Sunday, October 16, 2011

Henry Sever Lake, Knox County and Salt River, Shelby County

I was off to Henry Sever Lake in Knox County this morning in pursuit of my first Muskie.

The wind started out fairly calm, around 5 mph, but after an hour and a half it started gusted upwards of 28 mph! Gusts that strong were definitely not in the 6am forecast when I left the house!

I hightailed it off the lake without drawing a nibble nor seeing a single fish. I ran into a couple other guys in motor-powered boats and felt better after hearing they had both been skunked as well.

Since I had to drive right past an access point to the North Fork of the Salt River on the way home I opted to take a break from driving and see what I could catch.

The river looked great. It was full of deep holes and had a few riffles emptying into pools...but there were no fish. I made cast after cast and came up with nothing. I switched lures and still came up with nothing. 

Well, not nothing. I caught something like this on almost every cast:

Eventually, I saw a small fish make a dash for my Rooster Tail right as I pulled it out of the water. Thinking it might hit it if I spun it a little slower, I repeated my cast. Boom! The only fish of the day, a 6 3/8" White Bass.

South Farm R-1 Lake, Boone County

I visited South Farm R-1 Lake (Boone Co.) twice this week (12 and 15 October 2011). It's only an eight minute drive from the house, so I'm a little surprised I hadn't fished there since May!

Actually, I'm not terribly surprised. It's a small pond, the water level dropped about three feet (the pond is used to water some corn fields for the University of Missouri) and the shallows are choked with vegetation from late May until winter.

Here's a look north, away from the better fishing areas along the "dam."

In the two hours I was there (one hour each day) I ended up getting distracted by birds, so I didn't really fish all that much. I was happy to pull out a total of four Largemouth Bass, including this "monster" 11 1/4" fish (by far the largest fish I've ever seen get pulled out of this pond).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Little Dixie Lake CA, Callaway County

This afternoon I was back at Little Dixie Lake with the kayak! The weather was still warm (~80°F) and sunny, but today featured a 15 mph SSE wind. A wind from that direction means that the kayak can be blown the length of the lake, south-to-north, without paddling. It makes it very easy to get to the fishing spots, but it sure made it tough to get back to the car!

Ordinarily, a stiff wind would make it impossible to hold in a fishing area, but today I bought a 12 lb. river anchor and 50 ft. rope! It took a few tries to figure out how to best attach the anchor to the kayak (hint: it's not a good idea to wrap the rope around your ankle), but once I worked it out I was able to sit stationary in a steady series of waves. The only problem with the anchor is that it got stuck in the mud a few times, and when it was ~25 ft. deep it was very difficult to retrieve. I may look into replacing it with an 8 lb. mushroom anchor next Spring.

Since I was able to fish anywhere I wanted (thanks, anchor!) I was able to park the kayak just off one of the main jetties and pull out an 11 7/8" Largemouth Bass!

The water level at Little Dixie Lake is still about three feet low. In the picture below you can see where the water level usually is...right up to the top of the rocks. I can't wait for the lake to refill over the winter!

August A. Busch Memorial CA, St. Charles County

Yesterday, I visited the wonderfully named Lake #35 at August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles County. The only reason I was at the lake was to catch a muskie.

I spent three hours walking along the eastern side of the lake. It took quite a bit of walking to find an area that wasn't choked with weeds.  Matters were not helped by the fact that the lake was several feet below its normal level.

In the end, I walked back to my car with a nice sunburn and missing three $12 lures. I did not get a single bite, nor did I see a single muskie following my lures. I'm hoping for better luck next weekend in northern Missouri!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A short history

Now that the 2011 fishing season is winding down I've decided to take a look back at the fish I've caught since starting to fish in May 2010.

To date I have caught 24 species of freshwater fish and one species of saltwater fish. I have also caught a total of 738 individual fish. Not counted in the total are 3 species of freshwater fish that I caught by hand (Silver Carp, Orangethroated Darter and Bluntnose Minnow).

So, let's go through each species in the order they were caught!

1. Largemouth Bass
First Caught: 11 May 2010
Number Caught: 78
Average Length: 8.71"
Largest Individual: 16"

2. Green Sunfish
First Caught: 11 May 2010
Number Caught: 176
Average Length: 5.72"
Largest Individual: 8 5/8"

3. Bluegill
First Caught: 12 May 2010 
Number Caught: 234
Average Length: 5.88"
Largest Individual: 8 1/2"

4. Redear Sunfish
First Caught: 12 May 2010
Number Caught: 3
Average Length: 8"
Largest Individual: 8 3/8"

5. White Crappie
First Caught: 12 May 2010
Number Caught: 21
Average Length: 7.79"
Largest Individual: 10 1/8"

6. Longear Sunfish
First Caught: 20 June 2010
Number Caught: 19
Average Length: 4.83"
Largest Individual: 5 3/8"

7. Creek Chub
First Caught: 25 June 2010
Number Caught: 65
Average Length: 6.56"
Largest Individual: 10 1/4"

8. Common Shiner
First Caught: 03 July 2010
Number Caught: 7
Average Length: 4.52"
Largest Individual: 5 3/4"

9. Rock Bass
First Caught: 05 July 2010
Number Caught: 3
Average Length: 6.04"
Largest Individual: 6 7/8"

10. Golden Shiner
First Caught: 10 August 2010
Number Caught: 5

Average Length: 8.28"
Largest Individual: 9 1/4"

