Sunday, November 30, 2014

Third time in November

Cold...warm...cold...warm...cold!  Mother Nature just couldn't make up her mind in November, and on the last day of November, the wind chill was below zero, go figure.  There is really only one thing to do when the weather is like that, go ice fishing.  Actually I wasn't too sure any fishing was going to take place today after the warming weather we had earlier in the week and temperatures near 50 yesterday.  However, there is only one way to know exactly how thick the ice is...go out and check it.  None of the local, larger lakes are even close to being ready for ice fishing, so I obtained permission to look over two different farm ponds south of town.

I wasn't expecting much, but found good ice at both ponds.  The ice is still very inconsistent, we saw 2-inches of ice all the way up to almost 6-inches of ice.  Crappies, bass and mostly bluegills were found today.  The bluegills were actively roaming the deeper basin of the second pond and feeding heavily.  The Vexilar FLX-28's were lit up most of the time with schools of bluegills roaming through the area.  Most fish were suspended about 3-4 feet of the bottom, so picking them off with the Vexilar made things pretty easy today.  The gills did prefer a white colored jig, and any color plastic or waxworm would work.  The key on this pond today was getting into the deepest water where the gills were feeding.

Hopefully the cold weather forecast for the week is correct and some larger lakes will ice up this week, if not some more ponds might be the place once again next weekend.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quick trip before the rain

A look at how the first pond appeared.
After "icing" a few fish on Wednesday, I was so eager to get out Saturday morning and check a few area ponds.  The temperatures were on the rise, reaching into the 50's with light rain, however Sunday was even worse with more rain and temperatures in the 50's all day long.  I know the current ice that has formed on a few small ponds is no doubt turning to water as I type.  Mother Nature can be cruel...this just proves it once again.
Saturday morning was an opening in the weather though, so Don, Jacy and I headed out to try a couple small ponds that we had permission for.  The first pond we got to didn't look good at all, I really didn't want to go out on it to test it.  However, the adrenaline kicked in, and out I went.  I found 4-6 inches
This is a view I never get tired of.
of crystal clear ice, I could hardly believe it.  I gladly shouted out, "let's catch some fish!"  We all managed to catch a few fish at the first pond, all bluegills and some real solid ones too, reaching toward the 9-inch mark.  There is no real structure in this pond, so we just waited the fish out until they cruised by our baits and gave us a chance to catch them.  Days like this made us all glad that we had our VEXILARS with us to show us the deepest roaming areas, and when the fish were below us.  A few hours passed and we all decided to head out.  Don called it a day early, however Jacy and I forged on to the next pond, hoping to see good ice, which would hopefully lead to catching some more fish.
Good ice was found once again, averaging about 4-5 inches thick.  So a fishing we went.  At this pond, the bluegills seemed more active, we caught numerous gills in the couple hours we there, a couple small bass and even saw a huge catfish up at the hole several times...however it never made it on top of the ice...after a lengthy battle the line broke.
All in all it was great morning, November 22nd and we were ice fishing in Marshall County...I have never done that in the past 15 years.  However, I type this as the rain has been eating the ice away pretty much all day here in Marshall County.  What will the ice look like a few is really hard to say, but I do know that temperatures right now are around the freezing mark and are supposed to stay that way for the next several days, so there is hope. Be safe out there everyone, and enjoy this early winter.

A typical 8+ inch pond bluegill

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

FIRST ice of the Winter

Rope, flotation device, and ice picks 
are necessary this time of year.
The only nice thing about this arctic blast of cold weather is that the lakes/ponds are starting to freeze at record rates.  I have lived in Central Iowa for 15 winters, this is by far, by a couple of weeks the earliest I have ever "walked on water".   FACT: I was catching bass out of my boat just 10 days ago!

 I have been monitoring an urban pond, and tonight was the night to take that first step.  The first step led to a few more, and then plenty of test holes.  The ice varied A LOT, form about 2 inches all the way up to 4 inches.  This is no doubt because of some recent snow we received this past weekend.  Snow on top of ice actually slows down the process of freezing the lake water.  Either way, with all the proper safety gear in hand we made our way onto the ice and ended up with a dozen or so fish in about an hour.  It was sooooooo nice to see the RED lines on the VEXILAR, and then feeling that bite!  A very successful and much anticipated trip on the ice.  I hope this weekend finds me on the ice for some more November ice fishing action!

    The fish fish through the ice!                           David with a "double-digit" Crappie

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Done for the year

November is always the time of year where I am torn between the two things I love about the outdoors; fishing and ice fishing.  Yes, they are similar, but they are totally different in so many ways too.  Today marked the last day for me fishing in the open water.  A quick trip to Hawthorne Lake with good friend Don Henry ended the year.  We caught 3 bass in the 48 degree water and had some fun.  Everything worked great one last time on the boat which is always nice to know going into the long winter.  I winterized the Yamaha and will empty everything out in the next day or so.

It is always sad to close the garage door on the boat for the last time, but that means I can anticipate the upcoming ice fishing season.  One that might be here earlier than ever!  So, with the cold weather coming into Iowa on Tuesday, I can finally say that I am ready for the ice fishing season.

It was a great year on the boat, I shared many hours with friends and family and caught hundreds of fish, including the biggest bass of life back in April.  A lot of memories and pictures from the year, so those I will always treasure.  I am also fortunate enough to be adding another Bass Club Angler of the Year trophy to the house as well.

I sure hope the ice fishing season is as fun as the open water season was!