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- Sandy Slough Winfield MO LD 25, Dresser Island MO, and Ponds near Alton MO (all backwaters of the MS River)- 25 March 2017
- Ran a series of spots along the Mississippi River on this cloudy cool day, starting at Sandy Slough, where a few drum responded to jig and bobber, but nothing on the fly or using corn as bait, so we headed further down river to Dresser ISland. While the water was down and flowing well, no fish biting there, so we relocated again to the complex of backwaters on the Missouri side accross from Alton. As a buzzer beater we tried on last pond, after nothing on the rest, and hit gold. We found a pond with clearer water, and saddles of shallow water with stumps, that had no crappie biting, but did have a few walleye, bass, and drum. We released everything, since the walleye are setting up to spawn, as are bass, but a 3inch soft plastic jig on the spin, or a yellow marabou and fat estaz beadhead streamer on the fly, worked when fished slowly on the depth changes. We marked that spot for a revisit of course, andwill likely feature in my next book (later this year). Crappie were likely spawining in the weedy shallows and not interested in dinner.
- Kaskaskia River Below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL - 18 March 2017
- The trees are blooming, and the crappie are booming but no sauger or white bass to speak of this time, likely due to lower water. The typical jigs and flies worked, jigs under a bobber included tube jigs and paddle tails, 2inches or less, chartruese and red color. Flies included most streamers and chennelle bugs, red, yellow, or chartruese, under an indicator, worked very slowly along the rocks. If the water rises, the suager and walleye will show strong, and as the temp clims, thw white bass will show as well.
- Sandy Slough near LD 25, Winfield MO - 25 Feb 2017
- The wind was brutal and cold, but using the chennelle bug and very small streamers, good sized drum flurried off and on all afternoon. The bite is very subtle so pay attention, and the ripple of waves was enough to work the lure back to the rocks.
- Venice Beach Pier (Pacific Ocean) Venice CA - 21-23 Feb 2017
- A well known year-round shark pier near LAX (not as good as Oyster point near SFO, or Ocean beach near SAN though), see Ken Jones' Book (worth the money!). We didn't bring that kind of gear, aand didn't want a 1.5 hr drive to Belmont Shores (a good ultralight bet all year) but attempted nonetheless. The pier was nearly empty. We did catch a single jacksmelt, and had some nibbles (likely surf perch) but did see a white croaker come in, a 4 foot leopard shark, and another big shark get free under the pier. In a few months look for mackerel, and in the summer (if you can handle the crowd) pelagic sharks including white sharks (illegal to catch, should interest the surfers though), threshers, and blue sharks, and anytime of course bat rays and guitarfish.
- Sandy Slough near LD 25, Winfield MO - 18 Feb 2017
- Small flies or jigs, and patience, again lead to 1lb to 4lb freshwater drum, and a few crappie and white bass. The best fly this time was the red chennelle bug, presented under a little indicator (1-3 feet) and wind drifted to the rocks. The beadhead/estaz/florescent yellow or white size 8 streamers worked too, though not as well. On the spinning gear,a 16th oz tube jig (red/chartreuse or black chartruse, 1") 1 to 2 feet under a small bobber worked too. Remember that the water is COLD, so work flies and lures very slow (the wind is usually enough). The drum have some power even in the cold, so don't try to horse in the bigger ones. Also available are common carp, getting ready to spawn, on dough baits, and the standard bowfins etc. on worms.
- Busch Wildlife Area and Weldon Springs CA (et al.) near Weldon Springs MO- 11 Feb 2017
- While there are still pleanty of trout at the Winter Trout Program lakes (catch and keep now), we decided to capitalize on the two day warm spell to hit other species. Shallow water, especially clear shallow water with dark bottoms, can lead to nymph activity thense to fish bites for those who know how. The water is still cold, so the approach is subtile and small, with soft bites. Sunfish will come (a little) out the the structure (downed trees, submerged weeds) to nip off midge nyphs and small minnows eating the same midges, so the pick flies were both the classic 1/80th red chennelle bug, and even more effective, a sz14 bead head black thread and copper nymph, both fished 3 feet bellow a VERY SMALL indicator. The bite is very soft, so any wiggle gets a strike. Given all that, many redears and bluegill responded in the shallows of the smaller ponds and lakes. SKIP THE BIG PLASTIC BOBBERS! Small and light = fish.
