Tree Bites Back
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
Archive of Panfish
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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