Iowa Fly Fisher

 Yes, fly fishing in Iowa 


Chad's online fishing journal. Look here for angling notes that will help you catch more fish around Iowa with fly tackle.

view:  full / summary

White River Heat 8 wt. review

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)
Flashback to Spring Lake last summer on the Mississippi near Savannah, Ill. The musclebound 8 wt. (the one with oversized spinning guides instead of snake guides for easier use with shooting heads) with which I cast the meaty, waterlogged Cermele Slopbuster in hopes of yanking a thrashing bowfin from the dreaded lotus jungle became broomstick useless when I found bowfin at very close range around that footbridge and had to scale the fly way down. Forced to windmill, the fly landed with a fish-scattering "splat". I though of my trusty, old, mahogany-handled 7 wt. back in the Jeep, the tip broke a few years ago and the repair stiffened it - going back for it wouldn't make a great difference, so I switched to the 5 wt. I'd brought along for bass and gar, knowing if I did get a solid hookset on a bowfin it would plow powerfully into the weeds and probably break off with little I could do to stop it. Turned out not to matter, I never got a solid hookset.

When Chad offered his 8 wt. White River (Bass Pro Shop) Heat with a size heavier line for sale, I was skeptical having criticized the 9 wt. model for being chunky and broomstickish at close range. (Granted in certain circumstances within a kayak a person could water load it, etc., and when properly loaded with a massive fly or heavy shooting head it is a very powerful rod which I'm keeping as a muskie rod.) But Chad sent a video which looked pretty good and to shorten the story it is much smoother at close range than the 9wt. while retaining plenty of run-stopping strength in the mid section. I think the difference comes down to the fact that both rods are the same length, so the heavier built 9 wt. doesn't transition as smoothly into the casting part of the tip as the 8 wt. And, though the 8 wt. is only 7'10" distance isn't much trouble, standing with legs apart and shifting my body from one leg to the other I cast the entire line - don't know exactly how long but long enough.

"Big Riffle" to Middle Raccoon access

Posted on August 26, 2017 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (3)

The rain up north this morning looked, on radar, a bit more substantial than yesterday's forecast called for so I went west to the Middle Raccon and am glad I did. Launched at Middle Raccoon access and went upstream.  The level, 4 ft., the river a bit green, but visibility 2 ft. or more.  This section has many downed trees from prolonged high water in previous years.  The smallmouth were concentrated in major  pools,  Secondary pools and riffle pockets held only 10" or smaller bass.  Some carp in the boulder runs, but for the most part they also idled in major pools, sending up occasional silt puffs, but mostly hidden.  The 10" year class is quite numerous, which is a good sign.

So it went through the soft bottmed pool above the access and the boulder run above that.  I had one good shot at a carp, but a 10" smallmouth stole the fly.  When I reached the outcrop below a couple small bass hit right away then a 15" bass....

... followed by a superb 18" smallie.

It felt like the good old days again, a few big ones, lots of juveniles, and carp were actually hard to catch.  The water felt cool, but all these fish jumped wildly and repeatedly. Below another 13-14" bass from the pool.

Above the outcrop is a series of boulder runs and low riffles. lots of the 10" bass through here, but few carp.

Finally a tailing carp along a marl and rock bank, I stalked it way down the bank curve casting to keep the leader away, it stayed always a step ahead, then when it paused long enough for me to sneak up close a 10" smallmouth stole the fly. But I was still happy to see the bass rebounding after all that flood, drought, flood.

The big riffle has eroded a bit lower and the upstream riffles and pools that used to hold carp are high and dry now.  Some small bass in the pockets around the riffle, the bend downstream from the big riffle had a wide mudflat with several carp on it.  After some missed follows and fish lost in the silt trails, I finally hooked a big carp which pulled the kayak upstream, then shot across the river and looked likely to descend a riffle.  Maybe I should have let it, but I palmed the reel and tried turning it and the 10# tippet broke - looked like maybe a windknot where it popped.

Water Quality in Iowa 2

Posted on August 16, 2017 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)
An explanation of amendment 1 and break down of funding outlays from a hypothetical 1% sales tax increase - all while catfishing.

Ft. Dodge, Deer Creek area II

Posted on August 14, 2017 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Launched at Deer Creek access on the Des Moines river above Fort Dodge.  Went downstream.  The area below Deer creek has rock bluffs and some nice off-current pockets.  Right at the mouth of Deer Creek, this little pike hit.  I don't think many large pike inhabit the river between Frank Gotch park and Ft. Dodge - the structure isn't conducive, too shallow, rocky and fast and a lack of major, deep, off-current eddies.

Downstream in the Ft. Dodge impoundment or upstream at the Frank Gotch impoundment, or further up in the Humboldt impoundment and on up to Rutland an its impoundent are better pike areas we've covered in previous years.