For a change of pace, We again found very shallow water, this time in the sloughs. In Femme Osage Slough for example (very difficult fly rodding to be sure....) goldeyes and carp were active, and the goldeyes nailed any surface offering in yellow so the same small yellow indicator, and an unweighted sz12 bright colored bug fly 4 inches below. The indicator got hit first, followed by the fly.
Over at Winfield, Sandy Slough had slow action, with sparse furries of white bass, crappie, bowfin, and probably drum on small jigs (no pics, they flipped off first says my bro).
Get out and fish!
- Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO- 28 Jan 2017
- Still hitting the Winter Trout Lakes (which are catch and keep 01 Feb). On the fly, the rainbow trout have become more picky, though drifiting either a salmon streamer (black and olive) four feet under an indicator, or drifting a nuclear or other nymph worked. Look for the quick grab and drop and strike any wiggle.
- Baldwin Lake IL- 07 Jan 2017
- Cold weather means ice in for many lakes, but a prime opportunity to fish the powerplant lakes, this time Baldwin Lake IL. The lake was warm even on the 15 degree F day, and if a lake where catfish are commonly caught on my fly rod. The lake is also notorious for large blue catfish, are we saw one angler with a 20lbs plus beauty, caught on a green sunfish (as are most). On the fly, a glow-white 1-80th oz threadjig under an indicator caught bluegill and channel catfish, while on the spinning rod, a small tube jig red and green under a bobber worked for the same. Silversides are a key forage here for sunfish, white bass and hybrids, drum, and channel catfish. A nice drum also hit the beadhead estaz and white sz6 streamer. Warm fog hit us on one side, while snow blanketed the other, for interesting fishing. The trick here is to look for the coots, and herons, which are around the same rocks that hold fish. Most fish are just past the dropoff on the rocks, a few yards from the dam shore.
- Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO and other STL locales- 10 to 30 Dec 2016
- Sorry about the lack of posts, been very busy! Anyhow Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year. Due to oddities of weather and time, and just curiousity, we poked all over to see what was biting at many spots including the Winter Trout lakes at Busch Wildlife Area. The most consistant bite was at Busch Wildlife Area, though the bite has substantially sloped off as the fish get smarter, and the conditions change. A Size 10 olive wooly booger either under an indicator (due to very light bites) or a very slow retrieve was the prime trout fly, look for a very soft bite. We also checked out Howell Island, Sandy Slough, Dresser Island, and January-Wabash but they were either frozen over, or the fish had lock-jaw. MY bros hit Meremac Springs for catch ad release fishing too, but there were very few bites. As the cold takes hold and the lakes ice up, likely poking Baldwin Lake and Meremac Springs again. Maybe other trout lakes with fountains too, and Winfield if the river drops 3 feet or so.
- Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO- 03 Dec 2016
- Yet again hit the trout-stocked lakes at Busch Wildlife Area.
As per usual, some lakes are productive, some are not. Clear lakes with good vegitation and wind lead to feeding fish of many types, including the stocker rainbow trout, and the resident bluegill, redear, bass, and crappie. Bored of the trout lakes? Most other lakes are empty of anglers, but still have biting fish. Slow presentations of nymphs and wooly boogers work for the resident fish, the trout hit the same, especially egg patterns in orange colors fished deep under an indicator on long casts.
Use as small of an indicator/bobber as you can, because all the bites were very soft.
Wooly boogers should be olive or black, bead headed, and size 10 or smaller with a very slow retrieve.
- Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO,Missouri River at Howell Island, Chesterfield MO, and Lake at Fountain lakes Park, St. Peters, MO, 19 to 28 Nov 2016
- Again hit the trout-stocked lakes at Busch Wildlife Area. Bite has moved to a slow afternoon bite, on glowball and chennelle bug egg pattern flies, with some fish on micro marabou jigs. Rainbow trout are focused now on points at times of wind, and over trees in corners in low wind times. Be ready in case a largemouth bass (to 3lbs) takes an interest in the fly (lost a big one myself..hard to keep a teeny hook in their bucket mouths). Remember that 2lb tippet, and in my case, I use a longer flyrod to get distance to breaking fish. Spinners can pitch weighted bobbers and use the same glowballs. Nearshore, sunfish are all over still, with larger fish in the nearshore trees, and they will take most nymph patterns. If you want to take a break from trout lakes, many lakes still have biting crappie, bass, and sunfish, and they take the same chennelle bugs and wooly boogers intended for trout, though fished VERY slowly. Another option is to hit the flowing backwaters of the big rivers (ex: Howell Island slough) for a variety of fish, from goldeyes, to white bass and drum on beadhead streamers and other shad or minnow imitators using indicators and a slow bounce in current.
- Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO- 12 Nov 2016
- Again hit the trout-stocked lakes at Busch Wildlife Area. Cooler mornings have lead to a classic moring and evening bite, with afternoons a good time to get lunch. Rainbow trout are cruising dams, weed edges, and submerged trees, and will hit egg patterns (i.e. glowballs, chennelle bugs) and sz12 to sz10 wooly buggers (black, olive). Remember that 2lb tippet, and in my case, I use a longer flyrod to get distance to breaking fish. Spinners can pitch weighted bobbers and use marabou jigs in black colors. Nearshore, sunfish are all over, with larger fish in the nearshore trees, and they will take most nymph patterns. As per usually the non-trout lakes have good crappie bites over deeper trees on the wooly boogers.
- Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO- 05 and 06 Nov 2016
- To many, including my bros, it is the most wonderful time of the year indeed as the MDC Winter Trout Program has planted many rainbow trout throughout our region and others. Many lakes are catch and release, lure and fly only till 1 Feb 2017, while other lakes are put and take, any legal bait or lure, through out the season. Pay attention to the regs before you fish each lake to avoid big fines, especially since your fellow anglers will report violations. Our favorites are in Busch Wildlife Area, the catch and release lakes are lakes 28 and 21, while the catch and keep lakes are 3,22,and 23. On the catch and release lakes, warm afternoons slow the fishing, but a deep and slow sz12 olive or black wooly booger, with or without an indicator, worked well. An orange and black stone fly sz12 also worked, fished 6 feet below and indicator. Spinning rod flippers can use a weighted bobber with a black and yellow (or olive) marabou jig fished 4 to 6 feet under. Don't forget to wiggle the bobber slowly. As the water cools, in the mornings and evenings, look for a dry fly bite. Most trout will school near structure near the dams and points, where the water drops into cooler deeper water. Trout aren't the only biters, as sunfish are plentiful along the weed edges on any fly, and crappie can show around deeper trees on wooly boogers. Don't forget to poke the non-trout lakes and ponds, as the crappie and largemouth bass are feeding up for the winter, and take wooly boogers too.
- Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL - 29 Oct 2016
- While four gates are open, the water is just getting to near normal, and is cloudy and brown, and a bit warm. As a result, there are crappie around the edges, and small silver and bighead carp scattered all over the surface to the bouy line. The crappie readily hit flame red chennelle bugs and size 8 beadhead streamers (estaz and florescent yellow marabou) fished below an indicator, with short slow pops, and long very slow strips. Yearling bighead carp hit the same flies if flipped toward the center and drifted. Spinning anglers caught the same and silver carp on small green and black jigs.
- Salt River Retention Dam, Bluffview rec. area near New London MO- 22 Oct 2016
- Very low flow, with many silver carp (no bites though) and longnosed gar (which did bite), and along the rocks, slab sized crappie. A white beadhead streamer got the gar, though they did not like to pose for pictures (bit through the tippet on the bank). The big crappie took a magenta chennelle bug 6 feet below an indicator, moved very slowly (very short pulses). When the water flows, the white bass, walleye and sauger this place is known for will definintely show, as they will anywhere when the water temps drop into the 50s F. Trout stocked first week of November at the Winter Trout Program lakes, and the trout parks close to catch and keep on Halloween.
- Dresser Island near Alton MO- 15 Oct 2016
- Very low water and no flow, but carp and gar will always play along on the flyrod. A small beadhead wooly booger did the trick for the silver carp, though it was a trick to avoid foul hooked fish. Eevn so, a few got hooked in the mouth and provide surging fights.
- Susquehanna River,Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace MD - 04 Oct 2016
- Weeds carpet the surface around the rocks, but in the holes are many green sunfish of all sizes, which took most flies presented, and were fun. When the weeds clear, watch out for fall feeding stripers.
