Monday, August 29, 2016

Five Ponds and Some Dinky Fish; One River and a Personal Best

So the five ponds I fished today all do have some decent fish, even some large fish, but I didn't encounter any of those today so let's just do a quick overview.

Pond 1: One small bluegill on the Chernobyl Ant.

Pond 2: On tiny bluegill, lots of small shad like fish seen. Potentially good kayak pond.

Pond 3: One small bass, one average bluegill.

Pond 4: A few more gills, one small bass. Very little space so I had to strip set with a dry fly... not so good.

Pond 5: Better bluegills, but it was very difficult to get them through the 4 ft. margin of super thick lily pads.

And finally the river. And of course, the one fish I caught all day that was worth taking a photo of was the one I dropped in the water: an honest to God 14 inch yellow perch. There were some large catfish there. I need to hit this spot at night!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Best Bass Trip This Year

There are some fish I will never get tired of catching, and though my days of spinner baits and pitching drop shots are long gone (and permanently gone I might add) I will still take a big bucket mouth any day of the week. And when I lost a big one last night I took it as a personal challenge and went back this morning for revenge. And though many will say that the fly is far from the best way to catch big bass I beg to differ!

I got the yak in the pond early. It was already pretty darn warm at 5:40 this morning so I decided to go with surface bugs exclusively. Though the biggest bass I saw all day took and subsequently shook off a large chartreuse and orange plopper a black and purple plopper, size 2, was really all that was needed and I think the 23 inch fish that got away would probably have stayed attached to that smaller hook.

I started out with the wrong kind of bass:

Then I caught a few of the right kind of bass, but they were not the right size:

Then, as I got to the upper end of the pond, I saw what I was looking for come up behind my fly. I gave the plopper a twitch and the bass ate it with a classic head out of the water gulp. After a spirited battle (smallmouth may fight harder but largemouth are no slouch!) I lipped the first of a good brace of bass. 

The next bass was the only one I landed on  any color other than black and purple. Hungry! He may not be that big but he wanted a bigger fly than the others.

Pay close attention to this next photo, cause I'm about to drop some bass wisdom on y'all. You should be able to see some structure in the water. In this spot there's a rocky point, I'm guessing it was actually a rock wall made by a mill that was here before the pond was dammed up. It is about 20 feet across, though it widens and deepens as it stretches out into the 3 foot deep flat. on the near side of is is nothing but mud. On the far side is mud and then some rocks, stumps, and lots of pads. I fish that water quickly this time of year because it only has small fish. The top of the point is no deeper than a foot, in fact in most places it is even shallower. If you were to fish it with a subsurface lure or fly you would hang up constantly and get tons of gunk on the hook. It has to be fished with a topwater bug. Now the question many would ask is, why fish the super shallow water, and why aren't there big fish in the pads and the deeper water. 

Simple. This time of year the everything that was spawned and hatched out in the spring has reached a few centimeters in length. There are millions of tiny bass, crappie, and sunfish swimming all over the place. These yearling fish need to take a few things into consideration if they are going to survive. They need cover. In open deep water they are easy targets from bellow. In the very shallow water at the margins they are at risk from above and cornered by the shoreline itself. In the shallow lilies which at this time of year are very sparse, they aren't protected well enough. There were two places holding large quantities of juvenile game fish today. Thick lily mats that were isolated in deep open water and that rocky, weedy point. That point provides some cover, is shallow enough that they feel safe from being attacked from below, and there is escape into deep water if the circumstances require it. This point, though it is extremely shallow, is also the only place where a predator fish stands a good chance at filling up on bait fish. Three of the four largest bass I caught today and many of the small ones were in about 8 inches of water on that rocky point. The predators will always be where there is food. 

This is what I can catch on a fly in 8 inches of water, this one fought like it was ten pounds!

Bass thumb achieved

And after a few dinks and a half hour brake I went back to the point and another great fish trashed the plopper.

Four or five more fish, none very large, and I was ready to head. Hopefully I will be able to get the kayak out to some other ponds because the largemouth bite is only going to be this good for a little while longer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A pretty epic show as already in progress when Dan and I got down to the beach last night. stripers and blues were already chewing up silversides and the gannets were there in force. It was an awesome sight and one that always makes an inshore fly fisherman exited. Needless to say we rushed to get geared up and into the water.

The blitzes were some of the best I've ever been able to actually fish, but as is always the case with a sand flat blitz they moved around. Fortunately there were sea robins around to make the brakes between the bite worth while. The first one I caught really doesn't count as I literally hand lined it. It was screwing around by my feet and I dropped the clouser on it and jigged it around with my left hand and when he ate I punched. Pretty  cool. And when we hooked a robin incidentally it usually had buddies follow it in. At one point I was unhooking a robin and I watched one of his two buddies swim off behind me. I told Dan to but a cast there and sure enough he hooked up. But the thing with that first one I caught? I couldn't get it off soon enough because right as I put the camera away a blitz started right in front of us!

It was awesome to have blues and a decent amount of stripers just chewin away right in front of us. The best part was we would hook into a couple of fish every time the blitz was near us, where as the spin casters a little ways down the shore caught maybe two fish while we were there. We usually doubled up too. 

So I caught nothing but blues and sea robins at that spot, but right at the end Dan nailed a little schoolie. When the action died completely we moved to another hot spot, where there were lots of adult bunker and a few better stripers popping. I got a few blow ups on a bunker pattern but did not connect. Dan on the other hand did, with the best fish of the evening!

Every time I go I get more impressed. I just can't wait to go back!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Better Flows and Sea Run Brown Trout

We got a healthy rain storm last night, which though it did bring the stream flows up also brought the water temperature up by about 10 degrees... not good. I checked my home river and although it's flow was perfect the temperature was a balmy 75. Not good for fishing. It is perfectly normal for a big storm to bring up the water temps like that, in 2014 I recorded the temperature of my home river at 82 the day after a heavy rain storm and the next day it was already down to 64. So instead of looking for wild browns and brookies there I decided to go hunting for some Iijoki strain sea run browns on a very different and much colder stream.

I fished streamers and nymphs on the swing as has proven successful for fooling sea run trout many times before. Today the creek chubs and shiners seemed determined to give me a hard time as for two hours that is all I caught.

Eventually in a nice pool I got a couple of grabs with a black leech. When the fish was rested but wouldn't come back I changed to an Ausable ugly which was promptly taken by my biggest Iijoki so far. If you want to determine whether the fish you have caught is an Iijoki, look at the pectoral fins. Inland fisheries has made identifying these fish easy by clipping one of there ventral fins.

I said goodbeye to the Iijoki and continued on my way. I got a few more takes and a largemouth bass before calling it quits.