Part Two hundred thirty-two
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
Archive of Panfish
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.
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
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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