FISHING WORD Archive
from various locations
Sandy Slough, Lock and Dam 25, Mississippi River near Winfield MO - 07 Feb 2015
Sporatic bites from crappie, white bass, and sunfish continue in the low and partially iced slough, as fish zoom into and out of the slough from the main river. Slow deliberate use of streamers under an indicator, or the spinning rod equivelent, and lots of patience to wait out the fish between fast bites are required, but rewarded. Look for current breaks, drop offs, channels, and rocks. Flywise, the go to was an eyed florescent yellow sz8 shad dart, with a bead head white streamer a close second. Spin-wise 1inch to 2 inch soft plastics on a 1-16th oz jig head under a float worked too. Few eagles, so the far areas were open, but that will change if the bulk of the eagles show and start setting up shop. Look for more consistant action here as the winter ends and spring gets going in 6 to 8 weeks. We released our fish this time (I usually keep any silver carp we catch, none caught this trip).
Baldwin Lake, Baldwin IL- 31 Jan 2015
This lake is always worth a trip in the coldest parts of the winter till around April. Fishing was pretty good up to the air pressure shift after lunch-time, with numerous drum, sunfish, and channel catfish on the fly for me and jig for my brother morning to midday. A size 8 shad dart in florescent yellow marabou and clouser eyes two feet under an indicator around the rocks was very good. Live green sunfish by my bro caught an est 6lb blue catfish (released). The bouncing waves from the wind worked the fly (jig) better than any retrieve, and the fish would pounce as soon as the fly got near the rocks along the dam. At around 1230 it was like a light switch shut off all bites. on a side note during the same period at Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO our off switch was an on switch, turning on the rainbow trout to hit glowball flies. Next week is catch and keep for the trout at the lakes at Busch Wildlife Area.
Sandy Slough, Lock and Dam 25, Mississippi River near Winfield MO - 29 Jan and 01 Feb 2015
As the water moves up and down, clouds due to rain and snow, and bounces in temperature, occasional bites can be had from crappie and white bass, though the common carp have fled. A 1-16th oz white and green jig a foot under a bobber fished VERY SLOWLY might get bit. Ditto for a similar fly indicator combo. A few eagles have shown now, maybe more will come later.
Sandy Slough, Lock and Dam 25, Mississippi River near Winfield MO - 01 to 02 Jan 2015
HAPPY NEW YEAR to All, may it be blessed and fishy! We got 2015 off to a running start by fishing the slough in the winter for white bass, as we used to do 20 years ago (before the Winter Stocking Program filled the local lakes with trout). Back then we fished the ice edges with freelined live minnows for good sized white bass. This time we used a wide variety of spinning rod lures, and of course, the fly rod, and were not dissapointed! The water was very low, the parts near the shore ice covered, but we located current changes and color changes, and found lots of biting white bass, mixed with big schools of common carp, large gizzard shad, and gar. Only saw 2 eagles, but that will change as the colder weather sets in. Using frozen and very dead worms, my nephew caught a very large bowfin, and we caught a few carp also. Drifted stonefly nymphs got nipped by the carp, but not eaten. As far as the outstanding white bass bite, any white, yellow, or orange lure that imitates a 1 in to 2in minnow was deadly while they bit, the bite stopping on th 3rd as the water temp dropped further and the slough froze over. It pays to pay attention to the river levels as air temp, as a week long warm spike might queue them up again. For thespinners, a jig and soft plastic1 foot under a bobber worked will, fished slowly. Other lures included small silver or orange spinners, and micro crankbaits. On the fly, a yellow or white bead head streamer sz 8 to sz 6 under an indicator (to keep it out of the mud) fished slowly worked, as did a chamois orange worm (sz 6), and a floating white zonker (sz 4) behing a small split shot to keep it in position. Side catches included the gizzard shad (which seemed to eat the stone fly), and the gar (Chamois worm and zonker). It is likely that walleye and sauger bit the same days below the dam in the main river, but that requires a power boat. We released all these fish, but note that white bass are quite yummy.
Meramec Springs Park, spring branch off of the Meramec River, St. James MO - 31 Dec 2014
Cold temps left the catch and release season at the park empty, and for most of the day, my brother and I had the whole place to ourselves. There was a strong dry fly bite for rainbows almost the whole day, a sz10 grizzly hackle the ticket on the surface. Drop a fly such as a olive or black wooly booger, or a zonker, a bit deeper an it became dinner for many smalllmouth bass and rock bass waiting in the weed edges, along with many rainbows of course. A long 2lb tippet is the ticket for these very clear waters, and be able to roll cast (or watch carefully for a managed back cast) or your fly will become tree-fodder. Trick of the trade for winter fishing, in addition to dressing warm in layers, cover your hands and nose and cheeks in petroleum jelly to prevent cracking and chapping.
Dresser Island, Alton Dam (MS River)and St Charles MO Riverfront (MO River) - 29 and 30 Dec 2014
Took an exploratory run to a few good winter spots, but other then one silver carp at Dresser Island, and a few worm bites in St Charles, got skunked (as did the goose and duck hunters). Dresser Island will be a hot ticket for silver and bighead carp if the river freezes, and if the water is high to normal. The Dresser Island power plant pumps warm water past the island, and the asian carp (very sensitive to cold water fyi) will try to huddle near the warm output (along with a few other species). Below Alton Dam is a good spot for watching Eagles and Trumpeter Swans, and sometimes for winter walleye and sauger. The St Charles Riverfront usually has bait biting catfish and drum all year, though not this time.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO - 20 to 23 Dec 2014
Typical catch and release rainbow action at the stocked lakes, and since the trout are now educated, small nymphs (sz 14 to sz 18) fished four feet under an indicator were the ticket. Look for soft bites. The sunfish are also in the action, and will take the same flies, plus on warm days (when the water is not frozen) might take a midge as well on the surface. Small olive or black wooly boogers (sz12 to sz14) may work if fished over humps and weedbeds slowly. Fish the non-trout lakes and ponds on warmer days with wooly boogers and you might fish nice sunfish and crappie willing to bite.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO - 13 Dec 2014
Warm temps make fishing for Winter Stocking Program rainbow trout fairly easy in catch and release and catch and keep lakes. Remember to CAREFULLY read the regulations before fishing any lake, for that lake. Many lakes are fly or lure only, catch and release only, no dough or soft plastics or baits of any kind allowed. Flywise, bright small bright nymphs work well 3 feet below an indicator or black wooly boogers, on 2lb florocarbon leaders. Spinwise, marabou dark colored jigs three feet below a bobber are good fish catchers. All these fishes were released (C+R here till 1 Feb...after that they might go home since they overheat by August).
Atlantic Ocean Fort Lauderdale FL - 19 Nov 2014
My littlest bro and his new bride headed south to Ft Lauderdale for their honeymoon, and caught a few fish on the pier between storms on shrimp. All carefully released, but indicative of the variety on these south Florida Atlantic ocean piers.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO and Chain of Rocks, MS River, IL - 22 to 29 Nov 2014
Bouncy winter weather provides some interesting pre-Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving fishing. Over at the Chain of Rocks, the water is still low and variable, so the walleye and sauger are still very tough, but should improve as the winter deepens. Typical methods are long European style lure rods, 4lb diameter superbraid on a spinning reel, and a River Walleye two jig rig with a 3 oz weight, with long casts into the white water and below, keeping the weight in contact with the bottom. Switching over to the Winter Trout Program lakes at Busch Wildlife Area, rainbows were to be had (and on lake 21 and 28, released carefully) on #14 to #16 dark colored nymphs, #10 olive wooly boogers, and sometimes on #8 flame glowballs. Use a small indicator due to the light bite. Spinning rod pitchers can use rattling bobbers and a 4 foot leader to a 1-16th oz or 1-32nd oz olive marabou jig, moved slowly. FYI the eagles are beginning to show around the rivers.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO- 15 Nov 2014
The trout are stocked, the fish are biting. On cold clear days, focus on sz14 nymphs, most of the time though, streamers, wooly boogers, and almost any bright nymph will work. For the spinners, a weighted bobber with a sz8 olive marabou jig 3 feet down will work fine. My bro caught (and released) them on the olive marabou jig and bobber on lake 28 (note, lakes 21 are 28 catch and release, lure only till 1 Feb 15, lakes 22-24 are catch and keep, bait allowed, check the winter trout link in the report below). Mine came on the white bead head streamer and indicator, as did a redear sunfish, with many hits also on a magenta chennele bug. If the water is not frozen, go fishing.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO- 01 Nov 2014
Nope, no trout at BWA on day 1, but there will be by the next weekend to be sure. Note Lakes 21 and 28 are catch and release, lure only till 1 Feb, for all species, trout included. Also check the stocking report for all the Winter Trout Program lakes and counts. This time, we targeted bluegill and crappie, but caught bluegill, and for the first time ever at Busch Wildlife Area, Hybrid striped - White bass (though small). Yes, we hooked hybrids at Busch Wildlife Area a few times over the years, but they were always large fish that snapped our lines as we fished for sunfish. This time our gear and methods were ready. The bluegill in every lake we hit were in shallow corners, and bit on a variety of nymphs in the sz12 to sz16 range. The bite is soft, so pay attention and use an indicator. The bluegill and hybrids both hit black wooly boogers (sz10) and bead head streamers (same one I used in TComo 2 weeks earlier, see below). We VERY CAREFULLY released these small hybrids (which looked to have been released in April or May), so it looks promising for the future. Same methods will work on the trout lakes next time we fish here.
Pacific Ocean Venice Beach Pier and Long Beach Harbor Belmont Shores Pier, Los Angeles, CA - 28 to 29 Oct 2014
Again, it pays to bring fishing gear in your carry-on on the business trip. This time I swapped out the 8 piece fly rod for a 4 piece light spinning rod, and hit the piers around LA after work. Pack your tackle box with small calume sticks, 1-8oz to 1-32oz jig heads, 8lb florocarbon for leaders, and small spoons and kastmasters. A bag of white soft plastic tails (or Gulps) or floating trout worms work well as jig tails, though a strip of squid does too. Add in 1-2 oz to 2oz weights to get the lures down if the wind and current are bad. A trick of the trade: zipper pencil cases linked with s-biners are good for carrying tackle. For mackerel, rig two jigs as illustrated here . For halibut in the shallows, or similar bottom dwellers, make a 2 jig rig like this. On with the report: both piers were relatively slow, but the fish were catchable. At Venice Beach we caught mackerel under the lights and felt the poke of small surf perch around the pilings though we didn't rig for them. The locals old us the get some sharks at night by putting mackerel or squid right on the bottom, but we saw none. Got a good dinner at the Venice Whaler grill next to the pier. At Belmont Shores Veterans Memorial Fishing Pier, it again started slow, but careful observation of the water near the surf line showed schools of anchovies getting hit by release-sized foot long to a bit bigger halibut just after dark. Rule for the ocean: if anchovies are the forage, then white is your color. These short haibut nailed white gulps and trout worms on the two jig rig (NO WEIGHTS, just the two jigs, bounced slowly along the bottom), and were very carefully released to grow. I am sure there are bigger models with them. Look for the 'chovies dimpling the surface, and the occasional predator boil. There were also mackerel around half way out during the daylight, and in the surf line, but slower at night. Lizard fish, and teeny sand bass hit lures too. No doubt that a big chunk of squid fished off the end at night would get a shark, but we needed sleep and dinner (Belmont Shores Brewing Company this time). If you are into the CA pier scene, get Ken Jones book and tell him I sent you. It is a really good book, and I bring it with me every time I head to CA, though my techniques are different from his much of the time.
Lake Taneycomo, Branson and Forsyth MO - 13 to 17 Oct 2014
Variable conditions, and a couple of weeks before the best part of the brown trout run, but still good fishing nonetheless. Be versitile, and fish will be caught. 2lb tippet for smaller rainbows, 4lb florocarbon for large rainbows and browns. Debarb your hooks.
If you need to pick just seven flies for Taneycomo, you will need a UV Scud sz18, sz6 white or gray weighted zonker, 1-80 oz flame red chennelle bug, sz6 olive wooly booger, sz14 crackleback, and nickle-sized nuclear white unweighted glowball, and a white sz6 bead head streamer or wooly booger. If desperate, a brown foam sz16 made to look like a pellet will work around the outlets.
Spinning rod flippers should use 4lb line and little cleos, pins minnows, marabou jigs, kastmasters, and if desperate and well below Falls Creek, power-eggs or meal worms.
Up below Table Rock Dam near the Hatchery, we saw lots of rainbows, but only few big browns (some were really big and jumping) as of yet (Note: we watched Chuck Gries of Anglers and Archery get his clients into some nice fish using scuds near the dam, but the biggest part of the run is yet to happen. MY pop saw a few breeding females and male escorts staging near the boat ramp...pics soon). We did see some brown trout well below the third outlet and ladder below the gravel bars into deeper water. These staging fish will continue to move up as the boys start setting up the redds on the gravel near the dam, likely peaking around the full moon. Mornings up top had a dry fly bite until around 10AM, on midges and cracklebacks, then the fish moved to a glowball, scud, and zonker bite all afternoon to evening, though a slow bite. We also fished Empire Park a couple of evenings, and a flame red chennelle bug 2 ft under an indicator did just fine for rainbows, redear sunfish, and minnows, though mostly rainbows if casting into the open lake from the dock. One sunset had a decent dry fly surface bite down at Empire park for rainbows, sunfish, and minnows too, though the rainbows bit well into the dark o n the chennelle bug (and likely olive wooly boogers). From the boat, as per usual, we crushed large numbers of rainbows in the main lake downstream from Branson, and most times seeing 5 to 7 followers behind each hooked fish. We also saw many open water schools of dozens of rainbows just deep of weedlines, which hit anything until they saw the boat. In the open water, the top fly was the white bead head streamer, and I went through a few as the fish destroyed them (about 12 fish per fly, and killed 3 flies, so you do the math). Spinning rod pitchers hooked plenty on little cleos, kastmasters, pinns minnows, and any lure that looked a minnow and was 1 inch to 3 inches long. We also caught brown trout above Cooper Creek near the boulders and trees, though these are the ones too small to breed yet. Below Powersite dam in Bull Shoals Lake it was very slow, and only the powerbaiters got a few trout, though with a flyrod there were lots of sunfish around backwaters and structure, and we did see some brown trout right below the dam itself. I wrote a book (paper and ebook format) a while back on this spot if you want more detailed guidence.
Potomac River Washington DC - 07 to 09 Oct 2014
THe bite was definitely pre-dark, and really just before sunset. We looked over the Tidal Basin and Dangerfield Island after dark, and only had very few bites then, but I did catch lots
in the Potomac near the Key Bridge just before sunset on chammois worms and white streamers, redbreast sunfish, yellow perch, and crappie all biting well up until dark, then they shut off like a light switch.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle in Carlyle IL - 27 Sep 2014
The water is low as the CoE does construction on the East side of the spillway, so the bite is just white crappie and yearling to 2yr old silver carp.
Both respond to a sz12 bead head white wooly booger with a split shot 24in up from the fly. The crappie also hit really well on a size 8 eyed white and silver shad dart fished 4 feet below an indicator. The carp are of course near the dam and along the centerline of the river, while the crappie are along the rock shelves. As the water cools soon, expect the white bass to show again.
Northern Iowa, Shell Rock River and Cedar River - 18 to 25 Sep 2014
(via Josh) Catch and release good sized Walleye are biting strong up in the northern Iowa Rivers below the dams as fall progresses, biting near dark on crankbaits and curlytail jigs.
Fountain Lakes City Park St Charles MO - 20 Sep 2014
Due to another pre-soccer mid-day time window, I took a short poke at a few flood plain lakes, and even with sub-optimal condition, both bass and bluegill were willing.
A sz 8 black wooly booger was the go to fly for the small largemouth bass, a slow smooth pull with a few stops usually got a hit. The bluegill hit the same, and also a #12 black bead head nymph fished right along the shoreline. Morning and evening will see a strong popper bite due to the grasshoppers all over these lakes. In the sloughs the silver carp and gar are still about, and on cooler evenings and mornings, a white bass bite is beginning to start. Catfish are also a good bet in the main rivers. Trout stocked locally in T minus 6 weeks.
Upper Tidewater Severn River near Annapolis MD - 8 Sep 2014
Met up with one of my friends (a fellow USAF vet) and his family and did some nice bank worm dipping. Red wigglers were quickly gobbled by many species for his sons, from Spot Croakers, to White Perch, to Brown Bullheads, to sunfish of many types. Small striped bass where blowing up in the deeper water on juvenille herrings and shads, and while my white streamers did get poked on the few casts I flipped, they didn't get hooked (very small mostly, the idea was for the kids to get a bit of fishing advice anyhow :0). Fun was had by all!
Mississippi River and Sandy Slough Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 30 Aug to 01 Sep 2014
Hot weather with scattered thunderstomrs and short windows of opportunity between scheduled Labor Day stuff (MoBOT Japanese Festival for one), lead to 2 quick time windows for catfish and drum in the river. Above the dam in the main river was the spot, though it is a snaggy spot, for good sized channel catfish to 6lbs and freshwater drum in the same range and bigger (our fish all got released, but they are good to eat too). In both cases, fresh shad pieces, and sometimes nightcrawlers or silver carp strips worked for the bite on a classic tight line rig (though I would wadger the silver carp chunks will work for larger fish too). In the low and warm slough, fly fishing for gar is a heating up, with streamers of many types getting hit by shortnosed and long nosed gar (released to eat more carp). If the water gets lower in the slough, carp and gar will be ready targets on the fly.
Mississippi River Lock and Dam 22 near Saverton MO - 23 Aug 2014
Usually a very good white bass and drum spot, this time the heat did impact fishing, but we still caught smallmouth bass, herring, a few white bass, and some nice drum. Yellow was the lure color this time, as emerald shiners to 3 inches were all along the dam and rocks. A yellow chennelle and synthetic marabou streamer (size 6) worked well for skipjack herring and others, and for the spinning reels, a 1/16th oz jig in the same color pattern worked too. It gets very slippery on this dam, so be careful.
Pacific Ocean near San Diego CA - 02 to 08 Aug 2014
On a business trip out west (for a very cool SPACE 2014 conference) decided to catch a few fish too...
(NOTE: Here is what is in my lure tackle bag for ocean or bay boat trips of any length from Southern California, Baja, or Hawaii. Works off the Atlantic too, esp. in the Keys and South Florida off the reefs. )
San Diego waters are squirming with fish all over. Anchovies, bonito, and mackerel are thick in the bays and a few casts near boat docks, piers, rocks, or bait barges etc. with any minnow-looking lure 1 to 2 inches will get hit. The surf near the ocean beach pier was likewise loaded with the same fish and some white sea bass and calico (kelp) bass among others. We spent an evening droppping lures around the pier after a good dinner at the Walk on Water cafe on the pier (very yummy), and caught a large count of mackerel on nearly everything until dark, then on1/16th oz jigs tipped with small baits (like anchovy heads or guts left over from the cleaning table) thereafter. Light tackle is the ticket, with lines 15lbs or less.
On the Grande overnight trip, my buddy Jim hooked Yellowfin tuna 15lb to 30lbs, though had issues getting them on the boat. To get bit, it took 20lb florocarbon leaders, and a 3-0 hook and small weight, using a sardine. Yellowfins populate the fish counts heavily on three-quarter and longer trips from all San Diego landings.
We also took two half-day fun trips on the New Seaforth out of Seaforth Landing on Mission Bay (free parking fyi). The trick was again lighter leaders, 20lb florocarbon or lighter. Using this leader size on super-braid equipped reels and using just about any jigging spoon (though the hot ones were the Freestyle jigs from bass pro from 2 inches to 3.75 inches in sardine definitely, and sometimes white or yellow, and the Benthos Speed Jig in chartuese glow 3.5 oz), we caught bonito aplenty (all ours got released assuming they swam fast enough to avoid the pinnepeds) 14 to 20 inches long, salami sized mackerel, and a few barracuda and others. There were sea lions all over, so you have to get them in fast. On our trips, the sea lions claimed most of the cudas and on the AM half day, and all the yellowtails. If you could get the sardines past the sea-dogs, you could get bit, but the jigs worked easier for us. We also experimented with gulps on a drop shot, and in the shallow waters we were in, we caught a few rockfish that easily made it back to the bottom. FYI, Aidyns California Ocean has almost all the fish and ecosystems you might see on these trips.
Sandy Slough (MS river) near Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 26 July 2014
The slough is pretty good in the cooler summer weather, since the fry of many species are all over the rocks and sand. Size your flies or jigs accordingly, my hot fly was a #12 white wooly booger (i.e. 1 inch long, just like the fry), fished right up against the rocks for bluegill, crappie, drum, and white bass. For the bait pitchers, small channel catfish 8 to 15 inches are also about on worms, along with drum, and common carp.
Salt River Retention Dam near New London MO - 19 July 2014
While the water is neither high nor low, the crappie and drum and gar bit every so often, on spinning rod soft plastic jigs (1 inch to 2 inch yellow and white) and on the fly white streamers (same size range, except for gar a 3 inch zonker). The silver carp as per usual were all over on the surface just below the dam.
Washington DC Potomac River Tidal Basin - 15-16 July 2014
Water is a bit warm in the basin, but the bite is pretty good at sunset, rain or no. The payoff fly this time was a florescent yellow chennelle bug (about the size of a corn kernel, which I am sure would also work) fished below an indicator right up against the wall. Many sunfish (green, orangespotted, bluegill) and a few channel catfish hit the fly and fought nicely to release. Lots of baby herring/shad are flipping about, and an occasional snakehead gulped air. An easy walk from the Smithsonian Metro stop.
Carlyle IL Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle - 28 June, 05 July, 12 July
The work on the 2nd westmost gate continues, and the water flow pattern is a bit off. Even so, drum, a few ,white bass, crappie, sunfishes, and other such scrappers are found on chennelle bugs, small white or yellow marabou flies, and black dry flies, and spinning rod jigs. Fish near the drop-offs for quick bites. Silver carp (yearlings mostly) as per usual can be caught on any small jig or small slab spoon that can be cast into the current near the dam. A nod to my new buddy Ben too.
Missouri River St Charles MO Riverfront - 05 July 2014
With Dobsonflies (aka Hellgramites grown up) and mayflies all over in the high water, grass carp and other are feeding up on the surface of backwaters (look for the little mouths slurping) and many flies or just a #4 hook and worm will get bit by fairly large fish.
Chain of Rocks Canal - 04 July 2014
The canal is always a good bait pitching spot to take the tykes, and shrimp or worms will get you into 12 to 15 inch catfish (blue and channel) and drum aplenty. Use a circle hook if you use bait to allow release of unwanted fishes. If you like that shirt, you can get it here in grown up and kids sizes.
Northern IA creeks Turtle Creek and Spring Creek (by Josh) - 23-25 June and 8-9 July 2014
More brookies, browns, and rainbows, along with smallmouth and northern rock bass on wooly boogers and cracklebacks.
Sandy Slough LD25 near Winfield MO - 23 June 2014
Muddy and high water made fly fishing tough, but worm pitching easy for drum, gar, and channel catfish.
Maui Hawaii 07-13 June 2014
- Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island CA- 21 Oct 2017
- The worst of the wind from the day before leveled off (we went out on the Catalina Flyer 20 Oct to visit Avalon, even though many passengers on the boat were sea sick), and the ride accross on the Aggressor from Newport Landing was bouncy but doable. Complex currents made drifting bait challenging but we were using jigging spoons (Offshore angler 2oz sardine pattern freestyle on 30lb floro leader) and caught lots. Off the kelps off Catalina, bonito, calico bass (kelp bass, we released ours), a lone yellowtail (crashed at my lure and missed, but caught in the back on a sardine), and mixed small rockfish and decent sheephead and whitefish on squid. After many hard drifts (more released calicos for us), the captain pulled into a sheltered bay facing east, and we laid waste to (and released many, though not all) bonito from 14 inches to 24 inches, my wife and I on the same jigs and 0.75 oz silver kastmasters (20lb floro leader). In the stern many bonito and baits were snatched off by sea lions, which sea-dogged us all day. They are becomming quite the head boat pest to be sure. Watched a 3 foot sea lion delicately pull off a sardine while the angler next to us never noticed his empty hook. The trip to Avalon the day before was totally worth the crossing, and we had a good time just touring the shops, looking at the Tuna Club (from the outside, a holy sitefor saltwater anglers, read Zane Grey or William Holder), and art deco of the Casino (not a gambling establishment). Next time will spend the night on the island and fish the piers and skiffs from there! Lots of garabaldis along the rocks (the locals like to tell the tourists that they are goldfish LOL).
- FALL FISHING FORECAST AND NOTES USA
- WEST COAST: Look for scattered bluefin tuna, mixed with yellowtails, and maybe a few albacore, though better next year. Yellowtails are around the islands and will take jigging spoons on 30lb florocarbon, jigged slowly at mid-depth to bottom (also works for rockfish), ditto for the classic yo-yoed iron. Further North, Salmon are running already, and late runs of steelhead remain. Leopard sharks are year round off many California piers, especially Oyster Point
- EAST COAST: Look for the bluefish and striped bass blitz after menhaden along beaches starting off Cape Cod, working past Long Island and Sandy Hook, then down past the Eastern Shore of MD, to the Outer Banks, target them using spoons and top waters. Further south from South Carolina to the East Coast of Florida, the mullet run is underway, with mackerel, sharks, cobia, jack crevalle, and tarpon in pursuit. The little tuny in Carolina and south will follow. Anything that looks like a mullet along the tight schools will get smashed. In bays in Florida, the snappers, redfish, and snook will also partake.
- GULF COAST: As the first cold fronts hit, and after rough weather, jack crevalle and king mackerel will be very active from the sand bars out to around 100 feet, with tight balls of little tuny and bonito all over.
- GREAT LAKES AND FEEDERS: Salmon are running into the harbors and creeks NOW, followed by steelhead and browns, and at creek mouths and harbors, muskies and pike. Hunt for packs of salmon as they run up, especially after rains, and carefully cast spinners, or zonker flies, maybe drift glowballs with split shot. In the harbors, it is very hard to beat large live shiners under a bobber, maybe a worm though watch for gobies, though crankbaits and spinners also will catch a share. On the fly, a glowball under a float, or a zonker fished slowly may work as well.
- OTHER SPOTS: In Branson, the brown trout are running starting in late October, through November, with VERY large brown trout, followed by rainbows. My fav is a mouse fly in the shallows, though a very large white hackle floater works too, and as per usual glowballs, scuds, wooly worms, crackle backs, etc. IN the big rivers near me, the herring run is beginning as the bigger herring head to the Gulf, and white bass pick up as the water cools.
- Sandy Slough LD25 MS River Winfield MO- 30 Sep 2017
- Low water means that a good flyrod angler can practice flats fishing on the cheap! Good eyes are required in the clear shallow water over muddy bottoms to find swirls, tails, and eyes. A good cast dropping a wooly worm (white or yellow) or zonker will get hit, while a bad cast will send the fish zappping into deeper water. Look for common carp, gar, largemouth bass, bluegill, drum, buffalo, catfish, and bowfins, and get ready for a hard fast fight.
- (via Jordan) Gulf of Mexico Panama City Beach FL- 17 to 21 Sep 2017
- As per typical of the panhandle of Florida this time of year, spanish mackerel are the staple catch from the pier on small jigging spoons most of the day, while redfish and king mackerel made showing before sunrise and just after sunset. Offshore, on the boat Jubilee (a good boat with smart staff, and follows our basic rule: since we have our methods and gear, trust us to use it--aka the customer is always right) snappers , grunts , and porgies were very common reef catches, especially on jigging spoons (benthos, etc.) and on bottom rigs with squid, with a few released red snappers, and released amberjacks.
- (Via Ryan) Provo River and Utah Lake Provo UT- 19 to 22 Sep 2017
- Brown trout are a prime target in the Provo above Bridal Veil Falls, and hit most white and black streamers and jigs. In ditches leading out of Utah Lake white bass abound, and hit most streamers and jigs.
- Potomac River Tidal Basin Washington DC - 13 to 14 Sep 2017
- Hot water and lots of vegitation force fishing in higher current areas, like the bridges of the tidal basin. Sunfish however, bit well right before sunset, with bluegill, green sunfish, and redbreast sunfish ready biters on yellow nymph flies (chennelle bugs) and small poppers.
- (via Jim) Atlantic Ocean Sandy Hook NJ- August to Mid Sep 2017
- Bluefish are around on spoons pitched into the surf, while flounder (fluke) hit bucktails and jig and soft platics fished right on the bottom off the surf and in the bay. Keep the jig in contact with the sand and pulse it along for many hits.
- Missouri River St. Charles MO - 09 Sep 2017
- As per usual the river produced a mixed bag on worms, including drum and small catfish. A size 4 hook or size 2 or more circle, and just enough weight to hold the bottom in the backwater will get bit.
- Susquehanna River Conowingo Dam MD - 30 Aug 2017
- Again Smallmouth Bass sit in rocks and obstructions along the sides, and readily take any white streamer fish slowly, while striped bass are right up against the outflow from the dam, hitting surface lures (Zara Spook, etc) and jig and bobber right before sunset.
- Sandy Slough LD 25 MS River near Winfield MO - 19 Aug 2017
- The river and slough have dropped, and scum has formed along the edges, but there are LOTS of shiners and shad under that scum, and oodles of common and silver carp , crappie , and catfish . On the fly, a olive wooly booger nailed a nice channel catfish , and missed several mystery bites, and on a white streamer, nice crappie. Next to me on the rocks, another angler got many catfish and missed many more on worms.
- Mississippi River Lock and Dam 22 near Saverton, MO- 12 Aug 2017
- The water is low enough to fish this hotspot finally, and it didn't disappoint. Emerald shiners were getting blasted by skipjack herring near where the flat concrete hit the rocks, and a bit further west along the rocks, drum and a few nice white bass hit any shiner fished along the bottom, or jig and soft plastic fished the same. No doubt a worm on the bottom would be drum and carp fodder as well. Flywise, white and yellow streamers (size 8 to 6) got whacked often by the herring, but any weight in the (barbless) fly caused it to get pitched. Even so, a few came in on the fly too.
- Missouri River, Washington MO - 05 Aug 2017
- Lookred like a good worm pitching day, and was a bit slow even so at the Washington riverfront. Lots of baby catfish (all released of course) kept the kid busy, as did small drum, though we only caught a few drum over 1lb, and one nice common carp around 6lbs.
- Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL - 15 July 2017
- Small white bass, nice bluegill , small to 2lb drum , and a few good crappie were around all along the rocks, using chennelle bugs (red), thread jigs, and small streamers. The little white bass also smacked small poppers, and on the spinning rod, small jigs.
- Conowingo Dam, Susquehanna River MD - 11 to 12 July 2017
- Finally got a chance to fish Fishermans Park at Conowingo Dam and with work, produced very large smallmouth bass and nice walleye, and for other anglers, a few striped bass. On the fly, white streamers, including 1-32nd and 1-64th oz all white marabou and chennelle flyrod jigs about 2 feet below an indicator worked well fished right against the walls and rocks.
- Lake Taneycomo, Branson MO - 01 to 04 July 2017
- Happy Independance day! Taneycomo was a bit warm, and almost all trout were found from just below Branson downtown to the dam, with many spots of bluegill and smallmouth bass even below the hatchery. By shoreline, downtown Branson near the mall was a pick spot, especially for the spinning rod crowd using crankbaits, kastmasters, roostertails, and of course bait. Further up, near the outlets, a few trout would hit small nymphs, pellet look-alike flies, and sometimes glowballs and zonkers, and midges flipped into the current, while any fly anywhere else was bluegill and smallmouth fodder (oh how terrible LOL). By boat, the area above Cooper Creek to Trout Hollow in the mornings got a few surface fish and nice fish near the cliffs.
- Missouri River at Saint Charles Riverfront Park - 24 June 2017
- Sometimes it pays to drop back to my fishing roots, grab the sand sticker rod holder, buy a box of nightcrawlers, and cast forth a tight line into the muddy flow that "is too thick to drink and too thin to plow" (as per Mark Twain). The water has mostly returned to the channel, but is very muddy. The muddy water, however, is a signal to many fish to eat worms. We pitched out the worm on size 4 to size 2-0 circle hooks and 4oz to 1oz weights. Small bluecats stole any worm right next to the shore, but in the current larger fish including shovelnose sturgeon, flathead catfish, drum, and blue catfish ate the worms.
- Susquehanna River near Havre de Grace MD- 20 to 22 June 2017
- Tripped over to MD again, though this time it was hard pickings, even for green sunfish and bass, landing both on chennelle bugs (yellow) and some strikes on small yellow poppers between thunderstorms.
- Local Ponds, Sandy Slough, and Dresser Island -17 June 2017
- After the fishing break 9-11 June for a certain caped superhero festival in Metropolis, IL, warmer water and high pressure left one fish as a prime target, gar. Gar are reviled by many, though they are key to controlling asian carp and should be released when not eaten. They wack a fly with abandon, an any 2 to 3 inch streamer just below an indicator (orange) will get smacked. Minnows were all over in Sandy Slough, but the bite was off, and only a few drum and a bass responded. In many local ponds, the sunfish are post spawn, and large bluegill can be caught on size 12 mysis patterns.
- Daingerfield Island and Tidal Basin, Potomac River, Washington DC - 06 to 07 June 2017
- Interestingly cool conditions made fishing odder then it should have been. Small sunfish were around along rocks and walls in slower backwaters, and took small flies. A few crappie were around docks and hit bead-head white streamers, but most of the rest of the fish were lock-jawed. Snakeheads and gar gulped in the basin, but no strong bites (a few light snips). No doubt a worm on the bottom may have altered the catch rate.
- Salt River Retention Dam near New London MO- 03 June 2017
- While the water is still high and fast, it is the perfect temperature and conditions to shove young of the year of many species past rocks and along current seams, right into the waiting schools of crappie, with some drum, bluegill, and white bass to boot. My pick fly was a size 6 beadhead streamer in red and yellow, though many wooly boooger patterns worked also. On the spin, any white, yellow, green patterned tube, swim bait, or curly tail on a 1-32nd or 1-16th jig head got hammered as well. Crappie of all sizes, all along the rocks, in crazy numbers. Get bored of the crappie, hit the slow water with a zonker and indicator to sight fly fish for short and long nosed gar! Drop the stream a few feet away and pulse past the nose of a gar for explosive strikes. Doesn't get much better, though the white bass will be thicker as time progresses. Just a sampling follows.
- Missouri River at St. Charles MO-20 May 2017
- The Water is down from spring flood levels, and the fish are comming out of the flooded trees, so fish close to the banks for a mixed bag. A little weight and size 4 hook with a worm is good, or a bobber above the same, drifted near the flooded trees is all you need for lots of bites.
- Susquehanna River near Havre de Grace MD--15 to 17 May 2017
- Water is high at the state park and downriver, and very few fish were biting this time except for sunfish a plenty. Catfish and white perch were to be had on worms as per usual. A few shad are here and there, though instant release fish.
- Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO-13 May 2017
- Crappie, bass, and bluegill are eating the young of the year, waiting just on the deep edge on the weeds for minnows and frogs. In mornings and evenings, poppers work well, during the day, chennelle bugs and streamers the look like baby bluegill will catch crappie and bass plenty. Especially around fallen trees in the weeds.
- Salt River Retention Dam near New London MO- 06 May 2017
- Went north to evade the worst of the floodwaters, but even in the Salt River, the water was high and chocolate milk. Even so, in the places where the current slowed, largemouth bass, drum, and white bass hit jigs on the spinning rod, and white streamers on the fly. The largemouth looked to be in spawning condition, so were more carefully then normal let go.
- Susquehanna River near Havre de Grace MD- 02 to 03 May 2017
- The shad seem to be a non-show (we missed them I think) but sunfish, largemouth bass, and white perch are VERY active (and catfish for the bait pitchers, of course). Casting spoons to 2oz worked for a stray striper (released, as was everything else), largemouth bass, and white perch, while a rattle trap also worked for largemouth bass. Crappie jigs worked at sunset for white perch too. On the fly, white streamers got hit by largemouth bass and white perch, and both streamers and poppers worked for sunfish around the rocks, and a few white perch too.
- Various Ponds St Peters MO, Forestell MO, and MS river slough at Dresser Island MO - 15 to 21 April 2017
- Fishing has been as opportunity arrises lately, but when we get out, fish are there. Around lakes and ponds, crappie are post spawn, bluegill and redears setting up to spawn, bass prespawn and spawn too.
Sunfish are wicked aggressive around and on beds, and non-spawners on the edges are even more so. A variety of flies are effective, including poppers, streamers, and chennelle bugs. On the river and flooded backwaters, common, silver, and grass carp, along with buffalo, are pushing into flooded grasses and weeds, looking for mayflies and beetles, so a size12 to size 8 black hackle fly or wooly worm, or wooly booger will get hit is cast CAREFULLY to feeding fish. A bad cast and off they go. Landed several 4lb to 8lb silvers that way at Dresser island (no camera, sorry), and lost a few grass carp. These are larger fish that go into weeds to rub off the line, so expect to loose many. The take is subsurface near the base of the flooded weed, with a few surface takes (ala trout) too. As the rivers flood, look for more of the flooded weed fish around flooded roads too.
- 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 Maramec 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 Maramec 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 Maramec 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.
- Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL - 25-26 March 2016
- The sauger, walleye , common carp , and white bass are biting, though the bite is sporadic due to variable air pressure. Lots of gizzard shard are around, providing plenty of forage.
On the spinning rod, a jig and florescent soft plastic fish RIGHT ON THE BOTTOM, SLOWLY may get hit by the sauger near the swinging bridge to the dam. White bass will hit smaller offerings. On the fly, a size 8 fathead red-florescent green streamer fished low and slow got hit by white bass, as did a beadhead estaz-yellow streamer below an indicator near the dam and around the boat ramp. My buddy Ben reports carp bites on corn in the same area, and other anglers said a few crappie were hitting in the old channel. Look for it all to pick up as the water warms.
- Fort Zumwalt Park OFallon MO - 22 March 2016
- Took a bit of time after work to fish very locally, and hit the lake at Fort Zumwalt Park. Like many similar ponds and lakes, early spring is the time for crappie to feed in the shalows and along dropoffs on small minnows and nymphs. In my case, a chenelle bug mimmicked the forage fairly well, getting nice crappie (though I always pitch them back here).
- Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO - 19 March 2016
- We expected crappie, though they proved reluctant, dogged again by post cold front conditions. However, largemouth bass did bite every so often near the shallows and along the banks on minnow shaped streamers and small jigs.
- Sandy Slough Mississippi River Lock and Dam 25 near Winfiled MO - 15 March 2016
- The carp are in, and the water is beginning to hold a few minnows in the shallows. However, it is still a tough bite for white bass etc., though with a streamer I got a few hits, including a goldeye.
- Sandy Slough Mississippi River Lock and Dam 25 near Winfiled MO - 12 March 2016
- Tried to jump the season a bit and hit the slough a few weeks early. The common carp are beginning to show along the shallows, in prep for spawn, though the waves of baitfish have not yet arrived, so was slim pickings for white bass and catfish. Caught a white bass on the bead-head streamer right away, then no more. Worms got a channel catfish, then nothing else, and corn was un-eaten by the carp. Lots of pelicans were visible in the air migrating back north, which is a good spring sign, and saw two bald eagles over the main river. All this will shift in the next two weeks as the baitfish return to warming waters. In the ponds around the area, crappie, other sunfish, and largemouth bass are awake, with crappie setting up for their spawn soon. Small olive or black wooly boogers are the ticket for crappie and bass, small nymphs for bluegill and redears. Spring rules I usually follow: St Patricks day is walleye and sauger time, flowering trees are crappie and white bass time.
- Baldwin Lake, Baldwin IL - 05 March 2016
- Like last weekend, we hit Baldwin again, and again the generators pumped in the morning (all 3 stacks) but were off by afternoon. Like the stacks, the fishing was good for bluegill and a few channel catfish, and two very large crappie. For the flyfisher, the beadhead nymph, yellow marabou size 8 worked wonders most of the time, accounting for a big crappie, a few channel catfish and many bluegill. More bluegill hit on a sz14 beadhead peacock herl. Spinning wise, my bro nailed one of the big crappie on a rapala, then the remaining fish on a florescent green one inch soft plastic on 1-16th oz jig head, 3 feet below a bobber. We saw one guy with a 17lb blue cat, no one else had any such luck for those. Worm pitchers we saw caught a very few bluegill and channel catfish. Bite was at dead stop by 2:30pm.