- Lake Michigan in Chicago IL and northern Indiana Creeks and Portage IN Lake Front- 01 to 02 Oct 2016
- On a lark, we took a trip to the harbors along Lake Shore Drive (Montrose, Burnham) in the storms and rain. Saw only a very few small salmon, seems the warm water had them behind a few weeks. Tried the pipe in front of Shedds and Burham into dark, same result, no bites. Did catch smallmouth bass on jigs, had a few yellow perch tap spinners, and gobies destroyed any bait near the bottom. Other anglers blanked as well. Very likely the run will be last full week of October. In the creeks, we again saw very few fish, about one salmon per hour even in prime spots, no bites on baits, flies, or spinners, and no steelhead, though did catch chubs. At the Portage lakefront out on the rock jetty, we tried again using baits and lures, no salmonids, though did catch many smallmouth and largemouth bass, released of course. Just a few weeks early on this very warm year.
- Belmont Shores Veterans Memorial Pier Pacific Ocean Long Beach CA - 16 Sep 2016
- Always a reliable pier with a snack and bait shop on the end, and good eats and brews at the base. This time the warm water had few mackerel except for a few on squid under calume sticks, but a double jig rig with powerbait trout worms caught salema and short halibut on the ultralight, missing a few short striking mackerel and surfperch.
- Pacific Ocean off Santa Catalina Island CA - 12 Sep 2016
- Took a 12 hour trip on the Freelance out of Daveys Locker in Newport Beach CA. Note well, parking for A 12hr trip is interesting near this landing, so park near the Balboa pier, or in the vallet lot 2 block west, and arrive early. Dress warm with some rain gear also for the ride out and back, and just in case bring ginger root snacks for the belly. The boat picked up anchovies and a few big sardines at the little bait barge near the jetties and then took a long run accross the channel to Catalina Island. Personally, I would have had the mates set up a trolling spread on the route across given the warm waters for tuna, but that was not in the plan. We anchored off the point on the south end of the island in 200 feet, and using my 2oz 3.75in sardine pattern freestyle offshore angler jig on 20lb floro on a powerbraid equipped spinner, caught various rockfish including keeper sized bocaccio, about 20 feet off the bottom, jigged with a slow motion. The benthos this time was not working for anything but baby rockfish. Several spots got the rockfish. A later spot resulted in a powerful hookup with a yellowtail on the same freestyle 2oz sardine jig and retrieve, but that one won its freedom. Ditto on the next spot, another screamer yellowtail ran over the anchor rope and broke off. Heavier leaders did not get bit, and other colors and sizes didn't get the yts either. We ended the day on many 1 to 3lb bonito near Avalon, which popped up on the surface, followed closely by sea lions, which plagued the back of the boat and took many of the bonito. A 1oz silver kastmaster nailed them easily. One of my buddies up front got a barracuda on the krockodile spoon, which was released. Jackpot was won by an angler in the stern who got a 10lb lingcod on an anchovy. On the way back we saw many dolphins (an indicator of tuna fyi, which became a target for trips later that week..I told them so LOL) and a few whales. As for any trip half the fun is making new friends, and the people I met were very friendly and warm, brothers and sisters in the fishing family. A five year old angler was jumping with joy on every catch, no matter the size. Chow in the galley was good, and the mates pretty good, though overworked by the high newbie fisher count.
- Dresser Island backwaters Mississippi River near West Alton MO 13 Aug 2016
- While good sized white bass bit in the arly morning, increasing heat sent them down, but exposed one of my favorite fly fishing species, gar. Gar are often maligned, though are actually a species to be conserved (they are one of the few river fish that can eat silver carp for most of their first year) and definitely enjoyed in any hot backwater. They readily smack surface and just subsurface flies like crocodilles, though it takes a very sharp hook to hook them. They then jump like tarpon and roll. For smaller gar an 8lb tippet is sufficient, up to 3 feet you can use a 20-30lb florocarbon shock leader, and anything over 3 feet requires a short wire trace (seen longnosed gar to 6 ft here and there). Flies are any unweighted streamer, from white and orange zonkers to wooly boogers and simple salmon style streamers. The flies will get chewed badly, so keep them easy to tie and simple. Pull the fly swiftly along the surface near any gar-like activity, (or sighted fish). Poppers also work, especially for larger fish. A simple fly for the bigger gar is a longshank size 2 hook, a few cheap feathers or syntheic marabou tied well and epoxied, then slide over a half a small orange foam float for the head, (crappie sized through body) let dry, add marker eyes. For these fish, a reaular size 6 streamer in white or orange worked quite well. All my gar released, and a few white bass took a shot at the fly as well.
