Sunday, April 6, 2014

First fishing trip of the year

Rock Creek Lake: 6.35#

Saturday, April 6th, marked the first day of the year for some long casting.  Hot Rod Baits was holding an open bass tournament at Rock Creek Lake, and that is where I wanted to be.  It was the first time out in the boat, and quite honestly I wasn't sure I was ready for the open water season.  The ice season, although very long, seemed it could have just continued and I would have been fine with it.  However, Mother Nature was slowly turning the clock to spring and the open water season had begun.
Rock Creek Lake is known for some huge bass, and that is what many people had high hopes of on this chilly day.  Air temperatures ranged from 28-50 degrees and water temperatures were between 42-47 degrees.  As I told my partner, Zach Maxfield on the trip down to the lake, I was looking for one bite.
That one bite came at about 11am, 2 hours after we started.  It was the usual soft early spring bite, and when I set the hook and the fish pulled back drag on the Quantum Energy PT reel, all I could say is..."it's a good one".  Zach quickly got the net, and scooped the bass in rather quickly.  The battle only lasted a few seconds, which seemed like minutes, but when Zach lifted the bass into the boat, we both just looked at each other.  It was big...at the time we didn't know how big, I just wanted to get a quick picture and get the fish into the livewell as soon as possible.  We didn't touch the fish until weigh-in time, trying to leave it alone so it could relax.  Zach and I talked about how big we thought it might be, and we thought maybe six pounds, but it is so hard to tell without a scale measurement.
The weigh-in came and it was 6.35#.  I caught another one shortly after that big one that was about 3.50# too.  Both bass came on a Hot Rod Baits Big Daddy in the bruizer color rigged Texas style.  When I saw the scale reach six pounds, and then it just went up from there and settled on 6.35, I was ecstatic.  That fish is the biggest bass I have ever caught in my life.  I have caught two other bass over six pounds, but not as big as this one.  A proud day for me, and one I won't forget for a long time.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

One LAST time

Today, sadly, was my last day of ice fishing for the 2013-2014 ice fishing season.  A season that started back on the weekend of Thanksgiving in Northeast Iowa, has come to an end.  It was a great ice fishing season, I was able to get the snowmobile out quite early on the lakes allowing me a lot of mobility, the way I like to ice fish.  Here is the long list areas I ice fished: 3 farm ponds, Rock Creek Lake, Hickory Grove Lake, Big Creek Lake, Otter Creek Lake, Red Rock Lake, 2 different private quarries, and Sun Valley Lake.  I didn't get to reach out and try as many different lakes as I wanted to, mostly due to bad weather on the weekends.  However, 11 different bodies of water is good, as much of my ice time was devoted to tournaments on Big Creek, Rock Creek and Hickory Grove lake.
On to today, the last ice day of the season found me at Otter Creek.  I have been here several times this month, for one it is a short trip, and the ice has been very thick and the fish have been cooperative.  It wasn't my best day on the ice, but managed some Yellow Bass, a few gills, and some more time on the ice with a new ice fishing friend, Jacy.
It is always bittersweet on that last ride home, knowing that it will be at least November until I am "walking on water" again.  However, the open water season, and the bass tournament season is just around the corner, it is time to transfer my focus to the boat, and the open water gear.    

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mid-March Iceing

Jacy showing a couple nice
keeper Yellow Bass

In most years, the middle March would find me in the boat casting for bass, not this year!  The ice is still good at certain places around Central Iowa, but you must pick your areas and "know" the ice.  Yesterday, my friend Jacy Large and I headed to Otter Creek Lake to search for some last-ice fishing.
We were not disappointed in what we found.  We fished in waters from 5 feet all the way to 14 feet of water.  We caught quite a few Crappies, a Bluegill, a few Largemouth Bass and a lot of Yellow Bass.
Some people reading, probably just took a double-take at that last fish.  A yellow bass is a fish that looks like a white bass or stripped bass, fights like a smallmouth bass, and tastes as good as any freshwater fish.  In all, it is a GREAT fish, however they are considered a "nuisance" fish.  They will, in time take over a lake and become stunted themselves.  They are ferocious feeders, excellent breeders and will eventually throw off the ecosystem of any lake and become a huge problem.  They become such a problem that the DNR will take the lake, kill it off, drain it and have to start the whole lake over, causing many years of no fishing for areas residents and wasting many fish.  So to say they are great fish, is actually wrong, because in the end they only cause problems for our lakes.  However, when given lemons, make lemonade, so while they are around, anglers might as well take advantage of their fishing action and their great taste.  To encourage people to keep ALL Yellow Bass, the DNR wants you to keep every one of them that you catch, there is NO daily limit on them like other fish species.  More information on Yellow Bass can be found here: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/IowaFishSpecies/FishDetails.aspx?SpeciesCode=YLB

Keeping all the Yellow Bass and releasing all other species is
 the best thing to do at lakes infested with the nuisance species.