- Baldwin Lake, Baldwin IL - 27 Feb 2016
- Decided to head to a known winter producing lake for a fly-rod, i.e. Baldwin Lake, a coal-fired powerplant lake that is warm all the time. The high pressure blue-bird skies again added to the challenge, but using small streamers and chennelle bugs, produced good numbers of bluegill about midway out on the dam, with a few channel catfish, and some very nice freshwater drum in the 3lbs and up range. The beadhead streamer (see below), three feet below an indicator, looking for areas where wave came onto small flats near the drops, proved very effective, even after the generators stopped after noon. The chennelle bug also produced, mostly sunfish, in the same structure types. Didn't see any of the catfishers (though always friendly) produce any of the well known large blue cats, and they mostly got skunked up until I left around 4pm. It might have picked up after then.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 20 Feb 2016
- We tried Sandy Slough again, but switching to clear lakes with heavy weed cover and shallows, and using size 14 mysis and bead head dark nymphs with a VERY small indicator 12 inches from the fly, and lots of stealth, caught lots of bluegill and redear sunfish. With a two day thaw, sunlight heats shallow water, and particular dark green weeds in the shallows, in turn warming the water for crustaceans and nymphs, stimulating sunfish feeding. However, the sunfish are very nervous due to both the shallow water, and small bass lurking in deeper water. Carefully roll or flip the nyph into the fish and look for the soft bite of cold fish. Crappie will be setting up in a few weeks, as will white bass and sauger and walleye in the rivers.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 06 Feb 2016
- We tried Sandy Slough, Cuivre River, Lakes 33 and 10, but due to the high blue-bird sky and air pressure, nothing doing, so we bailed to lake 24 of the Winter Trout lakes and with great effort, finally landed a couple of fish.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 30 Jan 2016
- Last Day of catch and release winter trout at lakes 21 and 28, and the water is mostly deserted but with biting rainbows. The cloudy water had ice around the edges, though opened more and more as the day progressed. As per usual,
bright egg (peach, orange) and nymph patterns (prince, nuclear), or dark but large nymphs and black wooly boogers produced fish, with a strong afternoon bite along the weedbeds along the dam (look for where the wind pushes into the bank).
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 09 Jan 2016
- The snow finally showed itself this winter, though that just means quicker bites from stocked rainbow trout. In the catch and release lakes (inc. lakes 21 and 28 at Busch Wildlife Area until Feb 1) (also note there are catch and keep lakes, stocked often look at the MDC Winter Trout website), the trout again were very nymph oriented, with chartruese and flame red nymphs (size 10 to size 14) and black nymphs in the same size range, producing typical light bites (use a small indicator 4 feet from the nymph) over structure near the dams, and off of points. As the windchill and temperature dropped, ice begain to form around the edges of the lakes, and on our foul weather gear. A Note of clothing: Remember to layer clothing, as on this day we had a base wicking layer (sythetics or silk), a thin fleece, then a thick insulating layer (mine was down, my bro's mylar-thinsulate), then a waterproof and windproof outerlayer with hat and hood. Same goes for boots (in my case neoprene and rubber, with double thick wool socks and a liner). Petroleum jelly over the nose, lips and cheeks, and over the hands, to prevent chapping (though wipe off when you go back inside), gloves most of the time. Polarized sunglasses to prevent snow-blindness and improve visibility. You do not want clothes that get wet and stay wet (i.e. cotton, etc). You want ease of movement balanced by warmth. Even so, know what hypothermia and frostbite are to avoid them, and watch your buddies too. Once the ice forms, we go to the big rivers, springs, and powerplants, since in our part of the world, the ice is not the kind you can safely walk on. Get outside and fish!
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 01 Jan 2016
- Happy New Year! May it be a blessed and fishy one!, though a wet and flooded one for some. Once the roads opened, we tried the same spots in Busch Wildlife Area, and though the water was off color, very light biting trout could be caught. Small indicators were very key for any nymph, including flame red chenelle bugs, and bead head wooly boogers (which also worked sans indicator).
- Meramec Springs, Meramec River, St. James MO- 23 Dec 2015
- The deluge is one the way, but we snuck in some fishing in the Catch and Release season. Rock bass were all over in the upper reaches and smashed any streamer fished near the bottom, while the rainbow trout (and a few brown trout) were pickier in the off colored water, hitting some dry flies (grizzly hackled skaters, cracklebacks), glowballs, and Chamois worms. A few good smallmouth bit with the rock bass, though not as many as when the water downstream gets colder.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 21 Dec 2015
- Same old rainbow trout, hitting the same flies including orange chennelle bugs, black nymphs (inc. stone flies), and dark streamers such as black wooly boogers.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 12 Dec 2015
- Again hitting the Winter Trout Program stocked rainbow trout on nymphs such as stoneflies, glowballs, and chennelle bugs. For the spinner, a dark colored marabou jig and bobber produced fish as well on the catch and release lakes. Fish were caught off the points and off the dam, and in the corner shallows. The water is high, and the ground is soft, so bring rubber boots.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 05 Dec 2015
- As per last several weekends, a mild December, combined with Winter Trout Program stocked rainbow trout resulted again in predictable
catches, on nymphs such as stoneflies, glowballs, and chennelle bugs. For the spinner, a dark colored marabou jig and bobber produced fish as well on the catch and release lakes. There is now a skim of ice in the shallow spots some mornings, but it melts quickly in the 50 degree afternoons. If you get out to Busch, a good spot for lunch is the Piazza Deli, where we get strombolis, sandwitches, salads, and homemade gooey butter cake at the intersection of Hwy D and DD just outside Busch Wildlife Area. Say hi to Peggy if you go.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 25 Nov 2015
- Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for may things in my life, be sure to enumerate those blessings you enjoy. A blessing to all Missourians is the Winter Trout Season, which continues to allow
enjoyable flyrod and spinning rod action for rainbow trout. On the catch and release lakes, Dark colored nymphs such as stone flies, peach colored glowballs, and olive and black wooly boogers continue to produce fish, as did mysis nymphs and beadhead white size 10 streamers. As per usual, use a long 2lb tippet,
set 3 feet below an indicator for all but the 'boogers. The take is fairly soft, as the fish learn to avoid biting hooks. Bluegill and crappie add variety to the bite.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 14 Nov 2015
- Happy Trouts-giving to all! Winter Stocking Program fishers who forewent deer season for a while to catch trout, I say hale and good tidings(note-it is very possible to do both hunting in the morning and fishing in the afternoon). As per every year the trout (rainbows mostly, and a few browns) went in just after 1 Nov, Jefferson Lake is usually the first, Busch Wildlife Area lakes following a few days later. This is a good chance to show the kids how to fish fyi. Lakes 21 and 28 area again Fly or unscented Lure Catch and Release only until 01 Feb 2016, while Lakes 3, 22, 23 are catch and keep, any legal bait/lure.
See the link on the MO Dept of Conservation page for the rest of the lakes, all throughout STL, KC, and other areas. As per usual the trout parks will go to catch and release lure/fly only soon as well.
For those who forgot, or are new, two pound florocarbon leaders are key to getting bit. Make sure you have a good drag, as there are some super-stockers to 10lbs in each location (one took away one of my wooly boogers), though most trout are 10 to 16 inches. Note that bass,
crappie, and bluegill also bite the same flies on warm days in the same lakes. For the spinning rod pitcher, a weighted bobber and marabou jig (black, olive or white) works pretty good most of the time. Small spoons and spinners also occasionally work, as do very small plugs, though if fishing a catch and release lake please use single hooks and mash down the barbs. Bring forceps to release fish, preferably without grabbing them or lifting them. Report poachers if you see any, as they are stealing from everyone. Fly wise, size 14 wooly boogers in white or olive worked well, especially as it got darker, though small dry flies and poppers picked off a few at peak times. If it looks slow, a size 14 bead head peacock herl nymph four feet under a very small indicator will catch them, fished near areas of weed edges and microcurrents. Also a dime sized glowball, or chennelle bug (size 14) will get nibbled on occasion.
If trout are not your game, note that carp are feeding heavily in all the sloughs, and a few white bass and sauger will be around as the temps drop. No doubt below the Chain of Rocks and Lake Carlyle the white bass and walleyes and sauger are feeding on pick days as well.
- Incline Village private pond Forestell MO - 05 Nov 2015
- In another occurance my brother was fishing for grass carp in his home lake using 4lb line 31 Oct and a yellow bobber and jig, when he hooked a four foot long grass carp, which dragged his kayak all over. He landed the fish on the bank, and while reaching to photo his beat, the fish flipped off and back to the lake. My bro jumped into the chest deep water to re-capture the carp, a foot in diameter at least, drowning his smart phone, making photos impossible. The fish was strong and got loose, waiting for his next attempt. For inspiration next time, I showed him my monster grass carp on 4lb line from Orlando in 1998 which of course I have a picture for (and was on this website then too) LOL. HOWEVER, On 5 Nov he landed the same fish (and released it), AND got the picture (in the water to reduce stress on the beast), so LOL to me.
- Sandy Slough, Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 31 Oct 2015
- Given last weekend's tough fishing, and the rain, and a very slow start, we decided to flip whole kernel corn on a
size 6 hook and a VERY light split shot in the muddy shallows for the numerous
common carp we knew were there (we could see many of them). On light tackle these fish are a blast, though they bit softly, and were barely hooked in the corner of the mouth when landed. Most ran four pounds to twenty pounds, a few smaller. Tried a few flies, including slowly fishing black wooly boogers and stone flies, but couldn't get the carp to bite those. Maybe next time I use an unweighted chennelle bug.
- Potomac River near Key Bridge, Washington DC (Arlington VA) - 29 Oct 2015
- The Potomac River is always reliable for catch and release fly fishing (good enough for many Presidents anyhow), and a cheap non-resident license (and the water goes all the way to the VA side bank). A bead-head chennelle and marabou size 6 streamer fly below an indicator, nailed the many Yellow Perch, which were blasting minnows along the banks. A quick hop of the fly made them smack the fly (and sometimes the indicator). A few sunfish joined the fun when they bit hard enough to get hooked.
- Sandy Slough, Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO, Cuivre River Old Monroe MO, Fountain Lakes, St. Charles MO - 24 Oct 2015
- The lower water in the slough was tough to fish with fly or spinning rod, yeilding only a largemouth bass for hours of effort, so we retreated first to the Cuivre River, where a White Bass (but just one white bass) came in. Retreating even further, we hit the north part of the Fountain Lakes Park in St. Charles MO and caught but one bluegill. Maybe next weekend they bite better.
- Sandy Slough, Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 17 Oct 2015
- The slough is still very slow, and another cold front dropped the temps, but fly fishing is still good, and interesting. On the flats edges, carp and buffalo swim, but eluded the flies I pitched. However, the herring and white bass were very agressive, hitting streamers and poppers. Another fish that switched on was the gizzard shad. Now most think they are not a fly rod target, but big shad do indead blast flies and poppers, just like their herring relatives, though are far more difficult to hook. The shad were eating the drifting chunks of algae that the sun and current released from the shallows. A sz14 unweighted yellow chennelle nymph four inches under a very small indicator (which also gets hit) hooked fish, though the take is FAST and quick, and they drop the fly just as quick. A very light hook set gets the shad, which fight hard for their size. Good opportunity for the light fly rods. A variety of dry flies also caught shad and herring.
- Sandy Slough, Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 10 Oct 2015
- The Slough continues to drop, and the scum is on the edges, but a white streamer (mine was a bead head white marabou and estaz size 6 on a long shank) fished along current breaks with a quick pop got smacked by numerous skipjack herring and a few white bass and crappie. The crappie are alot smaller than before. Lots of common and silver carp are crowding the deeper channels but no takes from them. Downside is now I need to clean my fly line and rod. If the water drops further it will be true scum fly fishing like last year (dirty and messy but lots of common, grass, silver and bighead carp). Cold snaps have stimulated a morning and evening bite almost everywhere in lakes and streams for crappie, bass, and everything else.
- Sandy Slough, Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 03 Oct 2015
- As predicted, the cool air arrived, and with overcast conditions, the fall bite is on! Crappie dominated the catch, hammering the fathead red-green fly, and the white beadhead streamer, and on the spinning rod, a 1-16th oz jig and green-red tube. The setup was current over 1-2ft drop-offs near the rocks, trees, bridges, etc. The curent is the draw, with a flow from shallow flats into a channel, esp. near downed trees or other structures. Most crappie were 10 to 12 inches, with a few largemouth and white bass mixed in. It is just the beginning, and it will get better in all the rivers and lakes as the water stays trends down to 50 degrees F. Look for the same situation at Howell Island, Columbia Bottom, Chain of Rocks, most lakes, and many other spots. The pelicans are already migrating south in swarms, and the eagles are starting to show.
- Northern IN, St. Joseph River at Mishawaka, Little Calumet at Portage, Lakefront Burns Ditch Portage, Lake Michigan Jerose Park Pier East Chicago - 25 and 27 Sep 2015
- This was fishing as a target of oportunity around a college football game. The St Joseph still has Skemania Steelhead and some fall run steelhead, which hit on silver bladed spinners (esp. size 6 Panther Martin) fished slowly near the bottom downstream a bit (in our case Mishawaka Central Park, though Niles and Elkhart both are also good dams too) We saw one angler leave with a 30 inch and 20 inch pair of steelhead, caught right up against the dam. Our steelies shook off on the surface, but largemouth and smallmouth bass did come in for release. We also looked at the creeks to see if the salmon were in yet, answer is no. There were small pike in the middle reaches of the Little Calumet in Indiana Dunes that would take a spinner. In the harbor at the end of Burns Ditch, we saw one salmon jump, but no one, us included, caught any salmon, though many caught channel catfish. We also hit Jerose park (Cline Ave, East Chicago), and hiked past the beach construction (with the guard's blessing) and poked around the pier. Again, no salmon, and no one else saw any either, though smallmouth bass tried to get our spoons and spinners, drum swam in the enclosed part of the casino harbor, and gobies hit anything small near the rocks. A good rain, and cooler weather should trigger the creek and harbor coho and chinook salmon run in the next two weeks. Didn't check the lakeshore drive harbors in Chicago, but I am sure they are running in and out at night, and will start hanging around next few weeks as well.
- Panama City Beach FL Gulf of Mexico and St Andrew Bay- 13 to 19 September 2015
- (from my bro Jordan) Many options abound at Panama City Beach Florida. The Gulf of Mexico Pier had spanish mackerel, jacks (blue runner and jack crevalle), and a few morning and evening king mackerel. Other than the kings, the 1oz jigging spoon on a 30lb florocarbon leader worked well, if you avoided the fish stealing dolphins. Next, a charter on First Light Charters behind Shell Island yielded many catch and release sized redfish, on live pilchards. Quick action on light tackle. The same charter hit many nice ladyfish off the beach, and saw (but not caught) many tarpon pods. A trip on the party boat Jubilee which had nice mates (which where helpful and polite to a spinning rod angler-40lb spectra heavy spinner-, even providing lures on occasion. A rarity in the FL Panhandle. My salute to the boat's captain and crew.) and yielded catch and released amberjack on the 3.5oz glow benthos, and vermillion (locally called bee-liner) snappers on baits. Note: from my own experience, there are also many gulf kingfish (whiting) in the surf near the beach using small shrimp flies or peeled shrimp on light line.
- Saint Charles MO riverfront, local lakes, and Winfield MO - 12 to 21 September 2015
- Still the dog days of summer, with some cool mornings. Targeting the sloughs is still folly, but the main rivers have many catfish and drum willing to take a variety of baits such as shrimp, worms, and shad. The ponds hold lure and fly-biting sunfish and bass at sunrise and sunset. Bass love zonkers and poppers in the early morning and evening, and on the spinning rod many soft plastics work at sunset for large bass.
- Belmont Shores Veterans Memorial Pier, near Long Beach CA - 31 August 2015
- Out here to present a space farm paper at the AIAA SPACE 2015 conference (and yes, the farm model uses silver carp), but took an evening to stop by the pier and catch a few Pacific Ocean fishes. While there was a slow bite during daylight hours for mackerel and croakers, the bite went exponential after dark under the lights, with many, many, many mackerel hitting any small offering just under the surface, including squid strips, jigs, and the like. Very fun on light tackle, didn't keep anything.
- Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 22 near Saverton MO - 22 August 2015
- Again, dogged by the dog days, with a few drum, white bass, and catfish responding to live minnow and shad baits, small jigs, and a few minnow streamer flies. Will improve very soon, unleashing white bass and herring for the fall run.
- Sandy Slough and Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 01 to 15 August 2015
- Dog days of summer are here, with high water temps, off air pressures, and bouncing river levels.We fished mid-morning to afternoon, so action was very slow, likely better st sunrise and sunset. The slough was VERY slow, even for carp, with a few small flatheads and channels to be had on various offerings, including worms. Above the dam, the deeper water produced some decent drum, and odd catfish, on fresh shad. Local private lakes produced some nice largemouth on twitchbaits and soft-plastics.
- Atlantic Ocean off Islamorada FL - 23 to 26 July 2015
- Chancy weather mixed with flat calm days and variable winds made for an interetsing boat trip. We rented a center console from Bump and Jump out of Bud N Marys and out of three days, we had an insanely good day, a mediocre day, and a rain-out after a slow morning. The first day was the insane day, with very calm winds, we made a long run to 500 ft of water and trolled current rips, pulling in mahi-mahi (dolphin fish),little tunny, and skipjack tuna (released, no way to get an HMS Tuna tag in a rental boat, grrrr) on an 8 knot troll using small blunt head blue-silver tinsle and rattling jet head heads. When the troll bite slowed we came a long way in and intercepted a very large sargassum patch that was alive with almaco jacks, baby amberjacks, scad , filefish, triggerfish, chubs, and many more mahis, along with a few large sharks that tried to get our flyrod and jig catches (any jigging spoon or pompano jig). Flywise, any 2 to 3 inch eyed or beaded streamer white or florescent yellow was hammered, on 6 ft 10lb to 15lb florcarbon tippet, 8 wgt rod with floating line. Move the fly FAST! All fish released that time, due to not having enough ice to keep any mahis. We also jigged up some fun little tunny on speed jigs rigged on light (20lb to 30lb) florocarbon leaders, loosing some expensive jigs to likely king mackerel. The next day the winds picked up and we scratched at 10lb little tunny on the troll just off the reef edge in 50 to 100 feet of water, then went inside of 40 feet and jigged a few ceros, and random released reef fish such as yellowtail snappers, sand tilefish, lizardfish, and small groupers on small jigging spoons and bucktails. The last boat day was like the windy day, with more big ceros on the troll (some this time kept for dinner, very yummy), and blue runners and ceros on the jigs. Storms put an end to the last day early, with an always fun run through a fast moving squall using GPS and compass (though we were very close to port in Hawk Channel when it caught us). Left the Keys just in time to avoid the insanity that is the mini lobster season.
- Bananna River Bridge Hwy 528 and Port Canaveral Rodney S. Ketcham Park- 30 May 2015
- Using peeled frozen shrimp, and shad dart flies, caught a mixed bag of smaller fish at both locations, including pufferfish, pinfish, pigfish, and croakers, and silver trout midday. Normally the Bananna river bridge is a good spotted seatrout ,ladyfish, jack crevalle, and gulf kingfish (aka whiting) spot, but no dice for those (likely due to time of day, and dolphins...fishing late morning to midday). Ketcham Park had mangrove (gray) snappers, pinfish, margates, sailors choice, and other grunts, even at our off time, on peeled frozen shrimp.
- St. Johns River Hwy 50 near Midway FL and Playa Linda Beach Canaveral National Seashore FL - 29 May 2015
- Drove by the public boat access many times going between Orlando and Titusville, but decided on a whim to use my freshwater license for an hour to take my oldest niece fishing. We did not have good baits (we used canned sausages from a gas station...corn would work better), but caught warmouth sunfish on bait and on a red chennelle bug fly. Hoped for walking catfish, armored catfish, or suckermouth catfish exotics which were jumping every so often. We also kept a constant eye on the numerous wild alligators from 5 feet to 1 foot in size. The gators kept their distance, and we made sure not to bother them. At Playa Linda, the Sargassum weed and very rough surf made my exploits fishless for the hour I tried, though it is always pretty going to this natural beach (with rocket launch pads nearby).
- Fort DeSoto Park, Tierra Verde FL - 28 May 2015
- Always very photogenic and fishy, the Gulf Pier had a few Spanish mackerel and many blue runners for the lure thrower, especially on the 3" white speed jig. For those using squid, small snappers, pigfish, pinfish, other porgies, and other grunts, readily picked hooks. Live sardines/herring were just fodder for the dolphins which grabbed even bottom baits. Groups of tarpon gulped along every so often, refusing lures and baits (likely would eat a crab though).
- Veterans Memorial Pier, Titusville FL - 26,28 May 2015
Good bait fishing for a mixed panfish bag up until sunset, then off the hook insane catch and release spotted (speckled) seatrout fishing under and around the lights after dark. Lots of large gafftopsail seacatfish on squid, shrimp, or cut baits. A few bluefish also patrolled the lights, making for a bit of extra excitement. Also a decent bar and grill, Crackerjacks, at the front...very good fish tacos and fish sandwiches.
- Port Canaveral Jetty Park Pier and Beach - 26 May 2015
- Cloudy water means we should have used shrimp on small hooks, but opted for lures instead, to no avail. Theoretically, spanish mackerel, blue runners, and snook should be around. Schools of mullet were swimming by. However, lots of cute baby sea turtles were feeding near the rocks, and the view is always good here. My little nieces and nephew used their little nets to catch a variety of species for an informal survey of the beach life (all released alive), which had many baitfish, a few pompano, and sargassum filefish.
- Riverlands Wildlife Area and old Alton Dam, West Alton MO - 23 May 2015
- Odd weather and high water in the Missouri river, along with having a short fishing window, and two kiddos who want to play and fish, lead us to pick a couple of spots with sand and somewhat easier fish. Alton has several good spots, especially in the shallow Riverlands area (same area where I look for Eagles in the winter). Worms got hits from lots of little drum and catfish, and one nice white bass for the youngster.
- below Carlyle lake Dam, Kaskaskia River, Carlyle IL - 16 May 2015
- Four gates open, though with fairly low water, equal oodles of crappie, and a few of ther species. Crappie were all along the edges of flow and hit just about any lure or fly less than 1.5 inches in length. That included surface lures such as poppers and spinning rod equivelents in the morning, then going to an all day subsurface bite one to 4 feet below the surface. Most were 6 to 8 inches, so through back variety, but fun on ultralight tackle (and 2-4 wgt fly gear). below the crappie, some nice white bass and a few yellow bass hit the same lures, with a few buffalo and very few silver and bighead carp in fly range (though well within slab spoon spinning rod range next to the dam itself). Look for the Asian carp to increase as the water temp increases. Congrats to the winners of the HS State Bass tourney on the main lake (advice? next time use 6lb line and a 3 inch silver twitchbait or surface lure same size SLOW along the riprap, kiddos, and you will catch more big bass in that situation...the shad are still little :0)
- public fishing pond, Bromellsleick Park near Wentzville MO - 09 May 2015
- Sometimes it isn't bad to fish in the old school four species (i.e. Bluegill, Redear Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish) pond. With chancy weather on the way, and sunfish either on beds, or just off of them, and largemouth preying on those, a pond can provide a quick fishing fix. A small wooly booger (size 14) on 2lb tippet was readily eaten by both sunfish and bass on the fly (add an indicator to pop to attract bass if they are the target), though the bass hit poppers in the morning really well, and a zonker pretty well also. Look for the bass in the shallows and on the outer edge of weedbeds as they look for frogs (plentiful on this lake) and sunfish to inhale.
- Sandy Slough Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO- 02 May 2015
- The muddy waters had many bite from white bass and crappie all morning into afternoon. emerald shiners and silversides were the primary forage (and could be seen in schools along the rocks), and a soft plastic jig was a good imitator for the spinning rod. On the fly, clouser eyed streamers sz 6 to sz 8 in fathead/shad dart patterns (that look like the forage, i.e. white and yellow) produced quite well, even resulting in a very large common carp on the fly too.
- Tampa Bay Near Hwy 60, Ft Desoto Gulf Pier Terra Verde, FL, and Pier 60 Clearwater Beach, near Tampa FL - 27 April to 30 April 2015
- Very short fishing time windows this trip, but did fish three locales: hwy 60 bridge, Ft Desoto Gulf Pier, and Pier 60. The Highway 60 bridge pull offs near bridges had very slippery oyster covered rocks, but at night produced ladyfish on slab spoons (hooked far more than landed on this lure--easy for the ladyfish to throw it), and sea catfish (hardhead and gafftopsail--both fight well on appropriately sized gear) on squid. Also missed a few likely bonnethead sharks, which we saw others land as well. At Fort Desoto, the last bit of daylight allowed a few Spanish Mackerel to nail the jigging spoons, then ladyfish dominated the lure bite. Several tarpon (50lbs to 80lbs) jumped around eating crabs, though we did not bring that gear along. As per usual, a night bite on squid for catfish and other night dwellers was strong. Pier 60 had a strong wind from the west and very cloudy water, the only bites we or anyone got were from hardhead catfish on shrimp right near the shop.
- Kaskakskia River below Lake Carlyle Dam, Carlyle IL- 25 April 2015
- Small Sauger are about, as are small White Bass, and drum, but Crappie are everywhere. Closer to the Swinging Bridge small sauger and drum mix with the crappie, while near the dam iteself, crappie dominate the catch, with a few white bass mixed in. As per usual, spinning rod users will find bites on 1-8th oz jig heads with 2 inch soft plastic tails in bright colors (esp. florescent green and white). On the fly many streamers worked, such as the clouser eyed fathead with a long florescent green psuedo marabou tail, and bead head wooly boogers size 12 to size 6 in olive, black, and white. White bass will soon show in size and numbers.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 19 April 2015
- Only little crappie are biting now, the bigger ones in spawn and post spawn mode, but beast sized sunfish have filled the gap, a bead-head sz12 olive wooly booger was the key fly to catch them (and they do fight hard , esp on a 2 wgt rod). Look along dams and in shallows of walk-in ponds and smaller lakes. A slow retrieve is the key way to get bit. Poppers also worked somewhat but will become the major fly as the water warms (and small frogs are all over).
- Old Tampa Bay along Rte 60, Tampa, FL, 13 to 17 April 2015
- Look for the little white crabs (about nickel sized) under lights, or on incomming tides, and you will find spotted seatrout and many, many, ladyfish. Forgot to bring the key fly pattern (i.e. a white wooly worm with eyes in saltwater style), but on the spinning rod, a one inch white slab spoon fished very slowly along the bottom got hit, though it was very hard to keep the ladyfish hooked for long on it. Remember to carefully release those specs for now. Also tried a zonker on the fly, which was grabbed often by needlefish.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 11 April 2015
- Crappie are hot at most lakes in the shallows, setting up for spawn. Small micro-jig and stream type flies are the key...fished slowly under an indicator near structure. The bite is often a slow drag, or pull under.
- Daingerfield Island, Potomac River (Washington DC), Alexandria VA - 09 April 2015
- Water is still very cold, but big crappie are about, on small white streamers (such as the sz6 BeadHead White Streamer) fished slowly near docks. White perch are inbound but not around yet, and a few yellow perch are biting as well.
- Susquahanna River, Havre de Grace MD - 07 to 08 April 2015
- Water is still very cold and slow bites are few, a few shad in Deer Creek and other locale though not interested in darts or the like, and a few stripers are about also. That said, White Perch are in and biting heavily on worms (Earthworms and Bloodworms) fished right on the bottom. Look for shad and everything to be active next few weeks.
- Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 28 Mar 2015
- Water is still very cold and slow bites are few, but small flies and jigs can get a few sunfish. In a week it should be crappie city here.
- Tennessee River below Guntersville Dam, near Guntersville (Huntsville) AL 16 to 19 March 2015
- A first run to drop a fly in Alabama fresh water after work, found Skipjack Herring, and sunfish, with missed bites from white bass, on a white bead head streamer along trh rocks below the dam. Look for seagulls and fish below the generators, if you can, for better white bass bites. Look for increasing white bass and striped bass bites as the spring progresses.
- Baldwin Lake IL - 14 Mar 2015
- This warm water lake produces well even on the coldest days. We saw another angler with a nice blue catfish, but overall our day was bluegill and smaller channel catfish. Many streamers worked under an indicator, as did a sz8 scud. Jigs also worked for the spinning rod.
- (from Jim) Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico Islamorada FL - 03 to 05 Mar 2015
- On a first trip, caught and released small barracuda in the backwater canals using plugs. Later took a trip on the Miss Islamorada out of Bud N' Mary's to sandball for a mixed bag of yellowtail snappers, grunts, blue runners, and a released Amberjack off the reef edge. He also caught barracuda on bass lures around mangroves in the backwaters.
- Mississippi River Sandy Slough near Lock and Dam 25 Winfield MO - 07 Mar 2015
- Common Carp are moving in pre-spawn and are very aggressive in the shallow waters of the slough, hitting jigs. Look for them to spwn on the high water later in the month. They will hit glowballs and black wooly boogers if presented carefully.
- Riverlands Wildlife Area and Dresser Island - 28 Feb 2015
- Cold Weather and storms are still dogging our fishing efforts, though I did poke at the open water around Dresser Island and got skunked. Then took a trip a bit further down river to the Riverlands Wildlife Refuge across the river from Alton IL and took some pictures of trumpeter swans and a few eagles. Hopefully warmer weather will open more water soon.
- Mississippi River Between Clarksville and Hannibal MO - 14 Feb 2015
- No fish on this report, instead did some running upriver to lok at the Eagles and scout new spots (aka a romantic dive with my wife). Looks like there are some interesting access points on the Salt River on Hwy79, and looked at the Missouri Side access near Saverton Mo. Lots of Eagles at the Lock and Dam 24 at Clarksville (they seem to be spotty everywhere else this year). If you want to know where we went, my Eagle Page covers the typical routes and locations. Enjoy these pics of the large raptors.
Salt River Bluff View Access Retention Dam near New London MO - 31 May 2014
A warm and muggy day, but good fishing was had for nice sized white bass and hybrids, freshwater drum, and a few other oddities. Yellow was the key color, as the fish were ambushing silversides(a yellowish minnow) in the rocks where the current was fast over shallow water at the end of the 'bowl'. On the fly, #12 white wooly-boogers, #8 corn-colored classic wooly worm, and 1/80th oz yellow chennell bug all were effective. On the spin, a 2 inch yellow soft plastic on a 1/16th oz jig head boiunced along the rocks worked very well. Many buffalo fish were all along the rocks eating micro-foods, but I couldn't get them to hit any nymph in my box...maybe next time.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle Dam Carlyle IL - 24 May 2014
Fishing is again hot below the dam on spin and fly, for silver and bighead carp, crappie, sauger, drum, blugill, and of course white bass (including some hybrid white-stripers). Flywise, many sinking florescent yellow flies worked, beadhead and min-jighead patterns all effective, especially under an indicator to get a vertical presentation. Most fish wre along the drop-offs , except the silver and bighead which were near the dam just under the surface. Spinning wise, the same colors in small soft plastics and jigging spoons from 1 inch to 1.5 inches work well under a bobber or just bounced along the bottom.
Sandy Slough Winfield MO - 17 May 2014
The water is up and rising, and silversides and emerald shiners are comming into the slough, followed by skipjack herring, white bass, sauger, gar, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, drum, and flathead catfish. Flywise, the payoff fly was a #6 short white beadhead zonker, quickly pulled along the surface. Common Carp are still spawning, but will be on the feed next week or so, as will grass and grass carp, in the flooded grass and under berry trees.
Susquahanna River State Park,Susquahanna River, near Harve de Grace, MD - 12-14 May 2014
Good fishing for White Perch (i.e. like a white bass minus the stripes), yellow perch, largemouth bass, and channel catfish on dart style and flashabou 1 inch white and silver flies, 1 inch silver kastmasters, and worms (white perch and catfish on worms more than anything here, small ones). Clouser eyed flies with bucktail or doll-hair tails (again 1 inch) and kastmasters also worked well for catch and release American Shad action between the perch. Remember to carefully release shad by leaving them in the water when possible, fighting them in quickly (I used 8lb tippets, so quick fights), and using barbless hooks. Both perch and shad loiter near the bottom, so retrieves need to be slow and in contact with the bottom. If you loose a fly every so often to a rock, you are doing it right. We did see some striped bass blowing up way out in the river, but they are off-limits for a while yet.
Kaskaskia River, spillway, Carlyle IL - 10 May 2014
White Bass , Silver Carp, and bighead carp, are all over, and will take a white streamer on the fly (classic salmon swing retrieve), or a 1 inch jigging spoon or soft-plastic jig. A bait (such as shrimp pieces) worked very well under a bobber for white bass as well. Very easy fishing for the kiddos. FYI, there is a nice taquarita in the local Guzmans groceria, with really good tacos and tamales (though we also eat at Weelans BBQ shack too, same rules as before...we are not responsible for where you eat lunch).
Chain of Rocks Canal, Busch Wildlife Area, Carlyle IL Kaskaskia River, and MS river near Portage Des Sioux - 17-25 April 2014
Bouncy weather has lead to bouncy fishing, and bouncy water levels in the rivers. When rising, all the rivers are good, but when dropping not so. Even thus, the catfish, drum ,and gar, (the common carp are spawning) all bite on worms, shrimp, and various lures. Look for breakwaters for crappie and white bass. In lakes, such as Busch Wildlife Area, the action is hotter, with bass, crappie, and sunfish all on the feed. Small nymphs, minnow shaped flies (or 3" bass assassins), and on warmer days, popper flies and topwater lures, all work.
(from my bro Josh) Turtle Creek and Spring Creek and Cedar River IA - 21-22 April 2014
Good fly fishing in the stocked creeks for Brook, Rainbow, and Brown trout on black wooly boogers and other flies. In the Cedar river, a strong smallmouth bufflo run was un derway, and walleye bit on the soft plastic tailed jigs.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO - 12 Apr 2014
Spring is here, and the turtles and crappie and active. Every year the turtles (red ears, sliders, etc.) camp out on logs warming up and setting up to breed. When they show, so do the crappie in the shallows of lakes and ponds. A white bead head streamer was the key fly, as was a 'floating' (actually neurtrally bouyant) white zonker on 2lb tippet. The remaining trout in the stocked lakes are also biting, as are a few stray largemouth bass, which are pre-spawn, and redear sunfish and bluegill.
(from my bro Josh) Turtle Creek and Spring Creek IA - 10 to 11 April 2014
Up in mid to northern Iowa it is tsill very chilly, but many creeks are stocked with rainbows and have some wild brook trout as well. Wooly Boogers and Cracklebacks worked for the trout (2lb tippet) in these classic looking creeks.
Sandy Slough MS River LD25 Winfield MO
The Water is still a bit cold,(45 F) but channel catfish, small drum, small gar, and silver carp are about. Worms are the bait, fished on the bottom, for most species in this post rain water,
but small jigs might get a silver carp too. Silver carp pieces got bit by smaller gar. Next week this will be a hot spot if the water is above 54 F.
Chain of Rocks and Canal - 29 March 2014
Chilly and windy early spring weather made for cold fishing in the mighty Mississippi River. The Chain of Rocks itself (i.e. low water dam side) looked to have just dropped and was deserted. We did try nightcrawlers for shovelnosed sturgeon and drum, but no luck there, so we relocated to the canal. The Canal was better, with sporatic bites from channel catfish 13 inches to 15 inches on nightcrawlers, and one very small drum. Soon the sauger will bite I hope. Saw one bald eagle. The trout are still active at Busch Wildlife Area where stocked. Probably better next weekend.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO - 22 March 2014
Variable weather in early spring can mean snow or sun, but the fish are beginning to move into spring mode anyhow. Shallow waters near drop offs get warmed by the sun, making minnows, baby sunfish, scuds, and nymphs active. Toss in structure like downed trees and this means crappie. Take into account the trout stocking of months past, you have many fish. Trout will be on the shallows on cooler days, sometimes setting up a false redd, other times poking the weeds in packs for scuds and nymphs. Sunfish fill be around the trout on moderate days, but will definitely be in the shallows on warmer days. In any case, a size 14 dark colored nymph works well, such as a bead head peacock hurl, prince nymph, scud, or nuclear nymph. If the trout are very active, try dry flies such as a crackleback or small popper. If there are brown trout around, any white streamer or white microjig pattern will work too. Let the mixed bag begin. As per last year , watch the water temps in the rivers (All local rivers on the Army COE website and water levels to find flood times and temperatures in the 48 F-58 F range, and you will get sauger and walleye , then white bass when the rivers get over 55 F. Flooding will double your chances.
Baldwin Lake IL - 15 March 2014
Very simlar to last trip here. Fast fishing for small channel catfish and sunfish using stoneflies, pink chennelle bug, and white marabou bead head fly under an indicator along the rocks anywhere on the dam. About a third of the way out, my bro used a green sunfish to catch a medium blue cat of 5lbs, and like on the fly, tube jigs under an indicator and plugs worked for the same mix.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO - 22 Feb 2014 and 08 Mar 2014
As the ice breaks up and reforms and breaks up again, sunfish, crappie, and for those lakes so stocked, trout, are feeding on nymphs, and dying shad, getting ready for the spring.
The lakes that have large gizzard shad populations will see the post ice die off, and shad drooping out of the ice, and crappie, catfish, and bass feed on these easy to grab food nibblets. Any offering here has to be very SLOW due to the very cold water (38 F-45 F). In most lakes, sunlight warms the dark bottoms and weed in the shallows, making caddis etc all nymphs and scuds active, and sunfish of many types (including bass) are snacking on them. Ditto for trout if stocked in the lake. A #14 bead head nymph of almost any dark type works, as do chennelle bugs, all fish under a small indicator to see the soft bites. If the shallows get really warm and active in the faternoon, a dry fly such as a crackleback, many hackles, and very small poppers work also. Bass are feeding on young of last year bluegill in most lakes, so dark (or white if shad) streamers fished slowly near rip-rap work for them. Time to get out and fish again!
Baldwin Lake IL - 15 February 2014
All the local rivers and lakes are covered in ice after a midwestern winter like the ones I remember as a kid. As a result, we drove to one of the places we know is heated by a powerplant and open year round. The water was steaming and the 20mph winds and 28F temps made for a sporty day, but the fish bit. Fewer catfish than normal though a few typical 10 to 13 inch channel catfish, 4 inch to 7 inch green sunfish, and typical 2 to 4 lb freshwater drum took silversides, or any fly that looked like a silverside. Orange tube jigs worked as well, and for the fly rod, good flies were the bead head white marabou and estaz streamer, #6 black stonefly, and the hot pink chennelle bug, all fished under an indicator.
Lake Taneycomo and top of Bull Shoals Lake Branson MO and Forsyth MO- 30 Dec 2013 to 04 Jan 2014
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014. Took an end of year trip to Branson Mo to hit the very reliable rainbow trout (and longear sunfish and largemouth bass and usually brown trout) fishing in Lake Taneycomo, and was not disapointed, cold weather or not.
The tourists are gone, and so are the crowds. While the water was running heavy from Table Rock Dam all but the last day, the fishing from the parks along the lake (Hatchery, downtown Branson, Empire Park, River Run Park) was still good for the adaptable angler. Below the hatchery outlets, size 16 scuds worked very well, as did cracklebacks fished dry, and wooly boogers, and midge patterns and large floating salmon flies. Downstream, chennelle bugs and wooly booger streamers (and other streamers) worked well. Once the water dropped to a reasonable level on the 4th we waded out and had banner fishing on streamers and large floating flies (in addition to scuds and olive wooly boogers).
Baldwin lake, Baldwin IL - 30 Dec 2013
Temps in the teens (F) with winds make for frozen water, but also for heavy electricity use, and therefore very warm power plant lakes like Baldwin Lake.Had the lake almost entirely to myself, and using a size 6 mysis charlie-like streamer and chenelle bugs nailed many,many bluegill and green sunfish to 8 inches, though the channel catfish seemed unable to stay hooked. Another angler using shad for bait caught blue catfish (4 to 6lbs +/-, small for this lake) also. As per usual coots, herons, and geese (Snow and Canadian species) abounded in the air above.
Jefferson Lake at Forest Park St Louis MO - 27 Dec 2013
Water is frozen at most of our favorite spots, so we took a drive to the well areated and rainbow trout stocked Jefferson Lake in Forest Park (with a pasta lunch at Joey B's on the Hill, yummy). The Ice Rink was packed but the lake was mostly empty of anglers except for a few very friendly gentlemen who we swapped tips and flies with. A size 14 bead head peacock nymph with copper wrap (2 ft below an indicator on 2lb tippet) was the pick fly, and got us many rainbows to fight and release.
MERRY CHRISTMAS 25 Dec 2013
As my gift to you (those who celebrate Christmas anyhow), I composed two poems for your enjoyment. May your holiday (whatever holiday it is) be joyful and blessed.
Carp Lake at Suson Park St. Louis MO - 29 Nov 2013
Black Friday might be a good shopping day, but due to the Winter Stocking Program, it is a good fishing day also. The lakes of the Saint Louis region parks are very easy to take the kiddos out
to try their rods for stocker rainbow trout, and resident sunfish, both of which will hit small offerings in the cold water. A #14 black and copper bead head (or any similarly sized nymph) on 2lb line or tippet will work, fished near the edges of the lakes, especially if rocks or culverts are visible. A single corn kernel, maggot, or power nugget on a #12 hook will also work fished under a very small bobber. Fish near the ice edge, then expand your range as the ice melts (and the fish get more active). Carp Lake at Suson Park is also supposed to have very good common carp fishing in the summer, in addition to the winter stocked trout, and the Suson animal farm is a good break activity for the youngsters.
