Monday, October 13, 2014

The "Almost" Trophy Bass

As something of a surprise to me, a few bass still seem willing to hit topwater flies this late in the season.

After catching a 20-inch bass the previous week (see last blog entry), I caught a couple on a blockhead popper, then had a not-really-so-big bass break off (also on a blockhead popper) while flyfishing a local pond last week one evening last week.

And then last Friday I fished a pond during lunch and hooked THE BIG ONE on a blockhead popper.  I suspect this fish may be in the 6 lb range….21-22” long.  I caught bass of 18", 18.5", and 19" in this pond on topwater flies earlier this year, and this one really looked much bigger.  Plus, I've had some experiences that suggest there IS at least one even bigger bass in this pond.  I had talked to a couple guys there earlier in the Spring that said their friend had caught a 6 pound bass there (I assume it was released), and a winter or two previous while ice-fishing, I had a big bass on that I got a pretty good look at as it swam under the clear ice and right up to the hole before shaking loose.  At the time, I was thinking "6-pounder!".  In some states, that's not a huge fish.  In is.  My biggest Iowa Bass ever is a 24", 7lb 8oz fish I'd caught on spinning gear over 20 years ago.  It was a 1/2" longer than the State Record, but weighed less.  I don't think this one was THAT big...but if my estimate is correct, this would have been my biggest on flyfishing gear.

Anyway, I survived the battle through two spectacular jumps, then the behemoth dove into the weed/moss/algae crap on the bottom and got stuck.  I spent about 15 minutes working to free the fish from all that junk, straining my rod and my tippet to just shy of their maximum.  I wasn't gaining any ground at all for the longest time,,,but then I got the fish free!!  I managed then to pull it to within 6’ of shore, paused to take up some slack, then resumed pulling the rest of the way to shore.  It had some weeds still on it, which I felt was a GOOD thing, since it helped keep the fish calm and sedated.  But…unbelievingly (is that a word?)…that’s when my line decided to break!  The fish immediately darted out of the “weed jacket” it was wearing, and swam back to deeper water.  I don’t know if it left the popper in the weeds or if it was still in its mouth.
After all that…I was SO CLOSE TO LANDING IT!  During the battle I was making constant checks of the details…..where could I land the fish, did I have a camera, tape measure, etc….

Well, I’d accidentally left my cellphone (which is all I use for a camera these days) on my desk at work.  But I still could have measured the fish, had I landed it.  And OH, I REALLY wanted to land it!  SO DARNED CLOSE!!  J

I dreamt of that fish, that scene, as I was falling asleep that night.  I've caught a pretty good number of nice bass on flies this year.  Isn't it funny how the ones that get away demand so much airtime in our memories?

Well, what's a blog post without pictures?...the only recent good ones are of colorful Pumpkinseed Sunfish.  They have absolutely nothing to do with with the title of the blog entry....but here they are anyway:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lunchtime Lunkers, 10-8-2014

I flyfished during my lunch hour today. Beautiful sunny day, very slight breeze, temperature was @ 63 degrees F.

I caught some Bluegills and a small bass on a Birds Nest nymph, and a really nice Hybrid Sunfish and an 18.5" Largemouth Bass on a blockhead popper.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pumkinseed Sunfish & Hybrid Sunfish

My buddy Jay met me out flyfishing Sunday evening.  At long last, this particular pond is pretty much free of its wide band of algae that typically clogs the entire shoreline all summer.  The geese and ducks have the shallows pretty muddied up right now.  I tried a topwater for bass, but did not get any along the stretch of shore I tried.  We fished for panfish instead, and caught plenty.  Mostly we caught Bluegills, with a few naturally-occuring Hybrid Sunfish.  I hoped for crappies, but did not catch any.  We tried a variety of fly patterns.  As long as it was chartreuse, it seemed to catch fish well.

In Iowa, the "Master Angler" qualifying size for Pumpkinseed Sunfish is 9".  We did  not catch any quite that big, but each caught Pumpkinseeds that measured 8.5", which was new personal bests for each of us. Such beautiful fish!!

I did catch one bass while fishing for the sunfish.  Most of the Hybrid Sunfish were moderate size, the 8.5-incher below was the largest, and also appears to have had a Pumpkinseed as one of the parents.
We left before it was completely dark, which unfortunately is only @ 7:15pm right now.  Too early!!!!  :)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bass on Topwater - October 2, 2014

I went flyfishing after work last night.  Weather was cloudy and windy.  The public pond I visited had a horrible 20' wide solid band of matted algae around the entire perimeter.

