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No Second Chance

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

Publisher's Note: This article was written in the summer, of 2003.

I was ready to hit the pond I was at last weekend again. I felt there were many more fish to be caught before the water was lowered drastically. Go to the pond and was totally stunned.

The water was down another ten feet and looked like chocolate syrup. They had been running a drag line through the water, left in the pond, to take some of the silt out.

There was no way to launch the canoe and I didn't think any fish could see in that water, it was so roiled up. I did scare a few grasshoppers as I walked around the pond a little. When they hit the water, nothing took them. There were no rises.

It was time to head off to another pond that would give me a better chance at catching a fish. I was driving to a pond when I saw a farmer I know loading big round bales in a field. I stopped and asked him if I could fish the pond on the far side of this field. The gate is sually locked and it is too far to roll the canoe, even with the little trailer. . .he said I could fish as long as he was loading bales but when he got done I would need to leave so he could lock the gate again.

I drove about 3/4 of a mile across the field. Unloaded everything vary fast and got out on the water. I tied on a fly that Gary Miller had sent me and started casting. On the second cast I had a crappie roll up and hit the fly. I was in too much of a hurry and struck too soon, missing the fish. The next fish that rolled up and hit the fly, I paused for a second to let the line tighten, and then set the hook. I had my first crappie of the day.

I cast toward the weeds on the edge of the pond, where I knew there was a drop off, and caught the first of many bass that were all in the 6 to 10 inch range. Turned out I could not cast near the shore without catching of the these. I finally decided to fish away from the shore to see what might happen.

Casting around the canoe in fan fashion, with short and then progressively longer casts, I had several hits. I did not manage to hook a lot of these fish but I was getting hits. I finally decided that I might be retrieving the fly in the wrong manner to get them to really hit it solidly. I had been doing short strips, about two to three inches, with about a two to three second pause between them. I first tried a longer pause and that did not work. The fly did not even get hit.

It was time to sit still for a few minutes and watch to see if I could see anything happening in the water to help me decide what to do. After about three minutes of being very still and not moving, I began to see a few flashes about thirty feet from the canoe. I knew it was the flash of fishing hitting something, but I had no idea what. I continured to watch for a few more and the flashes moved closer.

Then I saw that whatever the fish were hitting they were going up fast, rolling on it and going down. Time was getting to be a little bit short as I knew that the farmer had one more load of hay to put on when he came back.

I did something I really do not recommend. I stood up in the canoe so I could cast a little farther and faster. I put the fly out about 25 feet and started to pull it in on a steady retrieve. I saw the flash and then the line tightened all by itself. I clamped the line to the rod and set the hook. I had another crappie that was not happy to come in but was well hooked.

I continued to cast around and picked up several more fish. I heard the tractor start to load the last of the hay. I knew I had about 30 minutes to fish. I sat down, pulled my anchor up, and started to drift with the very slight breeze. I was fan casting around the canoe and catching a fish on about every third cast.

When I got a litter farther out in the pond, I started to catch a few green sunfish also. They were all about 10 inches long and put up a very stubbord fight. I caught a few more crappie also.

I was near the shallowed end of the pond when I cast out again. The fly had barely hit the water when the bass engulfed it. I had a large bass on that I could direct a little bit. I was not gaining any line, just holding on and trying to keep her out of the weeds. After three long runs I started to gain some line and have a little more control. I finally got her worn down some and managed to get her up and lip her. On the little scale I carry, she weighted in just a hair less than six pounds.

I released her and then heard the horn honk. It was the farmer ready to go. It amazed him that I had caught a bass that big as he had watched part of the fight and saw her when I took her out of the water. He did not think the pond had anything of that size in it. I quickly loaded everything and headed out of the field.

I did stop and close the gate behind him as he drove out. I headed home earlier than I normally do, but that is the way I got to fish this pond.

I ended up with 37 crappie and 12 green sunfish. After I cleaned the fish and myself up, I took some of the fish around to other people. I made sure I went by the farmer's house to give him fish. They told me it was the first fish they had received in three years. They have been letting people come in and fish their pond, but never got fish in return. Any gueses who get to come back and fish the ponds? I was even shown where they keep the keys to the gates, so I could use them.

Never under estimate what a little good will can do.

Not bad for having to go to a second pond.

Hope you can get out of the water. ~ Rick ziegeria@grm.net

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