tried hiking up a hill in the deep snow and sledding down it. The snow was too deep so his attempt ended up being more like a belly flop. It was pretty funny. Overall it was great to get out fishing with David again back "home".