Along the rock bluff in the the background above I caught 3 smallmouth and 2 catfish.  With so many good spots it takes time. The #14 tan caddis reached blizzard proportions.  The visibility subsurface was down to a foot, with a little rain earlier, but mostly due to quite a bit more planktonic algae vs. last weekend.  Even this far north the river can and is going green and probably won't improve until we get prolonged cloudy weather or Fall arrives.  It wasn't going to be a good carp day. Carp, in pockets along the bluff browsed alternately on the bottom, the surface, and the middle of the water column.  Literally, every time I changed flies they changed feeding modes, keeping me always a step behind.  Got one follow, but eventually left in frustration.  Slippery groundwater seeps, loose, crumbly rock, omnivorous feeding modes, chasing carp here really tests your skills.

Upstream from Deer Creek the river straightens into a series of low riffles and long, flat carp runs.  Broken limestone covers the entire river bed. It's shallow, fast and in places you could probably wade across and never be more than knee deep.  Carp spooked from the boat along either bank and even mid river.  Finally I got out and stalked a series of rocky pockets below the C56(120th st.) bridge.  Another catfish (pictured below), but between loose rock, bad casts and low visibility, I spooked carp after carp.

To the right of the right side of the picture above several large rocks formed a partial riffle and a carp tailed in the fast current there, but I crept past it in favor of easier targets tailing in slower water.  I hooked one which ran out a bunch of line, wrapped it around a boulder and shook free.  Eventually I spooked the rest of the carp along entire bank and came back to the one still tailing in the riffle.  A ways out in fast water, but I cast, a furtive movement...   and a smallmouth stole the fly.

My chances slipped away, the visibility closed down as the sun set, it was over, but then the carp started tailing again this time close enough to reach mend.  A quick cast just above it, reach mend the line and leader upstream, let it sink, an excited swoosh of the tail, set the hook, Fish On!  A big one, strong in the current, the fight went on and on as the light faded. It didn't run out to the main channel, but kept diving into a knee deep, rock lined hole and spinning around fraying the leader, eventually I waded into the hole - keeping the fish out of it, up and down the bank it ran, again and again, but finally it tired.  There are differences between individual carp and this one looked like a confirmed riffle feeder, a big gnarly mouth, big hump on the shoulder, one pectoral fin missing, and a broom tail - quite a fighter and after all the long odds and frustration I felt incredibly pleased with it.


Des Moines river, Fort Dodge

Posted on August 6, 2017 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (5)

Put in at D14 access just north of Fort Dodge.  Very rocky - along both banks and the entire river bottom - generally shallow with many riffles. Right away I caught smallmouth, further down an off-current flat below a gravel bar showed silt trails of feeding carp, but not the actual carp. Recent rains reduced visibility to 14" in spite of a stable level just below the recommended range.

A little further down, by the Becker area the river slowed and deepened, things looked a bit pikish, but gave up another decent smallmouth instead.  I figured I was within the impounding effect of the dam a few bends downstream, but no, it was another large riffle. Turning upstream, the kayak surprised me, ascending most of the riffles.  If I found a tongue deep enough for the whole paddle, the dihedral hull kayak ascended it. On the way up I passed 2 empty, plastic bottles moving against the current.  Jug lining is popular between Frank Gotch park and Fort Dodge. One held a nice channel cat, the other a carp. With so much rock, the fish find food anywhere, even midriver.  While still casting parrallel to the bank much of the time, there were perpendicular situations. A second rod with a microskagit outfit helped, a switch rod might have been even better. Ground water from recent rain gurgled down the bank in many places.

Spooked a few carp, snagged a buffalo, but finally spotted a tailing carp, hauled out, stalked the bank, got the fly right in front of it.  A furtive movement from the side and a smallmouth stole the fly.

A #14 tan caddis flitting about in dense numbers.  Along the back of this foam covered eddy carp fed at the surface and I tied on a bushy caddis dry built on a #10 forged baitholder.  Would've been perfect for Chad's nymph and indicator rig, but I left the indicators at home.  No carp found the dry fly in the foam until I put it right in front of one, it gulped, the line twitched and I set the hook.  Big fish! and it shot for the strong current, wrapping the line around something on the way.  Splashing in thigh deep I poked around with the rod tip and freed the line as the backing knot zipped through the guides. Stumbling out past the chute on the left of the image above, I found good footing and made a stand, the fish bulldogging broadside in the current, the rod bent to the very cork.  The fight went on and on, when it finally came to hand, I found the fly snagged under a pectoral fin - disappointment, but still an awesome fight.

I hoped to reach Deer Creek access, but was nowhere near it as the light faded.  So many good spots - a few more smallmouth landed, one jumping 5 or 6 times.

Then a tailing carp - a cautious stalk along the slippery bank, the carp always moving a step ahead just as I came within range. Oh wait, here's another one idling in a shallow pocket, will it eat? Yes!

It does get local pressure (even saw another fly angler), but the smallmouth are doing ok. Waders and a good pair of wading boots would be a big improvement over the slippery old Crocs I wore.