Welcome to Panfish!

Part Two hundred thirty-two

Friday Respite

Rick Zieger

By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I went out to the lake on a Friday for my lunch hour, I needed to get away from the office with all of its distractions and hassles. These things happen on some days. Also, with the temperatures dropping there may not be many more days to get out.

I decided since it was late fall and any baitfish would be fairly large then it was time to go with a larger fly that I could move very slowly. I decided to tie on a Muddler variation called the 'Thief,' that I tie with a glass bead body.

Thief

Six glass beads for the body, a red yarn tail super glued on, an underwing of squirrel hair, with an overwing of Turkey tail, and a black chenille head. I usually tie this in size six or eight.

I cast it out and let it sink for a long time as it drops very slowly; then started to bring it in with one inch strips about every eight to ten seconds. Had to be slow because the water temperature is about 40 degrees in the ponds right now. I have found that I need to move the fly very slowly when in water this cold.

On my second cast I felt some weight on the line and set the hook. I had a 10-inch crappie. My friend, who calls himself 'the old goat', was sitting up in his car to see if I would get any fish that he could have. He brought down his bucket and went back up to his car. I cast back out into the same general area and went through the same routine.

The fly had gone about four feet when the line twitched and I set the hook. This was an 11 inch bluegill that did not want anything to do with the hook. He twisted, turned, rolled and tried everything in the book to get off. Just before I got him up to where I could land him I saw the channel cat that was behind him. I think the channel cat heard the dinner bell. When the catfish saw me, he turned and swam away, but my blood was pumping.

I continued to cast out into the same general area. I caught eight more crappie and three move bluegills. My friend said this would make a good meal for him so he took the bucket and headed back up to his car.

I decided I had time for a few more casts. I put the fly back out in the same general area but ended up about 4 feet to the side of where I had aimed but rationalized that this was where I had really wanted to cast anyway. I think this is the way of many casters that are like me. The fly had dropped for 10 seconds when I saw the line twitch. I set the hook, expecting another crappie or gill. Trouble was that the line did not want to come in. I also realized I had 5X tippet on and this was not the time to try to horse something in. I let some line go out and tried to keep light pressure on the fish. My friend came down because I had a big bow in the fly rod I was using. I continued to try to work the fish in but it was slow going. I would gain a little line and then it would go back out.

This went on for about 15 minutes when I finally could start to gain more line than went out.

I could start to see the fish and saw that it was about 26 to 28 inches long. I think it was the channel cat that had followed the first bluegill I caught into the shore. I knew I was in trouble because there is about four inches of water for 5 feet out where I was fishing. The whole pond is pretty much like that. I did not know if I would be able to bring the catfish over shallow area without breaking the line or some other method of release that was not in my plan.

As I tried to bring the channel cat over the shallow water the fish started thrashing around and this parted the line. The fish flipped back into the deeper water and swam off with my fly in the corner of his mouth. A great place to hook the fish but a terrible time to have such light tippet.

But I do better on crappie with lighter tippet so I will continue to do it.

I did tell a friend I have that likes to catch bigger catfish, using bait, that I had hooked into this one. He went out that night and caught it just to show me how it should be done, according to him. I know he got the same one because he returned the fly to me (or what was left of it).

It was a nice way to spend what may be the last lunch hour for a while out at the pond. A few ponds around here have a skim of ice on them now.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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