Posts Tagged ‘Holmes Lake’

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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I don’t know how many of my readers are actually Nebraska fishermen/women… but this is big news in my book. Even if it is a couple days old…

From the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission:

Game and Parks Announces Spring Trout Stocking Schedule
March 6, 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will stock catchable-size rainbow trout in several city ponds and lakes across the state this month.

The schedule, subject to change depending on conditions, includes date, location, approximate time of stocking, and quantity:

March 13 – Niobrara State Park (SP), 11:30 a.m., 750 trout

March 14 – CenturyLink Lake, Eugene T. Mahoney SP, 2,250; Fort Kearny State Recreation Area (SRA), 600; Windmill SRA No. 2, Gibbon, 300; Holdrege City Park, 1,400; Auble Pond, Ord, 700

March 15 – Auburn Rotary Club Lake, 1,300; Fremont SRA No. 2, 4,000

March 16 – TaHaZouka Park, Norfolk, 9:30 a.m., 1,400; Barnett Park, McCook, 10 a.m., 1,000; Ponca SP, 10:45 a.m., 900; Lake Halleck, Papillion, 11 a.m., 1,000; Pawnee Park West, Columbus, 11 a.m., 1,400; Curtis Golf Course, 11 a.m., 150; Holmes Lake, Lincoln, 11:30 a.m., 3,000; Steinhart Park, Nebraska City, 12:30 p.m., 1,000; Lexington City Park, 12:30 p.m., 750; Heartwell Park, Hastings, 2 p.m., 450

March 18 – Stanton Lake, Falls City, 200; Pawnee City Pond, 300; Humboldt City Park Lake, 350

Week of March 18 – Bridgeport SRA northwest, 1,400; Morrill sandpits: north, 1,350, middle, 450; Scottsbluff Zoo Pond, 900; Lake Ogallala, 2,000 (8,000 stocked on March 5); Terry’s Pit, Terrytown, 1,500; Elm Creek, 1,000; Ponca SP, 500; Fremont No. 2, 750

Trout fishing is an excellent activity for children and families, requiring only a basic rod and reel, hook, worm, and bobber. Small spinners and prepared baits also work well.

All anglers fishing in Nebraska, except residents under age 16, must have a fishing license. A park entry permit is required for each vehicle entering state parks, recreation areas and historical parks.

Now stocker trout are no wild trout. They are not too tough to catch; nor are they that smart. But they still are fun; especially when there is not good trout fishing within a couple hour drive.

And the spring trout stocking ussualy signals the start of open water fishing. Last year I got skunked on the spring trout stocking, but it was still fun chasing after them.

See you on the banks of Holmes Lake around noon Saturday!

E

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Back to the fly fishing!

I got a chance to go out for what is probably one of my final fishing trips of 2012. I might get a chance to go out next weekend, but that might be just about it for the year…

And I did manage to catch a couple of fish too!

These are what I refer to as a “low probability day”. With the cold weather, decreasing water temperatures, and decreasing amount of daylight most fish have moved beyond the range of my fly fishing tackle. As the weather grows colder, they will seek shelter in the deepest parts of the water… far away from where my gear can place a fly.

There are some exceptions… trout tend to be most active in cold water. And every once in a while, you’ll pick something else up to; like this bluegill.

Mostly I go out on days like this just to get away and relax. To think about things and clear my head. To just be outside…

There are lots of trips I make throughout the year when I go out on days that I know the fish won’t bite. But I still gear up and head out anyways…

Fishing is not about catching fish.

I have friends that would never go fishing because they say it is boring. That waiting for the fish to bite is too much to bear. I think a lot of people think that fishing would only be fun if you could pull fish after fish out of the water as soon as your line hit the water.

But would that really be fun? If fish were so… unelusive… that you could catch them with that ease?

Fishing on “low probability days” doesn’t mean that I expect to catch fish. Far from it. I actually expect not to catch fish…

I expect to think, relax, and to spend time working on my cast.

Catching a fish on a day that I am not supposed to catch any fish?

That is just icing on the cake.

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Back to the work grind… no time for a proper post.

So tonight I’ll leave you with an older photo from a fly fishing outing.

This picture is from October 16th, 2011; shortly after the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission stocked trout in Holmes Lake. It poped up on the background of my computer as I was working… I forgot how much I liked this picture. This is one of my pictures that I could look at for hours on end… A great fly fishing picture! It’s an action picture of me trying to remove the fly and release the trout for someone else to catch…

I think the fly I used is still in my fly box today…

See you after crunch time!

E

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