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Saturday Challenge

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I received a call on a Thursday evening that there was someone that wanted to take me fishing. His stipulation was that I use one fly rod and fish the pond that he would choose. His idea was to ow that you could not catch fish with a fly rod. I decided that it would be fun to go out on this challenge and see what would happen.

We got started later than I usually do. I met him at 7:00 am, at the cross road that we agreed on. I followed him about two miles and then we turned into a field and went back to the pond. This was the first time that I had ever seen this pond. It was a parallelogram shape with the dam being about 80 feet long and the other end about 30 feet wide with the length being about 150 feet. Both of the hills this pond was between sloped gently down to meet the edge of the water.

We unloaded his 16-foot John boat and we put our stuff into it. He told me that the water was about 14 feet deep at the deepest point but most of the pond was from six to 8 feet deep. He said that the pond had bass, bluegills and crappie in it. He said he would fish from the back of the boat and decide where the boat would go.

We pushed off and he started down the bank along the dam. We were about 15 feet out from the shoreline and he was moving very slowly. I cast a few times to the bank but was getting little bass to hit the fly. After about a dozen of these, I turned and cast toward the middle of the pond.

The fly had dropped maybe a foot when the line went sideways and I was into a large crappie. This fish came to the surface and started to thrash about. I dropped the rod tip into the water and tried to get the fish to go down into the water again. It worked fairly well and I lipped a 14-inch crappie.

He told me that this fish was pure luck and to catch fish you had to fish toward the shore. I cast out again and when the fly hit the water a bluegill smacked it. He had the hook set before I could react. He cut some nice didos as he came in, staying perpendicular to me the whole way.

At this point, my host decided that we needed to go to the far end of the pond to fish as there were no big bass at the dam end. He pushed the boat to that point fairly fast. When we slowed down, I cast out and let the fly drop about a foot. I then started a very slow strip and pause retrieve. The fly had moved about 5 feet when I felt the strike. I had another large gill on the line and she did not want to come in. She was 12.5 inches long and full of eggs. I released her to spawn and fight again another day.

As we moved around the far end of the pond, I caught several more gills and a few smaller crappie. My host was still looking for his large bass. He decided that we needed to go to where the water was a little deeper. He thought the bass might be there.

When we got to the point where the water was about eight to 10 feet deep the real fun started. I caught crappie on 16 straight casts. Each was about 14-inches long and very fat. My host was still looking to get his large bass.

At this point I decided to get a little ornery. I tied on a hellgrammite pattern that I have and tossed it up into about 6 feet of water. I then started to slowly pull it back to me with frequent long pauses. I had moved it about 10 feet when I felt the first tap. I dropped the rod tip and waited.

After about eight to 10 seconds the line started to move sideways. I tightened it till I felt weight and then sat the hook. When this bass came out of the water, my host almost fell out of the boat. He said it was the largest bass he had seen in this pond. I had to work to keep her out of some brush that was nearby but finally got her to the boat and lipped her. On his scale she went 6 lb. 15 oz. He states that his scale is very accurate. I admired her for a few more seconds and then released her to swim some more.

At this point my host asked me if I would give him some lessons on how to cast a fly rod. He also wanted to know if he could use salt on the crow he was going to have to eat about not catching fish with a fly rod. I told him that I would show him more about how not to cast but that I did have a couple of videos he might want to watch also.

As we moved slowly down the shore, I cast the hellgrammite again. I had not moved it far when I felt the tap-tap again. I handed the rod to my host and told him to wait a few seconds. I then told him to strip in some line, having just shown him how to hold the rod to do that. When the line tightened he set the hook. He had a bass that decided to spend more time in the air than in the water,. He finally got it in and weighted it in at just over four pounds.

He was hooked. He is going to search around and get himself a fly rod. He then wants some lessons and to go back to this pond to see if he can cast and catch a fish on his own rod. All in all it was a good day and I think I have made a convert.

I also think that I may have another dozen or so ponds to fish in. Good day in a couple of ways.

It was fun to out with him on this pond. In spite of any possible differences in fishing styles we had a good time.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick.

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