|Posted on August 14, 2017 at 2:05 AM|
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.