- (via Jim) Atlantic Ocean Outer Banks of NC- 06 to 14 Aug 2016
- A family trip to the famous Outer Banks for beach fun and of course beach fishing.Peeled shrimp on a size 4 hook (or smaller) using split shots or an inverted dropper loop rig with 1oz weight or slider rig with light leader got hit by a wide variety of fish close to the shore in the waves, including southern kingfish (aka whiting aka sand mullet), pompano, summer flounder, and needlefish among others. Further out just past the waves, spanish mackerel are hitting a variety of lures.
- Busch Wildlife Area- 06 Aug 2016
- Higher water and warm but livable temps have made the sunfish bite heavily. Even in high sun, redear sunfish will bed up, and bass, catfish, and sunfish, will prowl under weed mats and edges looking for grasshoppers and 1 inch minnows. A wide variety of lures and flies work, though poppers are fun if you can get them in the right spot, otherwise any small streamer (wooly booger, threadjig etc.) works.
- Mississippi River, Sandy Slough at Lock and Dam 25, and B.K. Leach near Stag Island - 29 July 2016
- Started the day poking with the fly at Sandy Slough, which is still high relative to most Julys, no bites here though the worm pitchers were catching lots of small drum. Likely a worm above the dam would have been productive as they were last week. Then tripped north on Hwy 79 (watching my speed very closely through Foley) to B.K. Leach wildlife area off Hwy M. Most sloughs were either dry or covered in duck weed, though I hit a backwater chute of the river, and using streamers got hit by white bass even in the heat of the day. The chute looked like a very good spot to hit again, as it had good current, gravel, and a drop off, so likely loaded with redhorse and buffalo, maybe flatheads in the snags. The side waters here when full and open have lots of carp and gar that can be targeted on the fly.
- Mississippi River above Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO- 23 July 2016
- Wicked hot this time, so we suffered in the heat on the rocks, BUT IT WAS WORTH IT, as always in the summer. Above the dam, lots of large drum, common carp, and channel catfish, hit along the rocks and out deeper on worms, as long as we could handle the hot rocks (which could have cooked an egg, easily). A one to two ounch weight on a long dropper loop, or a few split shots above, a size 1 circle hook with nightcrawler got hit fast.
- Salt River Retention Dam, Bluffview area near New London MO - 16 July 2016
- Another hot day, with jumping water levels which came up fast while we were there. Before the water came up, silver carp were catchable, though I suffered nohookem on the three hits I got on the streamer. There were also hitting drum. Once the water came up the current got very fast, and the fish below the dam became difficult, so we fished above the dam for sunfish, and bass, both of which hit along the rocks on chennelle bugs and a variety of small poppers and nymphs.
- Mississippi River above Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO- 09 July 2016
- The dog days have been mitigated by regular storms, and the backwaters are now the domain of gar, carp, and drum. Gar love floating zonkers on the fly if they can be spotted, though today they stayed out of sight. Worms on the spinning rod however got hit by smaller drum and smaller gar. Schooling silver carp were about, but difficult to get to bite on flies.
- Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL - 02 July 2016
- This spot is always reliable year round, and this time was no exception. Drum hit readily along rocks and drop offs, some drum to 4lbs. Chennelle bugs under a small indicator on the flyrod got hit often, as did a variety of small nymphs and streamers. Spinning rods using 1/32nd oz jigs and a small float also got bit. The same lures fish on the surface were hit bay a variety of small fish, including yellow bass, white bass, crappie, and other sunfishes. Silver carp here this time were very small, and although a very few hit streamers, they did not stay hooked.
- Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace MD - 28 June 2016
- Dodging rough weather, and using a small fly rod, make fishing a challenge at this spot in my short after work window, but this time both rock bass and smallmouth bass responded to beadhead white streamers fished along the rocks.
