Posts Tagged ‘Crappie’

Late Season Crappie!!!

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Today, I got out of bed at 5:20 AM.

Those of you who knew me in my youth must be shock at that statement. I used to sleep into 10 and 11 o’clock in the morning. But one of the gifts that fly fishing has given me is a knowledge of all the wonderful things that happen as the sun comes up. I have spent my whole life watching and looking at sunsets. They can be quite beautiful…

But they represent they end of a day. An almost pessimistic thought… the end.

Wanting to get up and fishing early early in the morning would have once been a foreign thought to me. I have always been a night owl, and my life and social life before fatherhood had taken place at night. As such, it would seem that fishing at the end of the day would be more comfortable for me. It often happens after all the day’s activities have come to an end. There would be no reason to rush to the lake; I could take my time on the water, and fish clear into the dark. Many times the only thing waiting for me after fishing is bed.

However, here is something that fly fishing has taught me about life:

Getting up early to fish has taught me to enjoy watching the world wake up. And this has become special to me…

Capture

It’s not that I have never been up in the morning and watched a sunrise; but enjoying one is something I have found through fly fishing. I my quest to find and catch fish, I have been refining my tactics any way I can. In the heat of the “dog-days” of summer, the best time to fish is at sunrise or sunset. Often the windows of good fishing are only at these times in the height of summer; and the feeding periods of fish can be intensely short.

Being on the water at the right time can definitely mean the difference between a great day and getting skunked.

Working in academia in the fall means the my work schedule is running at full capacity. Top that off with a young family and a three year old at home, and my evenings are often spoken for. Thus, my fishing addiction drives me out of the house to hit the fishing “window” at hours of the day a younger me would have baulked at.

Getting up at 5:20 AM means going to bed earlier, prepping my fishing tackle the night before, driving impatiently to the lake, and setting my gear up as fast as possible in the dark. All so I can be on the water and in place as light begins to break across the water.

This entire process seems counter intuitive to me… shouldn’t I be going faster when fishing at the end of the day when there are precious few minutes of light left? Shouldn’t I be more relaxed in the morning knowing there is a whole day ahead of me?

The whole world seems upside down…

I sense this as I wade into the water; a brand new feeling that not noticed in previous years of my life. Each time I stop and watch a sunrise as I am standing waist deep in water, an epiphany presents itself again. The optimism of a brand new day.

In the slow and lethargic pace of an evening fishing I pessimistically pretend that if I ignore the sunset, the day won’t end. But prepping my gear the night before and the excited pace to get out on the water early presents the optimism and excitement of a brand new day. This little realization relaxes and sooths me; as I watch the sunrise give birth to morning.

When I used to live the night life, I would always stay up into the early morning hours. Sometimes I would not go to bed until the hours I now wake up to fish. I never used to see the sunrise. I would only see it set…

And you never realize how depressing a world of sunsets can be. That is, until something grabs your soul and leads you into the morning sun…

And even the littlest catches can sometimes be the biggest events of the day…

Anglers may start their lives by chasing fish… but somehow they always hook up with something more.

Even if the fish are not biting.

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I am usually so busy at work that I don’t take very many vacation days. Not an issue, nor am I complaining. I love my job.

But I am about to max out my accumulated vacation days. And I have to use them, or lose them. My boss sent me and a co-worker an email this week that contained the following:

Gentlemen – what incredible team members you are!

And even though we find it difficult to ‘do without ya’ – YOU NEED TO GET AWAY!

YOU both deserve your deserved time!

Knowing how much you love fishing, I hope that you will watch the weather and as the opportunity presents itself, to find a way to BE GONE!  Even if it is a day here and there…

So I took her advice… and spend Monday and Tuesday this week “on vacation” at the lake…

Where else would I go?

So here are couple quick updates of those trips…

Day 1, Monday: Holmes Lake Park; Lincoln, NE

I had a couple of errands that I had to run on Monday, including spending part of the morning at the DMV. After that experience, I needed some fishing! (And it wasn’t even a bad DMV experience; comparatively speaking…)

I decided to fish Holmes Lake Park in the middle of Lincoln. It’s normally a crowded lake, but it holds a special place in my heart. I used to live down the road from it, and this is the lake I taught myself to fly fish on.

And it’s the closest lake with stocked trout…

I wasn’t planning on trout fishing, I thought the stockers would be long gone. I was just hoping to get into some bass, crappie, and maybe some nice bluegills.

I started off the trip with a nice little bass I plucked out of some timber. Always fun on the fly rod…

But as I was working my way around the lake, working all the “bass-ey” spots I could get a fly to while wading, I ran into a pleasant surprise…

I managed to hook into a nice rainbow trout… about 14 inches long!

Normally the trout are around 10 to 10.5″ when they are stocked… meaning this guy has probably been in the lake since the November stocking. The state also stocks the fish clear on the other side of the lake, way back in a cove… so I was surprised to find him clear over where I was fishing.

This particular trout was a big one as far as the stockers go… but he looked like he had narrowly escaped a larger fish that tried to eat him for lunch… he had bite marks on both sides.

Even though he is a put-and-take fish, I let him go. Nature might have the deck stacked against him this summer with it’s warm water; but he definitely won’t make it if I take him home…

As I continued working my way around the lake, my astonishment continued… I kept hooking into trout!!!

I ended up the day with 1 bass, 4 rainbow trout, and 1 bluegill…

And a nasty sunburn on both forearms…

Day 2, Tuesday: Wildwood Lake; Agnew, NE

Tuesday I had more time on my hands, so I decided to take the float tube on her maiden voyage for the spring! I spent the whole trip to the lake, and most of the time floating on it, singing “I’m On A Boat” by the Lonely Touch… Google the video and you will understand…

And I also packed the sunscreen this time… and a long sleeve shirt to protect my already burned arms…

The morning started off with a nice crappie…

And a lot of bluegills in the 8″ range… fun little fighters!

