The last fishing trip we went on was to Saylorville Lake just North of Des Moines and Johnston (Iowa). We went to what is known as the "backwaters" below the dam. There were fish jumping out of the water all around us, but I was the only one who got a couple bites. I guess what they say about the fish jumping is right - when they jump they aren't biting.
One evening we went to the Chichaqua (Ch-Cha-Kwah) bottoms. It is a sort of backwater area from the North Skunk River. It has a small channel that feeds throughout the park and looks sort of like a swampland with clear water running through the center. There are a ton of coves and inlets where you can sit and fish right next to fallen trees and reed grass. Perfect for bass, I thought, but what we caught there was mainly what we call Bullheads.
From what I understand there are different kinds of Bullheads. This one is a black bullhead. (I didn't put the labels on this image - someone else took the photo and I borrowed it so that you could see what a bullhead looks like). I believe they are related to Catfish.
The best way to catch a Bullhead is to bait your line with either (really stinky) Catfish bait or a simple nightcrawler (worm). Here in Iowa we have tons of nightcrawlers as big as the ones in Canada. They make our soil so rich (that is why we have great farmland). If you take the hook and push it into the head of the crawler, then feed it through until you have hooked into it a couple times (small loops), then you are ready to go fishing.
Sometimes I use what is called a "worm rig" (see photo below that uses a rubber worm). I hook the nightcrawler on the rig and let it wiggle its way into a fish's mouth. Panfish (bass, bluegills, crappie) love nightcrawlers and they will bite on a worm rig relatively quickly (if they are biting). Number one and four are less effective ways to rig your worm (see below). Number two is useful if you are in the weeds. The ideal way to rig your worm is number three (where you enter the head and allow the tail to be free) except you want the hook to point away from the worm's body).Some worm rigs include multiple hooks. Do the top-most hook first (enter it in the head of the worm). Then use the second-most hook to enter the crawlers body. If there is a third hook, place it in the worm just above the beginning of the tail area. This is guaranteed to get you a hit on your line.
One of my favorite types of fish to catch locally is called a Bluegill (see photo below). It is a good fighter and likes to pick at your bait before it fully strikes. It is good to eat as well. Simply fillet the fish and put the meat into a batter, then fry them and wahlah - you have a great meal. Bluegills vary in color and size. Sometimes they are also called Sunfish. Sunnies are usually more yellow on their bellies than a typical Bluegill is. The way to tell if it is a bluegill is the dark blue dot that is near the gills of the fish.
Until next time, keep your poles in the water but your reels where it's dry.