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Tree Bites Back

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

The weather turned warm and the wind blew fairly heavily over the night hours. The end result was that the ice went off the ponds and that meant I had to put a line in the water.

I waited until the afternoon to let it warm up a little more and headed off to the pond to see what might be happening. I decided I should use a fairly large fly and probably brightly colored so it could be seen better, a size 8 Mickey Finn with a bead head.

I thought I might get a couple of crappie to eat for supper. I started casting about five feet out from shore and slowly retrieving the fly. I had moved it about ten feet when I felt the weight on the fly. I set the hook and had the line go in every direction but toward me. It took a few minutes but I had a 16" bass on the end of the line. I released this fish and cast down the shoreline the other way.

I caught another bass that was a little smaller. It still was fun and a great start to the year. Two fish on the first two casts of the year. I decided to cast straight out from me and see what would happen. Nothing hit on that retrieve. I found out by continuing to cast that anything that was retrieved within about 12 to 15 feet of the bank and somewhat parallel to it would result in a strike.

I continued to work my way around the pond. I was not getting anything but bass to hit. Got to the point where there is an old beaver lodge. Cast to the side of the lodge and had a crappie hit the fly just after it touched down in the water. I thought I was onto a good thing. Cast back at nearly the same place and had a bass hit the fly. This fish went nuts. Came out of the water twice and then went down in the sticks of the lodge. I worked for about 10 minutes to get the bass out of the sticks and to land it. I think by that time every other fish within 30 feet of the lodge had decided there were better places to be.

When I landed the bass I saw that it was bleeding from the gills. It had swallowed the fly so far that when I set the hook it was in the gills. I worked at trying to revive the bass but to no avail. She just turned on her side. I decided to put her in the fish basket.

Since I had made so much noise getting this fish I decided to move down the bank a ways and try again. The wind had picked up to about 25 mph. I thought I would still be able to cast because I was going to be where there were some trees to break the wind. As I walked down the shore I had the rod held loosely in my right hand.

One of the branches that was moving back and forth got caught between the rod and the line and pulled the rod forward. The fly was in the hook keeper came forward and went through my little finger. It is amazing how fast the body can react to move forward and relieve the pressure. I did not have any wire cutters with me and for some reason this was a barbed hook that I had not smashed the barb on. There was no way to get it out.

I walked back to the truck and put most of the stuff in the back. I had to cut the leader and wind the line onto the reel so I could get the bottom section of the rod in the pickup cab with me.

I fished my keys out of my right pants pocket with my left hand, stated the truck and drove home. I had my wife come out and cut the hook, then take the forceps on my vest and drive the hook on through my finger. We could then get a hold of the point and pull it out.

It bleed fairly well and I worked it a little to get it as clean as possible. I called my MD and he said to bandage it and watch for infection. Turned out I did not get any infection in it.

We did eat one crappie and one bass that night because I did not think I could do much to get the one bass to revive. She was belly up in the fish basket.

I will take a saw out next time I am at the pond and get even with that limb.

I hope you don't "hook a big sucker," as my wife said I did. I hope you can get out on the water. ~ Richard Zieger

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