I like fishing Wildwood because it has a good bass population. I managed to get into a few small ones while I was on the water…

Break out the scales on those guys!!!

I also had a ton more crappies!

And finally, one really nice 9″ bluegill… I am closing in on that Master Angler Award for bluegill…

Overall, it was an awesome day on the water! But the real story of the day was what I did not catch…

That is the story for my next post.

Stay tuned! And until then, tight lines!

E

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When you catch so many fish on the same fly that they literally chew through the fly… the before and after on my size 12 Mickey Finn fly I was using for crappie fishing on my TenkaraUSA rod yesterday…

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Wow… has it really been 4 days since my last post???

At least fishing was hot tonight! Even if the weather and the water were not… The air temp was about 40 degrees; and the water wasn’t much warmer.

That didn’t stop me from hitting the water though…

Especially after a long day at work, nothing beats a hot bite! And to think, I was so mentally exhausted after work, I almost didn’t go out!

Now I am physically exhausted too… Where I found all my fish, I had to cast almost straight into a 15-25 mile per hour wind. I brought a wide variety of fly rods to the lake with me, but I settled on the new St. Croix Imperial 8 weight given the wind. And I needed every bit of it’s back bone to throw my Clouser Minnow into the water.

But it paid off well… for a few casts, I was catching a fish about every cast.

But the best part about a cold, windy day on the water?

No one else is insane enough to fish in this weather.

I had the whole lake virtually to myself.

I love being around people… that is why I love my job. But fly fishing is like a silent mediation for me. If you read on the internet, you can find lots of articles talking about the “zen” of fly fishing. And for me, that is exactly what fly fishing is. It’s a quite mediation, similar to what I imagine what some people feel while doing yoga. There is something almost magical about casting a fly that makes the soul feel better.

Especially when you hook up with fish after fish…

And then watch your trophy splash way…

Yep… Zen.

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Yesterday, the state stocked trout in Holmes Lake… and the first weekend of open water fishing continues!

It’s always neat to watch the trout actually get stocked into the lake. The first time I saw the trailer bring the trout, I was a little taken aback… it was not what I was expecting. I took a picture of it, but you probably need to blow it up to see it well…

It is kind of funny how they just open a pipe on the back of the trailer, and let them tumble out. I guess I was expecting something… not so cartoon-y. Like a trailer that backed all the way into the water and a big gate opens so the fish can just swim out.

But I digress…

There is always a crowd of people who gather to watch the stocking and try to catch the fish straight off the truck. The bitter cold and wind kept this springs crowd pretty small… and put the trout in a bad mood. Only three trout were caught while I was there… I was one of them… (Ha Ha Ha!). I caught the first fish ever on my new St. Croix Imperial Rod. Even though I only caught one fish, it was still a ton of fun. It was also fun seeing the look on everyone else’s faces when I hooked up with that trout!

Today, I hit the water again. With my pending tonsillectomy, I might not get many other chances at the trout before they are all gone. Plus the weather today was beautiful!

Since it was so windy yesterday, I wasn’t able to take my other new fishing pole out, but today I got my first crack at Tenkara Fly Fishing… Okay, first crack with a realistic expectation of catching a fish…

After about a half hour, I had my first Tenkara hook up…

My first crappie of the year! Okay, a little small, but after months of fishless fly fishing I will gladly take it.

And a couple of casts later…

My first trout on Tenkara!

The only bad thing about the whole weekend was this final fish took the hook right in his gills. Shortly after the picture he bled out… I knew he wasn’t going to make it to be released.

Now these are put and take trout. They are intended to be harvested because they will not last through the Nebraska summer and it’s 80 degree water.

I am not opposed to people harvesting fish. But I almost always release my fish. The reason why I enjoy fishing more than hunting is that you can release the animal unharmed at the end of the experience. Watching a fish swim away is one of my favorite parts of the experience. I do everything in my power to make sure that the fish I catch are unharmed… but rarely a fish will take a mortal wound.

This fish was one of them.

On the very rare instances that this happens, I harvest the fish. I feel it is better to bring a fish home then let it suffer, die, and rot in the lake; especially if it met its demise by my hand.

So for the first time in years, I brought a fish home and I cleaned it, breaded it, and ate it for lunch.

I am a meat eater, and as such I feel that it is important to occasionally take part in the entire process. The cooking, the cleaning, and even the kill… In order to ethically eat meat, I think one must understand and appreciate the entire process; especially the animal involved. When you see your meal come from the wild to the plate, I think you appreciate it more; and gain a much deeper understanding and respect for life.

In the end, the day was bittersweet. I had baked trout for lunch, and it did taste really good. But my soul would have much rather watched my lunch swim away…

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Something I have wanted to do for a while is put up some information on what works for me fly fishing… Today I started the first in this series. I have posted a page about the tactics and flies I use for Crappies. You can read more about it here… I have also added a menu at the top of the blog for quick reference.

I know that a good chunk of my readers don’t fish themselves, and that is okay. I don’t want to clutter up my main feed with a bunch of technical information. But this way my blog can still meet both of its goals… a little bit of the “how” to fly fish; but a lot of the “why” fly fish.

Hopefully this information I am adding inspires someone else to pick up a fly rod!

See you reviewing previous posts remembering what flies I used to catch certain fish!

E

Thanks to Wikicommons for the above image…

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