Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Quillback

Quillback show up in large numbers on my local warm water creeks each Spring. They blend in nicely with the creek bottom -- until one turns sideways to swallow some food drifting by. Thats when the sun catches their armor, producing a flash of silver and gold. Quillback comprise a large portion of the biomass in many warmwater rivers. The Cedar River is no exception. They'll be in the creek for the next 6 weeks. Then they will return to the big muddy river. I nymph for them or bounce something buggy on the bottom. 

Another sign of Spring. Minnows sunning in the shallows. Soon the smallmouth will be up the creek chasing them down. 

10 comments:

  1. John,

    I would love to catch one of these, would you be willing to take a guy out for one?
    Or steer me in the right direction.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look for clear water streams that run into your local rivers. I'm thinking many of your trout streams that end up in the warmwater rivers will have Quillback in the lower sections. Keep in mind that my streams are running clear right now as the snow is gone. It's still early. The fish I found were stacked at the mouth where creek meets larger river. In the next few days/weeks many will push further up stream. If you can find them you can catch them. They take a fly like December trout -- they're not going to move far for the fly. Good luck!

      Delete
  2. You seem to have it all there. No fair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. living the dream. that's Iowa ;)

      Delete
  3. Looks like a good time to me. I can't wait to start chasing some smallies this year

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love Quillies. They're hard to coax, I find it amazing how easy you make it look.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hit our 2 fav creeks this weekend. Lots of medium/large size quills pushing up stream.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm excited to find that I'm not the only one with a desire to catch suckers on a fly, but I have to admit that I never really gave the idea of catching quillbacks much thought as they use taste and touch so much more than sight for feeding. But since they're difficult to catch even on bait, why not go all the way?
    What is your ratio of snagged (near the mouth or not so near the mouth) on the hookset to hooked in the mouth? How much are you able to see when to set the hook vs. feeling the bite?
    I've got a new fly rod that will be good for delicately casting to quills and I'm all over this as soon as the creeks here (IL) warm up enough for them to start moving. The one where I usually see them (hundreds at a time some days) had none 3 days ago. Soon, though. They have urges that can't be denied much longer. I just wrote a post about quillbacks on my sucker-centric site, (http://moxostoma.com) and a reader mentioned this post. Two blogs writing about fishing for quillbacks within a week of each other is probably a new record.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I first started fishing for quilback I was very frustrated that I couldn't get this fish to eat. My early success came on dead drifting wet flies and nymphs. A clear stream with current helps the odds. A couple years ago I changed my tactic to carp flies that are weighted so they ride on the bottom hook up. The quilback has a soft bite and very small mouth so a fly that rides hook up is helpful. A bottom bouncing fly also reduces the rate of snagged fish. I'm not seeing the fish take the fly. The slow retrieve is enough to set the hook in the soft mouth of a quilback. Here's a link to some good carp flies -- many that are weighted to bounce on the bottom hook up. http://www.flycarpin.com/p/fly-swap-2013.html

      Good luck!

      Delete
  7. I've tried fishing for them similar to how I fish for carp, and have spooked every last one I've ever cast too. Maybe nymphing on a dead drift is the way to go...

    ReplyDelete