Tuesday, November 24, 2015

2015 Fishing Summary

As my friends and blog followers are probably aware, I keep an electronic Fishing Log each year.  Looking back over the years, it helps me figure out what should be biting and where...or put another way, it helps me figure out where I should be fishing and what I should be fishing for.

And it lends clarity to my memory.  If I'm unsure when a great bite was going on, I can look back at my fishing logs and find it.

And finally, with the tools available in the Excel spreadsheet format that it is in, it is a great place to include and organize my fishing pictures.

I find it fascinating to crunch the numbers and compare year-to-year results.  As this is my 10th consecutive year of keeping an electronic Fishing Log, I can see how my catches have changed over time, and what my yearly expectations (averages) should be...and how an individual year's weather patterns may affect those expectations.  I plan to have a separate blog entry regarding my 10-year results.

Although there may be some fishing left in 2015, the Holidays season tends to be a busy one with family, and short daylight hours and cold weather reduce my fishing opportunities during this time of year.  So, I'm going to blog my 2015 fishing results up to this point (11-24-2015) below.

I fished 135 days in 2015, and made 167 fishing trips (if I fished during my lunch hour, then fished again after dinner, I consider those as separate trips...similarly, if I fish Lake X, and then go fish River Z, etc.).

I fished for a total of 328.75 hours, and caught 2,409 fish.  That works out to a yearly average of 17.8 fish/day(fished) or 14.4 fish/trip...or 1 fish every 8.2 minutes.

I flyfish most of the time.  I made 157 flyfishing trips and 6 icefishing trips, and used spinning gear on 4 trips.  I caught 2,191 fish while flyfishing, and caught 21 species while flyfishing (and 23 species overall).

I fished with 13 different people over the course of the year, and fished 32 separate bodies of water.

My best 3 months were (in order) October, March and April.

As far as the top species, I caught 1,111 Bluegills, 421 Crappies, 349 Largemouth Bass, 186 Rainbow Trout, 97 Hybrid Sunfish, and 80 Smallmouth Bass.

I caught the Iowa Trout Grand Slam (Brown, Rainbow & Brook in the same day) 3 times, on 3 different streams.

I caught pretty good numbers of bass in the 13"+ sizes, including 10 that were 18"+.  The biggest was 21.75", which I managed to catch twice.

It was my 2nd best year (in terms of numbers) for Largemouth Bass, and best year for Smallmouth Bass, Rock Bass, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Creek Chubs, Striped Shiners and Redear Sunfish.

It was by far my worst year for Wipers, White Bass, Walleyes, Common Carp and Channel Catfish.

I love catching new species on my fly rod.  This year I was able to add 5 new species on my fly rod list, including Creek Chubs, Striped Shiners, Rock Bass, White Sucker and Golden Redhorse.  These additions bring my Fly Rod Species total to 40 (33 in Iowa).

In addition to those new species, I caught new "Fly Rod Personal Bests" for Largemouth Bass (21.75"), Bluegill (10"), Hybrid Sunfish (10"), Grass Carp (41.5"), Brown Trout (17.25"), and Pumpkinseed Sunfish (9").

My "Fish of the Year Award" goes to the big Grass Carp (41.5", ~ 35.5 lbs), that hit a fly and I landed with a 5wt rod with 8lb test tippet.  That was SO AWESOME!
"Most Beautiful Fish Award" is a tie (cuz I love 'em both!)....Pumpkinseed Sunfish and Brook Trout:

Runner Up goes to this beautiful Bull Bluegill in spawning colors:

"Most Unexpected Fish Award" goes to some Redear Sunfish I found in a pond in town.  I've been fishing ponds here for 14 years, and this was the first time I've ever found Redears.
Runner-up in that category was for a couple of Northern Pike I discovered in a trout stream.
"Craziest Catch Award" goes to the Cliff Swallow I managed to lasso out of the air during a backcast.
"Best Sunset" was a very competive category.  I'm gonna go with this one:
All in all...its been a pretty darn good year!  :)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Flyfishing Report, 10-31-2015

Saturday was cloudy, cold (40'sF), breezy, and damp (it had rained earlier in the morning or overnight).
I flyfished a local public pond.  I had fished it earlier in the year and caught some decent crappies, but in the half-dozen trips since April, I had only caught a grand total of 6 more crappies.  I was worried about the population, and also concerned about all the algae and weeds that had rimmed the pond all summer.

The algae and weeds have mostly died off now, but may decompose over the winter, robbing the water of precious oxygen and possibly causing a winterkill.  I hope my fears do not come to fruition.

The migratory geese and ducks have stirred up the sediment in the pond, reducing the water clarity significantly.

The rest of the story is good news.  I found plenty of crappies and bluegills, and they are in GREAT SHAPE right now....all very chunky and healthy!  I caught one 13" bass, and my "pet" bass...the 20-incher I caught 3 times last year...showed up.  She hung out right in front of me for quite awhile.  Because of the mud stirred up by the waterfowl, I could only see her when she was very shallow, right in front of me.  She gave chase to a nice bluegill I had hooked, but she didn't catch it.  I released a crappie back into the water, and as it swam towards deeper water, she appeared and gulped in the front 1/2 of the crappie, then turned and swam off with it still in her mouth.  Pretty cool!