- Mississippi River and Alton Slough Alton IL MO side - 25 June 2016
- Another hot and humid day, following a serious black mayfly hatch (black mayflies coated every light and wall at the gas station) and with the kiddos in tow we started at Alton slough (sandy, shallow) then moved to the old dam. As for any foray with the kids in the sun, lots fo water, and sun umbrellas help. The slough's bottom was carpeted with algae giving it a green hue, and numerous clouds of 1 inch silver carp were all over, with slightly bigger carp deeper. Gar in turn were preying on the carp. While many malign gar, you should cheer them for 2 reasons, one because they bite no matter how hot it is, all day, and also because they trim the silver carp population (which is why we always release them carefully). A worm or cut carp 6 inches under an orange foam float (with a 20lb-40lb mono leader to avoid bite-offs) will get hit, and the jumping gar are fun for the kids to catch. Moving to the base of the old dam (near the rocks), a light weight and worm (circle hook helps keep them from swallowing the bait) will get hit by numerous drum and occasional catfish of all sizes.
- Lock and Dam 23 MS River near Saverton MO - 18 June 2016
- Hot days and lower water push us to dams and backwaters. This dam just below Hannibal MO is a consistant producer for a variety of species, and if one is adaptable, they will get bit. This trip, silver carp by the hundreds populated upstream, though would not (this time) take a fly, however a chennelle bug near the rocks out near the dam itself got hit by numerous crappie, and a nice channel catfish. A bead head streamer (or any streamer really) was hit by both white bass and drum, though spottily. On the spinner, spoons and roostertails in the current behind the gates got nice white bass and along the dam itself, drum. Pitch corn, worm, or doughbait near the shoreline and you will find many common carp and catfish.
- (via Jim) Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda - 31 May to 06 June 2016
- (from Jim) Stayed at Windsong Guest Apartments in Pembroke Parish in Bermuda and fished both from the shoreline and via charters via Capt. Baxter. Caught lizardfish, squirellfish, and a mixed bag of other inshore fish by foot, then on the charter caught many, many reef species including triggerfish, porgies, lane snappers, and bonefish, gray snapper, yellowtail snapper, bermuda chub,jacks. Many reports from offshore captains featured wahoo.
- Bulow creek and Halifax River north of Ormond Beach FL -04 June 2016
- Went exploring along the riverfront roads (Halifax Ave etc) all the way up to just short of Flaggler beach, and over Highbridge (with a quick stop at the Highbridge Bait shop for cold soft drinks and water on this 95 degree F day). There are numerous small piers, with one or two parking spots all the way up from Daytona, though the biggest one is at Highbridge. Crossing the bridge, there are a few very small easement spots along the creek (respect private property when posted please) and a beadhead white size 4 streamer got hit by a few small redfish, landing and releasing one. The area around Highbridge and its pier overall looks very fishy (in a good way) with a productive brackish water marsh, and many visible mullet schools and likely is highly productive sunrise and sunset.
- Halifax River Port Orange, Daytona Beach 31 May to 04 June 2016
- Warm, cloudy water limited catches midday, but the piers near the Tortugas ballpark and Riverside Pavilion park in Port Orange (very nice park fyi, good kayak and canoe launch spot) produced a variety of panfish sized species on shrimp (with a few hits on the white beadhead streamer on the fly), including pinfish, pigfish, seacatfish, and small gray snappers. At sunset and sunrise, the Orange Beach piers also hold spotted seatrout, bluefish, ladyfish, and redfish.
- Atlantic Ocean Offshore of New Smyrna Beach FL 03 June 2016
- Chartered Capt. Doug Hicks (first mate John) on a day of offshore light tackle and fly reef fishing, and we headed out 28 miles before dropping a line on some very live reef. One the way out we saw many schools of blue runners and little tuny as soon as we exited Ponce DeLeon Inlet, and once we anchored on a 98 foot deep site, schools of sardines were clearly visible to near the surface. Chunks of squid and baitfish brought the action somewhat close, and using a sinking shooting head on a 12 wgt with a bead head super-sized woolly booger (white hackle, yellow body) got hit right off, missing one (unknown species) and landing a 2lb blue runner. As the time progressed we landed several white grunts, some sea bream, and a few vermillion and lane snappers, then the amberjack showed up and it was mayhem. I missed 2 on the fly, but my brothers and wife landed several, including a 45 inch fish and 5 32 inch fish, and a released 26 inch fish. The amberjack landed all hit live sardines or grunts, on an egg weight rig and circle hook on braid-loaded Penn spinning gear. The amberjacks were quite visible as the followed the hooked fish up (hense my two fly shots). We lost one fish to a likely very large shark, so we moved on. On the next reef, after the current picked up, it was much harder to get the fly down, but the action on the spinning gear was still good. We again landed a few grunts , triggerfish, black sea bass. One grunt was surface-lined and got hammered by a likely king mackerel which severed the 40lb leader. The next grunt out on the surface got inhaled by an estimated 30lb red snapper which we released after a very quick photo. We also saw a 3 foot cobia , which would not hit my fly, and two 15 inch mahis , which again refused offerings. The current sustantially picked up, counter to the wind, but we landed a 20 inch gray snapper on squid before heading back. We ate a lane and gray snapper, and some of the amberjack ourselves (with family) but donated the rest of the fillets to the Second Harvest Food Pantry (normally we ship them home and eat them over time) where they were very much appreciated to feed the hungry.