Busch Wildlife Area (BWA) Weldon Springs MO and oxbows of Dardenne Creek Saint Peters MO -09 to 10 Nov 2013
Now the winter trout program is underway, many lakes in the region host stocker rainbows, and warm afternoons result in mixed catches of trout and sunfish. For now,the hot fly was a bead head black and copper nymph size 14, below an indicator on 2lb tippet, but most dark colored nymphs will work. Many redear sunfish hit the same fly if fished near structure like downed trees and weeds. Most likely a strong bite on other lures will emerge as time progresses.
Moving east, due to the warm afternoons the grass carp are still active in the oxbows of creeks as well.
St Joseph River Niles MI - 03 Nov 2013
Took a target of opportunity chance to fish in the MI section of the St Joe downstream from South Bend late morning, and caught the very start of the winter steelhead run. You had to be almost on the dam to catch them (which means I didn't) but I did see aguy who got 3 nice steelhead (lake run rainbow trout) using a silver bladed, orange and chartruese rubber legged spinner Size 6 I think, and a kid caught and released a good walleye in the same spot also on a large silver spinner. The trout could be seen jumping to try to climb the dam all along the dam itself, and I saw a few jump above the dam as well near the boat ramp. They shut off quick due to the bluebird post front skies. This spot is probably really good in a few weeks.
Busch Wildlife Area (BWA) Weldon Springs MO and oxbows of Dardenne Creek Saint Peters MO - 26 to 27 Oct 2013
Lakes are very low, though those lakes with spring flow are good spots on warmer afternoons. In all spots bluegill and other sunfish were active in the afternoons to sunset, any fly or bait works on these hungry fish, though use clear light lines due to the clear water. Again, the oxbows had grass carp on sunset bite, bluegill were the bait stealer of note (and fly biters...many dry flies and nymphs worked). Look for trout in lakes 3, 21, 22, 23, 28 next weekend (November to March).
backwater oxbows of Dardenne Creek Saint Peters MO - 19 Oct 2013
Due to the low waters in the Cuivre, Mississippi, and MO rivers, and due to a really small time window, I took the pooch to a backwater area that is filled on flood by Dardenne Creek. Dardenne creek is a feeder to the Mississippi River, and thusly has been invaded by grass carp, grass carp, and common carp (and some Silver and Bighead carps). The backwaters, now isolated from the creek, are loaded with black and common carp from 2lb on up. Normally a prime flyrod target, these fish were not playing on the fly (and since the pooch wanted to be walked) but a bit of white bread balled on a size 4 hook (no weight) carefully pitched into the shallows near feeding fish was quickly grabbed, resulting in a fast and splashy fight, with lots of steering away from bushes and stumps.
Saint Charles Riverfront MO Missouri River - 12 Oct 2013
Given the fact that most of our favorite spots are still baracaded (why, I don't know since they are open air), we hit the wingdykes and undercut banks of St. Charles MO with a good lunch at Hendricks BBQ next door. The water is still very low, but rising. The fishing was a bit slow due to a cold front that passed over the previous night, but silver carp were active in the backwaters, and a white streamer on the fly rod got hit by a few scrappers. Using worms and shad, small blue catfish and average sized drum hit every so often. Live emerald shiners and silversides got hit by herring and goldeyes, and the white streamer on the fly rod got sliced at a few times by the same fishes.
Sandy Slough and MS River LD25 near Winfield MO - 28 Sep 2013
(FYI...for some reason this spot is barracaded during the 'slimdown'...though there is no reason for the Army COE to do so.)
While the slough is still a savana in lieu of a waterway, above the dam catfish, drum and common carp are active. We had a very short fishing window (2hrs, mid afternoon....too many kid soccer games LOL) and just grabbed a few worms from R+S BaitShop up the road (FYI look for a very little shack, if it looks closed, just ring the doorbell. The owners are very nice and will provide a very good report on what is biting in the river and slough. If you have kids and bring them along, they can feed the geese and ducks). We pitched the nightcrawlers out, and were not disapointed, as the bite was quick for 1lb blue cats, 2-5lb drum, and good sized common carp. We also saw herring and shad milling about Herring are great fun on a 3wgt flyrod and #18 white dry fly).
San Diego CA Pacific Ocean (Offshore on the Point Loma and inshore on the Ocean Beach Pier) - 10 to 14 Sep 2013
A work trip is a good opportunity to catch fish too, and San Diego is always a good spot. Offshore longer trips nailed many tuna to over 100lbs, but our schedule didn't allow such a long trip, though instead we hit the Ocean beach pier for dinner (WOW Cafe on the pier...mango pancakes and lobster tacos and omlettes...very yummy, very scenic) and fishing (for pacific mackerel under a glowstick, using any bait on a small jighead). This was a good warmup for the three-quarter day (~12 hr) freelance trip we took on the Point Loma boat that saturday. We hopped kelp paddies in Mexican waters (like sargasso weed lines for you Atlantic folks) looking for California yellowtail amberjacks, dorado (same fish as Mahi, Dolphinfish), and hoping for bluefin and yellowfin tuna. Most of the paddies starting at 15 miles out had already been hit once or so due to the proximity to the recreational fleet from SD, though some had good schools of 5 to 15lb yellowtails and dorado to 20 lbs. In most case the schools dove as soon as the boat got close, but our superbraid equiped spinning reels w/florocarbon leaders (30lb to 40lb) and jigs (freestyle jigs in 3oz sardine, Williamson benthos 3.5 oz speed jigs in glow pattern, many similar jigs too) pulled them right back up into range of the mostly newbie sardine pitchers (30lb mono baitcasting rental gear, 2/0 live bait hook). Lots of quick fishing followed by long periods of looking for new kelp paddies. Paddies break away from the kelp forests during storms and float into clumps on the surface (due to the floats on the kelp) where many fishes find cover, including smaller yellowtails (which later drop off to hard structure or forest kelp, see Aidyns California Ocean book for an illustration of a paddie with fish). Lost a nice tuna and nice dorado on the same jigs due to random mishaps (fishing is like that). Saw lots of sea life, from common pacific dolphins (the mammal), to gray and humpback whales, to ocean sunfish, and of course seals and sea lions. Capt Ron and I had a long good chat on the way back and he truely is a wise and learned asset to the San Diego sport fleet. Like I have said before, the SD fleet is professionally run, from the lowest deckhand to the most senior captain, and always worth taking.
Mississippi River Lock and Dam 25 near Winfield MO - 07 Sep 2013
Warm weather and lower water is prime catfish time, and (frozen, peeled) shrimp and shad the bait. Above the dam, deep water combined with currents from barge traffic make the catfish feed, mostly in our case 2lb to 8lb channel catfish, mixed with 2lb to 4lb freshwater drum. The bite was very quick after each current shift, and slow between gate openings. Use as light a weight as possible on a bottom finder rig, and we used size 2 to 3/0 circle hooks to allow nice release of unwanted fishes. Lots of shad were feeding on the rocks above the dam too.
Sandy slough is verdant savanna in lieu of a slough...
Mississippi River Lock and Dam 22 near Saverton MO - 02 Sep 2013
Happy Labor Day. In this case we went back to the hot spot of weeks past, and again did well on herring and drum, with a few smallmouth bass on the side. Silversides dominate the forage in this lower water, so the same narrow bodied white and silver streamer flies (and jigs) worked well. A scoop net or similar will get plenty of silversides and emerald shiner for bait, which work as well on a size 4 hook below a split shot. Look for current breaks as per usual, and surface breaking fishes. Given the zero patience required, we brought along a youngster who had a blast. Silver carp were mysteriously absent.
Washington DC waters Daingerfield Island, East Potomac Park, Tidal Basin (all Potomac River) - 27 to 29 Aug 2013
Warm water dominates the system, water temps just below 80 F, so catfish and sunfish are everywhere, with a few other species here and there. Baby herring and shad are the core forage, and dimple the surface in many backwaters, so the white-estaz streamers worked well, as would small black dry flies, and of course the chennelle bugs. Spinners throwing corn will get bit fast at sunset by bluegill and catfish, and lure-wise, rapalas and small spoons worked somewhat also, especially for shore-lurking largemouth bass.
MS River LD 22 near Saverton MO - 17 Aug 2013
The water has dropped quite a bit, but around strong current breaks there are lots of biting fish, including smallmouth bass ,, white bass, freshwater drum and herring. Above the dam, silver carp are numerous and a well drifted very small fly will get eaten and lead to a long tussle. Like before the core fly is a white marabou streamer to imitate the numerous emerald shiners about. Failing that, a chennelle bug in red works for drum. Spinners can use small spinners or small jigs in marabou or soft plastic for the same results.
Chain of Rocks Canal Mississippi River above Lock 27 - 10 Aug 2013
Even in theis cool year, the dog days are upon us, and it is very much catfish time. Shrimp and fresh shad did the trick this time, and most of the day got hit quickly by blue and channel catfish to 3 pounds (tell them apart by counting the anal fin rays..29 and more for blues), the shad got hit by drum to 2lbs. Herring were sporatically blasting 1 inch shad but I could not get my fly in their mouths this time. Also small gar were on the surface, and hit a topwater zara spook (and likely poppers as well).
Mississippi River Sandy Slough at LD25 Winfield MO and Cuivre River at Old Monroe MO - 03 Aug 2013
The Water has dropped significantly on both rivers, and the warmer water in the slough has made it a gar, big carp, smaller channel catfish, and drum spot for those willing to throw worms on a size 4 hook on the bottom. Gar do however also like flies, and jump well when hooked, on unweighted wooly boogers and floating zonkers. Sight fish, cast within a foot of the nose and work the fly to incite a strike. There are many strikes for each landed fish , but that is part of the fun. In the Cuivre, in addition to gar, bass and various sunfish loiter around rocks and downed trees waiting for a chennelle bug on indicator or a worm freelined.
Mississippi River LD22 near Saverton (Hannibal) MO - 27 July 2013 - Date
Again White bass are on a tear, bashing emerald shiners all along the dam at current breaks. Any 1 to 3 inch white and silver fly or jig that looks like a emerald shiner will get hit. Adding to the mayhem, skipjack herring from 10 to 16 inches are blasting the surface and lures as well. On the bottom, many baits will get flathead and channel catfish and drum.
Mississippi River Lock and Dam 22 near Saverton (Hannibal) MO - 20 July 2013
Finally the water dropped to walkable levels on Dam 22, and while deserted by people, occupied heavily by drum and white bass, among other fish. Flywise, white bead head streamers sizes from 8 to 4 worked very well at current breaks along the dam for literally dozens of white bass and drum, as long as it was kept near the dam and bottom. Spinning rod lures such as small white rooster tails and small soft platic jigs were also deadly. Some angers had good luck with the classic catfish baits for channel catfish to 3lbs.
St. Charles MO Missouri River - 13 July 2013
The MO river has dropped back into its banks, and gone to a normal summer pattern, i.e. morning and evening bites, with scattered catfish and drum activity on worms, shad, etc. Squid, normally a stellar catfish bait, was less useful this time, though worms produced many smaller to mid-sized drum, some blue catfish, and a few flatheads to 4lbs (all released). Once the bridge work is done, this riverfront will stabilize fish-wise, and more catfish will bite.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL and local MO ponds - 29 June to 06 July 2013
The water was high on 29 June but then dropped significantly by 06 July, pushing the fish into new patterns. In both case silver and bighead carp are about and willing, but the lower water is less an all day white bass fishery, and more of a morning and evening white bass, crappie , and drum fishery. The rapids are still unexposed, but not for much longer, and lots of smaller crappie and a few sauger sit in them. In local ponds, the only fish that bite outside of morning and evening are sunfish and carp, with some catfish also. Poppers and wooly worms and small streamers produced most species in the Kaskaskia, along wuith rooster tails and 1 inch lime soft plastic jigs.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL - 22 and 24 June 2013
It is more like late spring than early summer, as white bass and sauger continue to bite on jigs (chartruese, lime, white 1 inch to 2 inch) near the dam and swinging bridge(more sauger near the bridge), with Asian carps readily hitting streamers such as olive or white beadhead wooly worms and woold boogers and similar flies. Crappie and drum are along the rock banks all along the river. For the carp-slayers on the fly rod, my pick is a 8wgt WF or intermediate line, 10lb to 14lb tippet, and size 6 white wooly worm below a split shot,or a size 6 long shank bead head olive wooly booger, but many flies work. As per usual a slow salmon swing will get them TO BITE, in lieu of snagging them. Lots of 2lb to 6lb Silver Carp, and 8lb to 30lb Bigheads about. The silvers prefer the smaller flies, the bigheads the larger flies. They flight hard, so set the fly reel drag well, or you might break a rod.
Daingerfield Island Alexandria VA and Tidal Basin Washington DC Potomac River - 17 to 19 June 2013
Sunset bites were the big key this time. The time and hour before to and hour after sunset were very good time, much slower outside that window. Channel catfish are very agressive in the sunset timeframe and afetr dark, and will hit many types of flies, and all the sunfish types including bass are agressive up to sunset. Chennelle bugs (narrow bodied orange) worked, as did poppers near walls and docks, as well as wooly worms and wooly boogers. Spinners can use a variety of lures as well including spoons and plugs, and can use corn to get catfish and carp (esp. in the basin). Lots of baby white perch are at Daingerfield also, and small herring (2 inch) are on the surface in the basin. Can't wait for the Cicada hatch later this year.
Missouri River St. Charles MO - 15 June 2013
The River is receding to its banks but is still very high, and the big catfish are in spawning mode (fyi, channels, blues, and flatheads all spawn in June/July typically, digging holes or grabbing pipes, branches, etc. and guarding eggs and fry so not eating...best to let them make more catfish anyhow). The Silver carp have begun their many rounds of spawing too, baby carp are in the shallows and 1 inch long (this set will be four inches by October, a foot by next summer). Therefore worms for drum and sturgeon were the key choice here. Look for log jams and flooded dykes, and any obstruction, and place the worm (nickel coin sized circle hook, bait finder rig or sliding weight) on the bottom behind or near it. Lots of 8 inch to 20 inch drum about. Corn was not hit by anything, including carp, but those are more likely in the sloughs and backwaters...try carp flies and corn there.
Potomac River channel near Theodore Rosevelt Island and Key Bridge Washington DC Arlington VA - 10 to 12 June 2013
There are lots of spots on the Potomac to fish, this time I picked a random culvert and caught fish at it on the incomming evening tide for three days. Just like all the other spots in Washington DCs ownership this one had bass, sunfish, crappie, and catfish all willing to take zonkers, streamers, and chenelle bugs.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO - 08 June 2013
Bluegill are on the beds, baby bass and other species are schooling, and crappie are biting. Many species lurk outside the beds, which are on quarter sized gravel, such as largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, and non-spawning sunfish. Poppers, thread jig flies (which look like baby fish) and wooly worms all work.
Orlando FL lakes, Titusville FL Veterans Memorial Pier (Indian River), Cape Canaveral Jetty Park Pier (Atlantic Ocean), and Fort Desoto Gulf Pier (Gulf of Mexico) in Clearwater FL - 25 May to 01 June 2013
LONG REPORT: Combined a family vacation (with an awesome trip to KSC, see my space vehicles page for those pics, take the Mega tour, trust me) with a bit of fishing here and there. The Full moon and high pressure did dog our fishing during the afternoons, but mornings and evenings were pretty good in all locales. (Note we didn't keep anything this trip, all released). At the resort in Orlando (many small lakes and bigger lakes) we caught largemouth bass and various sunfish on the fly and 4lb and 2lb tippets due to the clear water (zonkers, wooly worms, wooly boogers), though the tilapia were skittish. In Titusville (see also my April report below), the bite was just like it was in April, with fewer silver perch and ladyfish, smaller speckled trout, and more sea catfish, southern kingfish (Whiting in local speak), and small bluefish . The Shrimp were all over the surface after dark, and had I a dip net, I could have filled a bucket. The Specs hit 3inch and smaller jig/soft plastic combinations and DOAs, everything else on peeled shrimp. At Port Canaveral Jetty Park, a chunk of peeled shrimp tail on a size 6 hook cast right next to the rocks caught a very wide variety of species, many aquarium suitable such as blennies and sergeant majors, some bigger fish as well, such as gray snappers, black margates, and spottail pinfish. The underwater camera said there were larger snappers, lookdowns, and angel and spade fish around the pillings, but they did not bite. At Fort Desoto Gulf Pier, a few dolphins have gotten very smart, and have learned (to the dismay of another angler I saw) to tear open cast nets to grab dinner, in addition to the rest of their dirty tricks of stealing hooked fish such as bluefish, jacks, and spanish mackerel, and stealing baitfish. Even given that, it was a good fishing spot, with jacks, bluefish, and spanish hitting jigging spoons, jig with soft plastics, and various baits. A few sharks are around using live herring if you can keep the dolphins away. Shrimp and squid accounted for many pinfish, grunts, and small snappers. I took underwater shots at all spots, so those are below as well.
- I did up a travel article with lots of pics and info too here.
Three core types of fishing: Shore, Sport, and Bottom. Note that the water gets deep VERY fast here, so trolling and bottom fishing trips are usually within a few miles of the shoreline or less. If you fish bottom from boat or shore, expect to loose lures and weights due to the rocky/coral bottom and plan accordingly (i.e. pull up off the bottom, make break away rigs, limit lead use).
Shore fishing includes dunking (using bait), and whipping(using lures). I added Fly Fishing to the shoreline pile too. Since you don't need a license to fish in the ocean, and there are MANY beaches and shoreline access spots, shoreline fishing is a good activity if you already are near the water anyhow. If you need a guide, this guy has a good site and seems to be on the ball, though I didn't use him. It is mostly an ultra-light game of 8lb spinning gear, 1/4oz silver kastmasters and similar sized jigs and spoons, with some surface action at good times on florescent yellow surface poppers. Squid seemed to be a good bait, though I just focused on the kastmasters and flies. The beaches near Maalaea Bay (the boardwalk area) were good on calmer days and evenings for coronetfish, goatfish, wrasses, and the like, though I saw small bonefish and other fishes cruising along the shore. There are mole shrimp and fiddler crabs, and small (1 inch) silversides. On the north side I had very small trevally and needlefish harrass my white streamer flies. Most of my fishing on the shore was 'opportunity' fishing since the trip was not a specific fishing trip. Some areas are QUITE DANGEROUS to wade or walk on. Lava rock can saw-edged when dry, and super-slippery when wet. Cliffs are very dangerous and every year a few fishermen are lost forever from them. There are a few bait and tackle stores (try them first: West Maui Sports and Fishing Supply and New Maui Fishing Supply and All About Fish for example, ask them for advice too...wish I did), but the 'Marts and 'Authority carry gear too, and the grocery stores carry squid and shrimp that can be used for bait.
Bottom fishing (by boat): We both fished on the bottom fishing trip on the Aloha Blue Charter Hokua which was VERY un-crowded and worth every penny. If you want to have lots of elbow room, they are reallly good. (We liked them enough to take them on a snorkelling trip too). The crew was professional, knowledgable, patient, and attentive, the boat clean and well equipped (with a restroom with a flush toilet and sink), including POG, ice water, and lemonade on tap (and provided at any request too). They played reggae and other tunes at a very low level on the ship's speaker system. The reefs targeted were toward Lahaina, in 130 feet to 60 feet of water, and the boat trolled to each spot (see sport fishing, below). For bottom fishing, they provided Penn 5500 series spinning reels and ugly stick rods, set up for 15lb mono with a 2 hook rig on 17lb florocarbon with a rubber-band attached 6oz weight, and squid for bait. My wife caught many wrasses, trevally, snappers, and goatfish on the provided gear, and others nailed jobfish, snappers, goatfish, and filefish. The crew biologist identified fish and carefully released undersized and unneeded fish carefully. We had the option of keeping our catch, filleted for our use, but we released them instead (no oven or grill in the hotel). I caught bluefinned trevaly pretty regularly on my own gear (40lb superbraid on a spinning reel and travel boat rod) using a Williamson Benthos 3.5oz chartruese glow jig on rod-length 20lb florocarbon leader (and barbless single hook). Other colors a no-go, though I would bet a jighead/softplastic would also be deadly. Can't say enough about how much we liked the Aloha Blue Charters Hokua crew and boat. I have fished everywhere on boats all over, and they are a class act.
Sportfishing: Sportfishing for us was on the bottom fishing and snorkelling trips between spots, but the rigs were standard for Hawaii: Penn International 50/80lb class gear, chrome jet head 8" to 14" lures in blue/green/purple, outriggers, and a Hawaiian downrigger setup. Was a 5 rod spread, 2 on the 'riggers, two hawaiian downriggers with wire line, 2lb weights and cone head trolling lures, and a far out rod set way back. While this trip was during a full moon/high pressure day (so no bites, I didn't expect any given the conditions), they say they have a 75% hit rate on the trolling gear. Dedicated sportfishing charters out of the same harbor got a few wahoo (ono). I advised they set a shotgun rod out next time too (close, in the wake, a large black/purple jet head or trembler style lure).
Tidal basin Washington DC and Daingerfield Island Alexandria VA Potomac River - 20 to 22 May 2013
Many fish are biting, especially when the water is moving with the tide (current is fish here). We fished the Tidal basin and Daingerfield, but the fish are hitting all over the Potomac, stripers somewhat still absent. Many white perch patrol the current edges in shallow waters, and will take any small minnow shaped lure or fly (1"-2") in silver or white. Bead head wooly buggers and marabou streamers were very deadly for them. Ditto for nice sized crappie and bass around any dock or wall. A few catfish joined the party, along with yellow perch and numerous sunfish.
Retention Dam Bluffview Rec Area, Salt River MO and small ponds in St Charles Co MO - 18 May 2013
Air pressure shut down many species in the very high water of the Salt River, except in the back waters where crappie, carp, gar, and bluegill could be found. Chennelle bug for me, jigs for my bro worked. In a local pond on the way home, popper and stream eating bluegill made up for any slowness in other locales.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL - 10 to 11 May 2013
While the waters remain very high (flood) and muddy, many species still bite on fly and spin, especially white and yellow bass, silver carp, and crappie. On the fly, red chenelle bugs work ok, but white (and orange) streamers worked better, especially if presented inverted (i.e. two small split shots a foot up on the leader above a light fly such as a woolly booger) and swung salmon style. Spinning wise, pieces of cut shad on a jig head, and small jig and tube or jig and swimbait in florescent colors worked well.
Weldon Springs Wildlife Area MO - 04 May 2013
As in the Potomac, ponds here in the midwest are hosting lots of feeding crappie in the shallows, they are feeding on last years bluegill, mosquito fish, and shad. Small bead head flies in marabou proved deadly even in the rain. Water temps are still in the high 50Fs but climbing fast.
Washington DC and Alexandria VA Potomac River and Tidal Basin 30 April to 02 May 2013
Crappie, sunfish, and White Perch continue to be easy targets along the shallows of the Potomac and along the walls of the Tidal basin. Core flies are all WHITE (imitating the young of last year shad and herring, which are the core forage), so white wooly worms, wooly buggers, bead head streamers, and small clousers. Caught a few fish on white poppers as well. As the berries develop in the trees and bushes however, expect a shift to berry flies (i.e. chennele bugs) to catch catfish and similar.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL and ponds in Wentzville MO - 27 to 28 April 2013
High spring water (a just above normal flood year as opposed to the drought year last year) means fish move out into trees and grasses, resulting in fatter fish, but harder to cath fish (unless you know how to get them). The plastic bead head streamer was a good fly for both white bass, and yearly to year and a half silver carp, both of which hit the fly as it swung in the fast current along the rocks and trees. In the trees, white bass and crappie were around for jig and bobber fishers. Bigger silvers and gar could be caught by bouncing larger jig heads with shad colored soft plastics. In ponds, the story is similar, with the fish hanging along the banks and flooded grass, a jg and bobber (white marabou) will catch bass, crappie, and a few catfish.
Potomac River, Tidal basin, Daingerfield Island, Washington DC and Alexandria VA - 22 to 24 April 2013
White Perch have invaded, and are easy prey on bead head sz6 white wooly boogers in the basin, and at Daingerfield (and likely other spots). These relatives of the white bass are more bottom focused, but hit any minnow shaped offering 1 to 3 inches in white or chartruese, 8lb tippet. Along with the perch, crappie and other sunfish (bluegill, redbrest) are in the shallows and hit the same minnow shaped flies and chennelle bugs.A few stripers are about, but few and far between, same lures. Watch the current in the basin, a minor shift (as occured between 23 and 24 April) can shut down the action (they closed a gate, killing current on one side and making the water a bit murky, though many snakeheads were gulping air). Wiggle the flies along the walls and rocks, and around docks.
Indian River Titusville FL, Banana River Port Canaveral FL - 15 to 19 April 2013
Target of opportunity fishing again (i.e. after work, on the way to the airport etc.), this time in prime saltwater spots from the shorline. The Veterans memorial Pier in Titusville is hard to beat for specs, silver perch, ladyfish, and bluefish (for dinner Crackerjacks is a pretty good food spot, as is Dixie Crossroads nearby). Shrimp lights are the key. A few rules: 1) Keep your gear away from the lights and wires, 2) stay out of the way of the owners catching shrimp, and 3) if you see a shrimp yell and point so the shrimper can get them. Follow this advice, and be friendly, and you will be able to catch lots of nice fish on dark edges around the lights and under the pier. The Spotted (Speckled) Seatrout were a bit line shy, so 8lb flouro tippets and leaders were a must. Payoff lures were a 1/8oz jighead with 3inch salt/pepper/shad bass assasin twitchbaits, DOA Clear shrimp, and of course live, unweighed, shrimp. If the shrimp are dead, a #4 hook with a peeled hunk of shrimp under the pier will get silver perch and ladyfish, and a few specs and blues. Flywise, an eyed white marabou and estaz streamer (looks like a 3 inch mullet) worked as well though you will need to roll cast very well to be able to fly fish here. Under the 528 bridge on the Banana River, ladyfish, a few jacks, and lots of puffers await. Use the same lures/flies above and topwaters like zara spooks, for the ladyfish and jacks. The puffers hit every bait, and also a #6 crazy charlie fly (a fly fish is a fly fish on a 5 wgt rod :0).
(South Branch) Raritan River near Flemington, NJ - 08 April 2013
(Provided by my fishing buddy Jim) Stocked Brook Trout andthe day after opening day made for interesting fishing, with 12 to 14 inch fish the norm. Bait fishers caught most fish, using mealworms and minnows fished on the bottom using split-shots and 4lb mono. Flywise, I recommend an inverted presentation, i.e. split shots 2' above a light fluffy streamer or wooly worm (black or fluorescent colors, ala steelhead) to put the fly on the bottom.
Busch Wildlife Area ponds and lakes - 06 April 2013
Crappie again are the prime target on the shallow structures in smaller lakes and ponds. Largemouth have also moved in and will hit the same lure and flies. My payoff flies were a white wooly booger and white plastic-bead streamer, fished very slow. On the spin, small shad-shaped soft-platics 1' to 2' below a float. Action slowed as air pressure increassed.
Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO - 30 March 2013
A bit of wisdom for early spring fishers: Smaller, shallower water, warms first. Simple thermodynamics...the less water to warm, the quicker it warms. Fish begin to bite when the water hits their needed temperatures, as their metabolism accelerates, and in the case of sunfish, solid moon phases and the rigth temperature equal pre-spawn behavior. In our case, crappie spawn first, and like cooler water, so going to small lakes and ponds, fishing in the shallow flats and flow areas, paid off massively. Crappie are feeding heavily on yearling minnows and sunfish, 1-2 inches long, and bass on the crappie, bluegill and smaller sunfish on the awakened nymphs and larvae, and in general, a romp. Flywise, wooly boogers to #8 worked very well, as did similar streamers, and during the peak bite, poppers (that look like the spring peepers starting to show). On the spin, 1/16th to 1/8th oz jigs w/soft plastic minnow-shaped bodies worked as well. Spring has begun, so get out of the house and FISH!
Baldwin Lake, Baldwin IL - 23 March 2013
Very consistant. Baldwin lake, as long as it is fairly cool to cold outside, and at least one generator is pumping warm water into the lake, you will almost certainly catch something. That something is usually channel catfish to 14", but this time bluegill, and blue catfish as well. As per usual, most nymph flies (inc. chennelle bugs, stoneflies) and jigs (to 2") under an indicator/bobber, work well. Almost all baits work also, though for the big catfish, you will need a big bait that can handle the assault of small catfish until the big boys show.
Daigerfiled Island, Alexandria VA (Washington DC, Potomac River) - 19 to 20 March 2013
Variable conditions, 45 degree water, but here if the water is over 45 degrees, the air pressure normal, and the tide rising or up, you will get fish. We caught numerous 6"+ bluegill and crappie on chennelle bugs on the fly around docks, rocks, and trees. Congrats to my buddy on his first fly rod catches too.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL - 16 March 2013
The water is still very cold this particular spring, but against our best judgement we sought saugers..for naught. FYI the water need to be at least in the 50's
for these fish, we were there at 45 degrees and less. That said, yearling silver carp were available, and a very few other species (sunfish, one white bass). Will try again in April. Note: Corn pitchers would probably have caught carp here.
Baldwin Lake IL - 09 March 2013
This Lake is a prime catfish spot, for small to mid-sized channels, and giant blue cats. Case in point, while we were wlaking out to our spot on the dam we passed
two successful anglers, one had a kids wagon with two 10lb+ blues, another guy, a few hundred yards later, with a tool wagon and a 35lb and 15lb blue cat (and two 2lb channels, see pics below). The secret to their success was taking the full walk out, and using half-sunfish for bait. This is not an isolated experience, since we had seen others with 5 fish stringers of catfish, each over 8lbs, and similar sights.
On the fly, as per usual the chenelle bugs and stone flies produced catfish and sunfish, no monsters for me this time. My bro used a 1.5 inch jig (1/16oz w/soft-plastic) under a float and caught the same assortment. Fish tight to the rocks, look for current and Coot ducks or minnows.
Four Mile Run Arlington VA and Daingerfield Island, Alexandria VA (Potomac River, Washington DC) - 04 to 06 March 2013
Tough conditions (very cold water, odd tides, half moon) conspired for very difficult fishing, though did catch a few very small sunfish. Saw numerous carp in pre-spawn jumps (too loosen eggs, though they are usually non-biting until after spawn) in 4 mile run, and did see hickory shad swimming in pods at Daingerfield under the lights.
For future refernce temperature x tide are very big keys for Potomac tide water fishing: ideally a rising tide and water temps 60-75 are prime for most species, though yellow perch and crappie are good all the way down to 40ish F, especially under docks and lights. Stripers in the salt like 45 F, in tidewater, 50ish-70ish, especially in the evenings.
Busch Wildlife Area Lake 28 Weldon Springs MO - 16 Feb 2013
Last few weeks of catch and release rainbow trout at BWA, and these fish bite as long as the water is not totally frozen. Guides and fingers froze, but small nymphs (Peacock Hurl and Caddis Pupae/Prince patterns in size 14 sizes) worked well if cast over submerged humps and drifted well.
Daingerfield Island, Alexandria VA (Potomac River, Washington DC) - 12-13 Feb 2013
39 F water temps and very cool temps made it interesting to fish esp. at night, but fish, especially yellow perch, bite nonetheless, even in the dark. Yellow Perch here like 38-50 F water temps and incomming tides, and will hang out under docks and lights. The std Orange Chennelle Bug (tied on a 1/80th oz jig head) and a very small indicator (very light bite) are needed. Fish close to the rocks and docks, move VERY slowly. Crappie often join the fun too.
Baldwin Lake, Baldwin IL - 02 Feb 2013
No matter how cold or snowy, Baldwin lake is open, as it is the cooling pond for a large coal fired plant. As a result,
it has an interesting ecosystem with many under fed fast growing channel cats to 14", then a gap, then 8lb + Blue and Channel Cats. SUnfish, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, White, Hybrid, and Yellow Bass,
crappie, carp, and drum round out the fishery, with feeder species being threadfin and gizzard shad, silversides, shiners, and of course channel catfish to 14".
Therefore here, catfish are fly and lure biters.
As a fly fisher, a 1/80th oz. chennelle bug (hot pink/magenta, orange, florescent red) is deadly on 4lb tippet 2 feet under an indicator. Zonkers, stoneflies (sz10 to sz 6), and poppers (white/yellow) round out the list.
Spinners using small soft plastic jigs under a bobber, or wide shaped crankbaits, work very well, as do a variety of baits including shad and minnows, and sunfish.
Be prepared for a long walk along the dam, to a mile each way, though most fish we catch are from 1/4 mile to 2/3 mile from the lot, along the rocks.
We caught literally dozens of channel cats and sunfish on the aforementioned chennelle bug (for me on 6wgt fly rod) and jig (for my bro on 10lb spinning gear).
Notable fishes including a nice drum on the spinning rod, and most defintely a 8lb(est.) Blue Catfish on the fly (showed me my backing on the first run).
Bundle up and get fishing!
Chain of Rocks, Mississippi River, Granite City IL - 26 Jan 2013
Sauger do bite on jigs fished very slow along the bottom near the rocks, but we have been cursed with paddlefish that like our jigs (which all were released of course).
Next time we pick a different casting spot...
Daingerfield Island, Alexandria VA (Washington DC water) Potomac River - 22-23 Jan 2013
It was a bit cool (19 degrees F), but using the chennelle bug and patience, one could indeed catch yellow perch, which bit on the tip top of the high tide,
until the bay iced over.
Meramec Springs St. James MO - 19 Jan 2013
Decided to again probe the catch and release season at Meramec Springs on a unusually warm winter day.
Slightly more people, though plenty of space for everyone. Hot flies: size14 white wooly booger below a split shot, bead head olive wooly booger, orange #10 shammy worm, glowballs, soft hackles, and many others.
Smallmouth Bass liked Zonkers too.
Chain of Rocks, Granite City IL - 05 Jan 2013
Happy New Year to you and yours! Due to frozen lakes and a need to catch fish, we punted to try for sauger and walleye below the Chain of Rocks Low Water Dam
complex. It is a bit of speciallized fishery, with light superbraids, very long european style rods (11ft), and long casts with 2oz weights, and dual jigs (floating jig heads, with minnow shaped soft plastics).
The bite was slow for the sauger/walleye, really occuring morning and evening. Between those times, replace rigs with a bottom bouncing 3oz weight and circle hook armed with a nightcrawler for shovelnosed sturgeon, of which there are many.
Watch out for the paddlefish (10lb-60lbs) that will sometimes either hit jigs, or get snagged by the hooks. Release them carefully if one intercepts the walleye rig. Note it is illegal to snag below the chain of rocks (to protect said paddlefish and endangered lake sturgeon).
(Bonus pictures from my buddy Brian last summer) Andreafsky RIver AK - June 2012
Lots of salmon (chums) and grayling in the Andreafsky River way north, a good diversion when he was done doing his 'day' job (research on salmon). Since day is VERY
long, he had plenty of daylight after work for fishing.
(More bonus pictures from my buddy Brian last summer) Chandalar RIver AK - Jul and Aug 2012
Lots of pike, a good diversion when he was done doing his 'day' job (research on salmon). They were big and agressive and still swimming too. Since day is VERY
long, he had plenty of daylight after work for fishing.
(Sent from my buddy Brian) Pacific Ocean, Homer AK - 10 May 2012
A bit of a new years gift from my biologist buddy Brian (thanks to Megan and Chase too), covering a fishing trip they took this summer out
of Homer Alaska (taking a break from salmon research). Lots of nice halibut, skates, and Irish Lords deep on the bottom off Homer.
Meramec Springs near St. James MO - 27 Dec 2012
Frozen lakes lead to car travel to get fish. Meremec Springs' Catch and Release season is one very good option, with lots of open water, few anglers, and many trout, bass, and sunfish eager to
hit a fly. This time zonkers were they key to the smallmouths, while the trout were more fickle, though hit estaz-type flies, wooly boogers (#12 black), light colored small dry flies, small subsurface nymphs, and glowballs.
Northern Rockbass and Longear sunfish were also plentiful, and hit a variety of flies.
At Taneycomo near Branson, turnover is in effect, so while the 'scum' feeding mige biting smaller trout are feeding near the top, the bigger fish are at the creek mouths far downstram.
Washington DC (Alexandria VA) Daingerfield ISland Potomac River - 10 to 12, 17 to 20 Dec 2012
The Potomac is cooling off, but fish still bite! The orange Chennelle bug under an indicator under lights (near marinas, etc.) near rocks produced many yellow perch, crappie, and bluegill (lost 1 striper).
Bounce the indicator slowly, and look for soft bites!
Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO - 08 Dec 2012
Use the small black nymphs (See below) off the dam and points, and you will catch Rainbows. #14 Prince and peacock patterns, #14 Olive copper caddis pupae too.
Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO - 23 Nov and 01 Dec 2012
Winter Stocking Program Trout continue to bite, though have become wiser in the catch and release lakes as time progresses.
Glowballs, chennelle bugs, and similar flies still work on spinner or fly rod, but now more fish are biting more naturally
on cracklebacks (and dry flies) and bead head nymphs such as peacock hurl and prince size 12 to 14 patterns. Evening and morning are prime bites, look for fish on points and in the shallows on sunny days.
Remebers 4lb to 2lb tippets and leaders will get more fish, even the few super-stockers running around. THis is also a good time to take the kiddos out and get them into fishing!
Potomac River near Washington DC (Tidal Basin, and Daingerfield Island Alexandria VA) - 14 to 15 Nov 2012
A fat orange chennelle bug is very deadly for fly-rodders, but so are many baits including shrimp for the spinner. Consistant action of sunfish around the docks and in current at Daingerfield Island (and to some degree the Tidal Basin though the tides there were not good for stripers).
Crappie, Bluegill, green sunfish, and redbreast sunfish all hit the chennelle bug fished very slow just off the bottom (below a strike indicator). No cats on the fly this time. The strike was very soft due to cooling water. The Catfish hit some shrimp we got from the frozen food department locally, though corn works for them as well as many other baits.
A little slow on the standard spinning lures.
Chain of Rocks (Low Water Dam) Mississippi River near Saint Louis MO - 10 Nov 2012
While the Urban Stocking program has now loaded rainbow trout all over the Saint Louis Metro Area (see the MDC site for where)
and they are biting, we decided to use the warm weather to go after sauger and walleye in the Mississippi River. They did bite in the morning on softplastic lures fished on school rigs using very long ats and superbraid lines and long european style rods, using 3oz weights.
When they stopped, the shovelnosed sturgeon started, and using worms on the same rig (or better yet a sliding bottom finder) we caught and released many, along with 1-3lb drum.
Jefferson Lake, Forest Park, Saint Louis MO - 03 Nov 2012
Urban Stocking brings trout to the local lakes in the STL metro and other locales starting the first weekend in November, and Jefferson Lake in scenic Forest Park
got one of the first trout drops. It also got one of the last Channel Catfish drops (cats get stocked all summer and fall). As Jefferson is now a catch and release water until 1 Feb 2013, it is a flyrodder/lure pitchers fun park. As a result, a flyrodder with 2lb tippet and a glowball or chennelle bug can catch
both species. For the trout, just about anything works if you can reach them, including woolly boogers, nymphs sized #12 or smaller, and various streamers. The fish will get smarter as they get caught and released, so they will switch to peacock hurl nymphs and small dry flies as the winter progresses.
For the spinner right now, the same flies under a foam or plastic casting bobber will do, as do 1/4 to 1/8th oz little cleos, various smaller spinners, and marabou jigs under a bobber. Remember 2lb test or tippet if you really want to catch them.
Also remember to bring the kiddos, as this is a prime time to teach the art of fishing to the younger set. If you fish here, lunch can be on the Hill.
Oyster Point Pier etc. South San Francisco, San Franscisco Bay CA- 25 to 28 Oct 2012
Took a very fun loop trip from SJC to Monterey Bay up the coast to San Francisco, and flew back out of SJC..fishing Oyster Point Pier along the way.
This is a very good, short, pier on the shallows near South San Franscisco, and has lots of very small surfperch and even more sharks and rays, especially at night.
Both Squid and shrimp work, 1/0 barbless circle, 20lb test or better, 3oz weigh on a sliding fish finder (and short steel leader). This time leopard sharks were most common, followed by brown smoothound sharks, but suprises included a seven gill shark, and a bat ray. All sharks and rays released.
As for anywhere in coastal california, it can go from 70F to 40F with wind and fog very swiftly, and this trip was no exception, so dress in layers, and wear breathable raincoats/wind layers.
I owe Ken Jones a drink if I ever meet him for his book Pier Fishing in California..it is a great source (and it was how I found this pier a few years back).
Portage IN - 19 to 21 Oct 2012
Took a quick weekend trip to watch the Irish in South Bend, but stayed in Portage and fished the creeks too. My buddy got there a day before us
and saw packs of up to eight fish in the little Calumet, catching one on a blue fox spinner. We went two days later and all the big salmon were gone, leaving babies
only. We also tries the lake, though nothing going there either. Given time we would have gone upstream and found those fish.
