Fishing the Feeders

Thursday, August 30, 2012 , , 2 Comments

It has been a hot and terribly dry summer. Fishing has been, well it hasn't been the best, in fact it has been downright difficult this summer in Kansas. So last week Bret and I decided to try our luck at Clinton Lake at two of the feeders on a fly rod. At the first Bret hooked into a nice 8 lb Carp and had something break off that was really big and taking line fast. I think he learned his lesson on unnecessary reel palming that day. For me I got a 6 lb Channel Cat. Not a bad start to the day. 

8 lb Carp. Grub Pattern. 

6 lb Channel Cat. Carp Candy Fly. 

What a Cutie. 

After the first feeder we moved to the one by Clinton Marina. This feeder has been very slow lately and on that day proved true to that pattern. We only stayed for a half-hour or so and I landed a small Channel Cat. 

Channel Catfish. Jumping Catfish Nymph Fly Pattern. 


Bass Fishing With Skeeter

Thursday, August 30, 2012 0 Comments

Bret's high school social studies teacher and cross country coach came to visit us for a few days and I had the pleasure to be able to fish with him one afternoon. We first tried Lonestar, but unfortunately that came up pretty empty. So we moved to the local honey hole. Everyone caught several bass but Skeeter outfished us both. He caught most on an Original Rapala. Here are a few pictures. 

3 lb Largemouth from Bret. Wacky Rig. 

Skeeter with a 2 1/4 lb. Original Rapala. 


Iowa Driftless: Trout Run

Friday, August 10, 2012 , , , 3 Comments

We wanted to fish the Driftless on the way back from Lake Vermilion and debated between the Iowa side vs. the Minnesota side: eventually deciding on the Iowa side as we only had a half day and that seemed far too short a time to research and find new waters. That being said, the great thing about the Driftless is the numerous streams you can fish and even with this being our third visit within the past year to the Driftless there remain a multitude of streams on the Iowa side we have yet to fish. Had we had a day or two I would have liked to fish the French, if you remember from my last trip to the Driftless, this river skunked me and yet to date is perhaps the most intriguing and beautiful trout stream I have ever fished, but due to time and ease we settled on Trout Run just outside of Decorah.

Now I have to admit something. I was very hesitant to fish this stream. It is a stocker stream and due to its proximity to Decorah I imagined something along the lines of a Bennet Springs type experience: large crowds and idiot trout only willing to take glow balls. But I will eat my words and pride and admit I was very pleasantly surprised. Yes, the stream does start out at the hatchery like at Bennet but there the similarities quickly dissipate. We did run into a few people on the water, which on my two previous trips to the Driftless had never happened, but it was not crowded and for the majority of the afternoon we were on the water by ourselves. The stream itself is gorgeous, just like you would expect from the Driftless and I would highly recommend the middle segments, absolutely breathtaking. 

The highlight of the trip though was that my father caught his first fish on a fly rod! He has been learning over this past year and has made great improvements but unfortunately has not been able to get a bend in his rod. Finally he was successful though and caught two rainbows, I don't know who was more excited about this him or I. For myself I caught seven Rainbows and surprisingly one nice Brown.  

First trout of the day. Rainbow. Copper John. 

My Father's first fish ever on a fly rod. Size 18 Caddis Borealis. He could look a tad more excited though... 

View of Upper Segment of Trout Run, Near Hatchery. 

Upper Trout Run Rainbow. Copper John. We tried several different small midge and nymph patterns and found that those towards the smaller end, size 16 or less, and with a little flash proved most effective. 

Middle Section of Trout Run. 

New Species for Life List: White Sucker. 

Surprise, Surprise. 2 lb Brown. Put up a decent fight too! 

Great feeling to see this fish swim off! 

Middle segment of Trout Run. Under the bridge the water probably drops to 10-12'. There were some big fish lurking under there. In retrospect I wish I would have thrown a streamer under the bridge a few times to see what I could have picked up. 

Last fish of the trip, Rainbow on a Yellow Stimulator. Also first trout ever on topwater. Lots of fun. 


Lake Vermilion

Lake Vermilion is a beautiful lake in Northern Minnesota, 26 miles south of the Canadian border. With countless bays, over 350 islands, 61 square miles of water and trophy fish it is an anglers paradise. I first heard about Lake Vermillion two or three years ago while fishing the Saint Louis River for Muskie, which was known for a its beautiful scenery and big Muskie--ever since, my father and I have had in on our bucket list to fish. This July I made the eleven hour drive, met up with my father and fished Vermilion for four days. I was not disappointed. 