- Veterans Pier Indian River Titusville FL- 02 June 2016
- After a run by Dixie Crossroads for rock shrimp, the whole family and kiddos fished the pier for whatever bit near sunset and just after. Frozen shrimp on the bottom and near the pier yieled numerous hardhead and gafftopsail seacatfish, great fun on light spinning gear for the little ones and spouses. Once it got dark and the shrimp lights came on my oldest nephew vastly enjoyed catching some ,spotted seatrout on the jig and swimbait around the lights (he makes us go here and catch the specs anytime in central FL).
- Surf and Pier Atlantic Ocean Daytona Beach FL- 31 May to 04 June 2016
- Each morning before the crowds arrived, the surf as AOk for small Atlantic Kingfish (called whiting locally, a croaker) on peeled shrimp on size 6 hooks ona 1oz weights on 6lb tackle. Be careful wading. The fish are at the second set of rollers ( a longer cast), and are not packed thick. Sand fleas (mole shrimp) were small and in small colonies, so no suprise at the spotty whiting showing. A walk down the beach to the pier was a bit different. This pier is short, but free, and open 7am to 7pm each day. On the end, the same gear and bait as for the whiting put near the pilings caught small spadefish, pinfish, croakers, and lookdowns. Drifting a mullet or bumper chunk (bumpers were plentiful and easy to catch using a sabiki rig near the pilings) caught foot long to slightly bigger bluefish. Small jigging spoons in white caught bluefish and lookdowns. A shrimp cast away from the pier got hit by whiting and croakers, and a bigger chunk got hit by a small released sand shark. A few of the shrimp bits also got hit by 14 inch black drum (release sized). One guy using live shrimp next to the pilings landed black drum and sheepsheads.
- Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO - 21 May 2016
- Gizzard shad are spawning, and the bluegill are post span, green sunfish now spawning. A black thread jig on the fly worked very well at imitating young of the year and it got hammered by bluegill, green sunfish, and crappie around weed edges and in the shallows.
- Shelby Farms Park Memphis TN - 14 May 2016
- Strong Cold winds (for May) made for a chilly morning, but the water at this Memphis park are fairly clear, and bluegill, crappie, and bass are feeding where the wind drops insects into the water. Shallows near points, under trees, and where debris from grass hit the water are high fish areas, though the schools will cruise the edges looking for dinner. Flies included chennelle bugs, and for the little kid rod, a small bobber and gulp or power worm on a size 10 hook will get hit lots. A spinning rod loaded with a jig and bobber will find the crappie and bass.
- Various Local ponds St Charles County MO- 04 to 08 May 2016
- Bluegill, Redears, and Crappie are in the feeding mood on a variety of flies including wooly boogers, poppers, chennelle bugs, and nymphs. Look to the shallows under trees, near points, and where pollen had made a slick. Many young of last year, mayflies, caddies, frogs, and June Bugs are on the menu.
- Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO and other ponds and Sandy Slough Mississippi River Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 22 April to 01 May 2016
- The flakey weather has the slough as an on and off again situation, with occasional white bass and herring dashing through minnows, and carp of all species beginning to feed. As the water stabilizes it will become a morning and evening bite for the predators, and an afternoon bite for silver carp and gar. However, all local ponds are very active, especialy morning and evening. Crappie and other sunfish are biting on small jigs and standard flies (i.e. chennelle bugs, wooly boogers). Largemouth are also very active, taking larger wooly boogers/zonkers on the fly and crankbaits and twitchbaits on the spinner. Catfish are no doubt hitting in the late afternoons and evenings on worms, minnows, and all the classics placed either on the bottom, or deep below a float. Also, if your kiddos like bullfrogs, they are all over too. Look for fly rod and spinning rod popper action to start this weekend or next (make the lure look like a small frog, so the classic poppers are deadly, as is my indicator popper sz6 yellow and black).