Washington DC Potomac River tidewater Tidal Basin and Daingerfield Island - 08 to 10 Oct 2012
The stripers seem to be off tide for us this time in the basin (they like the incomming phases), but the catfish, bluegill, and bass love the outgoing at the basin and any backwater area. On the fly, chennelle bug flies in flame and orange 2 to 5 feet below and indicator fished near any chokepoint,
such as a seawall or marina outlet, at sunset nailed many species, mostly bluegill to 1lb and channel catfish to 8lbs. For the spinner, small jigs under a bobber, or any bait free drifted (corn, cheese, clam snouts, worms, etc.) or under a foam bobber (3-4 feet) worked also. Saw one guy catch a nice bass on a black rubber worm rigged bullet-weight (Carolina) style too.
Sandy SLough (or what's left of it) and the Mississippi River LD25, Winfield MO - 29 Sep 2012
Low water conditions continue to force catfish and other species into the main river in the deeper holes, though droping temps make them more willing to bite. Any classic catfish bait will work, though we like squid and shrimp ...
Small Pond in St. Peters MO - 22 Sep 2012
A little rain and the fish hit the newly flooded ground in a local pond, especially where the drainage culvert hits the pond. A green wooly booger looks alot like young (bluegill) of the year, and presto: Crappie, Bluegill, and Largemouth Bass!
St Charles MO River Front 03 Sep 2012 and Washington DC Tidal Basin 10 to 12 Sep 2012
St. Charles: Water is rising, catfish still biting on the wingdykes on shad and shrimp, ditton Drum. Carp seemed to have went elsewere. (Note: I updated the Asian Carp page with pics from prepping the last one I took from here and ate).
Washington DC: Tidal Basin is always pretty, the stripers are just starting to bite right at sunset on small kastmaters and other spons for the spinner, clousers and fatheads for the flyrodder (if you can reach the fish). Using a orange chennelle bug under an iundicator I nailed largemouth, bluegill and redbrest sunfish and catfish. With cooler water, the bigger runs will start.
Saint Charles MO Riverfront, Missouri River - 25 Aug 2012
The rivers are still very low, the MO sustained a bit by releases of water from the upper river resevoirs.
However, deep holes can hold fish during drought, and big rivers have very deep holes. Add in current, and a wingdyke, and a morning timeframe, and you can get fish.
This time we grabbed some shrimp from the local grocer (too old for people, perfect for fish bait), and walked to a spot on the windgdyke that is usually 10 feet under water.
The exposed banks are covered in thick grass, a nearby barge now fully beached. The water was very clear, and the deepest part of the hole, blue. Casting near the wingdyke, dropping into the deep hole (bottom finder rig w/circle hook).
Less then 5 minutes to bites, most fish small blue cats (all released...hope to see them again in 20 years) 10-14 inches. We also caught a couple of drum, and multiple gar hits.
In the afternoon however, it was silver carp time, as we saw them on the surface. Spectra line and a small jigging spoon (minus bobber) got several 4lbs to 20lbs, and I cleaned up a few for dinner.
Wasington DC (Potomac River Tidal basin and Dangerfield Island VA), Sandy Slough (MS River Winfield MO), and Creeks in St. Charles County MO. - 11 to 18 Aug 2012
Hot weather is now moderating, but the drought persists in the Midwest and East. Starting out East in Wasington DC/Alexandria VA the Potomac still has biting fish,
the Tidal basin is warm and loaded with 3" herring, though few fish seem to be eating them. That said a Fathead minnow (White/Estaz) worked AOK at and after dark for sunfish and largemouth. My buddy used corn
and landed numerous species, including a few 20lb common carp, a large goldfish, sunfish, and medium sized channel catfish. Dangerfield Island further downriver also had largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, and channel catfish.
Zonkers and white woooly worms worked well for all but the cats, but a rapala on the spinner got bass and cats. Corn also resulted in channel catfish.
Heading back to the midwest, the sloughs and creeks are nearly dry, except for spring fed holes. Black carp, silver carp, common carp, and gar all bite in these low water conditions. A dry hackle-based fly (black, flame or yellow) is deadly for the black carp,
a zonker under an indicator, or a popper for gar, and wooly boogers fished slow for a few silver and common carp. Low water fish spook easily, so careful stalking and casting are key. Gar and black carp require accurate casts.
Saverton MO (LD 22) MS river and below MArk Twain Lake, Salt River - 04 Aug 2012
The heat definitely goes on! The waters in the MIssissippi even near Lock and Dam 22 are pushing 85 F, and the drought has resulted in lower water. This makes the fish
very sluggish. While corn and worms likely work just fine for fish, lure and fly pitchers will find tough going. We did get a largemouth to bite. Below Mark Twain Lake (Clearance Cannon Dam, Salt River)
one gate is open, and a little water is comming from the generator. As a result the fish are hugging VERY tight to any shade. The payoff fly was an unweighted zonker moved VERY slowly
near the rocks got hit by largemouth bass, some up to 3lbs. Evenings and morning are more productive, i.e. 1 hr before sunrise to 1hr after, ditto for sunset. As soon as it rains good, the water temps
should drop and ignite the bite.
Kaskaskia River Carlyle IL - 28 July 2012
The dry heat of this summer goes on, river water pushed 90 F, and fish are slow, but still catchable if you know how to catch them. Bite is morning and evening. Just one gate is open on the Lake Carlyle Dam,
so the spillway is warm, small gar are all over, a few silver carp still feed in the oxygenated water from the gate, lots of drum and sunfish hold on the drop-off ledges, a few white bass fed early then stopped by 11AM.
Smallmouth buffalo foraged heavily along the rocks, and a VERY accurate fly placed a few inches from their nose (#16 bead head peacock herl) can catch them. Chennele bugs worked for silver carp, sunfish, and drum. For the spinner,
a small casting spoon or rooster tail will catch the silver carp (to 3lbs), worms or jigs under a bobber wil get the drum and sunfish, and corn on the bottom will catch common carp.
Meremac Springs Meremec River Saint James MO - 21 July 2012
Continued hot temps have made the big rivers the domain of gars (always fun), but we decided to take advatange of spring fed, stocked waters to
try for rainbows. Fewer anglers = fewer fish, but the water was VERY nice to wade (no waders) in 100 F air. Rainbows were catchable on black and olive #6 wooly boogers, and #10 white woolly worms (or white crackle backs fished wet).
Sunfish hit well here all the time, and suckers add variety.
Daingerfield Island and Tidal Basin Potomac River Washington DC - 16 to 18 July 2012
100 degree F weather puts an interesting twist on fishing the DC section of the Potomac, since high tide near sunset is when cooler water hit the hot backwaters of the Basin and in marinas. As a result the mixing areas
bring out the sunfish family fish (largemouth bass, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, crappie) for fly and lure tossers and catfish for the bait-pitchers. Likely good also at sunrise also, but I had to work for real then.
Flywise, this time zonkers, chennelle bugs, poppers, and small nymphs worked near structure, and for the spinner, small jig/soft plastic combos (total length 1"). Stay cool and hydrated!
Fort Desoto Gulf Pier Saint Petersburg Beach FL - 09 to 12 July 2012
Hard to beleive I went south to find cooler weather, but there you go. While Dolphins and occasional storms added adversity to fishing, the fishing was still pretty good for ultralight species such as spanish mackerel, blue runners,
Jack Crevalle, and a host of squid eaters such as mangrove snappers, pigfish, pinfish, spottail pinfish, croakers,and hardhead sea catfish. Top lure this time was a 3/4oz Jigging spoon (cheap!) on a 30lb florcarbon leader.
Dolphins grabbed most spanish mackerel before landing them, but the spanish were around, and a few ladyfish at times.
MS river LD22 (IL side) near Saverton (Hannibal) MO and creek near Ranaker WA- 30 June 2012
Hot weather, but hot fishing below the dam and above it. Saw a few catfishers using stinkbait and shad catching nice channel catfish, but our target was further out. My bros nailed hybrid striped bass, drum, and silver and bihead carp on spoons and jig/soft plastic
combos in the current, and on the fly drum and more drum on a marabou eyed streamer. On the way back we looked over a drying creek that feeds the MS river and noted minnows and sunfish huddled into the remaining pools (and some gar, released so they can eat carp)
MS river LD22 (IL side) near Saverton (Hannibal) MO - 23 June 2012
My brothers took the drive north to this little spot in the cornfields, and caught numerous drum, a dozen or so white bass, a few smallmouth bass, and a single striper/striper-like hybrid (both are in the pool above).
Jighead/swimbait was the choice, as was a pearl-white spoon.
Pacific Ocean Balboa Pier Newport Beach CA and Belmont Shores Veterans Pier Belment Shores CA 18 to 20 June 2012
Hit and Run pier fishing in the evening lets you get dinner and catch some fish too. The primary species on most SoCal piers is Pacific Mackerel, and we saw those on both Blaboa and Belmont Shores piers,
though far more under the lights on Belmont. Also saw corbina, guitarfish, and many species of croakers and rays. Squid was the bait for all but the corbina, who preferred mussels. Macs also hit small jigs tipped with chartruese soft plastics like Gulp trout worms (cut in half).
Salt River New London and Below Mark Twain Lake - 16 June 2012
Bluff view is finally open (after 4 years of waiting!..so Army Corps of Engineers, why was the new visitor center a priority again?), but not finished yet. If you are there when the water is running, white bass, sunfish, and a few walleye are around, along with smaller channel catfish and smaller silver carp.
Streamers, wooly worms work on the fly, jighead/soft plastic for the spinner. Upstream just below the big dam, many more white bass and more sunfish were biting on the same flies in the moving water near the bouy line.
Mississippi River and Sandy Slough Winfield and Cuivre River Old Monroe MO - 09 June 2012
Warm midwestern temperatures require shifts in angling tactics. Carp are everywhere in connected sloughs and waterways that feed the mighty Mississippi, especially under berry bushs and in strong flow areas.
Around steep drops with current, drum feed on anything minnow or worm-like (a zonker on a split-shot is a killer fly). Look also for surface activity where black carp and white bass are feeding, and a popper might get whacked.
Daingerfield Island Alexandria VA and Tidal basin Washington DC - 04 to 06 June 2012
Lots of fishing in and around Washington DC, this time we added a spot from a sister site ( TIDAL POTOMAC
FLY RODDERS ) and met one of its founders (thanks for letting us borrow your fishing spot Dan, and landing the gar). The Potomac was off color due to lots of rain, but the near full moon made for strong tides. Daingerfield Island as per usual produced
crappie near the dock ( on a chartruese glass minnow pattern this time), but the tidal basin was the winner (for scenery too) and had small striped bass (poppers, fathead minnows, clousers...spinning wise 1/8th oz jighead/baby green bass assassin or other soft plastic ) on the incomming tide. Saw lots of longnosed Gar, common carp, and a few snakeheads.
Pompano Beach FL Atlantic Ocean, Fort Lauderdale FL Canals, Islamorada FL Ocean - 28 May to 01 June 2012
Southeast Florida is an interesting base for fishing, with dirft boats and beach, canals loaded with native and exotic fish, and not a bad drive to the Keys. The tropical storm did alter the offshore scene, but some fish could be caught with hard work.
Canals: To start with, it helps to have both freshwater and saltwater licenses (we have both), and the canals likewise have both types of fish. In C-14 and C-11
we saw many 5lb to 15lb tarpon rolling, snakeheads, grass carp, bowfins, tilapia, cichlids, oscars, bass, and gar. The native sunfish species (bluegill, spotted sunfish, and largemouth bass) proved easiest to catch, and hit most flies including poppers (chartruses/yellow), chennelle bugs (orange) and wooly worms (corm yellow and orange grizzly patterns #10 to #6). Soft plastic jigs likewise worked. 4lb tippet helped lots.
the tilapia, snakeheads, and cichlids proved very spooky, but a stalking angler with long accurate casts got them. An orange zonker #6 worked really well for the exotics and bass and gar. For the spotted tilapia, look for beds, stand well away, and pitch in a zonker or wooly worm. They will grab it to take it from the bed (normally I frown on 'bed' fishing except for non-native exotics...then they are fair game). The mayan cichlids hugged rock banks and rock piles. Grass carp congregated below the dams and culverts (as did the baby tarpon).
Largemouth hugged the channel facing weedbed edges. The C-14 system was far more productive then C-11.
Driftboats in the ocean: We took the Helen S out of Hillborough Inlet twice, and while many fish were off their game, we did see action. Note: light leaders are a must out here...25lb to 30lb mono/floro got bit, the heavier stuff didn't.
A few football blackfins (5lb class) ate drifted sardines, as did Little Tuny to 10lbs and King Mackerel to 20lbs. A glowing Bethos 3.5 oz on the same leaders also got hit by little tuny and kings, sometimes bit off but that is the risk.
On the bottom, squid and chunks got a few triggerfish, yellowtail snapper, random small groupers/hinds, and a nice mutton snapper.
Off Islamorada: There were lots of weedlines, calm conditions, and 80 to 84 degree water temps, but no mahi's to be found (minus also kings, ceros). Saw a few blackfins hopping about, but they had lockjaw. We did catch little tunys which are always fun on the speed jigs and troll (pink jet heads).
A few reef fish were around in 20 to 75 feet of water right on the edge, and lizard fish and the like abounded over sand patches, and hit a variety of baits and lures right on the bottom. Barracuda seemed to also be absent in Hawk Channel and flats edges. In deep water, blacklined tilefish were incidental to trying to jig up tuna in 200 feet.
- Orlando FL resort lakes:
- Jetty Park Port Canaveral FL:
- Veterans Memorial Pier, Titusville FL:
- Fort Desoto Gulf Pier, Clearwater FL:
- Playa Linda Beach and Merritt Island WA pics:
Sandy Slough near Winfield MO, Femme Osage Slough near Weldon Springs MO - 19 to 20 May 2012
A warm weekend and wild water movements on the mighty Mississippi lead to pretty interesing fly fishing. In Sandy Slough, opening the gates on LD25 raised the slough water level by 3 feet
making for jumping and biting silver carp on black streamers (no hackle, bead headed, 1" long) saturday, and once the water stabilized on sunday, plenty of emerald shiners had moved in, along with a few Herring and White Bass (which hit a variety of white minnow imitators, including a bead-wite charlie pattern and the glass bead mysis pattern). These will continue to move in if the water stays up
and gets clear. A quick movement to the slough in Wledon Springs Wildlife Area, allowed dry fly action for 1lb to 3lb black carp (any white/yellow/green dry fly, though a #8 yellow elk hair worked very well as did a green/white #10 crackleback on 4lb tippet). Remember black carp spook VERY EASILY, so pretend to be a tree and make your movements slow, and casts land well and accurately.
Daingerfield Island and Gravelly Point Potomac River Alexandria VA - 14 to 16 May 2012
(Note: you need a DC fishing license to fish these spots. Get earplugs if you fish Gravelly point due to proximity to DCAs runway.)
The Potomac has an interesting mix of fishes, from Snakeheads, to estuary fish like white perch and striped bass, to freshwater fish like largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill.
This time I brought a fly rod (5wgt), and flies such as chartruese chennelle bugs, poppers, and zonkers, and fatheads all worked. Saw lots of large fish jumping (some looked to be snakeheads, but alas they did cut the mono of my spinner-using buddy),
and it seemed that the best bite was the beginning of the falling tide. Around the rocks and docks were the best spots. Note the Indigo Point resturant was a nice place to eat, though not too cheap.
Carlyle IL Kaskaskia RIver - 12 May 2012
The Water is not as high as in past Mays, but 3 gates are open, and white bass, crappie, and silver carp are hitting lure and flies. The White Bass and Crappie pounced both classic spinning surface lures such as the teeny prop, pooches, poprs etc. and rooster tails, crankbaits and jigs; on the fly white and florescent yellow flies such as poppers, wooly worms, and streamers all worked.
the same lures also worked for silver carp 2lbs-4lbs when fished right near the dam itself. FYI Igfa might post a few tips in the next newsletter for those silver carp from this site.
Howell Island (MO River, slough), Winfield, and ponds in St. Peters MO - 30 April-05 May 2012
Yo-yoing temperatures, air pressures, and river levels are typical for a midwestern spring, and anglers need to adapt to catch fish. Ponds have proven
easy hits for sunfish and bass, on streamers and on good days on poppers. In the rivers, streamers and small jigs near rising water and obstructions will get white bass which are in their peak temp zone right now.
Winfield (Sandy Slough) and Saint Charles MO riverfront (MO river) - 21 and 25 April 2012
The air pressure and water levels are bouncing about, making fly fishing very hard, though a worm or squid chunk still produces for catfish.
Flywise, black dry flies did get nibbled in the Slough, though not blasted (that will change soon). Small emerald shiners and silversides are also on the surface, so in a week the smallmouth and white bass should follow.
Potomac River Daingerfield Island Alexandria VA - 16-18 Apr 2012
My first time fishing in the DC owned waters of the Potomac River but we found lots of fishing action.
(Fyi, Washington DC owns the waters of the Potomac all the way to the Virginia shoreline, so if fishing in that part of the river,
even from Virginia shorelines, you will have to have a DC license available online here...fyi we released everything we landed).
While our initial target was the snakehead, we switched to large lure-eating channel catfish (non-native) and other species due to the cooler temps.
The channel catfish were swirling all over the surface ala bass, and were easy to get to bite on a 1"-2" soft plastics (orange-yellow twitchbait) on a #4 hook 2 feet below a weighted casting bobber. Catfish also hit spoons, and other lures.
Near docks, and around the overhanging trees, hatches of large midges stired sunfish and catfish action. In addition to the vicious catfish, we caught green sunfish, crappie, white perch, yellow perch. We did lose a lure to a snakehead, but did not land it.
(I would bet this situation is repeated all along the DC Potomac harbors) Next time I check a bag and bring the fly rod!
Creve Coeur Lake (MO) Cuivre River Old Monroe MO, Kaskaskia River Below Lake Carlyle IL - 06-09 Apr 2012
Hit a potpouri of spots over the long weekend, dealing with a turn to normal spring weather, cold front, and high bluebird skies.
Creve Coeur lake is sometimes worth a quick poke, and once the air warmed decent bluegill and small largemouth nailed the #10 mysis shrimp pattern in the sandy shallows.
Tripped over to just above the dam in Alton, but that was very slow. The next day bounced to Winfield MO (Sandy Slough and MS River above dam) where squid was picked up by gar and smaller channel cats.
At the Cuivre River, the same squid resulted in gar and catfish bites again, but a switch to the worm for the spinning brigade got carp quickly. Flywise, the Silver Carp were present but not yet on the surface
close enough for fly action...maybe next week. Finished up monday below the dam in Carlyle IL, where small white bass, crappie, and sauger again nailed a wide variety of flies, including poppers (about time :0),
though the asian carp were a bit picky flywise. To get the young ones into bigger fish, a conventional/spinning gear loaded with canned sweet corn (#4 hook, 2 feet below a small split shot) proved irresistable to 4lb+ Carp and smaller buffalo (all mouth biters and still swimming...watch for the taps).
Local ponds, Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle Carlyle IL, and Sandy Slough near Winfield MO 25 to 31 Mar 2012
After a fishing break to take the younglings to Chicago to the Field museum and Shedd aquarium (both very, very cool fyi...take at least one day per, maybe 2 for the Field)
we hit a local neighborhood pond for largemouths and bluegill, then Carlyle IL, then Winfield MO. Every healthy small pond with bluegill, crappie, or largemouth bass is now very active,
bass and sunfish staging for the spawn, and feeding heavily on last years young, frogs, and insects. Poppers, wooly worms, and mini-jig type flies are all effective, fished very near the shorelines.
In the Kaskaski, low water has prevented many of the the big walleye and sauger from comming into the pool below the dam, but smaller (release sized) sauger,
nice crappie, and nice white bass are plentiful, especially near the swinging bridge and right below the dam. Flywise, fathead minnow flies, chennelle bugs,
and streamers in white/chartruese/fluorescent colors. Spinning rod users: 1/16thoz jig head/soft plastic or rooster tails.
Lunch for us was at Wheelan's BBQ in Carlyle IL (very small place but yummy) .
At Sandy Slough, common carp are mid-spawn, and black/grass/silver/bighead carp are still scattered, but will be easier once the water rises. However, drum are available on many smaller nymphs (chennelle bug again, and any #12 to #8 nymph)
There is also some limited dry fly action at sunset (any hackle fly). Bait-pitchers caught small catfish and drum also, on worms, etc. When the water comes up, start looking for tailing carp to hit the fly.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle IL - 17 Mar 2012
Took a fishing leap away from the parades and parties of St. Patricks Day
( a big deal in the midwest USA...lots of Irish decendants and those who wish they were so)
to hit the river in Carlyle for white bass 6 inch to 13 inch range (afternoon) and small sauger (morning). They hit fathead minnow flies (chartruese/red), wooly buggers (white/Chartruese) 4lb tippet fast strips and for the spinning rod
crowd any rooster tail or jig in the same color patterns.
White bass like things fast, sauger slow. There were also small crappie around the rocks, a few drum to 3lbs, and a few hybrid white/striped bass (saw one 21 inches) to make things interesting.
Busch Wildlife Area et al. St. Charles Co. MO - 10-12 March 2012
Spring has almost sprung. Air temperatures are pretty warm in the midwest, and the trees are blooming, but water in deeper bodies remains in the 50's. That is, however, except
for shallow ponds (small dark bottomed ponds especially), and shallow areas in lakes. These shallow regions are locally warmer (high 50's-60's), and the last spawn of last year are 0.5"-1.5" in length, perfect snack size for
pre-spawn sunfish. Additionally, various insects are hatching as well, adding nymphs to the menu. Fishing the shallows with 1" minnow offerings
(see this fly for one example, or this fly for another).
Also Wolly worms, wooly boogers, and in areas with spring peeper frogs and warm water any small yellow bodied popper .
Note that: Pre-spawn bass want 4" to 6" offerings in the shallows. Crappie are with the bluegill and bass. Walleye and sauger are already on the bite in the big rivers, and trout in the lakes and rivers of the Ozarks are going strong too. Steelies up north, Stripers on the Atlantic, Cobia in the Gulf for those in those spots.
In short, shake off winter and fish!
Homosassa RIver, Homosassa, FL - 01-04 Mar 2012
Took a quick trip for a relaxing few days fishing in and around the Homosassa River on the Gulf coast of Florida (2 hrs from either Tampa or Orlando).
Based ourselves out of MacRaes where we stayed and rented jon boats (tell Gator I said hi if you go there).
We had to adapt our fishing plans due to warmer then normal Gulf water (the river is a constant 70 F, so if the Gulf is colder, the fish go up the river, if the same or warmer, many target fish are in the Gulf instead),
and due to heavy winds 2 of 3 boat days. Even so, we caught fish (and released all of them...no kitchen and in some cases must release).
As a warm-up we fished near the accesses to the Gulf, and caught spotted seatrout and croakers (smaller flies, jighead/swimbait for spinners, or jighead-shrimp).
In the upper reaches, most of the winter visitor fish were gone (and the botom near the spring grazed flat from manatees that mostly are also out in the Gulf),
though after some poking we located nice mangrove (gray) snappers--all released-- around docks near the spring (jig head with shrimp for the spinner crowd, crazy charlie #6 for the fly crowd...fish both w/in 1 foot of the outermost pilings, or along breaks in concrete walls or along rocks and trees).
We also nailed many large ladyfish the first day between markers 5 and 8 (with some bonus Florida gar, also all released). Note:The ladyfish are only present if the river is flowing out. If the river is backing up from high winds or tides, they are gone/scattered.
The Ladyfish nailed many flies (use a 20#-25# shock leader to prevent cut offs on their sharp lips and gill plates), inlcuding wooly boogers (#2 bead head) and clousers (see flies below). Spinning wise, a crappie jig or jighead/soft plastic in silver/white/yelow proved effective as well.
On the windy post-coldfront days, the canals provide a nice break, and there where many species to catch and relase on ultralight gear, including smaller ladyfish, snook, and freshwater species, using small flies (1") and jigs (1/16th oz).
Downriver past Hells Gate and near Shell Island, silver perch and croakers hit even when the specs and reds did not. Small flies under an indicator, or shrimp fished near the bottom caught dozens of each (again released this time..too bad we lacked a kitchen).
At night spotted seatrout hit under the lights, a wooly worm did well for these catch and release sized fish, and seacatfish and other species will hit a shrimp in the river anytime.
Next time we will foccus on either the Dec-Feb or April-June timeframes to visit this spot for bigger fishes, but always nice anytime to relax and see nature on the river, and eat good seafood.
- A Look down a section of the C-14 canal
- One of the dams on C-14
- Many smaller to mid-sized largemouth in the canals, they like zonkers
- Mayan Cichlids like orange zonkers too
- and those cichlids like jigs also
- Lots of native Spotted sunfish (and other species too)
- A bedding spotted tilapia...they spook easily but return if you are still
- Redears are a larger native sunfish and hit many things in the canals
- In deep water off Islamorada, over soft bottoms, Black lined Tilefish might intercept your tuna jig (released)
- Little tuny love speed jigs even more...100 feet of water and out
- those Little Tuny hit trolled jet heads too
- ...another jigged up little tuny.
- A current edge shows where fish would normally be
- Sargasso in 200 feet of water in June normally holds mahi-mahi (not so this time)
- An odder reef catch...a Trumpetfish (released of course)
- Pods of dolphins (the mammal) swam in 150 feet of water
- A flag yellowtail snapper off a deeper reef edge and nylon pompano jig
- Underwater: a small sponge and soft coral reef in 50 feet off the Islamorada reef edge...
- Underwater: ...Surgeonfish school over sponges (or are those reef balls?)...
- Underwater:...look like sponges to me...
- Underwater:...more fishes around the balls...
- Make sure you follow the markers CLOSELY comming in to Bud n'Marys
- Tarpon sit under the docks at Bud'nMary's waiting for left over bait or fish cleaning leftovers...
- ...more of those lazy tarpon.
- Underwater: same tarpon underwater...
- Underwater: Mangrove (Gray) Snappers, chubs, and others await fish cleaning parts...
- Underwater:...more snappers...
- Underwater:...more snappers...
- Underwater:...more snappers, chubs, (and a parrotfish)...
- Underwater:...more snappers...
- The Helen S out of Pompano beach/Hillsborough Inlet is a good drift boat (so is Fish City Pride), three trips daily to about a mile off the beach
- aforementioned inlet
- A good catch of snappers, tilefish, and triggerfish
- Kings and Little Tuny are out there too.
Baldwin Lake IL - 18 Feb 2012
Even with warmer winter weather, we took a trip east to the powerplant lake at Baldwin Lake IL. As per usually, the channel catfish readily hit nymph flies (pink/magenta chenelle bug tied on 1/80th oz jig head, 4 ft under an indicator, 4lb tippet)
and due to a midge hatch, bluegill and other sunfish pounded #14 dry patterns (mine was a white full length hackled dry). On the spinning rod, crankbaits and live silversides
worked for drum, hybrid striped bass,and catfish.
Meremec Springs - 11 Feb 2012
(Courtesy of my bros) It was last weekend of Catch and Release winter trout season, and as per usual, they rainbows (and some browns) were active, especially high on the spring branch.
Hot flies included shammy worms, wooly boogers, and many others.
Veterans Memorial Pier, Titusville FL - 31 Jan to 2 Feb 2012
In addition to crowd of shrimp netters, this pier had excellent ultralight fishing for silver (white) trout, silver perch, bluefish, and spotted (speckled) seatrout (look here for identification if in doubt:
My FWC . com
) any lure (or fly, forgot that rod this time to my regret, had to use the spinner..any small clouser, charlie, or marabou fly #6 to #2 hook would have worked ) 1"-4" in length, preferably 3" white or silver got smacked.
Large schools of each species were visible under the lights popping the surface after shrimp and silversides, and anything twitched 1" deep or lower near the pier got hit.
Most specs were very much too small, so be very careful releasing them (single barbless Hooks are good for that), and try not to stress their jaws. Most bites were silver (white) trout and silver perch, which have smaller mouths too.
A very good lure was a 1/8oz crappie jig (or jig head w/soft plastic) though we caught them on everything including a lure made from the clear plastic cap of a ballpoint pen and a #2 barbless hook (worked VERY well actually).
Note: We released everything carefully unharmed this time, but the silver trout and silver perch are very edible fresh.
Trick of the trade: silver (and spotted) seatrout like water 65-70 degrees...so when the surface hits this temp at night under lights..be fishing. If you see shrimp swimming about, listen for the 'pops'.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO - 28 Jan 2012
The last weekend of catch and release trout fishing at the lakes 21 and 28, and the rainbows are active around the ice and creeks as the midwinter thaw progresses.
Off color water did not deter the stocker rainbows from hitting dark nymphs (anything with peacock hurl and a bead) under a small indicator (light bites).
Lake Taneycomo Branson MO- 14 to 15 Jan 2012
Needed a new set of trout to catch, so took a trip Branson during th ebest time to do so. No traffic. No crowds. Low hotel rates. Lots of rainbows.
The winter timeframe on T-como features highly variable water releases. The bigger rainbows are up the feeder creeks or at the mouths of the creeks thinking about the spawn (in March), but
the smaller rainbows, and those that decided to spawn in the lake itself, are very catchable in large numbers. Size 14-18 Cracklebacks, Bead head wooly boogers (olive, black, and grizzly, Size 6-10), size 18 copper johns, and of course
glowballs, scuds, and zonkers all work, anywhere on the lake, and up at the hatchery also. The Browns are mostly in structure feeding downlake, some are staging at the mouth of the creeks (or up them) waiting for cold-chilled baitfish to drift down, zonkers and large mysis or shad patterns your best bet for the scattered fish.
Spinning rod users can troll or cast Pinns Minnows/Rapalas/and spoons anywhere in the deeper sections of the lake from Cooper Creek and down to Empire park for the same schoolie rainbows. Big sunfish are also around for nymph drifters. While in Branson, skip the chain
resturants (we ate at Danas BBQ+Burger and La Iguana-California style tacos/burritos-- both on Hwy165, both very yummy!) and hit the local joints (same applies for shopping in season).
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO - 31 Dec 2011, 07 Jan 2012
Happy New Year! As per usual this whole winter, stocked rainbows in the catch and release lakes have consistantly hit most nymph offerings especially orange chenelle bugs, bead head peacock hurl nymphs in 14 and 16,
and bead head prince nymphs 16. The trout have started to get wise to the fact that things that look tastey might have a hook in them, so use small indicators.
The fish were mostly feeding along weedbeds near drop-offs as along the dams, pushing the weeds to scare out dark nymphs.
Baldwin Lake, Baldwin IL - 29 Dec 2011
Took a quick run accross the mighty Mississippi River to the powerplant warmed Baldwin Lake. Channel Catfish 10"-12" were easy picking on the fly (how many places can you say that?),
4lb tippet, and any florescent pattern (I used a hot pick chennelle bug and hotpink/chartruese fathead pattern under an indicator) under an indicator works
quite well for the wiskered fishes and sunfish and drum. Fish near the rocks where you see drop-offs and current (and warmer water).
Meremac Springs Park, St. James MO - 28 Dec 2011
Catch and Release winter trout season at Meremac Springs park is VERY different then during the put-and-take season.
In the winter, many trout are semi-wild and swim up from the main river, mixing with a few hold-over stockers from Halloween, and hanging with
smallmouth bass, northern rock bass, and longear sunfish native to the springs and river. The water this trip was a bit off color due to melting snow,
but the fishing was pretty good on the surface using the big skater fly
and #14-#18 crackleback, mayfly and other dry offerings. Sub surface, woolly boogers in white, black, or olive worked, and a few fish fell for the chennelle bugs.
Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 17 to 27 Dec 2011
As the trout get smarter, so will you. Variable weather, clarity, and temperatures make these stockers a challenge as the winter progresses, but still very catchable.
#14 bead head hairs ear, peacock hurl, caddis pupae, and prince nymphs 3 feet or more under small indicators get the nod most days, though olive wooly boogers, glow balls, and chennelle bugs still work on better days.
2lb tippet is a must. There is also some surface activity on cracklebacks and the like on calm days. Watch out for the crappie, which like woolly boogers and nymphs too, and for the visiting bald eagles looking for a trout dinner.
Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO 14 Nov to 11 Dec 2011
While the walley and Sauger are bitting in the big rivers below dams and dykes (on 3"-4" softplastics right on the bottom), a more regular bite
is again the stocked trout, where they come in all sizes, and are reachable on the fly until the water freezes up.
Chenelle bug, hairs ears, cracklebacks caddises, wooly boogers all work, remember to use a 2lb tippet (they are starting to get smarter). Most bites are 4ft under an indicator, but some fish will take a dry if it is presented right.
Ice will form on cold mornings, so you might need to wait till afternoon for the lakes to open up.
Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO - 12 Nov 2011
Winter Stocked trout in the St. Louis Metro provide fun sport without the long drive to T-como or the trout streams. Almost any pattern works (good fishery for the tykes)
though nymphs (peacock, hairs ear, chenelle bug) 2 feet under an indicator will keep a solid catch rate. For the more adventurous, try a streamer (olive woolly booger) or
a dry (crackleback, mayfly). All on 2# tippet, though be wary of the occasional super-stocker tossed in to keep the action lively. Remeber many lakes are lure/fly only and catch and release till February to check the regs on the
MO Dept. of Conservation Winter Trout website.
Lake Taneycomo Branson MO 04-06 Nov 2011
Highly fluctuating water level (normal) with fall turn-over in Table Rock Lake (which feeds T-como warmer then normal water) resulted in interesting
fishing conditions. A full virtual 'mixed bag' was possible, even at the tip-top of T-como, where bluegill, longears, smallmouth, and white bass
mixed with the trout. When the water was low in the afternoon zonkers and dry flies (some ridiculously large, though a crackle back as per usual also) worked well. In
the higher water is was tougher, due to lower oxygen (again fall turn-over) but olive streamers and cracklebacks (and of course scuds and glowballs) caught fish
if swung/drifted right. The white bass at the tip-top (1lb-3lbs) hit floating zonkers w/a split shot or #6 olive woolly boogers
Chain of Rocks (MS River, IL Side) and Dresser Island Access MO (MS river, slough) 22Oct 2011
While there was a morning white bass bite at the chain of rocks (fyi...bring waders and BE VERY CAREFUL, and an 11' rod-like a Cabellas Predator for example, super-braid line on a good spinning reel and cast long using a 3oz school rig),
we slept in a bit and forgot waders, and after seeing sturgeon hitting the surface, instead hit the sturgeon on a 3 way rig w/circle hook with nightcrawlers (though I suspect shimp and squid would work also).
Make sure the dropper between the weight and swivel is very short and lighter than the main line, and make sure the worm extends a flipping end into the current.
The circle hook allows release of the sturgeon (esp. if a pallid or lake sturgeon ends up eating the worm).
However sturgeon and spinning gear seemed less fun then the fly rod, so we tripped over to Dresser Island near ALton MO,
and 'caught' the tail end of the white bass bite there. Spinning wise, a jig w/soft plastic worked, though my choice was a
red chenelle bug first for the carp (silver carp) then a white zonker for the white bass.
Little Calumet Creek (et. al.) near Portage and Porter IN - 15-16 Oct 2011
It is always worth watching the moon phases when salmon are involved, and due to logs we have kept and an understanding of when salmon run in Indiana
we hit the run of cohos and chinnoks (the near the last of the runs this season) on the nose. On solid moon phases salmon move, due to the strong tides in their native ranges,
and add in a bit of rain to raise water levels, and they are in. We hit the typical access points near Portage and Porter. The fish were
primarily in the lower to middle regions, not so much in the Herron Rookery this time, though likely by 25th or so. None in the harbor, so that is that.
On the 8 weight fly rod with 8lb-14lb tippets they are a handful in the tight creek water, red psudeo-marabou, micro-butt skunk, and any day-glow colored zonker got hits from the fish as they ran
up stream, as did clouser eyed-wooly boogers in green/black. The spinning rod users in my trio nailed them on blue fox black-bodied spinners (#3) and similar tools. Light flies (even on the fly-rod) will need a splitshot 2 feet up to keep them at salmon strike height.
They will follow and chase what they want, and the fly should be moving upstream with the fish so they can catch it.
Since these fish will die soon, and not spawn successfully in these creeks (no gravel bars with good water, though an idea would be to put gravel in for them to spawn on to reduce stocking?), we kept a few for the grill.
Winfield MO (17 Sep) Howell ISland Chesterfiled MO (24 Sep) Lock and Dam 22 MS River near Hannibal MO (1 Oct 2011)
Fall weather has begun the swing in temperatures and conditions, from cool and rainy, to warm and dry, and back. This triggers the fall feed
for most species of fish and mammals. Catfish were again easy pickings in the MS River above LD 25 in Winfield, squid again worked for 2lb-6lb channel catfish.
We investigated Howell ISland, which is still seperated by flow-over water on the high but dropping MO river, and due to high pressure air was very slow, but will probably pick up this weekend and next as the
catfish and white bass move in. The gem spot was LD 22 just down the MS river from Hannibal. There were plenty of baitfish (MS emerald shiners, small threadfin shad, and silversides) in the
fast water, and this brought in a strong Herring and Drum bite, with a few nice Crappie and White Bass mixed in. The Herring when the are going will hit just about any white or chartruese lure 1"-3" long fished fast,
jigs for the spinning rod, or in my case classic shad-dart and streamer patterns on the fly (4lb tippet just in case of the white bass, floating 2wgt-5wgt line, fast strips just below the surface).
The herring smack hard and fight well on light tackle, take care in releasing those not kept (they have easy to damage jaws). Look for strong white bass and sauger action on the rivers in the next few weeks,
and salmon in the creeks and harbors around the Great Lakes, Tuna out west, Kings in the Gulf, and Stripers out East. In short, fish now or regret it during the long winter.
Sandy Slough and Mississippi River Above Lock and Dam 25 Winfield MO - 10 Sep 2011
Never be afraid to break out of your own mold, and get your hands (and in this case fly line too) dirty.
The Mississippi river levels have dropped due to the 'Fall Dry out', and while the river proper is clearer then normal, the slough is very low and under an algae bloom.
To be a bit different, we decided to target catfish and drum (both of which can get quite big here), and experimented using a bait usually associated with salt water or salmon: squid.
Used squid tentacles and rings on circle hooks (1/0 to 6/0, easier to release fish that aren't going to be dinner...let the squid hang as strips to move in the current) using a dropper weight rig (allows AT LEAST 18" from weight to loop to avoid rocks, 3oz seemed to hold it fairly still, though 1 oz got snagged less)
Bit was pretty consistant all morning (fished the slough in the afternoon--read on) for channel and blue catfish and drum. Herring were showing on the surface, though not targeted this time.
The squid worked well, and each chunk survived the nips of smaller fish and was reusable after each larger fish. Will be added to the bait list for this locale.
In the now very low slough, an algae bloom was underway, and the slough became covered in a coat of slime (ala sewer plan), but the fish were still biting.
Since I was willing to put up with slimey gooey mud on everything (took forever to get off the fly-line), I put on an indicator and #8 white wooly worm.
In the shallow clearer sections, small largemouth and crappie were willing.
Under the slime, I used the goo to my advantage (it hid my cast and me from the fish), by spotting carp snouts feeding on the goo, and pitching the wooly worm/indicator near the path of the feeding carp snouts.
The fly sunk below the goo, and the with a few easy tugs on the line to pop the inicator in the slime, I caught lots of black and bighead carp (1lb to 10lbs) on the fly (made for some
drag pulling runs, but very dirty legs and fly-rod).
LD 22 (MS River near Hannibal) and Kaskaskia River (Dam area in Carlyle IL) - 03-05 Sep 2011
The ground is drying out in the midwest US (as it tends to do in Aug/Sep), but the Missouri River is very high even though the Mississippi and Kaskaskia Rivers are low.
Up near Hannibal, the Saverton Dam (LD22) is nearing completion of it renovation project, and was fishable, though the high pressure seems to slow down the midday bite. Nevertheless
a slow bite here is a good bite anywhere else on the river, with Drum showing strongly on lures (jigs-chartruese on spin, zonker on fly) fished slowly near bottom (expect snags), and on
catfish (channel mostly) on the classic river baits (3" chunks of shad and silver carp work well) fished on the bottom in slower areas.
Heading down river, the Chain of Rocks was still very high (since it is below the confluence) though will pick up as the water cools.
Across to the Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, drum, crappie, gar, and white bass are biting fairly on jigs (fly pattern for me was a #6 white wooly worm below a small split shot). Below the rapids under the swinging bridge
sauger are beginning to show, with micro-white bass and largemouth. Cooler weather should bring in bigger walleye and sauger next week.
Salt River near New London MO - 27 Aug 2011
Was a hot day but decided to pull out the fishing kayaks and explore a bit. We lauched at the public (MO Dept. of Conservation, note make sure your craft is zebra-mussel free please) boat ramp and paddle about 4 miles
upstream, fishing as we went. The first few pools above the ramp were relatively deep (up to 9 feet, though mostly 2-4 feet) though the water was warm
(in the 80F range). Every shallow flat held buffalo and common carp, but they were spooky and uncooperative. As we went upstream we passed over shallow areas (6 inches, low releases from Retention Dam upstream)
featuring abundant mussel beds, mussels from 4" to 12" in diameter, so there should be good catfish in the river given cooler water and flow. There was a nasty inflow from a sewer pipe (nearly untreated water with an oily sheen, located near here or maybe a bit further up ) about 2 miles up from the ramp,
and silver carp by the ton sat below it (I skipped those fish). A few shallow spots later (still below the highway H bridge) we turned about, and hit a deeper spot that had large shadowed rocks.
