Spring is Weird

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Casey Shanaberger
Casey Shanaberger's picture
Spring is Weird

As most midwestern anglers here know, Spring truly was weird. In Iowa, April started off with cold, blustery temperatures. My first fish of April came late afternoon on Easter Sunday. 

I believe it was either Graceclaw or Greenwood who coined the term "golden blackhorse" and I have never related to that more. This one confused me for a good while but also taught me a lesson that I need to take better pictures.

My next fish was a nice sized shorthead that put up a spirited fight.

After getting no more redhorse, I noticed a small cloud of minnows. I thought them to be emerald shiners, and I decided to put on some tanago's to try to catch them for crappie bait later. Soon I had a fish that was not an emerald shiner, but my first lifer of April!

Spotfin Shiner! I didn't have my photo tank on hand at the moment, or else I would have a much better photo.


Cold hit again and I wasn't able to get out for another 2 weeks. Finally, we had a strong warm front push through ahead of Winter Storm Xanto (the really late one). Temperatures rose to average for the first time in weeks. Amazing. Since the creeks weren't fishable, I turned my attention to ponds to chase largemouth. I grew up fishing for them and have always had a fascination with the green eating machines. I started throwing around a jerkbait and was greeted by my first white bass of the year, and a nice one at that, too.

I didn't actually land any largemouth that night, but casting around into 40mph gusts wasn't exactly desirable. I was forced to leave much later because of an oncoming storm. (Not after taking a picture, of course)


The next day, I woke up and noticed that the warm front had slipped south, only allowing the high temperature to reach a mere 40 degrees (average temperature at the time was 62). Not wanting to be bested by a winter storm, I set out trying to catch bass again, still in 40mph gusts.

Got one! But the temperature had dropped 30 degrees in the past 13 hours. I managed to catch a few more before I got sick of battling the wind. I got home and saw the snow forecast for the next night had changed from a light dusting to two inches in just an hour. Great. 


The next morning I awoke to find everything covered in snow, with the temperature hovering in the low 20s. (Note, this day is a Sunday, and the previous Friday the high temperature was 67). Again, not wanting to be bested by the weather, I set out in hopes of not getting skunked. Since the snow had effectively shut everything down, I decided to fish a golf course pond I could normally not fish. I was still throwing the jerkbait when I felt weight. Fish on! After a brief struggle, a 4-5lb largemouth splashed on the surface about 10 feet out. I got really excited but my hopes were dashed when my jerkbait flew back towards my face. Shoot. That would've made a cool picture. I kept circling around the pond and realized that we got a lot more than 2 inches of snow. I was stepping in places with 4-6 at times. I got to a deeper, rockier spot that looked promising and resumed casting. Eventually I felt weight. I set the hook at least a dozen times. Soon.....
It was cold.

After catching this bass, I decided to quit while I was ahead. Also my feet were cold. (Temperature: 25)


At the end of the week, temperatures finally began to climb and stabilize. The snowpack in Northern Iowa began to melt and soon the Des Moines River began to swell very quickly. It jumped over 10 feet in just a couple days and has remained at or just below flood stage from this date until when I'm writing this. Since the creek where I caught my SM Buff and those redhorse earlier was full of stillwater from the river, I decided to give it a try. I was gifted some nice fish. 


I met up with a friend and even got a nice healthy channel cat!


The next day, the sun came out, and temps rose into the low 70s for the first time this year! The sun got the fish moving, included this beefy and beautiful smallmouth bass!

My dad even caught his first ever Mirror Carp!

We did good at the creek, but we decided to let it rest for a while because it had been fished hard for the past few days. On the horizon, there were some severe storms being forecasted for later in the week. Pshhht, those are nothing. I decided to go fishing anyways.

Storm brewing in the distance


I showed up to my favorite pond armed with my 7wt fly combo. I threw around a small black streamer fishing for whatever. I had also purchased a larger photo tank for not-so-micro specimens, and I was itching to try it out.


I caught a good variety of fish, including this largemouth who fit nicely in my new tank


I soon had to turn my attention to the sky, though. Severe storms loomed and I almost got caught in a tornado-warned storm (almost).

Thankfully there was no tornado, but I still got soaked (and pelted with large hail). The rain hides where I peed my pants when lightning struck near the road while I was driving home.

The next weekend, I made a trip to southern Iowa to hunt bighead and silver carp, gar, and shovelnose. I only got one, but it was a very cool situation!

Silver Carp! Species 58 on my list! This particular specimen ate a green twister tail while the other 6 I caught went after orange ones. 

The next weekend was the roundup! Great weekend, and I'm sure we'll see a bunch of the pictures taken from there in the coming weeks. Fast forward to this current weekend, and the weather is HOT and HUMID. Thankfully a front passed through last night, cooling us off. I decided to go out and look for some big bedding bluegills.


I found them, and they were HOGS! I like to call them frisbees when they get this big.


So far, spring has definitely been odd. Iowa seems to have skipped the nice part with temps in the 60s and low humidity and decided instead to jump from snow straight to the 70s and 80s. Oh well.


andy's picture

That's what I call big bluegills.  Nice fish man, the gills and silver and everything else.  Glad the storms didn't kill you.

Corey's picture
Cool stuff

Those knobheads are unreal.

Graceclaw's picture
6 Silver Carp?

Dang, that must have been quite a day. How was the fight on them?

Eli's picture
Those are some of the

Those are some of the craziest Bluegills I've ever seen.




Dr Flathead
Dr Flathead's picture
Those bull gills are freaks. 

Those bull gills are freaks.  Been forever since I got into some lookin like that.  Great looking action all around. And I'd rather see those storm clouds anytime compared to snow and cold we just had.