We helped do our part by taking out 60-70 Yellow Bass.  Some were given to other anglers on the lake, Jacy kept some for a family meal, I gave a meal to my neighbor and still had 40 fillets for a fish fry in the near future with friends.  Yellow Bass are fun to catch, but please take some time to learn about them and try your best never to spread any invasive species to waters you fish.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Family Ice Fishing FUN

Another youngster "Hooked"

 on Ice Fishing

My brother Tim has a boy who loves being outside and active.   For the past couple years I have tried to get him out on the ice, but it seems like the weather just never cooperated for a young boy to get out and enjoy the sport...he was due for a ice fishing trip.  On this weekend though, things turned out just right.  We headed to a private lake to try some ice fishing, the first time for him.  He was intrigued, and very inquisitive about the whole process of drilling holes and trying to find out where the fish might be swimming.  My nephew is a bright, and very mature kid, and like other kids I've taken out on the ice he learned how to use the Vexilar in the matter of seconds.  He loved watching his jig go up and down and the occasional fish swim up to take a look at his bait.  Although he didn't reel any in that day, he was smiling throughout the 2 hour trip.  I was lucky enough to hook into something big that day, so I told him to come help me out.  He moved the Vexilar out of the way, and watched me the battle the big fish.  When it was all done, he was proud to hold up as a small victory for our trip.  We only caught a couple of fish, but I know if the occasion ever comes up again, he would race for the truck with his snow gear on!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One last time at "The Rock"

Not the best picture, but a nice Rock Creek Lake crappie

I headed out to Rock Creek Lake one last time this weekend to meet up with a fellow ice angler really starting to get "bit" by the ice fishing bug.  The temps were in the single digits, and with the north wind, the windchill was well below -10 degrees.
I was the first to arrive at the lake, and hit a couple new areas, I try to do this each time out on a familiar lake, because you can never know your local lakes too well.  I caught a few smaller ones, but the new areas weren't impressive.  Now I know.
Jacy showed up and we quickly jumped to an area that I knew would be a good for some fish.  It didn't disappoint.  Crappies, bluegills, and a few bass showed themselves that morning.  All were a very welcome site for us.  We had settled into Jacy's shack, a roomy 2-man Clam Warrior shack.  A small heater kept us just right in the shack.  We had to change up colors several times, but finally figured that oranges, and chartreuse colors were the deal for the day.
It was a great morning to challenge Mother Nature, and being March 1st, you just never know how many more days on the ice you will get.  I was very pleased with the fish we caught and Jacy ended up with a nice mess for a family fry.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Team Extreme February Ice Tournament

The Team Extreme Ice Fishing Tournament trail came to Rock Creek Lake last Sunday.  Partner Mark Anderson and I had decided to fish this a long time ago and the time was finally here.  Both Mark and I spent quite a bit of time preparing for this event, either studying maps, GPS coordinates, or time on the ice.  We both were pretty anxious to get this tournament going and see where we placed against some of the best ice anglers in the state.
We put together a game plan, knowing that some of our fishing areas would probably be a secret and not fished by competitors.  Our plan worked great.  We started fishing in deeper water near some brush.  The limit for each team for this event was 8 bluegills and 8 crappies.  We had this filled in about 25 minutes.  The size of those fish weren't huge, but it is always a relief to get the limit covered.  We kept fishing hard all day long, which was made easy, as the Vexilar FLX-28's were lit up all day long.  We hopped around the lake and hit 6 different areas.  Some we hit a second time.  We were catching fish at each area, but we honed in on a couple main areas that were in deeper water.
We had discussed before the event that the bluegills are more scarce in the lake and would be the key to victory.  This was very evident come weigh-in time.  Almost every team had the double limit of panfish, which surprised me a little bit.  However, team after team weighed in and the gills were definitely on the small side.  We had some nice 8+ inch gills which outweighed our crappies.  We ended up with 6.93# for our 16 panfish, we ended up 2nd place.  First place had 7.14# which was anchored by a 1.30# crappie.  A huge crappie for this lake, and congrats to them for catching it.  It was a great tournament, and our plan came together wonderfully, and another great placing for Mark and I.  


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ice Fishing TV show

February 13th marked the day for filming a TV show for our local cable channel McTV.  Producer Steve Muntz once again did a wonderful job of getting some good footage of fish catches and helping viewers understand the sport of ice fishing.  I offered several tips to anglers for fishing in this "slow" time of the winter.  I hope you enjoy it, and learn a few things about ice fishing




As always, we were using VEXILAR electronics to find and catch fish throughout the winter.