Each rock had a resident smallmouth or sunfish, which hit chennelle bugs (1/80 oz) bounced over the top, and on the spinner, roostertails and microjigs. Not sure if I would keep anything in this section of river (we let the fish we caught here go).
Likely has good fishing for white bass and walleye in the spring and fall, and during heavier flow, but for now will bank that spot for later.
Fort Desoto Gulf Pier, Clearwater-St. Petersburg FL 22-25 Aug 2011
Nighttime pier species are many at the Fort Desoto Gulf Pier in Florida. The two primary baitfish, 1"-2" bay anchovies (a.k.a. glass minnows) and 2"-6" herring (threadfin et al.) surround the pillings, the anchovies favoring the surfline (see a similar situation in the Pacific @ Belmont Shores CA below...same tactics apply) , the herring the deeper pillings.
Add in the stirred up waves and the mole shrimp and gulf shrimps, and pinfish, and you have a predator fish (and dolphin, bird) buffet. This is a unique blend of habitats due to feeds from the bay, artificial reefs, sand/beach habitat, and wicked currents.
Speedjigs and soft plastic jigs (and many other lures--anything that looks like anchovies and herring) on 20#-30# florocarbon leaders (2') yielded many Ladyfish, and a few nice spanish mackerel along the length of the pier. A few tarpon and speckled trout rolled under the lights, the specs nailed 2" herring and the anchovies (#4 circle hook, light weights), the tarpon ignored it all.
The same small herring also yielded mangrove (gray) snappers over the reef sections, and white grunts apleanty (though squid worked even better for the grunts).
Upsize the circle hook on a light steel leader, and catfish and sharks (bonnetheads) hit squid (and herring if you have it). A smaller circle (#4) and squid or shrimp in the surf for nice gulf kingfish (whiting) and the odd white trout or other speices.
A zara spook also got hit under the lights by ladyfish, and flounder hung out by the jetty rocks (live shrimp or live anchovies, or a jig/soft plastic).
Next time I get down there, I bring the fly rod and fish from the beach! (Note everything but the baitfish were carefully released).
Winfield MO Sand Slough and MS River near LD25 - 13 Aug 2011
Old Man River is dropping a bit, and gar, carp, catfish, drum, and a few white bass are biting.
For spinners, the key is using 1"-2" shad for bait for the catfish...hit deeper spots near drop-offs (as near dams or the mouths of sloughs). Worms will of course also catch drum and common carp, and smaller catfish.
The shad will catch larger drum and larger catfish. Dough baits and corn work for common carp.
Fly-wise, poppers or zonker and large indicator combos work for gar (long and short nosed), and very small white streamers (#14 or smaller) work for bighead and silver carp in schools.
Kaskaskia River Carlyle IL (Below lake Carlyle) - 06 Aug 2011
1"-2" emerald shiners and shad continue to abound below the dam (gates are open, water is flowing well oxygenated and cool), and with them
larger shad and everything that eats all three.
Good white bass surface bite in the morning,on flyrod poppers and spinning rod pop-r's, and inverted school rigs like this giving way to gar and a few white bass in the afternoon.
Using smaller nymph, thread-jig, or chennel patterns, lots of drum, sunfish, largemouth, and crappie surround the rock, waiting in ambush for those 1"-2" minnows. As always, silver carp intercept any 1"-2" subsurface minnow-shaped lure.
Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego CA - 01-03 August 2011
A bit slower than the usual on this pier, possible due to moon phase. The water was cloudy with particulates from surf action, a few mackerel flurried in and out, surfperch hung out along the pilings, and some nice leopard sharks patroled the bottoms.
Remember bigger leopards can bite easily through spectra or mono to 60lb test (found this out again the hard way...). Rig a dropper rig or similar w/squid strips (weight-2oz-3oz topedo works good here-- on a 1-2 foot branch, main line to a steel braided leader w/swivel, 3feet or so, to a 4/0 circle, similar to this one or this one)
For the mackerel as rig on a calume stick rig w/1/16oz jig head and squid strips. here )
For the surfperch, just use #10 hook below a split shot or on a dropper above a small torpedo weight, and either ghost shrimp or small sliver of squid, use very close to the pillings.
Also, the (WOW) cafe here has wonderful lobster tacos, spice apple cider, expresso, and mango pancakes, yummy!
Kaskaskia River, Carlyle IL - 23 July 2011
Hot weather still bakes the midsection of the USA, and the fishing couldn't be hotter. Water in the rivers is still very high, and the dams are releasing the excess,
cooling and oxygenating the rivers,sending disoriented baitfish to their doom, making the fish feed heavily. Same drill as last few weekends: White Bass on topwater lures --1"-2" yellow/white poppers on the fly, 2" topwaters on the spinning rod or if you feel odd, two jigs ABOVE a weighted bobber (i.e. a school rig where the bobber is the weight)...i.e. any gurgling lure gets smacked.
Below the white bass (and gar) feeding frenzy, silver carp, drum, and buffalo hit crankbaits (green/white) and jigs for the spinner, or white/yellow streamers (12 inches behind a split shot for an inverted presentation). Drum lover the chennelle bug 4 feet below and indicator and hug the rocks. Drink lots of water, wear sunscreen, and catch fish!
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle, Carlyle IL - 09 July, 16 July 2011
Like down south, the water is high in the Mississippi River system, and the gates on Carlyle Lake are all open, bringing in mobs of fish which blacken the water below the dam.
I used both the 8wgt gear and the 5wgt rods. On the 8wgt, I put on a white/sparkle marabou streamer (see below) and white/yellow wooly boogers (8lb-14lb tippet, small split shot 2 feet above fly) for large bighead and silver carp, and buffalo. Make sure that flyreel has a good drag (good way to test that saltwater gear)
On the smaller rod, I alternated between a white popper on the surface and a yellow chenelle bug under an indicator (4lb tippet) for white bass(!), drum, buffalo, sunfish, bass, and smaller silver carp.
Yes, the 'asian carp' will defitiely bite (and chase) lures, especially behind dams. They also taste yummy (personal experience: silver carp taste like tilapia fyi, though they do have odd bones)
Drum and sunfish carpet the rocks, and large gar patrol for weak fish (like a shark).
(see asiancarp.org for interesting bighead, silver, and black carp info)
Set the drag and hang on! For spinning rod flippers, most lures in the 1"-2" range work for the asian carp: green crankbaits, curly tail jigs, and rooster tails are very good spinning options.
(Maybe one day the IGFA will let one of its life members register fly rod world records for Bighead and Silver Carp (I humbly beg)?)
Lake Taneycomo Branson MO and Bull Shoals Lake Forsythe MO - 01-07 July 2011
It is always fun to fish Taneycomo and the White River System lakes, doubly so on (U.S.A.)Independance Day, firecrackers in the sky. Lake T-como, Table Rock, and Bulls Shoals
are all high, so the Dam's (Table Rock to Taneycomo, Powersite to Bull Shoals) have also make the water high and murky. Wading near the hatchery on T-como was a bit dicey, but using olive streamers and ginger colored Zonkers worked pretty well most days. Further down the lake, baiters and lure-pitchers also
did fine, though a little less activity then normal. Crankbaits such as Rapalas work (larger models due to off colored water) were a good lure there, for fly flippers, glo-balls and chennelle bugs worked slowly at creek mouths. Lots of bass around in T-como also, which hammered zonkers and poppers, especially in slower areas, over weedbeds and along shore-lines.
Drop over Powersite Dam, and the picture is very interesting. Large striped bass, drum, walleye, and black basses await luckless trout sent over the falls from Taneycomo, or any disoriented threadfin shad.
Fly-wise (yup, upgrade the tippet though to at least 4lb, and maybe 8lb, 6wgt rod or better) a white floating zonker 14" behind a splitshot flipped into the swirlling currents and sharpely stripped along the accessable sections of bank were fun in the afternoons for
a mized bag of hefty fish: rainbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye, white bass, and hybrid (white+striped) bass. I did hook larger walleyes and stripers, but 4lb tippets got bit clean by those beasties!
Several shad-pitchers (shad >6" in length) did land nice striped bass though. A red chenelle bug (tied on 1/80th jig head) and white wolly worms also worked for bass and rainbows in Bull Shoals.
In Table Rock, poppers were great fun for sunfish above the dam along the rocks (Moonshine beach area) when we wanted a break from everything else.
- My favorite flies for fishing up in the Homosassa River
- amazes me how many fish anywhere hit this combo: glass bead Mysis and indicator..worked well for just about all the species (esp. on the windy days)
- Near sunset, a palm sits on the 'beach' at the gulf beach and boat ramp access point between Homosassa and Crystal River
- not far from that same spot..a nice river opening and marsh with lots of trout, croakers, and redfish.
- the MacRaes dock facing upstream...what we saw every morning
- Monkey Island in front of Riverside Resort (and a yummy seafood spot)
- one of many nice ladyfish from the river not far from the resorts
- One could catch them on a spinning rod also on a crappie jig or many other lures too
- the bottom in the ladyfish holding zones between 5 and 8 have rich vegitation and are cloudy when the ladyfish are present
- Up near the top of the river...manatee zones that are no entry, no fishing zones.
- and there are still some mantees around so be careful.
- this bay might be worth checking out next trip...right near the spring. Trees and docks can hold mangrove snappers.
- ...like this mangrove snapper.
- Underwater shots near the spring area:
- heading downriver from MacRaes now...this island is a strong current and wind break with a few fishes near it and herons all over it...
- ...like these blue herons nesting.
- not just mangrove snappers like rocks and flies, so do Gulf Killifish
- many down river markers have oyster bars to hold fish but also to eat boats
- up the canals are many fish that will intercept saltwater target lures, like this freshwater bluegill...
- ...or this largemouth bass...
- ...or these saltier ladyfish...
- ...or this carefully released snook.
- Alligators aren't the only reptile in this canal..this snapping turtle paid a visit too.
- this last bend before hitting the very shallow and grassy Gulf had lots of fish, including silver perch and gar, but on good days spotted seatrout and redfish.
- ...underwater in that area, the bottom has lots of vegitation like here...
- ...and here.
- Spotted Seatrout (aka 'Specs', released) like wooly worm flies under the dock lights
Weldon Springs Wildlife Area and ponds MO - 24-26 June 2011
Hot weather moves the bite to a morning and evening affair with some exceptions, one being carp. Common, black, grass, and silver carp are lined up
below overhanging bushes and trees, snipping berries, beatles, and cicadas. A yellow popper, or a small chennelle bug, or a black wooly worm work well,
if you are stealthy and can make a very precise fly cast!
San Diego Bay and Ocean Beach Pier CA - 12-13 June 2011
Squeezed in a bit of fishing after meetings out an San Diego. A short skiff rental from Seaforth in Coronado is always nearly a sure thing for sand bass.
Fish the grass flats and drop-offs near the big bridge using soft plastics, and speed-jigs, though flywise a sinking line and clouser work nicely too. Release all the beautiful bass
as the bay is a limited resource.
If you want dinner, the mackerel are running strong off the Ocean Beach pier (which also has a yummy cafe...lobster tacos and mango pancakes). A small jig head, squid strip, and calume stick will
get bit quickly, so good fun for the kiddos too.
Winfield MO Sandy Slough - 11 June
The sloughs are rolling with Mississippi emerald shiners and whatever you use better look like one! The fish are on the drop offs near flood waters and in channels, lots of largemouth, channel catfish, and sauger
are roaming the shorelines for minnows. Flywise, a white marabou streamer works AOK.
Private ponds in Orlando FL, Titusville (Vets Pier and MIWR), Port Canaveral (Jetty Park), Cocoa Beach Pier, Indian River, and Fort Desoto Park (Gulf Pier and Canoe Trail/Bay) FL - 28 May-04 June 2011
Yet again, I get to hit fish in two oceans, this time the Atlantic (and Gulf) a few days after catching Mackerel in California. Orlando is a gateway to either coast of Florida, hit the beachline and in an hour the Indian and Bananna Rivers (both brackish) and the Atlantic beaches await.
Purple sea jellies made swimming a chancy proposition, but bridges (over the above rivers) and piers (Jetty Park @ Port Canaveral..good place for 'space-heads' too) are good fishing spots. Merritt Island also has lots of spots (remember in addition to the FL saltwater license, a free refuge permit is required for MerritT island fishing spots).
Dredging off Port Canaveral and around the Bananna River made the water very cloudy, but a few spanish mackeral (among the baby sea turtles--be careful to avoid them) showed on the pier, in addition to spadefish, spottail pinfish, and croakers (and kingfish aka whiting). Squid is the bait if you go that route, followed by peeled shrimp on small circle hooks fished near structures or in the main channel. A few flounder and sharks also may smack that squid. Lures like jigs and jigging-spoons may get spanish for some.
On the indian river, or near the newly renovated Veteran's memorial pier in Titusville, the same baits will get similar species and sheepshead, while a few lucky anglers fishing streamer flies or small jigs will get speckled trout. I tried in vain to get the mullet to bite a fly, but that quest is not over yet.
Back in orlando, a saavy angler will inquire about fishing the various private resort ponds (especially at the resort you may be staying with). Some, like Disney, require a special permit, some do not. These small
private lakes are usually catch and release only, so prime flyrod targets (if you are good at roll casts), and require a quiet considerate fisher(i.e. don't damage the fishery or the landscaping, or make enough noise to be a nusance!).
Poppers in the early mornings near the shorelines are DEADLY for bass and sometimes sunfish and tilapia. Streamers (woolly buggers in grey, white, yellow are very good) dropped near the shorelines most of the day are good for large sunfish and tilapia (look for bedding tilapia...drop the fly carefully into the bed...tilapia are invasive species in FL. I refuse this tactic for bedding bass.)
On the Gulf coast, a couple hour drive to Clearwater (such as the Skyway Pier--a goliath grouper schooled me here, the beaches on gulf or bay, or Ft Desoto Park) or any of the beach spots provide access to
many species such as spanish mackerel, pompano, speckled trout, redfish, snappers, ladyfish, and maybe tarpon. Rent a kayak or powerboat and you can extend your range over the grassbeds in Tampa Bay or off the beaches. Fly rodders using an 8wgt rod and intermediate or floating line can catch many species. While many flies (including poppers and Clousers) work well, a favorite trick of mine on the grass is to
put a saltwater wooly worm or size 4 eyed streamer (w/jig-style hook) a foot below a 1" indicator float. Stripping the fly line will pop the float, and fish will attack any fly following it, especially over a good grass bed.
Around the gulf piers, small jigging spoons work well for a variety of species, and baits around the pier pillings (very small circle hook, squid or shrimp) will catch pinfish (spottail and generic), sheepsheads, snappers, and grouper. At night squid chunks or baitfish work for bonnethead sharks and snappers (watch seasons, release the sharks).
Fish and explore!
- Key flies in Taneycomo and Bull Shoals, Weighted zonker, floating white zonker, and the olive streamer (a very old Scottish atlantic salmon pattern, with bead)
- Rainbows in Taneycomo are always hungry for the olive streamers
- A decent zonker eating Taneycomo rainbow
- More of the same along the banks of T-como
- A bit foggy wading in the mornings on T-como
- A chunky rainbow hangs out in one of the Taneycomo hatchery outlets (#3) free from angler attention
- Lots of baby ducks for this Momma duck on Taneycomo
- Taneycomo's bottom is logs and rocks when not covered by vegitation
- High water makes for a waterfall over Powersite Dam to Bull Shoals in Forsythe MO (normally it is 20+ feet below this)
- Big Paddlefish ('Spoonbills' in the local vernacular) like to feed in the turbulent water, the snout is an electric antenna as per Dr. Lon Wilkens
- Threadfin shad are schooling heavily along the banks in Bull Shoals, feeding on plankton
- A log perch poses for a shot before release..they are darters, but perches (along with yellow perch, walleye, and sauger) nonetheless
- A Bull Shoals fly eating rainbow trout (on the small side, caught many bigger ones here too).
- That rainbow above better watch out for these guys, a Bull Shoals striped bass (not my catch, one of the guys using shad caught this nice specimen).
- A zonker eating walleye, same place
- A decent Bull Shoals smallmouth ate my trout fly
- One of many nice zonker crushing white bass
Newport Beach CA Balboa Pier 25 May 2011
Piers are great spots for quick hit opportunities to bend a pole, talk to friendly fellow anglers, and clear the mind. Balboa Pier in Newport Beach CA is a great place to use light gear to catch mackerel on small jigs after a quick bite of dinner at Ruby's on the same pier.
A twin 1/8th oz jig rig and thin line are keys to many mackerel.
Sandy Slough near Winfield MO,and private ponds in MO 21 May 2011
Home again, and the slough is still a decent spot as are any pond with blugill and redears. Wooly worm flies do the work for the sunfish, streamers and jigs for herring, and the bait pitchers can get carp and catfish.
Provo River UT and Rockport Lake UT - 15-19 May 2011
Had to trip to Salt lake City for a business trip, but there is lots of fun fishing within an easy drive, high water or not.
The Provo River is loaded with browns, and in the high water, offerings need to be worked within a foot of rocks and undercut banks. A roll cast on a 5wgt line with 2lb tippet and either mysis (fry) or dark woolley booger pattern will get smashed. In the high country resevoirs, a fly rod is still
a deadly weapon, using chennelle bugs and minnow flies under an indicator, flipped in corners near dams and points for rainbows.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle IL Sandy Slough near Winfield MO - 07,14 May 2011
Very high water still dominates river fishing in the midwest, white bass are still a major target on any minnow shaped fly or lure. Bowfins are on the prowl in the high water as well (the psychadelic green fins make them
look like tropical beasts) and the sucker family is spawning in smaller tribuatries. Carp are also post-spawn and feeding in the shallows. Sunfish are setting up to spawn and are feeding strongly on wooly worms and streamers in small ponds and lakes.
Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle IL, Sandy Slough Winfield MO - 03-30 April 2011
Another wild rolercoaster of weather with tonadoes, but the white bass and other species are now very active. Largemouth are pre-spawn, walleye and sauger have spawned in the flood waters,
and carp are everywhere.In the backwaters, herring, sauger, and white bass are on the edges, black and grass carp bumping bushes and weeds.
Flywise, small minnow patterns in wild colors for off-color waters (hot pink, flo. red, chartruese, flo yellow) and black wooly worms for those carp.
Busch Wildlife Area (Weldon Springs MO), Baldwin Lake (IL), Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle (IL) - 12 Mar to 02 Apr 2011
Spring is a crazy rollercoaster in the midwest, and the past several weekends have seen it all. Nice days with highs in the 50s, with some rain,
thundersnows wtih subfreezing temps, and clear blue windy days in the high 60's and 70's. Anglers need to take head to the weather, and use conditions to catch fish!
Crappie and Black Basses are staging for pre-spawn, white bass are doing the same, and on good days every fish is hungry. Powerplant lakes are peaking now, and will drop out as the waters warm everywhere,
Walleye and Sauger are about to be peak (look for a day with good air pressure though). For you Floridians, look for spanish and cobia, and the first Kings of the year (and a few Sheepies and blues too).
Time to get out the gear and Fish!
Weldon Springs Busch Wildlife Area Lake 28 and Baldwin Lake IL - 18 and 25 Feb 2011
The last of the winter program trout are being pulled from the St. Louis Region lakes, but the same lakes now also feature early season
Crappie and bluegill. A peacock feather nymph or prince nymph in #14-#18 will catch all three fish species.
Powerplant lakes are still very good, and at Bladwin Lake a #6 Black Stonefly was and will be deadly for channel catfish 1-3 lbs, and sunfish to 8" long.
Bass will also bite on a minnow imitator fished just off the rocks.
Meramec Springs Park St. James MO - 12 Feb 2011
The lakes at home are frozen, but spring water in the rivers to the south make for great fishing, especially during Catch and Release/fly season.
Gone are the crowds of people, but fish come up from the river to enjoy warmer water, from rainbow and brown trout, to smallmouth and largemouth bass, rock bass, longear sunfish, white and northern hognosed suckers.
The Smallies love to bash zonkers and streamers, while the trout take dry midges (#18 cream and olive colors), wiggletail nymphs, chennelle bugs (magenta), and stoneflies (#10...make it move!). The sunfish and suckers hit all the previous flies if presented well.
First day of March, and the stocked fish and crowds return.
Baldwin Lake Baldwin IL - 05 Feb 2011
Snow? What snow. We cruised through an early morning snowshower, to find lake effect snow around Baldwin lake. That said, this powerplant lake is dynamite, snow or not.
The warm water along the dam held many species, mostly Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Green sunfish, Orangespotted Sunfish, and of course channel catfish.
Spinning rod wise, any bait, or a jig (AA swimbait 4" or 1" tube jig under bobber) works for all the above species. Since I like to use only the long fly rod here, for me
the trusty chennile bug (red) and black stonefly (#8) worked very well, and the stone especially well for catfish from 10" to 3lbs.
Lake Taneycomo, Branson and Forsythe MO - 28-30 Jan 2011
When is the best time to visit Branson MO to fish? When all the tourists are gone!
January to March is the off season, when hotels are very cheap, traffic is non-existant, and rainbows are everywhere. The water is likewise near empty (minus a few boat tournaments),
and you can wade largely crowd-free. Rainbows are biting, from 20"+ models to the far more common 10"-18" size. In addition to the classic below-the-dam wading from the Hatchery down to KOA, shoreline parks with creek mouths or bays are also prime.
Key flies this time were sculpin patterns such as eyed zonkers in cream, brown, white, gray; Floating/un-weighted zonkers in cream, white; Chenelle bugs (flame red); scud/sowbug patterns; midges (#20 olive body, blue/grey hackle); and olive wooley boogers. Afternoons this trip were prime,
as the dam was releasing only minimal water (Table Rock and Bull Shoals are VERY low).
Alton IL (MS River, Waterfowl area) - 15 Jan 2011
With very frozen water in many places, it was a good weekend to take a drive to the Mississippi River to look at eagles. Many locks and dams
along the Mississippi River from the Quad Cities to the Chain of Rocks become a feeding station for migrating eagles (Bald and Golden), and many riverside
communities rely on the steady stream of bird watchers all winter to add to the local economy. In our case, a
short drive to the same spots we fish in warmer months yields plenty of pictures of the feathered raptors (note of advice...cameras don't like to be cold, so keep them warm inside the car as long as possible, bring a good
tripod, and a long zoom lens for pictures. Hold still or the birds will fly away). If you have the time hit many areas, as bird counts vary by day,and each locale opens resturants, taverns, and displays friendly to the birder. Alton also features an Eagle trolley
to bring people around to look at the raptors from a nice warm bus.
Look for areas where the ice surronds open water too. In addition to eagles you may also see Trumpeter Swans, Herons, ducks of many species, hawks, and falcons. Bring easy to
use binoculars for the younger set too.
Busch Wildlife Area, West Alton MO and Alton IL (MS River), Meramec River near St James MO, and creeks near Bourbon MO - 03-31 Dec 2010
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year (or whatever holidays work for you).December in the midwest is a time of fast weather changes, this december being no
exception, as it saw highs to 70 F, and lows near 10 F, with rain, snow, ice, and tornados. Anglers must adapt to catch fish, but they can be caught. If the water is open in trout
holding areas, they will bite on small nymphs below a small indicator (chenelle bug, microjig, prince, glowball). In areas near powerplants on the big rivers,
warm water species will seek refuge and also bite, such as silver and bighead carp, and if you are lucky walleye, catfish, and sauger.
Given the cooler water, the carp fight a bit slow, so 4lb tippet is enough to land 20lb fish if you are careful, a yellow chenelle bug (#8) under an indicator fished very slow
and carefully will get very softly bit. Pre- and post- storms saw very good bites with trout until the pressure changed.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Spring MO and Sandy Slough Winfield MO - 20 Nov to 28 Nov 2010
Rainbows are now acclimating to the Winter Stocking Program lakes, and the catch and release lake rainbows have gotten a bit wiser, but catchable on a wide variety
of nymphs and flies (#12-#16, chenelle bug, caddis pupae, prince, and bead-head peacock). For a break I also travels to Winfield to chase the last of the white bass,
doing both trout and whites in the same day. Thw White bass will be in and out all winter, especially below the dams on the big rivers, joining the sauger and walleye.
Baitwise, they will take a minnow, but on the fly--my fav--a bead headed white wooley booger worked fine if fish very slow.
Lake Taneycomo Branson MO - 12 to 14 Nov 2010
Interesting shifting dam releases and fronts make fishing interesting, though far from impossible. Below the dam zonkers, scuds, sowbug, glowball, and cracklebacks all worked with varying degrees, the zonker being the hottest fly. Much further down the lake,
at Empire Park in Forsythe, rainbow and sunfish competed to grab chenelle bug flies below indicators during daylight, and bead headed olive wooly boogers at sunset and later.
Winfield MO, Branson MO, Weldon Springs MO, and Oyster Point CA - Oct-07 Nov 2010
OK, so I have been fishing more than posting...guilty as charged :0) Lets do a quick fall round up: White Bass and Sauger and Drum have moved into the cooler waters
of slough outlets and feeder river mouths that feed the Mississippi River. Chennelle bugs and fathead minnow flies in white work for those on the fly rod, as do curly tail jigs for the spinning crowd.
ZIpping out west to Oyster Point in San Francisco CA just before the crabbing season (and MAN are there lots of bait-steeling crabs in South SF Bay CA!!), pitch out a squid gob at night, and if the crabs stay away, a leopard, dogfish, or smoothound shark will grab it.
(for those who are out west coast and fish piers, Ken Jone's book and website: www.pierfishing.com are a must! Tell him I sent you.)
Zip back to the midwest, drive south to Branson for the Brown Run (where the low pressure system of the century shutdown the bite, though they are biting now on zonkers, sculpin flies, cracklebacks, midges, and of course, scuds...check out my book and go see Chuck at Anglers and Archery up the hill from the dam for the fly of the day).
Zip back to the Saint Louis Region for the winter stocking program trout, and catch either at 12" stocker, or a 5lb stocker on a #6 olive wooly bugger, #10 stone flyon the fly or jig and bobber for the spinning rods.
Mississippi River in IL accross from Hannibal MO 18 Sep 2010
Saverton access is closed till March 2011, so tried this spot (John Day Access) before heading back to Missouri, and ended up fishing it for a while.
Used the fly first, and had hits from small herrings, but the carp noses on the surface were too deep to reach with the fly. Pulled out the salt water gear I still had in the back of the truck,
(Large Penn spinning reels, 50lb spectra) tied on a 3/4" (3/4 oz) white/yellow slab spoon a foot below a 2" bobber (attracts asian carp, prevents foul hooking too), and cast out to the surface fish.
The black and common carp scattered (fyi this is a very good common carp spot too), but after I let the rig settle I slowly bounced it back, and the bigheads punced on it.
Big, bigheads at that, pushing 20-50lbs. They made strong 'salmon-esk' runs, taking drag and punishing the shoulders and biceps, but I did land two nice fish (lost 10 others who snapped the spectra or pulled free of the
hooks). The fish landed where both hooked just inside the upper jaw (yes, bighead will chase and eat a small lure, see Carlyle report below). Remeber long cast to near the center, slow, bouncing retrieve, and hold on tight.
If I get my kayak in here, they will all be 8wgt flyrod fodder!
Winfield MO Sandy Slough (off MS River) 11 Sep 2010
Interstingly high water lead to good carp and drum fishing, though slow for the rest. The classic worms and doughbaits work, fly rod fishing was off due to muddy water.
Carlyle IL Kaskakia River (below Dam) 04-06 Sep 2010
Back to below the Lake Carlyle Dam, though this time the water was lower and only the white bass, crappie, and others (OK, it is never bad with a fly)
wanted poppers and mysis shrimp flies.
Newport Beach and Belmont Shores (Balboa Pier, Belmont Shores Veterans Pier) CA 30 Aug - 02 Sep 2010
Back to SoCal for night pier fishing again. Remember two jigs are deadly for croakers of various species (inc. Queenfish), Mackeral, and Halibut. Add squid for many more species.
One of these times I am bringing the flyrod and a clouser!
Carlyle IL Kaskakia River (Dam to Swinging Bridge) 13-14 and 21-22 Aug 2010
An overcast cool day or rising water can make the fish go insane in the Kaskaskia beow the Lake Carlyle Dam.
Given such conditions, a white popper or white wooly bugger on the fly will get chomped by many, many species. Pull out the 8wgt and
8lb tippet and a bead head 'booger and swing it below the dam to spin the drag against agressive bghead and silver carp. The poppers will get hit by crappie, sunfish, white bass, and goldeyes.
FOr the spinning rod set, a simple 1/8oz jig and soft plastic white tail will catch the same fishes. Make sure your drag is up to snuff!
WInfield MO Sandy Slough 06 Aug 2010
Nothing but carp is not a curse, and sometime you have to put down the fly rod (especially in chocholate milk colored water in 90F days), and grab the dough bait to get anyfish at all in the slough. A doughbait of oatmeal, strawberry jello, peanut butter, and corn meal works for us quite well.
Saint Petersburgh (Beach) FL 02-05 AUg 2010 (Skyway Pier and Ft. Desoto Gulf Pier)
A work travel means fishing in many locales, in this case from California and the Pacific to Tampa/St. Pete and the Gulf. Tries the Skyway, which did have a few
Spanish Mackerel, Jacks of various types (on the speed jigs), and snappers (on baits--shrimp, squid, cut baitfish). Fort Desoto's Gulf Pier (make sure you buy that FL license FYI)
also had a few spanish macs, but had many bait(Threadfin Herring-fresh or live) eating fishes in the evenings (when not storming) such as Speckled (Spotted) Seatrout, Silver Perch (a croaker, on squid), Ladyfish, and Bonnethead Sharks (all released FYI).
Newport Beach and Belmont Shores (Balboa Pier, Belmont Shores Veterans Pier) CA 26-28 July 2010
Mackeral were the order of the day on Balboa, both Green Jack and Pacific Mackeral, on 1/8oz white jigs (a 2 jig rig) tipped with white gulps.
Take the same rig to Belmont Shores Pier just past the surf and short halibut (release sized) are plentiful.
WInfield MO (Sandy Slough,MS River LD25) 11-17 July 2010
High water in July is a rarity in the midwest, but one should take advantage of it when possible. Black Carp and buffalo patrol the shallows, bumping flooded plants for worms and beetles. Look for a moving plant stalk, sneak over to it, and drop a black wooly worm to the base to get bit.
Lots of baby silver carp also cover the surface, feel free to cast net them for bait (the new tentaive world record blue cat--130lbs from 20 miles south on the MO river ate a fillet of carp). They will also hit a very small fly (#20) if dropped in front of the school and kept just under the surface. The bigger silvers will
eat larger flies, same tactic, and fight like salmon. Near the channels where current is strong, young of the year minnows that get swept from cover (many species including silversides and Mississippi emerald shiners) take refuge in the rocks. A white/yellow wooly booger (w/clouser eyes or bead head)
will catch many white bass, largemouth bass, small mouth bass, drum, and catfish. The live bait version also works. Enjoy, and congrats to the lucky STL anglers on the new world record blue cat!
Newport Beach Balboa Pier CA and Lake Taneycomo Branson MO 30 June- 06 July 2010
Back out west to California for a night, and more mackerel! These were bigger fish, so the order was a double 1/16th oz jig with white 2" gulp tails, for many good fighting pacific (chub) mackerel.
Leapt back to the midwest for the Independance Day holidays down at Branson on cold lake Taneycomo.
Very few browns this time (most in the lower 2/3rds of the lake likely around trees, though many fatter then normal rainbows below the dam. The generators in Table Rock Dam were running at 2 to 4 generators almost constantly,
alternating between possible wading water below the dam, to 'only with a boat or from shore'. Via boat downstream, or via North Point/Beach Park, Empire Park, and Copper Creek Access, many schools of rainbows were easy picking on any marabou (ala clouser eyed fat head or marabou clouser, or marabou jig)
or chennelle microjig (black head 1/80th oz, flame red body on rainy days, flo yellow on sunny days) , under an indicator on 2lb tippet. Many midge fish in the morning (#18 olive bodied) and Zonker/sculpin pattern fish all day below the dams. With the water rising, a #14 crackleback and #8 olive wolly bugger, also worked.
Scuds and glowballs are also decent choices anytime.
Islamorada FL (Florida Keys) 17-21 June 2010
JUne is a warmer month then May, but still has some fishes to be caught and --in our case-- released ( most are fighters not eaters anyhow). The Mahi's were beyond the range of the rental boat for the most part (30miles > 10 miles), though once
the southeast wind picked up, a few small mahi's came to the reef edge. Mostly off the reef edge (150 feet+ or -) pink or blue/pink small jet heads at 8kts could pull in the numerous schools of little tuny
(8lbs+) running out from the reef. A quick rod with a jig (speed or lead-head) or fly (Chartruse, Blue, white fast sinking fathead or clouser) could convert some of the fish that followed the trolled fish. Most action was down-reef from Alligator light.
Inside the reef Ceros and Jack Crevalle provided a bent rod, mostly in 50feet to 20 feet over live reef. The underwater camera spotted a very large school of jacks (100+ fish), of which we caught a released a few. The Ceros were less plentiful then on the winter trips (no suprise),
but would take a live ballyhoo, jig, sinking fly, or Zara SuperSpook (spectacular surface strikes).
Once the water got too rough past the reef, a troll on the edges of Hawk channel with the same jets pulled in barracuda, as did a drift with live ballyhoo under a float.
In the bridge channels there were very few tarpon (a few babies near the docks), but bonnethead sharks (all released) were plentiful on the tide changes (squid, cut mullet on a circle hook on bottom = prime baits),
and a few large 'cudas added to the action (ballyhoo, though try chuggers too). Lots of lane snappers also occupied the bridge channels, though most small.
Belmont Shores Pier CA, Dardenne Creek near Weldon Springs MO, and slough in Winfield MO 31 May- 14 June 2010
Yet more Travel. Weekends lead to fishing in freshwater for carp on the fly (especially below berry bushes in flooded waters, use a #14 red chenelle unweighted fly tied to look like a red berry) and
quick pokes at local creeks. Weeknights featured mackerel and other peir favorites at the Belmont Shores and Balboa Piers near LA. The Mackerel bite well under the lights on a twin jig rig (1/16 oz jigs baited with yellow powerbait trout worms or squid strips).
One guy on the Belmont peir caught and released a bat ray on a half mackerel on the bottom at night.
Minneapolis MN, Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO, Chain of Rocks near Granite City IL , Howell Island MO, KAskaskia River above Lake Carlyle IL 07 -28 May 2010
A conference resulted in a prime chance to fish the little lakes of the north country in Minnesota. A quick glance at the Minneapolis fishing guide on the DNR site provided the spots and the license.
Unfortunately warm weather subdued the cold water fishes, but a popper and zonker lead to many flyrod bluegill, pumkinseeds, and largemouth bass. The lakes were deep, but weeds left only a foot of un-weeded water, no problem for my fly choices.
Most sunfish wwere on beds as well, though I tried to leave them to making more sunfish. The bass will cruise the edge of the beds, however, and they are fair game.
Back home, the sunfish were also on the beds, redears and bluegill here, with bass in the same locations scouting the beds, and non-breeding fish hanging out nearby. Again the popper did the work.
We also grabbed the 'yaks and paddled down the Kaskaskia. Was slow fishing, though many very large longnosed gar surfaced to snap at the 'yak...watch those fingers. Next time I bring the 12wgt and my muskie flies to get thee beasts to fight.
The Chain of rocks was high, but a well presented red chenelle bug did drag up drum from the rocks.
Provo River near Orem UT, then Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO, then Newport Beach Pier and Belmont Shores Pier CA 26 April to 5 May 2010
Lots of travel for work means lots of variety for fishing.
First up, a conference in Salt Lake City, and a little footwork to get maps and a license, resulted in decent brown trout fishing each afternoon after the last session in the Provo River near Orem (just above the avalanche areas above Bridal Viel). Drive was a 45 minute door to door run,
I used a 3wgt rod rigged with 5 wgt fly line and 2lb tippet, my buddy used a 4 piece spinning rod with 2lb mono. He used 1/8oz Kastmasters and White/sivler rooter tails to land many nice browns, I used a #20 white midge and #4 bead head white wooley booger to catch many of my own (with many near misses), all over 3 afternoons of fishing, all fish still swimming (no place in hotel to cook them).
Look for calmer backwaters near beaver dams, and look for dimpling fish near sunset for the evening midge hatch, and undercut banks with good cover of downed trees.
Next, fished for sunfish and bass on the popper in the shallows of many ponds in the local wildlife area. Any popper or nymph under indicator will catch redears, crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, and largemouth bass a plenty.
Last, had to hit So. Cal. for another work trip. Started at the Newport Beach Pier (doubles for dinner due to a Ruby's diner at the end, yum!) and saw no fish actvity, lot of sea stars. Water was clear and very cool (do to an upwell?).
The last eve traveled to Long Beach to fish the Belmont Shores Pier, where corbina were being caught by one guy in the surf (need mussels or clams for bait..maybe a good fly target next time from the beach), and later I found a few small barred sand bass near the end on jigs tipped with squid.
Sandy Slough, Local Ponds in MO, Busch Wildlife Area MO, and Newport Beach Pier CA - 26 Feb to 23 Apr 2010
Ok, so I have been lazy :0)
Spring has sprung in the midwest with blooming trees, warming waters, and spawning fish. Sauger, Walleye, Drum, and Crappie start the parade, and began biting when the water
warmed to 52-55 degrees F (a submersible thermometer is your most important tool this time of year). Productive flies are chartruese and pink clouser-eye 'fathead' patterns for the drum and sauger,and #8 mysis shrimp for the crappie. Spinners using a 1/8oz jig and chartruses curry tail managed some sauger too.
When the water hit 60 in a few ponds, the bluegill also started feeding well, and black, grass, silver, and common carp began feeding in earnest
in any feeder to the MIssissippi river. The carps hit a #14 chartruse chennelle bug 6" under an indicator cast (very carefully!) in their direction of travel. Slap the line or let your shadow hit the water first and you will be carp-less.
The sloughs also began producing a few smallmouth and white bass, though that bite will pick up seriously in the next two weeks.
Took a business trip to So. Cal./O.C., and took some time to eat dinner and catch a few mackerel on the Newport Beach pier on a scaled down jig and bug rig on the spinning rod under the lights each night. Fun and easy fishing for smaller fish.
Alton IL, Mesa AZ, and Titusville FL Jan-Feb 2010
This will be a bit of a wandering report since it has been a very cold winter. Starting with Alton IL: Lots of
birding activity with Eagles, Trumpter Swans, and a few white pelicans (many more in few months). If the river isn't frozen below the dam, many Silver and Bighead Carp sit where the rocks
and softer bottom intersect, and may hit a small tube jig. A few catfish are around in Winfield and Alton
as well...use small baits look for a light take. Of course trout bite well in the cold if they are reachable.
If you are in the mood to travel south, Arizona has the Salt River, and one of my sibs enhanced his business trip with some
catch and release trout.
I fished Titusville in early february and due to colder temps (and no boat) caught only puffers on my fly rod. That said I should have brought a spinning rod and fished the surf for blues and jacks.
Branson and Forsythe MO (Lake Taneycomo) 26 Dec 2009 - 02 Jan 2010
If the water is liquid, it can be fly fished, and due to 46 degree constant flow from the bottom of Table Rock Lake, and many springs,
Lake Taneycomo is always liquid (mostly). The winter season sees a variety of flow levels from the dam, from all generators at night,
to just a couple to almost none in the days.
If you are fishing near the hatchery, gone are most of the browns that have spawned and now sit at creek mouths and in structure from Cooper Creek down (mostly).
Gone also are the heavy stocking inputs of rainbows in the cold months. Instead, the fishery now features smarter fish that have survived multiple seasons of pressure, mostly 10"-20" rainbows. The winter in the upper section also
features many midge/dunn hatches, and the sculpins enjoy a chance to move about. As a result, in the area beow the dam, #18-#20 olive bodied midge patterns (emerger or dry) are deadly, as are
olive and black streamers such as the bead headed wooley booger or salmon streamer (good sculpin imitations).
In the main lake, mouths to creeks and bays hold many bigger trout such as 15"+ rainbows and browns, as baitfish flee the freezing creeks for the warmer lake water. Roark, Turkey, Bull, Cooper, Fall creek mouths are all productive
for either a large mysis fly (like this one ) under a large indicator, a zonker or for the spinning rod crowd a slender crankbait in silver, rainbow trout, or sculpin colors will work.
Baits to match:
This Sculpin hides in the third outlet in very little water, to avoid becomming lunch for the trout below
Midges were also on the menu due to strong afternoon hatches (look for the trout feeding noses), such as this one,
or this one
Flies that match Them:
A #20 olive emerger from the fly shop up the hill
A compliment of several deadly winter patterns: A #6 salmon streamer, a #8 bead head woolly booger, a #14 nymph, a #18 emerger, and a #18 dry, and the venerable #14 crackleback
Dont forget the rainbows around the first outlet.