11. White Bass
First Caught: 11 September 2010
Number Caught: 22
Average Length: 9.45"
Largest Individual: 15 1/4"

12. Black Crappie
First Caught: 16 October 2010
Number Caught: 42
Average Length: 7.74"
Largest Individual: 9 1/2"

13. Striped Shiner
First Caught: 17 October2010
Number Caught: 4
Average Length: 6.38"
Largest Individual: 7 1/4"

14. Smallmouth Bass
First Caught: 11 April 2011
Number Caught: 7
Average Length: 8.27"
Largest Individual: 10 1/8"

15. Shadow Bass
First Caught: 11 April 2011
Number Caught: 1
Average Length: 8.125"
Largest Individual: 8 1/8"

16. White Pollock (saltwater)
First Caught: 30 April 2011
Number Caught: 1
Average Length: ~20"
Largest Individual: ~20"

17. Goldeye
First Caught: 5 May 2011
Number Caught: 4
Average Length: 12.63"
Largest Individual: 13 1/2"

18. Bighead Carp
First Caught: 5 May 2011
Number Caught: 5
Average Length: 30.10"
Largest Individual: 31 1/8" (~10 lbs.)

19. Hornyhead Chub
First Caught: 2 July 2011
Number Caught: 1
Average Length: 9"
Largest Individual: 9"

20. Rainbow Trout
First Caught: 2 July 2011
Number Caught: 27
Average Length: 10.13"
Largest Individual: 15"

21. Yellow Bullhead
First Caught: 1 September 2011
Number Caught: 6
Average Length: 10.88"
Largest Individual: 12"

22. Blue Catfish
First Caught: 6 September 2011
Number Caught: 1
Average Length: 21"
Largest Individual: 21" (4 lb.)

23. Grass Carp
First Caught: 10 September 2011
Number Caught: 1
Average Length: 21"
Largest Individual: 21" (2 lb. 8 oz.)

24. Shortnose Gar
First Caught: 10 September 2011
Number Caught: 3
Average Length: 19"
Largest Individual: 22" (1 lb. 5 oz.)

25. Chain Pickerel
First Caught: 17 September 2011
Number Caught: 2
Average Length: 14.38"
Largest Individual: 15 1/4" (9 oz.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Little Dixie Lake CA, Callaway County

This evening I went back to Little Dixie Lake to try my luck with catfish one last time in 2011. I was using all three rods to try for catfish until sunset, when I switched one rod to a silver rooster tail. It turned out to be a good move, as I quickly landed a 9 1/8" Largemouth Bass!

The sun faded into twilight just a few moments later.

I planned to leave around 7:30pm, but when the time came I had just started to read an article on my phone. I decided I would reel in my last two lines when I finished the article and head home. So, I finished reading and wasn't surprised to see both of my bobbers still floating on the water's surface. I grabbed the rod on the right, reeled it in, stripped the chicken off the hook and prepared it for the walk back to the car.

When it was time to put the second rod away I couldn't see the bobber. It was underwater! I grabbed the rod, cranked the reel a few times and pulled in an 11 1/8" (11 oz.) Yellow Bullhead! I love ending a fishing trip with a fish!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Little Dixie Lake CA, Callaway County

It took me over nine months, but I finally took the kayak out in 2011! I've been reading about a guy in Singapore who outfitted his inflatable kayak for marine fishing expeditions, so I thought I could try something similar in a more tame environment.

All I've managed to do so far is make the kayak easier to control by myself (it's a two-seater) and I used some PVC pipe to make one fishing rod holder (I hope to add two more very soon).

Since Little Dixie Lake Conservation Area (Callaway County, Missouri) is the closest lake to our house, that's where I headed this morning. It was sunny, about 70°F and there was almost no wind. I paddled across the lake in about five minutes and was ready to start fishing.

I started out using a silver/white rooster tail. After about a dozen casts I landed a Largemouth Bass, my first ever kayak-based fish! It measured a whopping 7 1/2".

I decided to paddle over to the jetties on the north side of the lake. I've only fished there once or twice, but after today I think I'll stop by that area more often. After switching to a chrome Rapala lipless crankbait I hooked what turned out to be a 14 7/8" (1 lb. 5 oz.) Largemouth Bass! This is the largest fish I've caught at Little Dixie Lake to date. Since I was very close to shore when I caught him I decided to beach the boat and take a few pictures on land.

I paddled back to the east side of the lake and managed to catch my very first mussel.

After today I'm really wishing I had started fishing from the kayak about six months ago rather than waiting for the onset of Autumn.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Pineys

This morning I fished Little Piney Creek just south of Rolla in Phelps County. I set out with the intention of catching four species: Rainbow Trout, Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Longear Sunfish. In the end, I caught all of my targets except Rock Bass, but I also managed to bring in several Largemouth Bass and a Bluegill.

The morning was chilly (a bank in Rolla pegged the temperature at 43F), but by the time I left I was drenched in sweat from walking against the current in 70F sunshine.

It's a fairly small stream, but it's full of wild-reproducing trout! I ended up catching six Rainbow Trout this morning. The largest was right around 12" long.

The water in Little Piney Creek is crystal clear.

My next stop was the Big Piney River, just a bit west of the Little Piney in Pulaski County. The Big Piney is much larger than the Little Piney. The current is also much more swift, but the section I was in was fairly shallow and lacked many fish-holding holes.

The fish were few and far between in this part of the Big Piney, but I did catch two of my target species for the day. A little (5 1/4") Longear Sunfish:

And a couple of small Smallmouth Bass:

 On my way home I stopped at Painted Rock Conservation Area to try for a Warmouth, but all I caught were a couple of small Largemouth Bass.