Spring WAS Here

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Casey Shanaberger
Casey Shanaberger's picture
Spring WAS Here

If you were to step outside at anytime this past week, you'd likely question what month it is. Is it March? June? January? Truth be told, I don't know either. Just this last week, we swung from the low 40s to the mid 60s to the mid 30s to the upper 50s and now back down to the 30s. Another thing about all the cold frotns swinging through at rapid-fire is the rain they bring. The river is cold and blown-out. Good thing the fish aren't going anywhere.


Sicne the water was so high and muddy, I had to concentrate my search on the lower sections of tributaries where the fish would be gathering. The first one in my sights was one of my favorite micro-fishing holes, where I usually see dozens of chubs and green sunfish. I wasn't too surprised by what I caught.


At least this one was pretty.

After catching a lifetime supply of creek chubs and green sunfish, I figured I had overstayed my welcome and decided to move onto larger waters. This next spot holds a special place in my fishy heart as it's where I caught both my lifer quillback and my highfin. I would fish this spot so much more except for the fact that every baby drum in the Des Moines River seems to hang out here. I was reassured of that fact just a few minutes after I had arrived. 


Even in 40 degree water, they still seem to be here. (Goldy owes me a dollar!!)

Thankfully, the drum weren't the only ones who wanted to play this day.


Baby Catfish wanting to play. I love these little fish, they just look so cool.


Big healthy bluegill. Always nice to see a bobber get pulled under.


White AND Black Crappie within minutes of each other.

After a good multispecies day, my confidence for the spring was building pretty quickly. Not surprisingly, the forecasted temperatures dropped 30 degrees and I soon found myself fishing in an ice storm. Thankfully, the bad weather treated me to a great fish!

Quillback!! Came at a cost, thought. Those dark clouds behind me were an oncoming ice/rain squall that promptly drenched me. I was texting Goldy a play-by-play of me standing on the bank being pelted with little ice pellets. So fun.

I decided to walk down the shoreline and look for other promising eddies but I didn't find any. What I did find was a giant dead gizzard shad on the rocks.


I wear size 11s. Wish I could've hooked this fish while it was alive.


The cold weather settled in after the ice storm, so I took a brief hiatus and waited for the snow to melt. After it melted, we remained 10-20 degrees below average, but I had to fish. Finally, we had a day where the temperatures reached the upper 40s (average high is around 56) but I had to go out. I walked little farther up a tributary to where there was some clear water coming to meet the chocolate milk of the river. After fishing a little piece of crawler for about a half hour, I noticed my line start to wander downstream away from me. I got curious and reeled into a hookset. Fish on.


The Carpsucker Ninja is still here! This one was a River Carpsucker, and likely my personal best carpsucker, too!

That carpsucker was the only fish I caught that day, and I did not make it out for another week due to inclement weather. Finally, after a week, temperatures eclipsed 60 degrees! I had to get out and spend the afternoon staring at my rod not moving! Thankfully, I got a bite very quickly. 


Nice little channel cat! Almost pulled my rod in if I'm being honest.


After another couple minutes, I got a bite on the same rod. I pulled it up and it might have been the most photogenic catfish I've EVER caught.


He's so cute!


I went through about an hour and a half of no bites until I noticed my line starting to slowly meander away from where it had been resting on the surface. I walked over to it without freaking out because I thought it was a little channel cat. I picked up the rod and reeled into another set. I was surprised (just a little) to have something burn my drag for about 10 seconds and I quickly realized it was no baby channel cat. After a long, spirited fight, a double digit common carp struggled in my incredibly undersized net.


It works, ok?


Estimated around 11 pounds?


Accidental Dutchman!


This big boy was subdued on 8 pound test with a size 12 hook. 

What a Happy Face!!


That fish brings us to this week. It's cold again. Oh well.

Susquehannock's picture
March, the happiest (sorry, I meant crappiest) month of the year

Looks like you've had a very good March. You caught more carpsuckers than I've caught in my entire life, and the little catfish are awesome.

All on worms, I assume?


tom's picture

Nice mix of fish man. Weather's yo-yoing all over the place over here too. 

andy's picture
Nice job Casey!

All kinds of coolness in your Spring so far.  Thanks for sharing!  This Spring is definitely coming along slowly here in Minnesota as well.  Last year I was already catching river redhorse, but this year the same water still has a foot of ice on it.


Casey Shanaberger
Casey Shanaberger's picture
Happy/Crappy Weather

March has been an interesting one, for sure.

Susquehannock: All the fish came on worms apart from the crappie. Those came on little fatheads. Thanks! Also the carpsuckers are just me getting absurdly lucky with bait placement. You'll get one!

Tom: Yeah, this weather can't make it's mind up

Andy: These below average temperatures are just killing me! Last year by this time largemouth bass were already getting ready to spawm. Now, I've caught just a couple by chance.



"I swear if you catch another drum"

Beverly riffles

Great Report and nice fish. The Carp brought back memories of one my son caught over 20 years ago. He was on a high bank with no hope of hoisting it up. I slid down the bank and hand landed the fish, probably about 8 lbs and tossed it up over the bank. It was a fair project for me to make it back up. We admired the fish and then walked a few yards to a sandbar and released the Fish. You’ll catch a big one once in a while when you least expect it. Made a memory that will last a lifetime. Threw a cooler of water out on the driveway this morning. Wasn’t thinking. It was an instant ice rink. 17 degrees on Easter Sunday, too cold.

Good fishing 


Hengelaar's picture
Dude, I always love reading

Dude, I always love reading your stuff!

Awesome going on the Carpsuckers!

It's been annoyingly unstable way over here, as well. Anyway, that's my excuse...

Fishn sure is neat

Corey's picture
Amazing fish

You're really dialled into the early spring game! And the carpsuckers are sweet. Great job.

Casey Shanaberger
Casey Shanaberger's picture

Hengelaar- Thanks man! Glad to know that the midwest isn't the only place that's struggling with this inclement weather. 

Corey- Thanks Corey! I feel like my luck with the carpsuckers has only been great because the drum aren't active yet. That, and I probably won't be able to catch any come Roundup time. 

"I swear if you catch another drum"

Graceclaw's picture
Wal-Mart Bobbers!

I see your super cheap red bobber! They work really well, if you don't mind twisting your line all to heck and back.

Who knows, maybe the bobber is the secret to you catching so many carpsuckers - I can't imagine they feel the hook as well as with a weight.

Good stuff as always, Casey.