Fishes from near the hatchery:
An emerger eating rainbow
An dry eating rainbow
Going downstream to the Roark Creek:
A benefit of staying at the Roark Lodge on Roark Creek was fishing up the creek
However, anyone can fish (assuming dressed warmly) North Shore/Point Park at the mouth of the creek (park at the Branson Landing)
Even with sub-zero wind chills the rainbows bite very well at the creek mouths on the mysis
Going down to Forsythe:
Empire park has a nice point and dock with lots of family freindly trout to catch (saw 2 couples with limit stringers on bait)
however, rainbows weren't the only fish wintering at Empire Park..nice bleegill and redears will gobble any small nymph on an indicator
Did I mention I wrote a book on T-como?
WInfield MO and Busch Wildlife Area 04 Nov - 06 Dec 2009
The fall in the midwest brings wild swings in temperatures, as low pressure systems and cold fronts swing through, and in the space of a month or so, the weather goes from
almost comfortable fall-like to down right cold winter. The upside of the dropping temperatures and roller-coaster weather are the Winter STocking Program, which results in plants of
10 inch to 17 inch rainbows (with a few bonus fish) in many lakes in the Saint Louis Metro region, and the migration of warmer water fish to the larger, deeper, waterways. White bass and walleye evacuate
the soon to be frozen, bald eagle infested, sloughs for the main big rivers. Ditto for non-spring fed creeks. The trout aren't the only fish that bites a fly in the stocked ponds in the transistion month,
with largemouth bass and other sunfishes competing with the newly stocked trout for nymphs, minnows, and occasional hatches. Almost any fly on 2# tippet will work, though focus more on nymphs (chenelle bug, #14 peacock herl,#12 mysis,#12 prince, etc.) as the water temp drops.
San Diego CA (San Diego Bay and Pacific Ocean near Islas del Coronados) 29-31 October 2009
Always interesting to fish San Diego, though it was a challenge to find a 3/4 day that was going out (not enough
anglers). We ended up taking a bay skiff on thursday, catching many Spotted and Barred Sand Bass near the Port of San Diego
docks and Embarcadero (1/4 to 1/2oz jig and soft plastic...couldn't get my fly down on intermediate line, going back to the sinking line next time!)
Friday and Saturday, we took the Mahilini out of HandM Landing (good captains, cook, and crew btw..very professional, patient, and talented).
Friday, the boat took the hour long drive to the Islands (North Island, east side mostly) and we caught a few bonito in the 7lb range (at least the one the sea
lions did get...nice that they leave you just the head), on 2oz to 3oz Sardine Freestyle jigs (Bass Pro) fished mid-depth on spectra, and on Tady and Salas
yo-yo jigs in Scrambled Egg fished full depth.Midday we fished for Rockfish and the captain found a nice 300 ft deep 'stone' we drifted twice (the boat has a rule...no matter how good the spot,
it only gets hit twice), where we caught 5lb-6lb Vermillion, Bocaccio, and other rockfish, largely on 3.5oz glow Bethos jigs on spectra, and 4"-6" soft plastics/Gulps (yellow/white/glow) on dropper loops above 6oz sinkers.
Saturday, we started on the 'rock cod' right away just south of the on the water border, in 330ft of water, where my bro nailed the jackpot fish,
a 10.3lb Bocaccio (fyi..we had a Fish and Game biologist w/calibrated scale on the boat...very handy) on a 6" glow swimbait on a dropper loop 3 feet above an 8oz torpedo weight.
Also tusseled for a while on a large Black Sea Bass that inhaled my 3oz freestyle jig though this denizen won its freedom 36 minutes into the battle (would have released it anyhow).
In the afternoon we pulled up close to the west side of the north island for bonito again, and the 2oz freestyle jig and small tady's caught plenty of tough fighters.
(Yes, I did get to Anthony's Fish Grotto on the bay for dinner as well. No, the universe didn't implode from the bliss at eating at my two favorite seafood places--the other is Dixie Crossroads-- inside of 7 days).
(BTW..if you like rockfish (Sebetes et al.) see this book, it is awesome: "The Rockfishes of the Northeast Pacific" by M.S.Love et al. ages, weights, life history and everything you ever wanted to know about them).
Titusville FL (Bananna River) 24 October 2009
This is the beginning of a hit and run, today Orlando/Titusville, next week San Diego. Dixie Crossroads for lunch this trip, Anthony's fish Grotto next :0)
The Mullet Run is in Full Force, with 4"-8" mullet everywhere near Titusville, from the rivers, to the lagoons, to the beach (Playa Linda),
and the predators are with them hoping to get a mullet dinner (in addition to Dolphins).
Around the rocks near the soon to be reconstructed Veterans pier, are Gray (Mangrove) Snappers and Sheepsheads by the ton, most
snappers 8" to 15" and perfect for #6 to #4 sized flies (clousers and fat head minnow used for white bass the week before) and 5wgt to 8wgt fly tackle.
Likely the ladyfish would be around also, but the construction has that part of the brige covered. The beach
also has pompano and jacks around, if you can handle casting into the wild surf and riptides (just don't get wet past your ankles and BE CAREFUL).
The Ares I-X on the pad is also interesting as well (see my Space Page), and baby Tilapia abound in the lagoons now.
Sandy Slough (Mississippi River) Winfield MO 3-17 October 2009
Cooler weather, now that fall is here, and variable water, bring White BAss, but send other fish out of the slough into the deeper river.
At high water, the White Bass are under the bridge, while at low water they are near the mouth of the slough near the Lock. Fly-wise, a #4 fathead minnow
(flo. yellow chenelle, white marabow, small eyes) worked well, as did a #6 mysis shrimp under indicator, and
#12 white/green crackleback pattern. For the spinning rod, a 1/16oz jig head w/white or green soft plastic body paddle tail works well.
Portage, Chesterton, and Porter Indiana 25 to 27 September 2009
Moon and rain timing are major keys in determining the salmon run in the Illinois and Indiana lake front and creeks. The biggest tides
in the salt water are on the major phases of the moon (i.e. New and Full). Add in rain upstream from the lake, and a healthy
age class of fish, and in come the fish. Fresh fish are very nervous once they enter the shallower water,
and only the exact presentation that catches their fancy will work. A #3 black bodies/silver-green bladed blue fox is one example if it
is cast just right. On the fly, a magenta or orange zonker (8 to 14lb tippets a must), or a floating glowball presentation, if you can cast (roll casting a must), may also work.
Skip the deep open stretches, and look for obsticles like bends, sand bars, and log jams. As the fish become acclimated they get very mean (hormones, think
16 year old human), and then many presentations work. Mixed with the salmon (coho and chinook) in the creeks are rock bass, pike, chubs, and steelhead.
I would encourage release of the non-salmonids, since they don't get stocked. They will eat the flies destined for the salmon too.
Sandy Slough Winfield MO and lakes near 370 in ST. Charles MO Mid Sept 2009
Adaptation yields fishes in the tail end of summer. In the low water sloughs, gar are plentiful and readily smack a floating zonker fly (remember a bite leader of 20lb floro). Very underrated a flyrod fodder gar, are agressive,
hit lots of flies, jump lots, and fight well (and can save a fishing day!). Alternately, any stream or pond with tall grass will be experiencing lots of grass hopper action.
Sunfish, bass, and other fishes (trout in cold waters) line up near grass banks to reap fat grasshoppers sent swimming by the wind. A popper, joes hopper, or any yellow fly/indicator will elicit instant
action from the shore-oriented fish.
Prairie Lake, Sandy Slough + Cuivre Island Mississippi River, and MO river ST. Charles MO 26 to 30 Aug 2009
Lots of fairly slow local fishing. Bass, Crappie, and Bluegill are active in ponds and lakes, a popper or thread-jig fly will work fine. In the rivers, the rising water
has inundated grass along the banks, and the grass carp are tailing and poking the stalks to flush beetles and terrestial insects. A Black Wooley Worm works well, though great
stealth is required to approach the fish, and the cast must put the fly within 12" on the fishes nose. In the main rivers and side chutes, big head and silver carp are about,
so drift a small fly to them (my fav is the red chenelle fly on 1/80th oz jig head under an indicator). Gar of course are about, and if you aren't eating them, release them unharmed
since they are one of the few native fish that eat carps.
Lake Michigan/Burns Ditch Harbor Portage IN 7-9 Aug 2009
Dragged the kayaks up to Indiana Dunes to try our hand at Salmon and Steelhead fishing in the lake, but the weather was rough! The new park is very pretty and well maintained, with 3 fishing piers and a beach, a good lunch counter
and bathrooms, though with limited parking. We saw a few jumping steelies in the harbor, and we did catch one (released) in the open lake on a silver dodger and blue green howie fly the day we could hold position out of the harbor.
The south wind put the upwell in full gear and I would bet Monday was a good day, but we got nixed on salmon after trolling all day. In the harbor we did catch a few small perch, and a few smallmouth, largemouth,
catfish, and rock bass. There were insane numbers of 25-45 foot boats all afternoon that put down the fish we saw in the inlet. We also paddled up the Little Calumet to near the Salt Creek entrance, but saw only one steelhead. Storing this spot for next year this time. BTW...never buy a kayak without also buying a wheeled cart LOL.
Branson MO Lake Taneycomo and Forsythe MO Bull Shoals 24 to 26 July 2009
Again back to Taneycomo! Friday the water was high, and in lieu of the normal boat rental for the shools of rainbows, we decided to fish Bull Shoals, where sunfish abounded on the red chennelle bug and poppers, but everything else was slow.
The Next day, however, the water was on for only a few hours, and T-como's rainbows were biting. In the morning cracklebacks and scuds produced, in the afternoon zonkers, of both the sinking and floating variety worked well, top to bottom of the
wadable areas. As it darkened, there was good mouse fly action in the shallows, with larger rainbows. Move it fast at sunset and watch the fish shark over to it and explode!
Winfield MO and Howell Island MO 18 to 19 July 2009
Grass carp are a blast on the dry fly in Winfield Slough, and are tougher to make bite on top then the trout of last week. A #14 black coachman or anything with black hackle worked well on 4lb tippet for the 1-4lb fish. Cast carefully infront of the feeding pods
of fish (look for their noses on the surface). The take is soft, so the hook set is not easy either, but they fight hard. Another good fly (other then the red chennele bug) was the #4 fathead yellow chennelle w/white marabou (a good bonefish fly fyi), which caught drum near the rocks.
BTW, if you are more of a bait angler and hitting the slough, drop by R&S Bait hit the 'bait hotline' if the small shack is empty. It is literally a mom and pop operation (they live in the elevated trailer next store).
Howell Island near the Spirit of Saint Louis Airport on the Missouri River is also an interesting spot in the summer and fall, though it is gar heaven (good if you like to fly fish for gar--I do, bad if you don't). A few white bass like to show below the waterfalls, on spinners, live shad (no weight), or jigs.
Lake Taneycomo Branson MO and Bull Shoals Forsythe MO 02-06 July 2009
Every tripto Taneycomo yields new experiences, and this Independance Day trip was no exception. While the rainbows and a few browns bit readily near the Table Rock dam on zonkers,
#18 dry flies (caddis, orange/black crackleback), and yes, the #18 scud, or the same and a 1/80th oz chennelle jig in the main lake,
it was also an opportunity to target 'non-trout' species on the fly in Taneycomo and in the top of Bull SHoals. As per usual, my favorite warm water species fly
(1/80th oz chennelle jig in flame red) under an indicator and 2lb tippet proved workable for large white suckers (if you could avoid the trout :0). The suckers in the clear top section of T-como
are not exactly easy, and rate in the same catagory here as tailing permit on the flats. Cast well ahead of the feeding suckers, spotting your target fish, and make sure the fly hits the bottom no more than 10" in front of the fish.
A short hop as the sucker gets within 6" will let the sucker decide to bite the fly. The take is VERY quick, and there is only a very short window for hook set before the sucker spits the fly and darts off. Many nymphs 1/4" to 1/2" long on the normal
trout menu work for suckers, but the fly must hit bottom and stay there, so a tugnsten bead, split shot, or in my case a very small jig head are required. The fight is also very strong and comparable to that of the stronger, wild rainbows of the same size.
Drive to Forsythe and hit the top of Bull Shoals, and the exact same fly rod, indicator, and nymph will yield many species (and yes maybe a trout) including white bass, bluegill, longears, rock bass, spotted bass, etc. etc. A popper will favor the bass.
With a boat, add in the stretch of T-como between Cooper Creek and DOwntown Branson, and either use the same nymphs/indicator, zonkers, woolly buggers; or use a spinning rod (2# or 4# test) with a crankbait or jig, and collect a few stocker bows as well.
Oh yeah, if you stop by Anglers and Archery for those zonkers tell Dave 'hi' for me. :0)
Winfield MO and Creeks in MO 23/27 June 2009
Flooded weeds and warmer temperatures move carp (grass, black, common) and catfish into a a tailing mode in the rivers, much like redfish or bonefish in saltwater. A dry fly (i.e. #10 black woolly worm floated) that looks
like a struggling terrestrial, presented carefully, will get hit on the surface, and you will have a fight on your hands. These fish are digging in the flooded ground for worms and beetles, and a well presented initation will be slurped off the surface in a
very trout-like fashion. If you find gulping schools of bighead or silver carp,usually on the surface on channel edges, the same technique works.
In the creeks, springs provide a cool water refuge for many species (drum, smallmouth bass, white bass, sauger, sunfish, redhorse), all will respond to poppers and chennelle jigs (and many other flies), or on the spinning rod, a teeny torpedo or
3" soft plastic jig.
Saverton MO , Winfield MO and Creeks in MO 06 June-18 June 2009
For those who have somehow decided to wait to fish this year, the time is now. High water has brought catfish, carp, and drum, along with white bass to any obstruction, bridge or dam,
on the big rivers (Mississippi and MO). Look for places where the water rolls off rocks or concrete into deeper water, and you will have an ambush point for a
variety of fishy predators, especially freshwater drum. Flywise, a 1/80oz chellele jig fly, a #4 chennel and marabou (fathead similar to bonefish fly), or 3" chartruse bead-head zonker will
work fine, as will many other nymph patterns. Spinning rod-wise, a tub or curly tail jig on a 1/8oz jighead works dandy. Keep the lure/fly within 10 yards of the waterfall (and even better for the fly, within a foot).
Young of the year and silversides are on the menu so 1"-3" offerings are too.
Creekwise and small riverwise, the bass will still bite, but now green sunfish run more common, practice C+R for the bass on these waterways (small populations = senstive to pressure).
Subdivision and park ponds are also prime time now, as the bass are post spawn and HUNGRY! A 4" assassin, twitchbait, or curlytail worm will work for the spinners, but larger poppers,
floating zonkers, and wooly worms will get them for the fly-slingers. Oh, and take those kids fishing now before it gets too hot!
Winfield, Busch Wildlife Area, and Creeks in St. Charles County MO 22 May to 5 June 2009
Many fishing opportunities in May. First, the Kids Fishing Day at Busch Wildlife area is a perfect chance to introduce the small fry to fishing.
While there, the redears and bluegill are on the spawn and the bass are off the spawn and hungry! Next, the rivers are host to many young of the year minnows
(watchout for jumping silver carp though)
and the smallmouth bass, white bass, gar, and catfish all want to cash in. If that doesn't wear you down, put on the wading boots and enjoy good catch and release fishing
for a variety of species in the creeks (just excercise caution for property and conservations sake -- know your water and release these critical fish...small fisheries = easy to overfish).
Pittsburgh PA (Southside Park, Mongahala River) 20-21 May 2009
The Steel City is a place I visit lots, and as you could guess, I always bring a rod, in this case a 4 piece 8 wgt flyrod. The place abounds with spots, though
due to time, I confined myself to the park on the south side of the Birmingham Bridge. Look for rocky points swept by current, and look even more for mayflies. In my case caught chunky short smallmouth bass
on both a classic yellow bodied wooley worm, and more so on a #12 joes hopper (minus wings) under an indicator. The place is also home to hoards bread-eating ducks (fed by the locals to pest levels).
Central Florida (Orlando,Titusville,Cape Canaveral, Merritt Island and Cape Kennedy, Fort Desoto Park St. Pete. FL) 03-10 May 2009
Central Florida make a great jumping off point for a wide variety of outdoors and fishing adventures. In addition to the drought stressed Florida Largemouth,
a hours drive puts you on the Indian River in Titusville (visit Dixie Crossroads...very yummy) for Ladyfish (any minnow fly or soft plastic) under the bridge near the old Vets Memorial Pier, and other inshore favorites, or Jetty Park in Port Canaveral
for spanish mackeral, large pinfish, snook, and watching baby loggerhead and green sea turtles.
Two Hours west of orlando, and Fort Desoto Park offers a good gulf pier for spanish mackerel (many! Many! jigging spoons or jighead/soft plastic in white, 3' 40lb floro leader, 8lb line), a few tarpon, and blue runners.
On the bay side, same park, Topwater Kayaks (727-864-1991 or http://www.beachhunter.net/kayaking/fortdesoto/) rents kayaks for the mangroves and bay
where you can catch many speckled trout, redfish, ladyfish (fly: bent nosed white/chartruese marabou fathead minnow fly under an indicator ala steelhead).
Kaskaskia River in Carlyle IL and Sandy Slough Winfield MO 25 and 29 April 2009
Normally a high Kaskaskia River below Lake Carlyle in IL signals Walleye and Sauger, but it looks like the White BAss decided it was their time instead, along with
Carps of many varieties (silver, bighead, common, grass) and Buffalo (Smallmouth, Largemouth, Quillbacks). Any charturese or white jig (or #8 Mysis shrimp fly) you can get to the bottom near the dam will work,
IF you can get it past the shad and carp! They are thick enough to blacken the water in many places. As a change of pace we pulled out the kayaks and fished
Sandy Slough near Winfield MO, where silver carp were jumping, bass were hitting, and paddlefish were swimming. Water is up at normal spring levels.
Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO 18 April 2009
Early spring means prespawn bass, crappie, and for those with insane persistance and the right lure, Muskies!
In this case after 20.5 hrs of fishing time, one of us finally landed the fish of 10,000 casts (~1800 casts in this case), with witnesses and a camera to prove it.
The fish, a 2002 stocker of the Kentucky Strain (looking up the freeze band pattern here: Show-Me Muskie Project by the MO Dept of Conservation) ,
smashed a #6 vibrax spinner w/bucktail behind a short cable trace, was quickly subdued, posed for a quick picture and tape measure (34.5"), revived, and released healthily back into the lake. If you also get so lucky,
please send in the form from the MO site (or your state/province) to allow the biologists to track the health of the fishery. I had one smash a similar lure (#6 vibrax rigged with barbless hook and octopus skirts), but alas it did not get hooked.
Only 8145 more casts for me, I hope!
Baldwin Lake IL 10 April 2009
Baldwin Lake is a steady producer all through the cold months, and even into spring. FLyfishers can pitch a variety of flies on 4lb tippet to catch redears, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and bass. A #14 bead-head stonefly was irresistable
to the channel catfish (again, one of the only lakes where channel cats are regular fly-munchers) and sunfish. Put on a live minnow and catch the same species but add in a better shot at nice hybrid stiper/white bass.
Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO 03 April 2009
On comes the spring cold front, and the crappie, bass, and trout bite! All three will eat a #8 bead mysis (see pic below) 3 feet below and indicator near wind-blown structure on points. Spinning-wise, any 3" dark grub-worm fished weightless and weedless will also work.
Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO 15-21 March 2009
Early spring Crappie and Pre-Spawn bass are around again, and a popper in warming shallows will catch plenty! Just flip the popper between flooded stalks in backwaters that have shallow and warmer water.
Move the popper in slow pulls, and wait for the unique 'phloff' sound of a slurping crappie. While out, enjoy the blooming trees, moving birds, and amorous turtles.
Busch Wildlife Area, Weldon Springs MO 7-8 March 2009
Late Winter Warm spells can bring spring variety action in small bodies of water, since they collect heat fast.
The last of the Winter Trout Program Fish are still to be found, though much harder to catch as their numbers diminsh, but warm water species start to take up the slack.
Browns like minnow-like lures, so white zonkers and wooley buggers will pay off. The crappie are beginning to get ready to spawn, and are feeding heavily in in shallow structure near drop offs on warm water days. With the crappie, a mixed bag of channel catfish,
other sunfishes (bluegill, redear), catfish, and largemouth bass are feeding while they can as well. A cold snap will temporarily slow the action, but it will rebound as the weather stays warmer.
My favorite flies for the mixed bag: 1/128th oz black jighead, silver thead body, or a #12 mysis shrimp pattern tied with white flashabou. 4lb to 2lb tippet. Both under an indicator, pulled slowly and stoped near surface weeds.
Belmont Shores Pier, Seal Beach Pier, (near Long Beach, or Los Angeles) CA 30-31 Jan/13 Feb 2009
Classic business trip where I squeezed in a little fishing afterwork or before flying out.
Do yourself a favor and look over Ken's site here: http://www.pierfishing.com/ and get his book,
it is definitely worth the money (and is phone-book sized).
Using squid and anchovy pieces on a #6 hook plenty of white croakers and queenfish came along, with a few walleye surfperch off the Belmont Pier at sunrise and sunset, but almost a dead zone in the day. Seal Beach was tough but hooked and released a few short halibut on a yellow gulp behind a 1/4oz jighead fish SLOWLY on the bottom.
In both cases, parking is by the hour, so bring 1's and 5's for Seal Beach (and bait) or a credit card for Belmont Shores.
Islamorada Florida (Gulf and Atlantic) 6-9 Feb 2009
Wind and Cold make fishing even here a bit tough. Cold water (55 degrees) forced the tropic and near tropic fish out to the depths, on the Atlantic side out to the far edge of Hawk Channel where it jumped over 65 degrees. On the deep side, the strong winds made 3-6 foot waves, making small boat fishing
a wet experience. Dispite such adversity, fishing the temperature contours, and in the 'bowl' down reef from the preserve in 40-80 Feet produced Ceros and Little Tuny, with a few Kings for spice. When we were confined to Hawk Channel, jet heads and 6" crankbaits trolled in and out of the temperature shift
produced nice Ceros. A few shots with the fly (sinking line, chartruese clousers and fatheads) or jiging spoons also caught fish when we could drift w/o the motor off the reef. By the last day the incomming tide brought enough warm water to get a few reef ifsh active near the bridges.
All that said, any trip to the Keys beats Missouri in winter anyday.
Busch Wildlife Area MO and Baldwin Lake IL Dec 2008 /Jan 2009
Outside of days where the water was frozen, the trout stocked in the Urban Stocking Program Winter Trout Lakes can be caught with #14 peacock nymphs, wooly buggers, and a wide variety of flies. When the water freezes, Baldwin Lake kicked out small channel catfsh by the ton (and even on the fly...stoneflies, zonkers below an indicator).
Lake Taneycomo, Branson MO 08-09 Nov 2008
Normally this is prime brown trout time on lake T-Como, but due to wild fall water inversions on Table ROck Lake, the normally optimal 46 degree water is
now replaced by 60 degree smelly water, making the browns head back to the depths, and making only dropping water periods a prime bite for the rainbows.
That said, a bad day at T-Como is better than over 90% of the rainbow trout fishing in most of the US. A #14 crackleback on a long leader, sub surface or surface, worked well, as did
wiggletail nymphs, zonkers, and on occasion a mouse fly (always a fun fly to use :0). Look for rising fish below well below outlet #3, especially on colder days.
Indiana Creeks and Chicago harbors 2008
The Salmon in the creeks are gone, only a few browns remain. On the lakefront, however, a crafty angler with large minnows or just the right clouser can nail
non-spawning cohos feeding up for th winter. A bobber w/6foot of leader and a razor sharp hook to a live shiner always works. Duplicate the fly equivelent
with a white/silvery #4-#1 fly under a large indicator and be persistant.
Indiana Creeks 26-27 Sept 2008
A flash flood and wild fishery dynamics (prey crash?) make for interesting tiems to catch salmon in the creeks of Indiana. The
trick this time was to look for those fish comming up on the moon phase in the low end of the creeks. These silver fish are picky but want
fast moving noisy lures like spinners and wide flies like zonkers and clousers. Look for the deep pools near where the creeks hit the lake and look for jumping fish.
Saint Louis Region: Busch Wildlife, Winfiled, Carlyle, Washington, and unnamed creeks Aug 2008 to Oct 2008
Now with the new upgraded space I can again make long overdue updates :0) Catfish, crappie, and white bass were the big fly rod and spining rod targets
in this whole quarter. To start with, lake 33 produced many nice bluegill and crappie on 1/80ox chennel jigs, including a nice catfish or two. White bass again returned
o Sandy Slough in force, after a many year slowdown (triggered by the floods...floods are important to the river fisheries), and were joined by skipjack herring and release-sized flatheads in a feeding frenzy. Any small jig or white minnow-type (fathead minnow, clouser #4) fly
produced well for weeks on end until the water dropped low in mid-October. In the small creeks and small rivers, smallmouth and longears nailed poppers and jigs.
Overall, not a bad fall.
Mongahala River new New Eagle PA (near Pittsburgh) 01 July 2008
If you haven't noticed, Pittsburgh has pulled me in travelwise for the month of June, but any trip is a fishing trip to me.
In this case, armed w/a map, I went up-river from the Steel City past the mills to find the little town of New Eagle PA and the Tubby Hall Riverfront Park
(maintained by donations, drop some green into the donation box if you go here please).
Knowing that silt+gravel+rain=big nymphs, I pulled of the #6 stonefly and fished it below an indicatior to the tune of 10"-14" smallmouth bass a plenty in the high murky water.
Current River below Mountauk State PArk in MO and Bourbourse River near Union MO 21 June 2008
The massively high waters of the bigger rivers have forced (:0) a trip to the trouty Current river below Montauk. A perfect opportunity for a direct comparison with PA rivers belwo.
Missouri has a strong trout program and good COnvervation Department, and the trophy area below the trout park at Montauk is a year round hot spot for flyrod fish.
A #14 crackleback in the morning, and a white zonker in the afternoon, will always produce if drifted well here, and as expected we caught and released over 20 trout a piece from 12"-16".
Youghlogheny River (Yough for short) Ohiopyle and Connellsville PA 16-27 June 2008
If you haven't had a chance to look over the very pretty, and high, rivers in the SW PA region, now is the time. Scenery aside, the 'Yough' river has acceptable fishing
for three trout species (Brook, Rainbow, and Brown) and Smallmouth Bass. Ohiopyle State park and up to the dam are better trout waters, while near Connellsville PA smallmouth are a better option. Dry flies (#14 Crackleback in chartruese) worked in Ohiopyle for smaller trout,
while a stealthy angler fishing near the shorelines in Connellsville with a popper will get many smallmouth in the 10"-14" range. I would wadger stoneflies would work well in both places also.
Also, don't skip the brookies in the feeder creeks!
(NOTE WELL: WATCH FOR SIGNS and Whitewater...wading is VERY dangerous on the Yough!)
Salt River near New London MO 7 June 2008
Any obstruction in the current of any tributary or channel on the MIssissippi River system will hold many species looking for dinner in the soup of 1"
minnows from the latest spawns. Bighead and silver carp are no exception, and right now will eat (yes eat) any small jig in chartruese (or the fly equivelent, 1-80th oz jig head wraped once with flo. yellow chenelle)
fished near the obstruction. In this case, the retention dam on the salt river (the last dam before the Mississippi River) is a stew of carp, buffalo, and gar,
with a few black bass and white bass tossed in. Pull out the 7wght fly rod and 8lb tippet, and see if you can handle the big fish fly action. Remember those
'chinese' carp are quite tastey and fry up well, and can be kept by the ton. They will also run you into the backing, leap high, and test the drag on your reels too.
Winfield MO and Busch Wildlife Area 20-30 May 2008
Rain, and more Rain. Sandy Slough near Winfield is finally producing a few fish after the big spawn of many species. Micro-minnow are everywhere,
and catfish, smallmouth bass, walleye, and drum are taking advantage. A 2" emerald shiner or chub will work well as bait, as will a few small flies.
In the lakes and ponds,
warm weather has meant fat bluegill, who will take any small nymph or popper presented carefully at sunrise and sunset.
Islamorada FL 9 to 13 May 2008
You can never count of weather to put the fish where you want them. In this case the Mahi-Mahi were deep offshore, but luckily ISlamorada
always has something biting, usually many, many somethings. In our case, a minor change in tactics (longer drop back, slower troll) yieled tons of
Little Tuny from 3lbs to 10lbs on jet heads, and a big King around 30lbs on a Yo-Zuri-Bonito, all in 50 to 100 feet of water. Add in superbraid line and jigging spoons and we added more Little Tuny, and Blackfin Tuna in 200 feet of water.
Look for logs and add a few almaco Jacks, and a stray mahi or two. Go to the channels, use squid (for the snappers) or crabs and mullet (everything else), an toss in releases of bonnethead sharks, tarpon, and larger snappers.A few other species even showed for
the automatic underwater camera (2nd prototype). Bridges added even more species and you get the idea!
Busch Wildlife Area, Rabbit Run, Lake Whetzell, and Kaskakia River below Lake Carlyle 13-26 April 2008
A warm spell finally brough the pond temperatures into the sixties, making bluegill, bass, and crappie respond to nymph, and in a few cases, poppers.
The #10 peacock nymph worked will under an indicatior in most cases at the ponds, with a few extra bass on a #6 floating white zonker. In the Kaskaskia the water is
very high, and will stay high for a while. FIsh near flooded roads and trees below the dam in the shallows with anything that looks like or is a worm and you will
score with catfish, carp, buffalo, drum, and gar. Dont forget creek flooded areas that will hold bullheads and carp aplenty. Below the dam itself, white bass will respond to 1" florescent green jigs or flies fished close in the fast water.
Baldwin Lake IL and others 08-22 Mar 08
Lots of spots were too cold, but again Baldwin Lake kicks out fish, even on cold early spring days. It is also one of a few places to catch channel catfish on the fly.
A white zonker under an indicator took the honors for the the catfish, though a popper worked well for bluegill. Using spinning gear and shad or silversides,
Bass and Catfish responded.
Baldwin Lake IL 23 Feb 08
Finally decided the gas expense was worth finding a sure thing, especially when every lake and river is ice covered. This powerplant lake never dissapoints, and
it provided plenty of action with catfish (in extreme numbers), bluegill, drum, and bass. In addition to the classic red chenelle fly tied on a black jig head below an indicator,
resulting in catfish on the flyrod, any bait will work, including minnows, worms, and anything else sitting in the trunk. Spring hurry up!
Clarksville MO LD 23 Mississippi River 24 Jan 08
Happy New Year! and man is it cold up here! All the lakes except Baldwin are frozen, as are most of the rivers and creeks near my home, so it is Eagle time. We tripped down highway 79 (a.k.a. Little DIxie Highway) to Clarksville
Missouri on an especially cold afternoon (12 degrees F w/o wind chill, -11 w/wind) and took a peek below the LOck and Dam for these large feathered raptors. Any lock and dam with churning water from Chain of Rocks north to Iowa will hold plenty of bald eagles and clouds of river gulls.
The camera started to malfunction after about 20 minutes in the cold, but there were about 20 in flight looking for shad and another 100 or so in the trees on the Illinois side trying to stay warm. Hopefully it will warm enough for walleye next weekend.
San Diego CA 26-31 Dec 07
For those who have had enough of the MIdwestern Winter already, a trip to 'SoCal' and in particular San Diego will warm the body a bit.
It is not warm all the time, but warmer for sure, and the Bays and Ocean hold many biting fish this time of year within easy reach. For the non-anglers, Grey Whales are around, as are harbor seals (go to LaJolla Cove) and sea lions.
Not to mention excellent food (and many fish Taco places). In the bay, rent a skiff from Seaforth at Coronado or Mission Bay (though we focused at Coronado) and run out to the grassbeds and channel edges with your favorite
bass rod or fly rod (4lb to 10lb test spinning/baitcasting, 8-10wgt flyrod w/full sinking line 700 grains+/-) and bring softplastics, a good crankbait (for trolling) and/or shrimp imitating flies and clousers in brown/white/pink.
The spinning rod has the edge by far since it can drop either a 1/2oz-3/4oz jig head with gulp or soft plastic to the bottom quickly. Failing soft plastics, a 1/2oz kastmaster in silver works well. For the fly rodder, sinking line is very key, since your quarry likes to sit right on the bottom.
In both cases set up a drift (while watching for big boats and restricted zones) along the sloping depth contours, ones that go from 10ft-30ft in a hurry and sit near grass beds. The green bouy near Seaport Village/Embarcadero is one area, the beaches to red bouy off of Corornado are another. Catch and Release Spotted Sand Bass will pounce anything near their nose, as will Jacksmelt, Mackerels, and halibut.
Never forget to swing a straight running crankbait (a yo-zuri crystal minnow 4 inches to 6 inches long is an example) behind the skiff when running between drifts to nail the occasional bonito. Off the beach, via a half-day from Point Loma, before the end of the year, rockfish, sculpins, and barred sand bass will nail a classic drop shot rig (the one favored by bassers) using a 4oz weight and soft plastic in chartruese and white fished in 60feet or less over rocks and kelp, or sand near rocks and kelp. Remember your fish ID book and venting tool for any bloated rockfish, so that the
old rockies can make it back to the bottom safely (fyi. most 'short lived' rockfish, are at least 1 year old per inch length, and some much older to the tune of 80 years old to 200 years old for a 15 incher, so release them if possible, and avoid fishing too deep in areas w/them when out of season, your grandkids will thank you).
Lake Taneycomo Branson MO and Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO 17-18 Nov 2007
The standard crowd split two ways to catch trout this time, a few staying near home to hit the catch and release lakes of the Urban Stocking program at Busch Wildlife Area,
and a few heading to Lake Taneycomo to try for the last of the spawning/post-spawn browns and fat rainbows. The local boys caught two nice fish stocked in the Busch lakes on wolly worms, nymphs, and glowballs.
The T-como group nailed fat rainbows 12"-19" on unweighted nickle-sized glowballs and #18 scuds, with only a few browns taking any offering.
Busch Wildlife Area Weldon Springs MO 10 Nov 2007
Had to skip opening weekend of local trout fishing due to the Missouri Wildlife Art Festival (slow traffic but some nice folks got some of my photographic work and books),
but the fishing on the 10th made up for the lost time. Nearly every fly had a shot, my choice was the #14 crackleback fished on the surface or just below. Many trout were caught and released, with
a few fish using schooling to knock nymphs and amphipods from the shallow vegitation (I bet a scud or caddis would work also).
Retention Dam on the Salt River near New London MO 27 Oct 2007
Sneaking in a bit of warm water fishing before cold weather trout season can reap rewards. In this case a trip to the spillway below the dam below the Mark Twain Lake dam (say that 5 times fast) resulted in
many fish such as nice white bass on spoons and crappie and largemouth on poppers, nymphs, and dry flies.
Indiana Creeks and Chicago Lakefront 19-21 Oct 2007
Very few salmon anywhere, with cohos being the predominant species. While the weather was great, the fishing was very slow, and the fewest salmon yest seen on one of our trips to the
creeks and harbors. Whether due to moon phase, weather, or fish population density is not certain, but it was tough fishing for the few fish around. The one coho kept was skinner than expected, and hit a 1/8oz little cleo,
with hits also comming in on #6 glowballs on the fly, and clouser headed wooly boogers. Other species were hitting, with plenty of large chubs and a few bass, including a decent largemouth caught and released
near Shedds aquarium, on many lures and flies.
Howell Island and Perquque Creek MO 09 Oct 07
Two things that make fishing in October interesting from a big river perspective: one--all the fish need to fatten up for winter and
two-most years the weather is nice. Hot temps are around this year, but carp were feeding well in the smaller tributaries. Black Carp and Grass Carp
are surface feeding and will taste any florescent yellow or chartruese fly, or any leaf that looks like one. Bluegill are also on the feed
even in the warm afternoons and will hit a variety of flies. On the bigger waters, like the slough near Howell Island, shad are feeding heavliy on phytoplankton
bringing in gar, drum, catfish, and all the basses. A twitch bait or similar will work, though a live shad will work best, especially fished
on light line and using a small hook and split shot well above the hook.
Mississippi River, Chain of Rocks 02 Oct 07
Warm days make for tough fishing except in the mornings at Chain of Rocks. Those who got there early (not me--I slept in :0) caught lots of white bass, those who slept in
caught a few herring and smaller drum. Both hit #8 stonefly and #6 black wooly buggers fished near the bottom on weighted line or with split shots.
Creeks and Cuivre River in St. Charles County MO 23 Sept 07
The dog days and low water make fish very wary in the smaller creeks and rivers, but they will still bite on a woolly worm fished on a long leader
or a twitch bait on an ultralight spinning rod.
Mississippi River, Winfield MO 08-15Sept 2007
The big river broken record is playing all the dog days of summer and early fall. In the Mississippi River above the locks, large freshwater drum
feed on zebra mussels, shad, and herring. A live or fresh shad pitched into the deep water on stout tackle will attract these under appreciated
fish. The bigger the shad (or herring) the bigger the drum, with 3lbs to 15lbs very typical. A heavy barge traffic day only makes them bite better, as the
drum feed heavily on the opening of the locks. A rotten shrimp or ball of worms on a circle hook may also get a few channel and flathead catfish as a bonus.
Use circle hooks to allow easy release, and sash style weights to minimize hang-ups (though those will still happen).
St. Charles MO Riverfront 23 Aug, 25 Aug,1 Sep 2007
The old wingdikes and riverfront near the Lewis and Clark departure point in Saint Charles Missouri offer lazy catfishing and carping
for those who want to dare the walk out on the slippery rocks (yes they can be dangerous, be careful) or from the safer mud banks. The classic catfish and carp baits
work for tightlining, freelining, or bobbering into the current. The Carp typically sit near the numerous ditch and creek mouths, and love corn and red worms, while
large catfish can be caught in the current eddies using larger baits, such as cut fresh shad. In the main current on the bottom, shovelnose sturgeon and drum
will eat a worm. Big weights are the rule in the current, but many large fish are present, and if you get skunked, you can always clean up and stroll the shops a block away on Main Street in Old Town.
Columbia Bottom St. Louis County, MO 11 Aug 07
Hot weather means catfish at night and early morning, though during the day those cats are a might bit smaller. JUst above the confluence channel catfish
from 8" to 15" were legion, and using an ultralight and a circle hook (to avoid deep hooking these pints) with worm they can be fun for as long as you can stand the heat.
Meramec Springs and Meramec River St. James MO 28 Jul 07
Trout parks are all about competition, so I like to not even start fishing till around lunch, and use a flyrod at that :0) Large Globalls and
cracklebacks proved irresisable to the stocker rainbows, and when I moved to the trophy area, the same #18 crackleback proved very effective, with many catches+releases. Canoe
jams, aside, this is a good trophy area.
Chain of Rocks 22 Jul 07
Dropping water finally exposed the sand bar, and a jig on the sprinning rod
or chenelle fly under an indicator for the flyrod caught a few
small white bass and drum. The dog days have indeed arrived here.
Middle and South Boulder Creeks, Boulder CO 16-19 Jul 07
Boulder Creek above Boulder proper produces small browns and cutthroats quite regularly, and a white streamer or dry (#14) on 2lb tippet will get hit.
Likewise, little cutthroats inhabit the waters of El Dorado canyon and also hit white streamers. Fish them slow and wiggly and they will get hit there too.
If you fish Eldorado Canyon, just remember the foxes show up at dark!
Saverton Dam (IL Side) 07 Jul 07 (its 7-7-7 day)
Its a lucky day for one of the best spots on the Mississippi River, and the white bass are biting! White was the color this time, and even in 98 degree heat
white bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and hybrids (along with goldeyes, catfish, and herring) bit on white/silver spoons and jigs or flyrod heaved #6 streamers and zonkers.
Bring lots of water!
Lake Taneycomo, Branson MO 30 Jun-04 Jul 07
Its a classic spot to celebrate Independence Day, and firecrackers aren't the only thing popping. Table Rock Dam is doing daily early releases, but not all releases
are enough to totally chase off the waders by the dam. Cracklebacks and zonkers again produced well every morning, with the bite going strong till around 2PM. Downtown
Branson is now nearly complete, and a mall straddles the old downtown waterfront, but a set of docks above Roarke Creek are re-fishable. Boatwise, Roarke Creek to Cooper Creek
had schools of biters on the surface, and they hit everything from glow-balls on the fly to powerbait on the spinner and everything in between. The new hatchery stream is almost done as well
with a fish ladder and new raceways!
Saverton Dam IL side Miss. River 24 Jun 07
This place was so good we had to go back the following weekend. We were NOT disappointed. Initially, we were a little concerned with the sudden rise in water over the dam, forcing us to fish near the parking lot,
but the flowing water also brought on a bite along the entire length of the dam, and as the water receded, we fished and caught all the way out to the locks. The fish concentrated within a few feet of the waterfalls created by the flow over, and blasted silversides and emerald shiners with abandon.