What you first come to appreciate about Vermilion is that despite its size, due to the countless bays and islands, you can always find protected water no matter the water conditions. The second characteristic is the endless habitat variety offered by the lake. I have no doubt that you could fish years and still not fully know the lake. 

The first day out we targeted smallmouth as we only had a half day to fish and there was some very promising cover surrounding our campsite. My dad hooked into two in the 2 lb range and I lost two and a big pike which broke my line. 

Countless Islands and Rocky Shoreline. 

My Dad's first Smallie of the Trip, Salmo Crankbait. 

Day 1 was cut short by some rain, I may add that it did rain everyday we were there but the storms were brief and except for the first days hardly impacted the fishing. 

The second day we set off in search of Walleye. However, as has been the pattern throughout the midwest this year, temps have been far above normal and that pushed the fish deep. Most were being taken in between 20-40' of water on crawler harnesses and deep crankbaits. For those curious the Walleye slot on Vermilion is 18-26". Being new to the lake we tried several locations and even attempted late at night but failed to hook into any 'eyes. Later in the day we switched it up for Pike, with me attempting on a fly rod, however the wire leader I brought failed in the first few minutes of casting, thank god not on a fish, and so that venture was cut severely short. My Dad did however land a 3 lb Pike on a spinnerbait. We ended the day fishing for Smallmouth again but while I caught two, they were less than desirable in size and stature. 

Seagulls and Comerants on an island in Big Bay. 

3 lb Northern Pike, Chartreuse Spinnerbait. 

Not quite what I had in mind. Smallmouth, Rattletrap. 

An incredibly beautiful lake and sunset. 

The third day was only about one thing--Muskellunge. We met up with Bob Benson a guide recommended to us by Pete, a guide we had used in the past, both of Northland Muskie Adventures, which is also linked under my guides I recommend tab. Also for those interested here is a link to my last trip with Pete on the Saint Louis. Honestly, it was an incredible day. We had 16 follows, caught three, and I lost one at the boat. We fished for almost eleven hours with me throwing double-bladed bucktails the entire time, but I had I blast. Honestly after 45 min of throwing I didn't think I was going to be able to cut the big blades all day but the repeated follows kept my adrenaline up. When you think that for Muskie, to just see a fish is a good day, we had an incredible day. Both my father and I got personal bests and I think I am starting to get the Muskie bug in him which is fine by me. Bob was a great guide and is obsessed with all things Muskie, if you are in the area definitely look him up. 

Fish On!

My Dad's 46" Muskellunge. Topwater. 

My 44", Yeah I am honestly that excited.

11 hours of casting, yep I slept well that night.

My 45". Double Bladed Perch Colored Bucktail. Personal Best.

The last day we started out looking for Walleye again, had a few bites but none hooked up. My father and I were both disappointed to leave without any Walleye, but that is part of learning a new lake and we have some ideas for next time. We tried for Pike again, and again I hooked into a fish and lost it, making that three lost Pike for the trip, two of which would have been personal bests. Really felt off my game in that aspect. We ended the trip like we started, fishing smallmouth, catching 6 more that evening. I love the spunk of Smallies, and wish I would have brought a smaller fly rod on board to fish for them. 

2 lb Smallie. Wacky Rig.

2 1/2 lb Smallmouth Bass. We patterned them in intersections with rocks and weeds on the shoreline, near points and dropoffs.

Black and Purple Senko's tended to be most productive on the Wacky Rig, I noticed a greatly diminished bite while trying Red or Green Worms.

We saw a lot of these guys--Rusty Crayfish. They are an invasive species which have displaced the naturally occurring crawfish due to their aggression and harder shells. Also they have largely killed off much of the natural vegetation in Vermillion with the exception of a few select bays. 

Well that was our first trip to Lake Vermilion. We will definitely be back. We marked and saved a lot of spots on our GPS, and came away with a decent understanding of the lake. First time on any lake is tough, as you are going into every situation somewhat blindly, but I think we did alright. Next time we hope to hook into some Eye's, maybe break the 50" barrier for Muskie, and take a portage to Trout Lake for some Lakers.