- Sandy Slough Mississippi River Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 14 and 15 April 2016
- Snuck out after work a few evenings and got a few white bass and herring to bite. A bead head streamer (3 inches total) worked around the rocks caught fish on the fly rod, while a 2 inch jig and soft plastic (yellow or grey tail) worked on the spinning rod. Back at the ponds and lakes, crappie continue to bite in the shallows.
- Fort Lauderdale Pier and Dania Beach Pier - 13 April 2016
- (via Ryan) fished two piers when time allowed on a business trip through FLL. Dania Beach Pier had various small biters like lookdown, and some lurking snook that just loitered near the pilings. At the Fort Lauderdale Pier, there were lots of fish during daylight hours, especially large parrotfish.
- Dresser Island near West Alton MO off of Mississippi River- 09 April 2016 PM
- Water is high below Alton Dam, but very low above it, likely dropped due to anticipated rains. The power plant water was the only source of flowing water (very warm) in the backwater area near the upstream boat ramp, and it was loaded with silver and bighead carp and green sunfish. Small white streamers worked somewhat for the silvers with a risk of foul hooking, though a drifted florescent yellow chennelle bug below an indicator got eaten legit, though it was a challenge to keep from bending the hooks straight while stopping the fast carp runs to the numerous stumps. 8lb tippet on the 7wgt was my recipe for landing them on this windy day, the average fish from 4lbs to 10lbs. Spinner anglers can use very small crappie jigs and a bobber for the same species. A boat angler camped out where the backwater hits the main river would likely get many white bass and flathead catfish.
- Chain of Rocks Low Water Dam Mississippi River IL side- 09 April 2016 AM
- High dirty water in the spring means drum and shovelnosed sturgeon. The way to them is a whole nightcrawler fished in very close proximity to the bottom (over gravel bars especially). The higher water and cold temps lead to slower bites, and whether you got a sturgeon or a drum depended on if your bait ended up over the gravel (sturgeon) or over the sand and rocks (drum). A 4oz or larger pyramid weight was needed to hold in the strong current.
- Bennett Springs State Park (not far from Lebanon MO) - 08 April 2016
- Took a very short side trip (3.5 hrs fishing) to Bennett Springs Trout Park on the way back from a day trip to Springfield MO. Like all trout parks in MO, get the $3 daily tag at the on-site bait shop before fishing (fishing day starts and stops with a siren whistle), and pay attention to the Zones here. Rainbow trout are stocked daily in season, brown trout stocked sporatically, (roughly 2 rainbows per predicted angler, daily limit is 4 rainbows) from an on-site hatchery. Zone 1 is fly only, meaning lures that are flies and composed of single hook, feather, hair, etc. Zone 2 is flies and unscented lures, including jigs, plugs, spinners, spoons, etc. Bennett is unique in that Zone 3 is BAIT only, i.e. scented plastics, natural baits, dough baits, etc. Fished 4PM to 7:30PM whistle in Zone 1, with a short jab below the dam into Zone 2. In Zone 1 large dry flies (just like at Meremac Springs earlier this year, fly at the top, though the olive streamers would have also worked) worked in the hard winds, especially the grizzly hackle sz10 and sz12. Let the wind lay out the fly for a gentle drop, and the strike is pretty quick if you got it in the right spot. Many other flies got hit as well, including white streamers, and sz16 white hackle dries. The smaller flies worked amaizingly well below the Zone 1-2 boundry dam, especially when skated, though a large white zonker also got hit, as did sz18 scuds. As per usual, a long 2lb florocarbon leader is very key to late day fish, which are the ones that avoided hooks all day. Ate at the Elm Street Eatery in Lebanon on the way back, yummy!
- Chain of Rocks Low Water Dam Mississippi River IL side- 26 March 2016
- High dirty water in the spring means shovelnosed sturgeon. The way to them is a whole nightcrawler fished in very close proximity to the bottom (over gravel bars especially), using a 4oz pyramid weight and a long dropper where the worm is rigged to swim straight. One way is the sliding bottom finder, or shark rig, three way bottom finder, or just a 3 inch dropper loop to the weight and 2 feet to the hook (size 2). Manage the line to avoid snags (i.e. hold the rod, don't put it in a holder). Any change in the drift usually means a fish or a snag.
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