Clouds of 1lb-4lb drum formed between the white waters, herring blasted in the outflow, and white bass fed everywhere. A simple red chenille wrapped 1/80th oz black jig head fished below an indicator caught everything, while a jig head with a white drop shot minnow caught fish on spinning gear. A emerald shiner
fished on a jig head also caught fish every cast, and added catfish to the tally. Once the water retreated, a trip out to the locks produced all the bighead carp you wanted to catch, provided you had 50lb spectra available to pull them out of the current. Catfish were boiling everywhere, and would have probably hit anything on the surface...but a person can only fight so many fish :0
Saverton Dam IL side Miss. River 16 Jun 07
The water dropped below the high water side of the dam, exposing and drying a place to walk out to the maelstrom near the gates of the lock itself.
Despite the 98F 90% humidity, the walk was worth it. emerald shiners and silversides were being blasted by a wide variety of gamefish, making a legendary day of fishing.
A spinning rod with culy tail jig pitched to the water whirlpooling from the open gates was pounced by drum, white bass, and flathead catfish. Switch to a small zonker with tungsten bead on a flyrod and get herring, drum, and white bass. A 2"-3" spoon
pitched far into the fast water and reeled VERY fast was hit by much larger white bass(2 to 3lbs+) and very large bighead carp (8lbs+). If you weren't catching (and releasing in our case) over 30 fish this day,
you weren't there. It was very fast paced all day, and only an empty water supply at 3PM drove us back to the parking lot, though the fish were still
blasting the surface. Too bad every day isn't this good.
Creve Coeur Upper Lake MO and Creeks 08 Jun 07
If you like catfish, now is the time! While boats raced on the main Creve Coeur lake, I took my sis and niece to the much quieter, though fairly unfished (though well walked around)
upper Creve Coeur lake. Fill a #8 hook with whole kernel can corn on 4lb test, and NO weight, and pitch 10 yards off the bank near any structure. Bread works also. In a few minutes bullheads and 10"-14" channel catfish zoomed in
and ate with abandon, allowing even a novice angler to catch a few fish even mid afternoon. Why corn? Surrounding this lake are hundreds of acres of prime cornfields, which flood every spring and let the lake and creek resident fish have a corn dinner each high water.
In the big rivers, a barge loading area has a similar corn-fed catfish and carp crowd. Using a fly rod, a #14 black thread jig or streamer will get crappie and bluegill in the same spots. We nailed and released (too many fish already in the freezer)
5 catfish in under 50 mins...they bite that fast.
In the creeks the bass are slowing down and heading to deeper water, but bluegill and green sunfish will still hit a well placed fly.
Winfield MO Sandy Slough and Perque Creek 1-3 Jun 07
Warm waters coupled with a rise in water levels to pre-drought conditions and a full moon lead to excellent fishing almost anywhere you dropped a hook.
In the sloughs of the Mississippi River a boom in emerald shiner and silverside populations resulted in a feast for a wide range of piscatorial
predators from herring and white bass, to rock dwelling small and largemouth bass. The rising waters also made omnivores like catfish, drum, and carp
put on the feed bag as well. For the bass and catfish, you had to match the hatch very closely, and a live emerald shiner on a bobber worked excellently.
For the drum, the standard cut shad worked wonders, including for the monster we caught late in the day.
For the carp, whole kernel corn from the can on 4lb to 8lb line as usual lead to fine carp catching.
As in the sloughs, the creeks have also returned to full levels, and beastly bass have run up the creeks from larger waters as well. These creek bass will nail any fly or soft plastic that
looks like a meal and is presented on light tippets of 2 to 4lb.
Boulder Creek, Barker Resevoir,Gross Resevoir, CO 14-19 May 07
High rains turned the creeks into brown races, but the revevoirs were clear, but tough. Boulder creek at the lower ends was the domain of
kayakers, who finally had enough water to float this normally small creek, and they could have it, since
the fish had more than enough real food comming in that a fly was lost to them in the turbid waters. Therefore, I took a trip up the Barker Resevoir near Nederland,
and commensed decoding the fish there. A ton of flies and methods later, the way to get the very picky fish of Barker ceneterd around a
very small indicator, 4 feet above a #18 tan scud fished near the rocky points. Using determination and patience, a few rainbows responded. Gross Lake, on the other hand hand
much more aggressive fish, which tapped the scud, but also tried to eat the indicator. A little experimenting, and lots of observation,
lead me to believe that the trout of Barker were munching dark colored minnows (sculpins, small trouts). A bead headed
black wooly worm on a long 2# leader was the ticket, and while the trout were still hard to hook, they did smash that fly with relish. Moral of the story,
patience, observation, and experimentation!
Indian Creek MO 12 May 07
Sometimes a very small creek can hold excellent catch and release fishing, and a wadable creek at a new park nearby
was such an example. This creek is a tributary to a tributary to a tribuatry of the Mississippi River, with no obstruction seperating it
from Old Man River, and therefore any species of fish can swim upstream on a wet spring like this one. These moving fish
complement resident species like many minnows, bluegill, green sunfish, bullheads, and large and smallmouth bass. Larger black basses move up from the bigger waters to feed
followed by drum, walleye, sauger, suckers, carp, and gar. In other words, a fly or lure pitched into this
creek can be eaten by anything! In our case, we caught many smaller to decent (on 2lb test or tippet) black basses, a lone walleye, and huge numbers of other sunfishes, punctuated by
shiners, studfish, and gar. Since these are fragile systems, care must be taken to avoid tromping through spawning beds, or keeping any of the core resident species. Find a good creek
near you, pick up the lightest gear you have, and enjoy a day in nature.
Carlyle Spillway and Lake Carlyle IL 5 May 2007
Anywhere is a good spot when the weather is good in the spring, and both spots we checked produced.
In the spillway, sauger, white bass, and drum all hit jigs or flies fished slow on the bottom. Also, small nymphs fished
under an indicator then twicthed slowly produced a wide wavriety of fish. In the main lake, the same flies and techniques
produced bluegill, bass, and crappie, while cut fresh shad worked very well for mid-sized channel catfish.
Busch Wildlife Area MO 28/29 Apr 2007
The spring pattern has settled in, with popper pouncing bluegill and bass and streamer smashing crappie
in every pond and creek. Spawning carp are afoot with bass sitting on the edge of the rolling activity, and
a lure or streamer will get pounced! Spring this year has also brought an increase in water
for the midwest, and all the waterways are pushing back to normal levels. In short, get fishing!
Perquque Creek, MO River, and Busch Wildlife Area, St. Charles Co, MO and Carlyle Lake Spillway, IL 14 April-22 April 07
Wild Weather and high water made fishing the past two weekends trying but possible. The small creeks boast a wide variety of fishes, especially those that hit one of the big rivers, and a little creek
near home had a few channel cats to catch. A week later, warm weather made fishing a much better proposition, and the walleye and sauger, along with crappie, finally made a showing in the river
below Lake Carlyle, hitting small curly tail jigs, or alternatively, a white/chartruse wooly bugger behind a split shot for the flyrodder. The big MO and MS are still very high and only a few small drum could be talked into biting, though the
shad were very plentiful. The small ponds, however, are the stars rgiht now, as crappie, bluegills, redears, and bass all are in full feeding mode. A popper flipped on the surface behind a 2lb flourocarbon tippt
will be smacked with abandon along gravelly shallows and shorelines as spring frogs and hoppers are around, and the sunfish clan is near spawning and very hungry. On less than popper days, pull out the #6 wooly worm/bugger on the fly, or a small jig for bass action aplenty.
Islamorada FL 28 March-2 April 2007
Tide and Weather wait on no man, and on this trip wind and Tide/Moon Phase were key. Normall I plan around moon phase and look for optimal weather months,
but sometimes you just have to plan time when you can get it. The wind prevented any trip to the reef edge on the Atlantic side 3 out of 4 days, with even Hawk Channel
out of reach (safe reach in a 21' Center console rented at Budn'Mary's) 2.5/4 days. That said, if you are going to be 'stuck' fishing inshore anywhere, Islamorada
is about as good as it gets. The day we did get to the deep stuff a few Mahi's popped into the spread, but not the monster schools that will appear in a month, and both small sharks and
a few ceros and snappers could be caught between 55 and 75 feet of water (sharks, mostly sharpnose, in 120 feet of water). On the inshore days, anchoring near the edges of the channels
around the bridges allowed catch and releasing of smaller snappers and groupers, and an occasional shot
at tarpon from 20lb to over 100lbs. The tarpon during the day preferred fresh mullet, which could be obtained with a large cast net. Remeber there is a big difference between hooking a
tarpon and landing one, and our hook-ups rarely made it past the first jump, though each hook-up raised the heartrate by quite a bit! When fishing in the full moon, whihc is good tarpon and snapper fishing, remeber to also
look around for the sea snails swimming near the surface, very interesting animals to watch. And as always take an eating trip to Mangrove Mikes for breakfast :0)
Kaskaskia River Old Channel and Main Channel in Carlyle IL, 24 Mar 07
Only a few very small sauger were present in the main channel, but it won't be long until they are legion. Meanwhile, the old channel is shallow and warm and loaded with
small white bass and crappie. THis weekend, the white bass readily ate any lure 1"-2" long in white/chartruese such as 1/32oz jig and curly tail, rooster tail, or
or for they flyrodder wooly boogers and streamers. The bass were not monsters, but fun catch and release fish to break into spring.
Lake Wetzel, OFallon MO and Chain of Rocks, Mississippi River, IL 10-11 Mar 2007
Still no walleyes, though saw lots of migrating American White Pelicans, but the warm spell did open up the pond nearby long enough to take my niece
out to catch and release a few early bluegill on wax worms, and a few myself on #18 dry flies. Next weekend should be the real start of the sauger/walleye run.
Alton Lock and Dam and Winfield Lock and Dam, Mississippi River MO, 27 Jan and 3 Feb 2007
Courtesy of some of the coldest weather in 5 winters, fishing was out on the rivers (though we did poke for a short while for Walleye-none caught), but Eagle watching is in.
Since it is a colder winter this year, Bald Eagles come south, and use the opportunity to feed off of the Gizzard Shad that have trouble coping with the cold and rapids below the dams. Eagles take station
on trees overlooking the river near these dams and build nests. Hundreds of eagles can be seen on a good day with a good set of binoculars and strong zoom lens, either on nests, zooming over the water, or plucking dinner from
the frothy rapids. A few eagles even station on ice flows and then dip down to nail an unwary fish. I hope it warms soon!
Homossasa River, Merritt ISland NWR Beach Near Titusville, Bridges over Indian and Banana Rivers near Port Canaveral 25-31 Dec 2006
Happy New Year to all. A trip to Orlando FL over the big break provided a full mixed bag of fishing on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Starting at the bridges over
the Indian and Banana rivers, we caught very few fish, mostly sea robins, puffers, etc. and saw thousands of big mullet speeding to the deeper ocean water. Normally a
soft plastic on a 3/8 jig head produces well, as do live shrimp and shrimp peices, all on 4lb-8lb gear, but due to cold water-not happening here. We hit the Homosassa River for a little
manatee viewing and fishing, however, and found pay dirt...tons of ladyfish on anything from soft plastics to spoons, to flies 1"-3" in size (on 6wgt to 8wgt gear). Shrimp and crazy charlie flies near the spring
at sunset also produced black drum, grey snappers, and sheepshead. Bouyed by the good fishing at Homosassa (where we returned in two days) we hit the
beach at Merritt Island and fished the warmer Atlantic on the incomming tide. Whiting and pompano were present for shrimp pitchers who used 4oz pyramid weights and small hooks,
but pitching a chartruese slab spoon (1oz+/-) on a 25lb flourocarbon leader and spectra or 10lb mono main line produced small bluefish and small jack crevelle while the
waves allowed the fish to come in close. There is no wading deep in that surf however, due to strong wave and current, so stay short (knee deep or less preferably) and avoid the man-o-wars drifting everywhere.
Chain of Rocks 9 Dec 06
While we waited for the lakes to thaw and roads to clear out at the Urban Stocking Program trout ponds (that was an impressive ice and snow storm)
we tripped over to Chain of Rocks to pitch jigs for Walleyes and Sauger (another good alternative would have been the 1.5 hr drive to Baldwin lake for catfish o'plenty, but I was time constrained)
and while seeing plenty of gulls and pelicans (with a few eagles for good measure) we were skunked. However, it is always good to get out on the river to dodge cabin fever.
Busch Wildlife Area near Weldon Springs MO and Lock and Dam at Saverton MO 17 and 20-26 Nov 2006
As per usual the stokcer trout are ready to play at Busch Wildlife Area in the catch and release lakes 21 and 28 (fly/lure only till 1 Feb 07), and
a wide variety of flies work. Dry flies #14 work at sunrise and sunset while wollyboogers in #8-#10 olive w/bead and nymphs under indicators (anything #10-#18). The locka nd Dam at Saverton is
also loaded with fish, primarily saugers, carp, and flatheads, with saugers and flatheads falling to persistant cast and very slow retrieve of
soft plastics on jig heads (rigged drop shot if current is bad). Carp will eat worms and corn and Drum will eat fresh shad pieces. Fish before freeze out!
Once the lakes freeze, hit the powerplant lakes like Baldwin Lake for catfish aplenty (and a few blues), or fish for the big Blues in the river is the ice is not too bad.
Chicago IL Harbors-Shedds, Belmont, Montrose 5-6 Nov 2006
The last salmon trip of the year usually features sightings of many large schools of salmon and a few steelhead in the harbors (see
5/6 Nov 2005 and previous below). This year the run seems to be 0ne month ahead of schedule, and most of the mature salmon have met their
maker in the backs of the harbors (Pacific Salmons are semelparous..they live just 3-5 years, spawn once in the place they were hatched or stocked, and then die. In Illinois, the spawning is
not good in the harbors where this run of salmon were first released...which is ok because they aleady released the run of 2009/2010 in the harbor--and they and the steelheads
need the protien of a few carcassas for pre-winter food). We saw less than one-third of last years fish schools. With live shinners, we eaked out 2 Chinooks and one 10lb
male steelhead (they ignored flies, etc.--kept only one chinook for fresh dinner, released the other chinook and steelhead).
Next year's run shoul be stronger, but even so, it is always fun to take in the fall scenery and the Chi-town skyline.
Chain of Rocks (Mississippi River) IL 28 Oct 2006
The white bass are now few and far between on this big river spot, and the walleye and sauger have not quite appeared yet,
but if you toss small soft plastics rigged above a 2oz weight and work the jigs slow, you never know what will bite.
This time, we caught white bass (a few), blue catfish, golden redhorse, bigmouth buffalo, among many species.
Boulder+Broomfield CO-23/24 Oct 2006
Ahead of the big snow of 26 October I snuck in a few minutes fishing Boulder Creek with the white/chartruese #14 dry fly, and as per usual, it surrendered
a few small cutthroats and browns for catch and release fun on the 3wgt fly rod. Pitch it over a likely looking pocket of water and if the fish are there
they will jump it.
Indiana Creeks-Salt, Little Calumet between Porter and Valparaiso IN 20-22 Oct 2006
What a difference low pressure and a month make. While we nailed the moon phase, we did count on a direct overflight by a low pressure systme
(see last years Chicago Harbor trip). While the salmon were present in smaller number than in September, and were moving as predicted by the moon phase,
their desire to bite waned as the pressure dropped. Even so, the 2-4 lb cohos and 8lb-12lb chinooks hit #8 black flies, #6 green butt skunk with hour-glass
eyes on 10lb flourocarbon tippets on the fly and 1/8 oz little cleos and #6 spinners on the spinning gear. Always fun to match skills against
these creeks and fish, even if they are less than anxious to bite. As a consolation prize, before the system hit, a few rock bass provided a nice warm-up from the harbors
on small crankbaits and jigs.
Chain of Rocks, IL Side 14 Oct 2006
THe cooler weather has created a feeding frenzy for white bass and hybrids. The boiling waters of the Mississippi River below
the Chain of Rocks are not to be taken lightly, but by pitching a white Krockodile (1/2 oz) on superbraid or 4lb mono, one can
catch many 1-3lb white bass, and 2-4lb hybrids in the mornings. They fight VERY hard, so keep that drag well adjusted!
Near Boulder and Nederland CO 19/20 Sep 2006
Now for salmonids in the Rockies (I think I may travel a bit much?). Boulder Creek as per usual granted small browns and cutthroats, but for a change of pace, take a trip to Gross
or Barker Resevoirs. Contrary to popular belief, both are fishable with a flyrod, though Barker is more fisher frendly with easier access. On eithe lake, try and indicator with nymph such as the mysis or chenelle bug
patterns on winder days, and dry flies or wolly boogers on less windy days. Also, The branches of Boulder Creek below each dam are
good spots for good trout, just avoid the cougars.
Portage, Valpraiso, and Burns Harbor IN 16-17 Sept 06
Back to the fish. Using the weather and New Moon as a guide, and guessing the correct spot and method to pick off the early migrating
Lake Michigan Cohos and Chinooks, and dodging munchkins and wizards, we selected a spot on the upper portion of a certain creek to catch lots of salmon. Muddy waters did not stop
5lb-9lb Cohos and 10-16lb Chinooks from ingesting #6 skunk pattern flies and #8 flo-yellow glowballs on 14lb flourocarbon tippets (with a split shot 10in above the fly). Likewise downstream
a spinner did the duty for a few scattered biters in the chocolate milk waters behind logs. The next day clearer water required a drop in
tippet to 10lb, but the same flies still produced, as did small cleo spoons and spinners fished slowly.
Lock and Dam 22, Mississippi River, near Saverton MO 28 Aug 06
Again, a trip to Saverton proves good, and for more than just the herring, bass, and drum. A migrating swarm of Monarchs dropped by for a
photo opportunity also!
MO River -Weldon Springs MO and Columbia Bottom 23/24 Aug 06
The water has come up, then dropped again, and a try for the flatheads in the MO river yielded goldeyes and drum instead. Silver Carp of many sizes were also around, and have become a very numerous invasive!
Mississippi River Chain of Rocks and Saverton Dam 12 Aug 06 and 19 Aug 06
Low water has definitely slowed the river fishing down, but fish are still to be had for the persistant. Saverton again had lots of drum for
jig or flyrod w/zonker catch and release action (they do have worms this time of year but fight well). The Chain of Rocks has lots of baby herring
which can be fun on the fly, and if so inclined, make AOK bait for catfish in the rapids if you can reach them with a boat or cast in the early morn or late evening. (and hold it in them)
Rain and cooler temps should improve conditions greatly heading into mid September
Lock and Dam 25 (Winfield MO) Mississippi River and Sandy Slough 05 Aug 06
LAst weekend was local ponding for bluegill with the 4wgt, but this week was back to the mighty Miss.
for the big freshwater drum of the dog days of summer. First a little detour for a few pics at the very low Sandy Slough
for pictures of birds enjoying the shallow water feeding: Gulls, Blue and White Herons, and Canadian Geese. The low phase
of the slough is critical for not only these birds, but to oxygenate and fix nitrogen into the sloughs mud and sand bottom. The
rejuvinated, grass covered bottom, will hold many small fish and invertebrates in the spring of '07, leading to good fishing in the future.
For now, the trickle of water holds emerald shiners, small shad, and silversides, and legions of long and short nosed gar. A few hardy
common carp and bowfins alos stir the bottom, since these fish can each obtain oxygen from the air above the low oxygen warm
and turbid waters of the slough. The river above the dam was fairly clear (as clear as the Mississippi gets-even with zebra mussels)
and shad and shrimp were gobbled up by 4-8lb drum and 1-3lb channel cats. Worms lead to carp and buffalo, and small drum. We made many attempts at
tossing small wolly worms and yarn bugs on the fly to the fast cruising 10lb-30lb bighead carp, but they were only interested
in zooplankton (this time :0).
Lock and Dam 22, Mississippi River, near Saverton MO 22 July 2006
While quite a drive up Hwy79 or Hwy61 to Hannibal,this lock and dam has good fishing always for something, usually for Skipjack Herring.
This time however, the herring were gone, but the low water concentrated emerald shiners and silversides
for a feeding frenzy for drum, white bass, hybrid striped bass, and smallmouth bass.
For me, a zonker fly on my 6wgt flyrod got drum and smallmouth, but for my brother either a freelined
silverminow or 1/8th oz curlytail jig produced everything, including an 8lb hybrid.
A grass carp also decided to inhale first my strike indicator,
then inhale and run off with my orange chenelle bug. Lots of hard fighting fish make this a fun trip anytime. Also, don't forget to
pitch corn or worms near the shoreline along the banks for carp and channel cats a'plenty
Lake Tanneycomo and Bull Shoals near Branson MO 1-4 July 2006
In addition to stars and stripes, fireworks, and Sousa music, US Independence Day offers a good time to kick back with the
family and share some prime fishing time. Due to low flows from Table Rock Dam, the trout were slower than normal (which is still good)
in T-como, with the usual 8"-17" rainbows and browns below the dam biting at first light and before mid-day on zonkers, glow-balls, cracklebacks, and wiggletails.
In the main lake, trout activity was uplake from the green, phytoplankton rich, waters of Branson proper, from the bridges to Falls Creek, on the typical crankbaits, powerbaits, and kastmasters.
Since the dam was sometimes running, another spot in Bull Shoals also became active with nice hybrids Wipers, Brown Trout, and Rainbow Trout, on live shad and jigs.
In short, good relaxation was had by all.
Boulder Creek near Boulder CO 28/29 June 2006
For a change of pace, I hauled the fly rod out on a business trip to Denver, and using the handy guide "Fishing Close to Home" sent to me by the Colorado DNR
I took a 20 minute drive up into the canyons to try for a few wilder cutthroats. While any white fly seemed to get bit and shook, only my #14
white crackleback fished subsurface was attractive enough to hook the feisty 6"-10" cutthroats and browns.
Islamorada FL (Florida Keys-Atlantic and Gulf) 17-23 MAy 06
Just can't avoid the draw of the clear waters, big fish, and laid back attitude of the Keys, especially when you can get a
low cost room at the Sunset Inn, eat Breakfast every day at Mangrove Mikes, and rent a 21' Mako from Bud n Marys. It really is a doable trip for anyone.
We brought our handheld GPS, charts, 12# flygear, and 15-20lb trolling and spinning gear to this Valhalla of fishing, and it did not disapoint!
We left the dock each day, made bee line for the reef edge (after buying a few blocks of chum), caught a few ballyhoo as insurance, then hit the
60-90 foot contour reef edge, with a few forays into the electric blue waters and sargasso bed in 200 feet of water. ON the contour were
legions of 20"-30" mahi-mahi around the scattered sargassum, and they readily smashed a little stubby in purple trolled at 8 miles per hour. ON each hookup, chunks
of ballyhoo and chum were used to bring in the rest of the school, and a pandamonium of screaming drags on fly gear and spinning gear ensued. Once board with the schoolies,
a deeper trolled nailed larger mahis, as did a chum and drift. For the real beasts, we journeyed to a weedline in 225 feet of water due east of Alligator light, and set of a drift with the live ballyhoo, chunks of ballyhoo, and a chum bag,
and again brought in fly-roddable schoolies, but also a 30lb cow mahi, king mackerel, and blackfin tuna. If that wasn't enough, the reefs in 25-60 feet of water still held
the standard ceros and snappers for a jigger or fly rodder to catch. Still not enough, well just ditch the boat and head for the nearest bridge on slack tide, and bring fresh chunnks of ballyhoo, or live mullet or pinfish and catch tarpon and snappers till the armns hurt.
It just doesn't get any better :0)
Lake Taneycomo, Branson MO 21-23 APr 06
Wow does Branson need rain! The lakes are the lowest seen in 20 years, but Taneycomo still provides spectacular trouting. WHite Zonkers, Wiggletail nymphs, glowballs, and cracklebacks fished sub-surface caught
jillions of 8"-12" rainbows,and a few 15"+ browns and rainbows. Triple digit catch and relase flyfishing every day near the upper boat ramps. In other words, get on the waders, grab a novice flyrodder, and get them here to catch fish.
East Chicago and Portage IN; Salt, Trail, and Little Calumet (East Branch) Creeks,24-28 Mar 2006
Landed no spring steelies (they were too interested in mating mostly, but we did hook 3 that escaped),
we did catch tons of large white suckers (1-4 lbs). Likewise, it was early for the harbors, but a few cohos snuck in on the days that had
south winds (for future reference wind from on shore = upwell = clear water = lots of fish!). For the steelies, small flies in #10-#8 in black or mysis patternson 8lb leader
caught the legions of suckers and hooked the few steelies willing to bite. The cohos off the Jerose pier and in the Harbors
hit #4 Panther martins when present fished on 4lb test.
Chain of Rocks IL side 28/29 Jan 2006
While there are still easy to catch trout at Busch Wildelife and other parks due to the Winter Stocking program, and baby catchfish a plenty at
Baldwin Lake, we hit the Mississsippi River for walleye, and while tough fishing, the 12"-24" Saugers and Walleyes did
bit for those who use patience, a 2oz weight, and double twister tail jigs, fished very slow.
Pompano Beach and Islamorada FL 26-31 Dec 2005
With the Christmas seaon, the family all heads to a warmer clime for a week, and I again get to fish the fishermans Valhalla of
the Florida Keys. After a run up and down the coast from Jupiter to Miami, we had only caught a few blues and spanish mackeral
off the piers (small spanish on small jigs, medium blues on cut bait), we took the drive to Islamorada, caught breakfast a Mangrove Mikes (a must do)
and rented a center console from Bud'n Mary's to fish the reef. After setting up a drift in 20-50 Feet on the reef edge south
of the lighthouse, and deploying a bag of chum, ceros, snappers, and yellow jacks became easy pickings on anything from trolled rapalas
to flyrod tossed clousers and fathead minnows( White/Chartruese, flo-yellow), to crappie jigs on light spinning gear. A ballyhoo(sp) pitched with a small egg weight
netted a wide variety of fun to fight and release fighters in the form of grouper and sharks (and more mackerel). Sails were busting the
'hoos all over, but we couldn't get ourselves to leave the mackerel (maybe next time?). The fish were all returned to the reef to challenge someoneelse next time.
Top it off with all you can eat stone crab claws from any of the eateries on the way back north, and it is a day better than any mortal deserves in this life.
Chicago IL (Shedds and Burnham Harbor) 5/6 Nov 2005
Never have a seen so many salmon, yet caught so few. We saw many schools 20 fish strong of chinooks and cohos, each school shadowed
by a large steelie or brown, but while it rained hard, we were skunked on fly, spin, and bait. The next day however, with drier weather came dumber fish,
and a whole nightcrawler or cooked shrimp below a drop float caught nice fat salmon to rescue the trip!
Valparaiso IN, Salt Creek and Little Calument 1/2 Oct 2005
Lots of Salmon in the Creeks days before the new moon, and the #6 orange rabbit strip zonker got them well. For my spinning brothers, the 3/8oz little cleo in
silver and orange worked for them, as did the pink power worm/yellow jig head. Tons of small to medium Cohos and Chinooks using a
slow twitch on the bottom and 10lb line or tippet. Use a rod with backbone or these fish will own you in a small creek like the Salt.
East Chicago IN, Portage IN, and Trail Creek/Michigan City IN 21-23 July 2005
We gave a shot at landing a few of those husky Skemania Steelhead on the full moon, but ended with just 1 steelie due to rain four days before,
lots of channel catfish and bluegill, Northern Rock Bass, a few Crappie and chubs, and of coarse gobies.
The lone steelie came on a pool with a steep undercut on Trail Creek near Hwy 20, using a 11wgt rod (using 8 wgt floating level fly line)
10lb flourocarbon tippet, and #6 white mysis shrimp pattern behind a 1/32oz splitshot. The 28" 10lb male put up
a valiant effort and after landing and a quick pic I attempted revive and relase, but the warm water didn't let the fish
recover and after he belly-uped I put him in the ice chest (and performed a dissection, had only a few small shrimp in the largely
empty gut, orange meat, but otherwise very healthy). We saw only a few other steelies that day, and ended up fishing the Trail Creek Harbor
using shrimp, butterworms, and nightcrawlers only to land bluegill and 1-2lb channel cats (all released). The Little Cal in
Indiana Dunes was free of steelhead, but had crappie, chubs, and rock bass that were fun to catch as incidentals.
Relocation to Jerose Park in East Chicago resulted in good action for Rock Bass which pounced any lure the big gobies didn't get to first.
We also got bit off (likely by small pike) on goby strips on a weight cast into the cooler deep water. Once the heat hit 103 the fish stopped
completely and we headed home.
St Andrews SP, Panama City FL and Big Pine Key FL 31 May-10 June 2005
Mostly a Biology Research Trip for me, but I did sneek in a little fishing here and there :0)
Big Pine had lots of small tarpon in the harbors, larger tarpon, small 'cudas, and Gray Snappers under the bridge supports and surrounding grass beds, but watch out for the Goliath Groupers who sit near the pillings and eat
snappers for lunch! on the deeper reefs Jolthead porgies and snappers (YT and Gray) provided plenty of pics and fun. Add in a snorkel trip to Looe Key preserve to see
the fish and coral at home. In deeper water (600ft) mahi-mahi and wahoos prowl the Plentiful Sargassum.
Chain of Rocks , Mississippi River, IL 7 May 2005
Flyrod Catch and release fun at its finest with many, many Skipjack Herring that jump, fight , and flip, and readily and very swiftly devore any minnowlike fly moved VERY fast.
4lb tippet (they are not line shy!) and a weighted mylar minnow, white and yellow marabou or flashabou streamer, or brown wooly worm all were prime.
Waders are a key but use LOTs of caution as the current is VERY dangerous here. Soon the 8lb to 50lb carp and drum will make an appearance
(Did get snapped off once on this trip) and the 11wgt and shooting head will have to come out, as these big fish can run you ragged in the current, and will take a well presented fly (lots of skill on pursuit and fight)
East Chicago IN and Waukegan IL 23/24 April 2005
Cruising Browns at Jerose Park and a few cohos were the fishes on this trip. The Cruising browns, moving along the rocks were munching the super-sized
gobies since the alewives were yet to arrive. They did however hit large roaches, and we caught 2, one at 8lbs and one at 5lbs. The next day after
going fishless on the pier and south rocks at Waukegan we again hit Jerose and while we saw and hooked several 1-2lb cohos on orange speedtrap minnows,
we landed none (VERY frustrating!)
Lake Carlyle Spillway Feb, March, April
Lots of white bass but no real monsters (8"-14" mostly) and strangely very few walleye or saugers (usually a hotbed of fish!)
all on curlytail jigs (chartruese body, 1/16oz head, 2lb-4lb test--very slow on the bottom).
Islamorada FLorida 28Jan-1Feb 05
Back to the sun and sea after multiple months of fishing for stocker rainbows(Busch Wildlife Area Lakes 28 and 21)
and little powerplant channel catfish (Baldwin lake IL). Not that those fish werent fun and plentiful, but it does a body good
to get a full dose of a world class fishing spot midwinter with my brothers. After a dirt cheap direct flight into Miami where we were greeted by 70 F temps and sun,
we took a nice drive south to Islamorada and the Sunset Inn where we stayed (not a bad place, run by the same folks as the Bluefin Inn as well, and right next to mangrove Mikes for the best breakfast in the keys bar none).
Within one hour of dropping off the bags and getting lunch at the Islamorada Fish Co. (another excellent eatery with an outstanding deck over the Gulf complete with pet snappers and nurse sharks),
we flopped our lines under a bridge and tied into numerous 4-6lb Jack Crevalle and 1-2lb Mangrove Snappers (the Jacks on Pilchards and Spoons, the snappers on the fly witha #6 Crazy Charlie and #6 Mysis Shrimp).
The next day a boat rental from Bud n Mary's got us out to the reef where we caught and released Grunts, Snappers, and a decent Grouper, before the wave chased us into the Gulf. The Next day the wind was horrendous, so we parked near one of the grass flats (the previous cold front sent the Tarpon, Trout, and Bonefish to deeper waters) where we flyrodded Bluerunners, Jack Crevalle, a few Macks, and Leatherjackets all day (#6 clousers white/chartruese, 4lb tippet).
The Last day we got back out to the reef, saw one sailfish (no hookup), caught and released another nice grouper, and many ceros and snappers. We each had snap off my unseen foes. The reef action was south of allegator light on a drift over 45feet.
All in all, lots of small fish but a great break from the snow...Salmon and steelies in Lake Michigan in 2 months....
Yellowtail Snappers and Baitfish behind the boat in 45 feet (very clear waters!!)
Black Grouper comming up before release (didn't want to lift him out of the water)
An interesting Reef fish with a mean pull --The Yellow Jack
Another beautiful January Sunset in the Keys over the Mangroves
Trail CReek and Little Calumet Creek (MIchigan City Indiana) 15 Oct 04
Made two exploratory trips to MIchigan City after the last run in with the Skemania Steelhead.
The september trip saw us fishing 8 spots, and we covered Trail Creek from top to bottom (Ridge Park access to the Harbor),
The Port of Indiana, and Little Calumet CReek on the edge on Indiana Dunes, and Portage Harbor.
In all we knew septmber would be early, but wanted to scope our spots before the bigger run in October.
On the september trip, a few steelies were still around, and a few small cohos made appeareances. The Steelies again were fooled with the softshell crawfish pattern tied on #6 hooks while the coho wanted rabbit strip flies and #4 Pathern Martin spinners, but in both cases fish were scattered and few.
On the new moon in October (which is when Salmon really make their run-- think like a Pacific Coast fish in its home turf--
it is dark so you can evade bears and seals, the tides are large so you can slip accross the mouth of the creek easy, though there are neither brown bears or seals around Lake Michigan)
we returned and as predicted the run was in full swing on both Trail and Little Calumet. The chinooks and cohos both hit 3/4" nuclear white glowballs, and rabbit strip flies in magenta or orange. In spinning tackle, the 1/2oz silver/orange little cleo was the ticket, with the #4 panther martin running second. The runs are quick on these creeks and lasted from
the day of the New Moon to 2 days after, slowing dratically by that Sunday. All said we took home a 15lb and 6 lb chinook and 3 lb coho, which is all we needed, though we caught 6 fish total (and got snapped or tossed by a dozen more). These two creek have earned a place in my next book for sure!
TRail Creek INdiana- July 2004
Finished the Second Book, and to celebrate made a trip first to South Bend then to Trail Creek in Indiana for a bit of summer Steelhead action. The fish in the St. Joeseph River in Mishawaka and South Bend were very leary though easy to see and due to the warm water (70+/-) where also noin a biting mood.
The walleye however were, and using a 6" floater/diver crankbait I caught a nice 24" fish, along with numerous smaller walleyes and suckers on worms.
Since this was a steelhead trip we hit Trail Creek on the way home, and it tunred out to be a totally different story-- we saw many fresh silver steelies from 4lbs to 20+lbs, that were engulfing any unfortuate
crayfish that stumbled thier way. This creek however is very small and every pool has a log pile on each end, so while we hooked several on mysis shrimp aptterns (size #6) and crayfish patterns (softshell craw in size #4), landing them proved quite difficult on our undergunned leaders (4# and 6#--who knew?). Next time the 10# and 14# tippets are comming out!!!
Destin FL June 2004
While this trip proved doom to my boat (now it is a donation to the American Cancer Society, the motor ate a little sand and 2 cylinders went south :0( ) there were lots of fish,
from ladyfish and spanish mackerel that ate 4" white streamers with abandon, to 100lb blacktip sharks at the outside end of the pass on bumpers and menhaden, to big Spanish mackerel on the Pier (a #3 west coaststyle iron in flo yellow and green was the ticket), to line snapping
red snappers 20 miles out (a calm day trip-- 50lb+ leaders a must!!), there were fish a plenty.
Waukegan IL May 2004
While the water was ROUGH!! a few hours a day was all it took to load the coolers with fresh coho. They were sitting in 25 feet just outside the harbor mouth, and the 50 degree water had them and many brown very active. We used 3oz bannana weights 8feet above a, orange 3/0 dodger and green fly to nail most, though many also hit the small Speedtrap crankbait trolled on 4# line. Watch the conditions, but the 2.5 mph troll just past the buoys was all that was required to catch fish from sunup to 11AM (the water was too rough to stay out any later).
- Many shorebirds prowl Florida ponds like this small green heron
- In the same water, large redears also prowl for the same small minnows and frogs, like this fine fish...
- ...or this one
- Bluegill (pictured) and tilapia also swim in these small waters (and the larger lakes).
- I guess you could pitch a fly for those bothersome largemouth bass too LOL
- This pattern was deadly in the ponds
- Cocoa Beach from Jetty Park Pier (Port Canaveral FL), big waves and jellyfishes (and sea turtles).
- One of many baitfish species around the Jetty Park pier: the atlantic bumper
- Spanish Mackeral are around on the Atlantic if you try hard
- Croakers on small hooks fished deep are around in abundance.
- Sharks may intercept the croaker baits, release them carefully.
- The new Veterans Pier in Titusville FL has twin piers usable by anglers and shrimpers (and manatees and dolphins swim past the piers often).
- Pigfish are one of many species near the pillings of the pier (along with pinfish, grey snappers, specs, ladyfsh, and jacks)
- Mangroves and backwaters make up much of the Merritt Island complex
- Fiddler crabs (the males have the big claw) duke it out for spots to get dinner near those mangroves
- Many species use Haulover Canal, like humans, manatees, dolpins, fish, and this moon jelly
- The Fort Desoto Gulf Pier is beautiful and very fishy
- Herring hover thickly around the pilings of the Gulf Pier, as seen here...
- ...and here.
- What's stealing that bait? Pinfishes like these...
- ...and these...
- ...and these...
- ...and these.
- Blue runners can intercept a jig intended for a spanish mack.
- Near the Gulf Pier you can rent a kayak or canoe and fish the grass and mangroves
- Fly fishers can catch many species over the grass using a popper or as here, a speckled trout on an indicator and wooly worm.
- Sometimes the skyway piers are worth the cost (it is steep for a pier).
- Leatherjackets and many other species eat jigs on the Skyway
Baldwin Lake IL 24 January 2004
Finally finished with my first book
The Combat-Fishing Guide to Bransons Lake Taneycomo and
did some prime winter catfishing at this powerplant fed lake.
The trout from the urban stocking program are still around, and catch and release season is well underway at the trout parks
(Note My buddy caught and released an estimated 12lb rainbow at Roaring river-congrats Mike D.), but as far as the trout lakes in the St. Louis Area are concerned,
an ice blanket is giving the trout a rest.
That is AOK with me, as Baldwin lake gets even better as the bitter cold sets in, and this weekend was no exception. Lots of 9"-14" catfish will readily bite any bait, though the threadfin shad that carpet the underwater rocks on the north dam are prime. Downsize the gear to 4lb test or less, use #4 hooks and small weights, and just pitch the small shad 10 yards off the bank.
You will catch tons of catfish, and you are doing the lake a great favor by taking home a dozen for a fish fry (this will allow the population to thin out and grow up). You can also flip a nymph on a flyrod for crappie and sunfish that are in summer mode.
Dress warm and be prepared to walk 1/4 mile to hit the prime spots
San Diego CA Bay Dec 26 2003 -Jan 3 2004
- A good vacation can get the mind going again and rejuvenate the body. The whole family burned a years worth of frequent flyer miles to hit one of my favorite winter fishing spots-San Diego Bay.
Courtesy of a few days of rental boats from Coronado Boat Rentals we trolled Crystal Minnows (6" Clown color) at the skiffs top speed to catch Bonito on the edge of the channels, and used everything from flyrods with deep sinking lines and crazy charlies to Krokodile spoons to
leadheads with dropshot minnows and bass assassins to catch and realease literally hundreds of Spotted and Barred Sand bass on 4lb line, along with halibut, more Bonitos, baracuda, jack smelt, mackerel, croakers, and a speckled fin midshipman.
On the rainy days we fished off the end of the Sunset Beach Pier, ate lobster tacos and drank expresso from the Piers cafe, and used squid on 4lb line and size #8 hooks to catch surfperch, queenfish, corvinas, and croakers a plenty, all while watching grey whales and sea lions play in the kelp bed.
17/18 May 2003 Lake Michigan Waukegan IL
3 May 2003 Rotary Park in Wentzville MO
Late Spring puts the ‘pop’ in popper fishing as the sunfish of every description
move onto there spawning beds, or seek to regain lost weight after spawning.This lake has many fat bluegill and various sunfish hybrids, which will readily take a #14 chartreuse/black popper or #10 black woolly bugger or wooly worm. As a bonus this lake also has several nice largemouth to 3lbs, and tons of golden shiners which will also smack a fly
26 April 2003 Lake Carlyle Spillway IL
Florida to the most reliable white bass spot with 100 miles of St. Louis.While the white bass are small (6”-8”
with a few biggies 12”+ thrown in), they are abundant in the extreme, and will
smack just about any 1”-3” long lure all summer. We tried just about every lure in the size range on 2# to 4#
line and they hit it!The easiest
lure to use however included the 1/4oz Kastmaster (silver), 2” Rapala (shap
rap), Rooster Tail, and of course the Tube jig or twister tail jig in white,
green, or chartreuse.This kind of
action was also built for fly fishing, and using a two pound tippet on the
lightest fly rod you own, with a 1” white or chartreuse streamer, wooly-bugger,
or Clouser, you will catch as many white bass as you desire.