I really only fished one shoreline, and worked it one way with a chartreuse mylar bugger, hoping for crappies on the outside edge of the algae.  No crappies, but I did catch a couple bass a a few bluegills.

Still hoping for crappies, I worked the shoreline back to my starting point with a microjig under an indicator.  Not much action on that.

By this time, it was pretty dark, but I switched to a blockhead-style popper to try for bass.  It took me forever to actually get it on my line, because of the poor light conditions.  Within a couple casts, I caught a small bass on it.  Then I moved back down the shoreline to the next spot, and made a cast or two.  After a great strike, I had a nice fish on, and somehow managed to land it despite all the algae I had to bring it through.

It was a 20" Largemouth Bass, and one look verified that it was the same fish I had caught twice before this year on flies.  I was so happy to have caught it again....after releasing the fish, I just went home.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mixed Bag Flyfishing, 9-14-2014

I visited a local public pond on Sunday evening.  I flyfished from 5pm-8pm.  Hard to believe it is pretty much completely dark by 8pm!

There were hundreds of wild geese and ducks scattered all around the pond, and they had the shallow areas pretty well muddied up.  Deeper areas were reasonably clear, and most of the algae mats around the shoreline were gone.

I switched back and forth between a blockhead popper (trying for bass), and a chartreuse mylar bugger (unweighted, trying for everything).  I caught one decent Largemouth Bass and a 9.25" beastly Hybrid Sunfish on the blockhead popper, along with a smaller Hybrid or two, and some aggressive Bluegills.  A large bass broke my line and stole one of the blockhead poppers!
9.25" Hybrid Sunfish...inhaled the blockhead popper!
On the mylar bugger, I caught 4 Crappies, 1 nice Largemouth Bass and some smaller ones, a couple Hybrid Sunfish, and 3 beautiful Pumpkinseed Sunfish.

While I was fighting one of the Pumpkinseeds, a BIG bass attacked it right in front of me!  I tossed some flies around for it, be never saw it again....although I had some really good strikes on a blockhead popper that never got hooked up.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Topwater Bassin' Still Going Strong - September 7-8, 2014

Sunday evening, I flyfished for a bit before dark.  The bass on this trip averaged significantly smaller size than normal.  The last fish of the evening, as it got dark, was more like what I was expecting:
They all hit a yellow blockhead popper, as you can see WAY DOWN THERE:

During lunch today (Monday), I flyfished a local public pond.  I caught a couple Hybrid Sunfish on the blockhead popper:
Then a 16" (guesstimated) bass:
After losing a second decent bass, right before I headed back to work, I caught this hefty 19" bass!  This is the biggest bass I've caught from this pond, although I'm certain there are a couple of even bigger ones.
Both bass eventually dove into the thick algae beds on the bottom, and it was very difficult to drag them back into shore.  I felt lucky that my shredded line or rod didn't break!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Quick Smallmouth Bass Trip, 9-4-2014

I decided to try flyfishing for Smallmouth Bass after dinner.  By the time I drove north to the river, it was @ 6:20pm before I finally waded out into the stream.  The river was only slightly higher than my previous trip earlier this year, but seemed a bit dirtier as well, from a recent rain.  Overall, conditions were decent, though.

I knew there wasn't much time to fish.  I fished the same section I hit before, but this time I finished it in about 1.33 hours, compared to @ 4 hours when I was here a month ago.  Run-and-Gun wading!

I didn't work any area thoroughly, just hit good spots briefly, and quickly plowed through the barren stretches.

I started out with a yellow Blockhead Popper, and caught one Smallmouth Bass on it, plus missed a second, and had a 3rd shake free after a few seconds.  I switched to a large-ish chartreuse Cactus Chenille Bugger with lead eyes, and caught three Smallmouth Bass and one Hybrid Sunfish.  I was looking forward to fishing some large boulders in the last section of stream before finishing, but there was another angler I just cut up the bank and walked back to my car and left.  I did stop and ask how he'd done, and he'd caught a half dozen Smallies with spinning gear, and lost a very nice one right at his feet.  He was there when I arrived...I don't know how long he'd been fishing, but he was working that last section pretty slow and methodically.

Anyway, no big fish for me, just 2 "medium-sized" bass in the 11"-13" range, and a couple smaller ones.