Pretty much all the fish hit a chartreuse 1/80th oz microjig suspended @ 18" beneath a Fish Pimp strike indicator.

And the pictures:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Iowa Urban Trout, Fall 2015

The Iowa DNR seasonally stocks trout in (currently) 17 lakes scattered across Iowa each early Spring and Fall.  The idea is to provide a put-and-take trout fishery in parts of the state where anglers might not otherwise have an opportunity to catch trout close to home.  Increased trout license sales pretty much pays for this program, which is really awesome!

There is no comparison or replacement to fishing NE Iowa's Driftless Region coldwater streams for trout.  But I do enjoy flyfishing these lakes for trout as well, and this situation poses its own unique set of challenges.

Finding the fish is always the most important key to a successful outing.  The saying "90% of the fish are in 10% of the water" seems to hold true.  Once found, you gotta present them a fly they will try to eat.

The best fly seems to change over time.  Trout have teeth and will shred a fly over time, so easy-to-tie patterns get my vote.  Year after year Woolly Buggers in various colors have caught more of these freshly-stocked trout than anything else.  #10-#8 Woolly Buggers seem the perfect size.  Depending on the depth the fish are feeding in, I tie some unweighted, some with glass beadheads, and some with brass and tungsten beadheads.  Best colors often include Gold, "Chili Pepper"(copper-colored), black, white, brown and olive.  The gold and copper ones are flashier, and seem to get the most attention from the fish.

I flyfished one of the Urban Trout lakes 3 days so far this season, and caught 34, 39, and 64 trout, respectively.  Weather conditions covered the spectrum from "good", to "super-windy", to "rain".  You never know what you'll get, you just gotta keep fishing!

Monday, October 5, 2015

October Bass in Iowa

I have no explanation for it, but many of my local fish in Central Iowa seemed to have a serious case of lockjaw during the month of September.  Fishing was great, but catching was TOUGH!

With the start of October, the fish seem to have gotten over whatever issue they had with holding up their end of the flyfishing game.  Perhaps they are satisfied with their contract negotiations?  I've been reading too many sports articles lately, I think.

Anyway, I went flyfishing Sunday morning, October 4, 2015.  It was cloudy, with a slight breeze that would occasionally die down to practically nothing.  Air temperature was chilly....started off around 40 degrees F, and rose to maybe into the upper 50's before I left.  I wore a hoodie over a longsleeve tee, and long underwear under my jeans.  Only my hands got a bit chilled, especially after getting wet.

Fishing was good!  As usual, I was hoping to spot a Grass Carp, but never saw one.  I caught a full size range of bass... from a trio of 3.5-inchers to a pair of 18-inchers.  Lost one good one after numerous jumps near shore.  Also had one break my line near the knot as lifted it from the water, and it fell back in and swam off, blockhead popper still sticking out of its mouth ahead of its nose.  I hate to see fish swim off with my fly still in them....I expected this fish to wear this foam jewelry for awhile, but just a few minutes later the popper floated back to the surface and I was actually able to make a series of, need I say, amazing casts....and retrieved the popper for future use. :)

Here's pictures of the two 18" bass:

Typically at this pond, a fishing trip might yield 0-2 Pumpkinseed Sunfish.  They seem to have an affinity for the color Chartreuse! I love catching them because they fight well and are absolutely beautiful I was pleased to catch 5 of them on this trip.  The biggest measured a hair over 8.5".  These two were practically twins:
Finally..a great day for CATCHING!  :)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Iowa Smallmouth Bass, 9-26-2015

I headed up to wade and flyfish a river for Smallmouth Bass on Saturday morning.  Fished from @ 8:30- noon.

The water in the river has been high to very high most of the summer.  The water level has been falling, but it was still a bit high and fast and not very clear.  The high water all summer seems to have scoured the river deeper, and there are lots more trees in the river, including some biggies that have fallen off the bank and nearly blocked the entire width of the river!

Wading in the deeper water wasn’t much fun, and the whole experience seemed a lot more like WORK than enjoyment.  But I really wanted to make one more trip up there this year, and this was my opportunity.  I saw 8 Wild Turkeys fly over the river, which was pretty cool.

I caught 8 Smallies, 2 Creek Chubs, and 1 Striped Shiner.

I waded out into the river in one spot, went up over my navel, and decided to back up before I went even deeper.  I walked back up onto the sandy tributary creek delta I’d just walked out on (had maybe 4” of water flowing over it), and the surface sand gave way and I went thigh deep into the sand, which instantly locked up solid around my leg and ankle.  It was weird.  My other foot was calf-deep in it.   At least when my deeper foot went down, it seemed to stop at a fairly solid subsurface.  Wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get out of that mess, but I wasn’t in a hurry.  Somehow I even managed to get out and still keep my shoes on!

I waded down to the next tributary creek, and saw another fly angler wading just downstream of me.  I saw him catch a decent smallie, so figured he knew what he was doing.   I got out and left.