Central Florida Tampa Bay Bananna River Titusville FL ,Port Canaveral,Merritt Island, and Gulf of Mexico at Ft Desoto- 16 April to 19 April 2003
vacation for a combat-fisherman means cramming as much fishing excitement as
possible into the allotted time.
In this case, one day fishing St. Petersburg’s
Fort Desoto Piers,a day of rental
boat fishing the spoil humps in the Indian River at Titusville,
a day fishing Merritt Island from Haulover
Canal to Jetty
Park to the A1A Banana River Bridge,
and finishing it off with Tilapia and Bass in Orlando
and Kissimmee.Mixed in with this fishing is a good
dose of seafood from Dixie Crossroads (Rock Shrimp capital of the universe),
and great views of the Skyway Bridge,
beach bathers, manatees, dolphins, and Cape Kennedy (no
launches this time unfortunately).
On the Gulf Pier at Fort Desoto, the Spanish Mackerel and Blue
Runnerswere easy pickings on the
short full moon window around the high and low tides, biting on soft plastic
tipped 3/8 jigs, crappie jigs, and buck tail jigs. Whiting (Southern Kingfish technically), small Jack
Crevalle, and a smattering of baby groupers and speckled trout again were
catchable around the tide at the Bay Pier at Fort Desoto (30 minutes each
way).Using a rental boat from Spacecoast Powerboat Rentals, the small panacake flats formed by dredging
spoil from the Intercoatal waterway held good numbers of speckled trout,
Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, puffers, and silver perch (payoff lures = Zara
Spook, 1/2oz Sidewinder, Clousers and Decievers, and saltwater sized poppers).Later that evening, and the next
evening, the Banana River bridge produced good speckled trout, whiting, more
puffers, and a few ladyfish, (but no shrimp to the astoundmentof the shrimper trappers who lined the
walls), all on deceivers, 3/8oz jigs with bass assassin tip, and shrimp pieces.
Jetty Park and Haulover Canal were fished at off times, and
produced few fish, though had lots of turtles, dolphins, and manatees to
see.Finally, due to the higher water in Orlando, the Mozambique
Tilapia extended its range, and the males were tending beds along the shoreline
of the small lake near our resort, though it takes lots of tricking with a
wooly worm or small jig to tease them into biting.
29 Mar 2003 Carlyle Lake Spillway, IL
Why mess with success?
Again this was a good spot, same place (just above the bridge), same fish with
a few more white bass and an odd catfish and carp thrown in (they must be very
hungry to hit a jig), though with a mix of rain and large sleet for spice.Same technique-1/8oz-1/4oz jig with 3 in
chartreuse grub or 2 in tube, slowly bounced along the bottom.
22 Mar 2003 Carlyle Lake Spillway, IL
Warmer weather has
brought a change of pace.Every
spring, budding trees mean two things to the Midwestern angler-crappie and
sauger.As the Mississippi river
rises and forces the Kaskaskia river to rise as well, thousands of Walleye and
Sauger run upriver for the chance to spawn. In the case of the Kaskaskia river, they hold between the
Carlyle Lake Dam and the General Dean suspension bridge (a.k.a. the ‘swinging
bridge’).While they hold, they
feed, and a 1/16oz-1/4oz twister tail or tube tail chartreuse or white jig
fished on 2#-4# tackle will catch many of them. Most of the saugers are small, but fun to catch and release,
though a few saugers will be in the 3# range, and some walleyes and white bass
mix in to make it interesting.
08 Feb 2003 - Baldwin Lake, IL
Again I fished the
only open water within an hour, and again this lake produced even when the 15
mph wind kicked up 2 foot waves and the air temps ranged 18 to 40 degrees F. Using silversides as live bait fished off the bottom with a
bottom finder rig, hybrid striped bass 2lbs to 6 lbs, drum 3lbs to 6 lbs, and
catfish 1/2lb to 2lbs were plentiful, along with a few 8” yellow bass.Silversides are very numerous near the
rocks, but require 1/4inch or smaller mesh nets such as a butterfly net to
catch them. Hook them through the
eyes, or chop them into pieces onc dead and they will produce numerous
fish.Again, dress warm.
Baldwin Lake, IL - 18 Jan 2003
One thing about
Midwestern weather is that if you don't like it-wait a week. Winter is an all or no proposition in
the St. Louis metro and what was a decent winter day last week, became a white
hell this week.However, given
biting fish, we will fish anywhere. Even with blowing snow, 20 mph winds, 3 foot waves, and 14 degree F temps
(negative number wind chill) fish bit readily from this heated lake.Shad pieces were the ticket to lots of
yellow and white bass and channel catfish, while a worm or small jig produced
bluegill from the rocks. Layered clothes are the key to warmth!
Baldwin Lake, IL - 11 Jan 2003
What does an angler do when the water is frozen almost everywhere, but you
need to cast to biting fish?Go to a power plant lake!Courtesy of a
few coal fired and nuclear power plants, and the resultant water exhaust from
spinning those turbines, power plant cooling lakes and outlets provide a winter
warm water haven for a variety of species. Baldwin Lake is a 2100 acre lake about an hour from most of
the St. Louis metro(can miss it if you fly in from the south to Lambert in the winter—it is the only open water
in a square pond for miles), and offers 60 degree water even when the air temp
is well below freezing (about 15-25 F this day).While this lake is known for its 3 to 6 lb hybrid stripers, and 30 to 60 lb blue catfish, the high pressure system kept the big fish away, but left tons of1lb channel cats and yellow bass to
catch on any bait (though with a cast net, a ready supply of 2” threadfin
shadmade them the bait of choice—just chop the threadfins into thirds to avoid gettingthe bait stolen and use a #4 hook), and a few 2 to 3lb largemouth to caught by slow crawling 4” white grub tails along
the rocks of the levee. Remember it is a long walk out to the outlet so dress in layers and stay warm!
Lake Taneycomo, Branson MO - 26 Dec to 29 Dec 2002
Winter is the off season for fishing Taneycomo trout (though it is the prime season for black bass fishing in Table Rock) , but with out the tourist traffic it is still one of my favorite times to fish here.The release times from the Dam
determine the fishing success here, and since few trout are released this time
of year, the fish caught (mostly rainbows) and either 15”+ or 10”- .A ‘mid level’ release is the best fishing by far (especially as the water drops back to normal levels) and the
fish gorge themselves on terrestrials and sow bugs/scuds.The normal exposed gravel bar below the third hatchery outlet
holds tons of fish during the mid-water release, and is wadable (but with GREAT
CAUTION!).Payoff flies include gray scud and sow bug patterns, red San Juans, and brown/green crackleback
patterns.The crackleback did the duty for me, and I caught innumerable 8”-12” rainbows, and a few 18” rainbows, most by drifting the fly on the surface until it swings in the current, then
pulling it under and slowly twitching it back on a 20’ 2lb leader.For the spinning rod, a 4” suspending
crystal minnow or Rapala in clown (red/yellow) and brown/brass work well (use
4# fluorocarbon line) for the big rainbows and browns (caught and released a
16” brown this way). Well below the dam, powerbait will get one or two fish in the main lake, though not nearly
the summer level numbers. Largemouth are also available near the docks using a 3” Pins Minnow or
suspending Rapala, fished VERY slow. Be careful to dress very warm, and know the current and temperature
before venturing out.Don't wade past your knees and wear many layers.
Busch Wildlife Area, St. Charles Co., MO - 25 Nov-14 Dec 2002
Thanks to our friends at the Department of Conservation and the Urban Stocking Program, many
lakes in the St. Louis Metro area have a few winter visitors for anglers to delight
in: Rainbow and Brown Trout! Busch Wildlife Area in St. Charles County holds five such lakes: 21 and 28
for Catch and Release/lure only fishing (until Feb 1 when they become
bait/catch and keep)and lakes 22,23, 24 which are catch and keep/bait lakes. This is a great break from the holiday running, and is a
good chance to keep the flyrod bent in the winter without a long drive.Prime flies for the catch and release
lakes this past weekend have been bead-head #18 peacock nymphs fished 4’ under
an indicator near the rock dams, and #16 olive wooly boogers.Lure-wise a 1/8oz Kastmaster for
overcast days, or a white marabou jig for sunnier days on 2lb tackle will work
fine.Bundle up and get out there!
Chicago IL (Lake Michigan) - 19 to 20 Oct 2002
The Chinooks and Cohos seek to spawn unsuccessfully in the numerous harbors along Lake Michigan,
and in their frustration will hit a lure. Once the 3-5 year old salmon enter the harbor, their life clock is
nearly done, and within weeks will parish, their spawning mission unsuccessful
for almost all (except for the few that the DNR use to create the new generation of stockers).As a
result, Chicagoland fishers are presented with a bounty of protein that is
catch and keep, or let rot.The harbors are loaded with these beasts, and unless they are disturbed by illegal
snaggers (snagging is only allowed in a very few select locations.The Illinois DNR page will have these spots), will hit a variety of lures and baits.Light line is far more of a key than for the ‘chrome’ fish that these fish were in the open lake and in the first
weeks of harbor entry.Four pound to Six pound line is adequate for most fish, though 8lb tackle will make
casting the larger spoons and plugs easier. Fresh spawn in the skein and whole night-crawlers fished 6
to 10 feet below a bobber (a slip bobber is the easiest way to rig and cast
this arrangement) on a #4 salmon style hook on 4-6lb fluorocarbon will get hit
in the mornings and evenings.On
the lure side, we had the most success with either a suspending 3.5” crystal minnow
in clown colors, a 3” black and gold rapala husky jerk, or a 3”
rattle-trap.That said, a wide
variety of spoons and deep running plugs will work if fished very slow.The key is mobility: move to areas
where you see fish.The areas that
worked for us this weekend were Burnam Harbor, Belmont Harbor, the lakefront
behind Shedds Aquarium, and the Montrose Hook. A long spinning rod (8’+) will help greatly when fishing
Waukegan IL (Lake Michigan) - 21 to 22 Sep 2002
Fall is Chinook time!The Chinook salmon (6lb-30lb) begin running into the harbors all along the Illinois lakefront,
attempting unsuccessfully to spawn before dying. As a Pacific Salmon, they have a limited lifespan of 3-6
years, and spawn only once then die. Before they begin to turn olive brown as the begin to die in late
October, they are still green and chrome, and will blast the right edible during the right times.The
Chinooks are accompanied by Cohos who also are pacific salmon and likewise
spawn and die.The Cohos are more aggressive but smaller (2-7lbs), and take smaller offerings.We caught numerous smaller Chinooks in the 2-3lb range, steelhead at 3lbs (released), a brown at 2lbs (released), a
lake trout at 9lbs (also released), and a coho at 7lbs, all between 5AM and
Noon.We also lost a 25lb Chinook at the net, and have several hits that did not translate to fish..The bulk of the fish came on a 2.2 mph troll in 75ft-80ft of water due east of the Waukegan Power Plant (look for the
3 smoke stacks).A few fish also came from 60ft of water ENE of the harbor. All but the smaller Chinooks and the steelhead cam from 15
feet off the bottom, regardless of depth. Here are the methods that worked best ( though usually
a 000 silver dodger and purple/silver fly are tops in the summer): Yo-ZuriCrystal Minnow floating 4-3/8” orange
yellow on a downrigger or leadcore w/14lb fluorocarbon leader and also flat line (70%
of the fish hit this including the big Chinook) no. 000 dodger though usually a no. 000 silver dodger and
purple/silver fly on downrigger (20lb flourcarbon leader fly 2ft behind dodger)
,Rebel Redfin on a downrigger.If you are also so inclined, the harbor pier (a.k.a. Government Pier) was producing good numbers of 8lb-15lb salmon on 3/8oz Acme Little Cleos (silver and Blue and glow in the dark), 3” fjord spoons, and
Suspending Rogues, cast into the harbor mouth between midnight and 4am and retrieved very slowly (bring a long handled large landing net and flashlight!).
Mississippi River Winfield MO - 17 Aug, 24 Aug, 31 Aug
Drum, Drum, and more Drum (and a few catfish).A combination
of Zebra Mussels, rocks, and current has created a great Freshwater Drum
fishery for 5lb-15lb drum. The rock banks above the locks or below the locks in the current hold very large
numbers of large drum which bite in the heat of midday. Set up one rod with a 1/0 circle hook and night crawler on 10lb line for the smaller drum (1oz weight on a bait finder/dropper loop rig fished just off the rocks), and another rod
with 15lb lb test, 3/0 hook, 3oz weight, and fresh 4 inch shad (pinch off the tail and pinch open the gut cavity) and cast out 30 feet. The action is quick and lasts from around 1PM to 5PM.
San Diego and Offshore MX (160 miles and 60 miles SW of San Diego) - 4 Aug to 10 Aug 2002
Time for the once a year long Tuna trip, and this year we hit the Bright and Morning Star out of
H and M Landing in San Diego. This is a no-nonsense slat of the earth
mid-range boat, and while not loaded with luxuries like the Excel or Shogun, is
VERY FAST and has a good crew and cook (Louie is the man). After a brief
warm-up and tackle check the night before at the Embarcadero pier (Mackerel by
the dozen and a little C&R with the Guitarfish-caught using mackerel chunks
on a bait-finder rig), we got a good nights sleep at a hotel.The next morning we checked in, got on
the boat, spent two hours picking up sardines and ‘chovies, and spent the next
10 hrs at speed heading 160 southwest into Mexican waters.The next morning dictated the pace:
trolling rotation with Zuckers purple feathers and Tuna Clones on the way
between kelp paddies. The
fishing the first day was very visual and exciting, as the crew or the
customers did the spotting for kelp paddies, in fact the best paddy found that
day was by a customer.The captain would troll to a paddy and examine it for life. Usually they were loaded with dozens of California Yellowtails in the 5lb-25lb range and a few mahi-mahi (dorado) in the 10lb
range, all very visible from the surface. The captain would then pull up to the paddy and then give the command to
pitch your bait (a free lined sardine on 25lb tackle, or a soft plastic on 1oz
jig head—AA, Power Sand Eel, or Space Guppy Bass Assassin all worked, or a
scrambled egg Tady 4/0) to the waiting fish. Within 10 seconds of the baits hitting the water all hell
broke loose as the Yellowtails pounded the baits and every angler on the boat
fought fish at once.All but the last stop of the day was like this, and by the fifth stop we were in C&R
mode on the yellowtails.The last stop of the day started with yellowtails, but within minutes became a
continuous Bluefin Tuna bite with 35lb-70lb bluefins (this made us switch to
30lb-40lb lever drag gear and live sardines drifted 100 yards from the boat).
After a grueling set of 3 fights at 30mins a piece it was dinner and sleep
time.The next morning was an early go at 4AM with a quick squid bite. A squid jig or white jigging iron under the lights was quickly grabbed by a 3lb-6lb squid (some saved for bait, some saved for food—they were a great
appetizer for dinner that night). Several guys used 80lb test and 2lb weights
and a 11/0 circle with live squid in hopes of getting a Bigeye or large Bluefin
but the had no luck before sunrise and the first trolling rotation.The next day say a few more kelp paddys
but no bluefin , so the captain steamed north from 2:00PM until 3:30AM the next
day to the Albacore grounds (it was getting very rough down south with a
hurricane brewing off southern Baja-so the move also put us in calmer
waters).At daybreak a few earlier risers (me included) tossed out our trolling rigs and were immediately blasted
by 10lb albies. The day was typical troll and short stop albacore fishing.The rest of the San Diego fleet was
nearby, as were two trawlers and a US Navy Aircraft carrier (with a F/A-18 who
decided to rooster-tail us).The same trolling lures (Tuna Clones and Zuckers) were hit by a few fish (a.k.a. a
‘jig stop’), followed by a few more fish ‘on the slide’ on soft plastics on a
jig head and then a few more fish for 15 minutes each stop on live anchovies on
15lb test and 1/4oz rubber core sinker and #2 hook. A few 30lb bluefin also
popped up, making life very exciting for the 15lb test anglers!After getting to the docks and setting
the fish up for packing and shipping by Sportsman's Seafood did a
great job of vacuum packing, flash freezing, and shipping the tuna via Southwest
Air Cargo to the airport near home). This would end the trip for most anglers, however, after a quick lunch at Anthonys Fish Grotto, we rented a skiff from Seaforth Coronado to catch and release the
Sand Bass near the channel in San Diego Bay off of downtown San Diego (4lb-8lb
test, 3/8 oz hurricane jig head and Berkley sand eel jigged slowly on the
bottom). We wrapped up before fly out the next day with a trip to the Aquarium at Scripps and a trip to the
Presidio Museum before flying out.
Waukegan IL (Lake Michigan) - 15 to 16 July 2002
Summer is Coho and Perch time (though with a closed Perch season-Coho it is!), and the school was
thick in 55ft of water due south of Waukegan off of the Great Lakes Naval
Training Center. We launched at 4AM and stated trolling at 4:45AM and hooked up
right away on 8lb-15lb level wind reels. Set up the troll at 1.5mph-2.3mph with downriggers(an 8oz weight set 6
feet above the lure/dodger will work in lieu of the downrigger) and use a 000 dodger set 18” above a purple
fly or purple spinner bait skirt and 2 glow beads. The fish were 2feet to 10 feet above the bottom and
the fleet of boats will point you to the school. Later in the afternoon (11 AM
or so) when the morning bite hit 100ft of water and a deep and mid depth troll
for Steelhead using 4-3/8” floating Yo-Zuri’s or Rapalas in white/red and
yellow/orange behing 8oz weight or downrigger. The evening bite is short and right before sunset, but caps
off a long day nicely!
Root River, Racine, WI - April 2002
It was cold, snowy, and the water was high and very fast! There were a few nice steelies above the weir, but most were below, a glowball the key fly. Lots of baby browns to 10 inches on a variety of nymphs all over. We fished from the dam just above Northwestern Ave (hwy 38) through Colonial Park (which as very fishable) to the weirs at Lincoln Park and then to Horlick park then the harbor. For a first steelhead foray was not aweful.
- Spring weather on the big lake can be fickle or friendly, but the waters of Lake Michigan hold many eager smaller Coho ready hit a lure-provided you find the school. Unlike in the summer, these fish can be either in 40 feet of
water, or in 16 feet of water. Saturday started nicely with a 24 in Coho on a Crystal Minnow on 4lb test, but a fog bank
and rough water rolled in, making fishing tough for all of the rest of day (a Good GPS, a Compass, Depth finder, and Common Sense are a must on this big water-- note: the charter boats were catching tons in 45 feet-70 feet of water on orange 00 dodgers and green flies, but it was too far in the dense fog and too rough for my little craft
out there!).The next day was 180 degrees different, with sun and a light breeze, which moved the school out of
the deeper water and into the thick bait schools and 54 degree water (prime for Coho) near the power plant. A small wiggle wart (or any small fat bass crankbait that runs true at 2.3 mph and in florescent green and orange) worked like a charm on 4#-12# line. As a bonus we hooked but lost a nice brown in 8 feet of water on the wiggle wart right before heading back to the harbor to begin the long drive back to St Louis.
2001-Bagnell Dam below Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.
Water is warm,
actually 83 degrees F, since they are rarely running the dam, and as a result
the best action is sunrise and sunset. Fish live shad or shad strips on
the bottom near the dam for blue and channel catfish 1lb-5lbs, or nightcrawlers
for buffalo. Use small spoons near the dam, or live small shinners around
the islands in the river for crappie and white bass. Hope the first
frost come soon so we can hit the main lake for white bass!
Aug 3, 2001 San Diego CA
(actually 80 miles offshore southwest of San Clemente Island).
If you haven't had
the chance yet, take a 1-day (or longer) Outer Banks Tuna trip out of San
Diego-They are a blast! Our boat for the 1.5 day trip we took was the
Grande out of Point Loma (www.pointlomasportfishing.com),
and our target was Albacore. After departing at 10:00PM and spending an
hour loading the well full of frisky anchovies and sardines, we left the harbor
and cruised at speed to the fishing grounds, arriving at 5:20 AM. The
engines the slowed and as the cook started whipping up a batch of coffee and
omlets (excellent cook on this boat I might add!), we began a 7kt troll. The
game is troll to locate the scattered schools, then live chum the rest of his
buddies to the boat, where everyone else tosses a live bait to his boiling
schoolmates. When the bite stops, trolling begins again. While the
boat provides adequate trolling tackle and lures (a 4/0 penn senator with 50lb
test and a Zuckers Tuna Feather in Zucchini rigged with a double hook), if you
bring your own I recommend a 40lb outfit and use the lure above or a
Sevenstrand Tuna Clone in the same colors. Every angler on the boat rotates
through the trolling rotation, 4 rods out the back at a time. Upon
hook-up, the mates toss in a few anchovies to bring up the rest of the tuna
school, and ready anglers (not already fighting a fish hooked on the
troll) toss out and freeline a the liveliest anchovy they can find on 10lb-25lb
gear ( Penn 555 or 545/535 or 3/0 or Penn 8500/9500SS or 740Z then tie
the line straight to a #4-#2 high strength, hyper sharp, live bait
hook-don't scrimp on these-go ahead and pay the $3 for 5 they cost--trust
me--and 6 feet above the hook add a rubber core 1/4oz sinker). Walk with
the bait as it slowly swims away from the boat, keeping your reel in
freespool. The take is lightening quick, so be ready! upon the take wait
2 seconds then engage the drag and hang on. An albacore will blister off (literally
as on of my little bros found out when he tried to thumb the spool) 50yds of
line for each 8lbs of fish on the first run (i.e. a 32 lb fish will take 200yds
of your line before you can gain any), and they make more than one run!
Not that Albacore are the only beasties out there, as bluefin tuna in the
10lb-100lb range often join the party, followed by yellowfins (5lbs-40lbs),
yellowtails (8lbs-25lbs), and dorado (aka mahi-mahi 2lbs-20lbs). Another
set of visitors to the boat as evening draws near are the Blue and
sometime Mako sharks, who prowl waiting for a misplaced bait or small
tuna to snack on. We ended up with more than enough tuna and yellowtail for
many fish dinners to come, and memories that will last a long time. Can't
wait for the next trip!!!
Apr 12, 2001 Jetty Park Pier,
Port Canaveral Florida.
I love a two coast trip, and if you center at
Orlando, you can easily fish both the Gulf and Atlantic in a week long
trip. Thanks to warm water, Spanish Mackeral have taken up residence on
the high tide in the pass, and are great fun on light tackle (4lb-8lb test) and
the fly (6-8wgt, white/yellow streamers). These early fish are leader
shy, so a short(6") 20-25lb flourocarbon leader will keep your lure on
most of the time. Other fishes around this pier include silver jennys,
midshipmen, and assorted small fry, with a shark or snook possible at
night. A great feature of this pier is also that is is one of the very
best places to watch a rocket launch from Cape Kennedy, which is just across
A few pics to enjoy
(including two shots from EPCOT)
Apr 11 and 13th, 2001
The water is still a touch cold for the tarpon this
area is famous for (though this time last year they where here), but the
speckled trout, spanish mackeral, and small cobia have appeared off the
Gulf grassbeds between the river mouth and St. Martins Islands. A Power
Sand eel in pepper/charturese fished as a twitchbait (no weight, worm-stlye
offset hook-3/0) will get all three species interested, with occasional whacks
from Bank sea bass and ladyfish. Up the river below the spring, the
mangrove snapper are still plentiful, and on the oyster bars on the channel
edges, sheepheads can be caught on live shrimp. Offshore, black and gag
grouper can be trolled up from 30 feet of water, and channel markers in 20
feet+ hold larger cobia.
pics to enjoy (including two shots from EPCOT)
Lake Carlyle Spillway,
Carlyle, Illinois, March 30, 2001
The winter is finally over here in the midwest, and
the white bass, walleye, crappie, and sauger hae started feeding with a
vengance! Just below the suspension bridge is the payoff area, and
rooster tails, and 1.5" green/silver crappie tube jigs are the payoff
lures. This is prime ultralight action, but the occasional 3 lb sauger or
7lb walleye may want to make you use 4lb gear instead of 2lb.
Dec 26-31 2000 San
Escape the snow of the north and head to sunny San
Diego, where the weather is 70 degrees almost every day (except in the morning
when it is COLD). Yellowtails, Rockfish, Mackeral, and Sand Bass are the
ticket for the half day and 3/4 day boats out of Pt. Loma, or bonito out of
half day boats provided lots of light tackle fun with "frogs"
(Pacific Mackeral) in the 1-3lb range, which usually suspended just out of
sight range under the boat. Below them, drop a 1oz to 2oz jig head
and power sand eel, bass assasin, or fluke, and slowly bounce it on the
bottom (8lb test-12lb test is best here) for nice sand and calico
bass. Another technique that was very effective was to rig a 1/4oz
jig head and small power bass minnow or fluke a foot behind a 2oz weight
on a dropper loop. Finially, the jig and bug (see my techniques section),
if ou can get it past the macks, will work for Rockfish.
3/4 days , if they go out to the Islands, are Yellowtail trips, and an
angler would be well advised to bring a fighting belt and 15lb-30lb class
gear (must hold at least 300yds of line!). The payoff technique is
one of the most exhausting techniques in fishing: The yo-yo. Take a
Tady 4/0-6/0, Salas 6x, or UFO Ironman 5 or 6 in Chartruese/green (use a
marker to put eyes on it first) or scrambled egg, tie it stright to your
line, and freespool it to the bottom. Once one the bottom, start
cranking at high speed to the surface. If it gets hit (you will have
no doubt when it happens), work the fish by cranking or with very short
pumps to the surface. You will have a mate at your side the second
after you hook up and they will coach you past fellow anglers lines and
around sea lions who would love to eat your fish.
piers and fairly slow, with Sand Perch and Lobsters (if you have a
measring gauge, a trap, and a stamp) being the primary catch from Ocean
Beach. The sand perch are easy on fresh bay ghost shrimp on size #10
hooks near the pilings near breakers.
are a few pics for your enjoyment!
October 00 Destin Florida
(Pass, Pier, and Boats)
A lack of fresh water input into the Gulf has slown
down fishing quite a bit, but if you have a flyrod and a few clousers or shrimp
flies, the jetties and pass will provide quite a bit of fly rod fun. A
size #2 white marabou clouser, or a clipped back crazy charlie in #4 cast near
the rocks, allowed to settle, then stripped back will get hit by mangrove
snappers, baby jack crevalle, baby groupers, and bluefish. I would use a 8lb
tippet to avoid getting cut off in the rocks by this catch and release fishery.
On the pier, a half-ounce jig head and power sand eel
body in cajun/chartruese is the ticket for a mixed bag of spanish mackerel and
ladyfish, especially at sunset.
24 September 00
Near Rosati MO-Meramec Trophy Trout Area.
Since the canoes of summer have finally given the
river a breather, the browns have decided to feed full force, and the near
totally catch and release format of the trophy trout area provides ample
fishing room. The pools are deep and long and numerous release size
browns 8"-14" smashed plugs (with the trebles replaced by barbless
singles), cracklebacks, and mayfly patterns in late afternoon and sunset.
Concentrate at the head and tails of the pools and around overhangs.
August 00 Winfield MO
The slough is low and shad hard to find, but if
you put a 4" one (dead) into the main river on the bottom, the drum
and cats will repond. After two break-offs on 20lb test due to the
very sharp rocks, we landed some nice drum in the 5lb range.
Buffalo, gar, and carp abound in the shallow slough, but corn and worms will
also get a reponse.
5-12 August 00 Lake
Carlyle Spillway, Carlyle IL
The gates are open and for two weeks in a row the
white bass are everywhere! Nearly every cast with a 1" pearl sassy shad
shad on 1/32oz jig set one foot below a weighted bobber, cast out into the
current, and retrieved slowly, gets wacked. Most of the bass are on the
small side, 6"-10". Intermixed are a few goldeyes and crappie
for variety. Pics next week (took with my regular camara so I I have to develop
22-23 July 00 Branson MO
Power generation is at a lull with the generators
comming online around noon, allowing for ample morning flyfishing opportunities
and evening spinning opportunities. Near the dam, beadhead nymphs in size
#16-18, gnats in #20, and yarnballs (glowballs) are the payoff flies for
numerous release sized rainbows 10"-20". The browns are few
during the day, but are more plentiful near dark and after dark. In the
deeper downstream waters below Falls Creek, creek chub and native shiners are
brown trout candy, yielding many 12"-20" (also release sized).
Alternatively, pitching a 4" suspending or floater/diver Rapala or Yo-Zuri
in silver/black at sunset near structure and weedlines also pick the
browns. I reccomend clipping off at least one point/treble on the
crankbaits, and de-barbing the rest for eash brown trout release. As
always, powerbait nuggets, and worms,fished on 2# test in the bait areas
below Falls Creek (main street, and Branson parks) produce numerous stocker
rainbows fit for a trout dinner.
12 July 00 Busch
Wildlife Area Lake 34, Weldon Springs MO.
Due to good care by the MO Dept. of Conservation and
careful management, many of the lakes at Busch Wildlife Area offer good fishing
accessable to everyone. Lake 34 hosts largemoth bass, hybrid bass (very
few), channel catfish, and bluegill. The bass fishing is good if you are
willing to hike, or if you rent one of the row boats ($8/day) and chase the
schools of surface feeding fish. THe catfishing is excellent on the
surface near sunset and after sunrise using minnows(especially dead cut shad
and live green sunfish), stinkbaits, livers, and worms around submerged
trees or weedlines near dropoffs (cast about 10 yards off the shoreline near
trees, fsh bottom in mid-day).. The bluegill are pleniful and off good
ultralight targets nearly all day on crickets, grasshoppers, red worms, meal
worms, and assorted ultralight and flyrod lures (chartruese and black or
black/gold patterns and lures).
30 June 00-5 July 00
Lake Taneycomo (Branson, Forsyth MO)
While the water was low in prior weeks, preventing stocking,
rain now put the lakes at or near full pool, and water releases resumed.
The release of water from the bottom of Table Rock Lake is like a cold water
injection to Taneycomo, bringing the lake temp down to the 50's and lower 60's,
and energizing the remaining trout. Also, due to the lower lake temps
from the water releases, stocking of 12" rainbows resumed July 3. Up
until the third, the only way to catch trout was this: around 1:00 AM-4:00 AM,
use calume sticks attched to strke indicators and drift glo-balls (yarn egg
imitations), bead head caddis pupae, and scud imitations below the hatchery
outlets, and toss wooly-boogers, with a calume stick 12" above, into
the the current. These methods produced good fish, but requires a sweatshirt
(yes, cold in the summer!-while the air in Branson is 80 with 90% humidity, it
is foggy and 60 within 10 feet of the water's surface). However, once the
fish got used to the regular flow of water (9:00 AM the generators came
on), and the stockers began to feed, a good dry fly bite began in the morning
5:00 AM-9:00AM. Cracklebacks (chartruese w/brown hackle) floated high were easy
meals for 10"-14" rainbows, while bead head caddis pupae fished 7'
below an indicator was good for the first hour after the water began to rise.
Now that stocking has resumed there should also be a good afternoon bite in the
bait areas downstream near Main Street and the parks.
24 June 00 Lake Carlyle
Spillway (Detect a trand here?)
With no water comming from the dam after 10:00 AM,
and while dodging tornadoes and thunderstorms, the daytime fishing was not as
good as normal. The fish were not into school rigs (no flow, no school
rig bites), but would hit a worm drifted on a boober along the walls and
rocks. The best action yet however, was after dark. Large schools
of buffalo began slurping insects off the surface, exposing their snouts like
so many trained carp. A good cast and drift from a 6wgt flyrod equiped
with 6-8lb tippet and #12/14 popper or caddis dry fly resulted in a quick hook
up and long battle with large fish!! We each let go several fish (one of
which would have nicely filled the IGFA vacancy for bigmouth buffalo on 8lb
tippet, next time I bring a scale and camera!!!).
18 June 00 Chain of
The water is high, but the sturgeon are biting deep,
and the drum are right up against the flooded grass. A cricket or baby
nightcrawler on a bobber (set the #4 hook down 4-5feet) drifted next to the
flooded grass will produce lots of drum and carp.
17 June 00
Lake Carlyle Spillway IL
Ditto of previous week, but a bit slower due to
reduced water output. Lots of bigheads to catch, along with a few white
bass, all on school rigs as discussed previously..
10/11 June 00 Lake
Carlyle IL Spillway
Wow. This place made the chain of rocks look
fish poor. Live shad tossed below the dam yielded numerous sauger, drum
(1-4lbs), walleye, and Gar. Worms and small minnows dangled near the
banks yielded lots of little bluegill and decent Crappie. HOWEVER, tossing
a baitfinder rig with two loops armed with #4 hooks and sm green tube jig
bodies (known as a bait rig in saltwater or a school rig in the midwest
yielded impressive numbers of buffalos (to 8lbs), white bass, yellow bass,
crappies, and massive bighead carp which bash the jig bodies heartily. A
hookup with the bigheads (aka chinese carp, an exotic species introduced 15
years ago accidentaly) and you will either be snapped, or enjoy a 20 minute
battle on light tackle to land one (6lb-8lb test for a 30lb-40lb fish is tough
but possible). By the way, if you want to keep any fish for dinner, let
go the native fishes and keep as many bigheads as you can, since they complete
with the white bass and buffalo for food and space.
3/4 June 00 Chain of
Rocks (IL side) Mississippi River, Granite City IL
Sturgeon, Flathead Catfish, Gar, Drum, White bass.
Rapids on this section of the lower Mississippi RIver
are a rarity, but where they are, fish are also! The current is
extrememly strong, but casts into the whirlpool edges using 4oz bank weights,
size 2 hooks, and nightcrawlers yielded lots of shovelnosed sturgeon in the
2lb-6lb range. Downstream, live shad at dusk yielded large flatheads
around wingdams, while the hsallow sandy stretches produced drums
6"-24" on worms. The white bass were few and small, but would
take small tube jigs.
26 May 00 Sand
Slough, Winfield MO
Lots of Gar and carp wait the angler willing to toss
fresh shad or corn into the channel. We caught dowens of 1lb-3lb carp on
corn and dozens of 3lb-6lb shortnose gar on live 3" shad.
19 May 00 Busch WIldlife
Area, St. Charles County, MO
Late many sees many post spawn bass in this area, and
nearly all the lakes in Busch Wildlife Area are loaded with them (especially
the catch and release lakes). the Largemouth, crappie, and redears were
easy pickings on very small jigs and black woolyworms (size 6), Joes Hoppers,
and poppers (size 10). Fish windblown points with rocks and grass banks,
as the fish eagerly await grasshoppers blown in from the grass.
00 A Lake Spillway in St. Charles County.
Now I couldn't give you all of my favorite
spots! This spot is accessable due to a highway easement and commuter
lot, but it resembles many spillways in its fishing characteristics.
During the late spring and early summer, fish swim up the creek to relish the
comparitive cooler and oxygenated waters of the spillway. They also enjoy
feeding on the fish and insects washed over the dam. Here, there were
numerous carp, crappies, and sunfish that readily hit woolyworms and poppers.
8 May 00
Above Bagnall Dam, Lake of the Ozarks MO
While fishing below the dam is slow, an on-comming
low pressure system (followed by a deluge that flash flooded many fellow
anglers in Jefferson County) triggered explosive action from Largemouth in the
1lb-4lb range right on top! A 3" bass assassin (phantom colored)
fished quickly along the drop offs above the dam provided constant bass action
until we were forced in by the downpour. Earlier, wolly worms provided
action from both sunfish (green sufish and bluegill) and bass along the rocks.
1/2 May 00 Jefferson
County Big River Public Access near Union MO
Largemouth/Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, and Carp are
the targets downstream from the swimming area. The Largemouth will
take a 4" white rubber worm (texas-style rigging w/1/4oz bullet weight)
tossed into downed trees, while worms fished on size #8 hooks below a
split-shot weight accounted for carp and bluegill.
23 April 00 Busch
Wildlife Area (Lake 33) Weldon Springs MO
Largemouth Bass, bluegill and Crappie are great fun
on flyrod poppers! The evenings (just before and after sunset) are seeing
heavy 'bug' activity, making for easy pickings using a #8 Pecks Blugill Special
(minus the rubber legs) tossed along the rocky shorelines near fish feeding
activty (can't miss all the splashing). Short, quick strips are the key.
If you don't have a flyrod, don't fret: just use an ultalight spinning rod, and
rig a small bobber or piece of floating plastic worm 2-3 feet above the popper
and you will see the same result.
15/16 Apr 00 Bagnall Dam
(above and below) Lake of the OZarks and Osage River, MO
With spring and and hydroelectric power comes the
wonder of Hybrid and White bass feeding sprees (the hybrids are stocked
annually). While most of the big brusers hung out directly around the
generators (in plain view from the look out platform above) most of the time, a
good hour of rising water from the generators puts the fish with in reach of
legal bank anglers and all boat anglers. 4lb-8lb test with a 1oz
kastmaster (or similar jigging spoon) fished well out into the current and in
close contact with the bottom (yes you will need to have several on hand as the
rocks will claim their share) will produce white bass from 1lb-4lbs and hybrids
from 4lbs-12lbs. Above the dam, a sinking woolyworm or 1/32oz jig
produced numerous sunfish including bluegill and crappie around rocky points
and coves near deep water.
8 Apr 00 Winfield MO -Sand
What fun one can have on a post cold front day with
ultralight tackle and a can of corn. First take a handful (check the
legality of this before doing it) of the corn and pitch it into a likely carp
holding spot, then wait 30 minutes. Next, using a #6 hook on 2lb-6lb line
and with a small splitshot 12" above the hook, thread corn onto the hook
until covered. Toss the bait into the water and enjoy! We caught
and released about 30 1lb-3lb carp a piece from this spot, turning a post cold
front blowout into a light tackle bonanaza (too bad there is a fish advisory
for carp from the Mississippi River, or a few of these little carp would have become
dinner-as a non resident species the River could have done ok minus a few).
2 Apr 00 Otter lake IL
(from Uncle Johnny)
I help catch on Otter lake with the dept. of natural
resources. It was 4 inches to short for a
keeper. They have to be 48. Didn't know that there
were any fish that big in Ill. Will send some of
the saltwater ones latter.
Mar-1Apr 00 Busch Wildlife Area
The largemouth bass are biting finally, and the big
girls are hanging on drop offs near shallow flats or rocks. In the
shallow lakes, a zipper worm or bass assassin fished slow will produce, while
in deeper lakes with rip-rap shorelines, jigs or 4" suspending crankbaits
also fished slow work. We c/r'd several bass in the 1lb-3lb range with
one or two in the 4lb+ range on lakes 33 and 27.
22-24 Mar 00 Lake
Tanneycomo, Branson MO: Trout everywhere
in the area below the Table Rock Dam. While the browns are hitting well
in the mornings and evening on any minnow-like lure (white and black bead head
woolyboogers, 3" floating and suspending rapala husky jerks and rebel
mystics), the rainbows are all day hitters. Use 1/2" weighted peach
glowballs, #18 scuds and shrimp imitations, and in the evening #18 caddises.
18-20 2000 Offshore Baja California, Mexico (Corondo Islands to Pescadero BC)
aboard the Legend.
If you want true hardcore angling, winter yo-yo
fishing for California Yellowtails is it! We took off at 8:00 PM from Seaforth
Landing in Mission Bay San Diego, and after hiting the bunk for a rough nights
sleep (as the boat bounded through the unsettled Pacific) woke up at 3:00 am
PST (a good thing about jet lag here-me and my little bro thought it was 5:00
AM) to pick off a few straggling Barred Sand Bass while the boat was at anchor
behind the northernmost of the Coronado Islands on chunks of fresh sardine
fished with a sliding egg sinker above a 2/0 hook. As day broke,
the captain raised anchor and we began the day search for schools of Yellow
tail. The routine is something like this: 1) The capatin slows down and
spots a school 80 feet down, 2) the mate begins tossing live sardines out
the back to pull the fish to the boat, 3) the boat slides to a slow drift, and
you toss your 5oz Iron jigs (Salas 6x, Iron Man, Tady in Blue/Chrome or
Scrambled egg) out to the side on 30lb gear, 4) your jig hits near the bottom
or at a count specified by the skipper whense you begin reelling at warp
9 until your jig either is wacked by a fish or it returns to the surface
5) either you spend 5 minutes battling a 'YT' or you repeat steps 3-4 until the
captain decides to move to another spot (hense the term yo-yo fishing-drop and
retrive the jig like a yo-yo). This routine goes the entire first day
with only one yellowtail landed (by hans-half the fun is meeting the other hard
core anglers on the boat-11 others in this case). After another ride (during
which I again bunked) to Pescadero, and night at anchor, my bro and I again did
the 3 am shift on the barred sand bass (about 3lbs). The sea was much rougher
than the previous day with open water swells at 8 feet. We started the
day at 6:00 AM with a cruise to anchor over a few kelp beds a 1/2 mile off the
beach for a few rockfish (in season south of the border but closed season in
California in the US). By noon we again were headed to the islands
through a few squalls and very rough seas (It took a serious effort on my part
not to be sick between fishing stops-and I NEVER GET SEASICK-IT WAS THAT
ROUGH!!!). We again yo-yo fished around the northern Coronado Islands
(while grabbing the rail) with one good bit