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Midge Morning

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I headed out Saturday morning for one of my normal fishing excursions. The sky was clear and there was no wind. I did remember my life jacket and canoe paddle. Got to a pond early, before the sun was even starting to light up the sky.

Unloaded the canoe and got my stuff in it. I then pulled it down to the shore to get ready to launch it. I have gotten smart enough to stop for a minute and look at the pond to see what might be happening. I could hear the gills slurping something off the surface. I could also se a few rises but they were different. Some were rings and the others were more oval shape.

This caused my memory bank to kick in and I decided to change flies. I have been out twice before when this sort of thing happened and all I could catch fish on was midges. I went back to the pickup and opened the door so I could use the dome light to tie on two flies. The first midge was a size 20 hook with black wooly nylon wrapped on it. The second was the same thing with a black midge hackle wrapped at the front. It was too dark to tie them on any other way.

I went back to the canoe and launched it out on the pond. So I would know which rod had which fly on it, I had kept them separate. I took the hackeless midge and cast it first. I was blind casting in the dark. The fly had been on the water for about a minute when the line tightened and I had a fish on. This was a nice sized gill but the hook was deep in the gullet. Too far down for me to see in the dark. I decided to cast out the other fly and see if anything would happen while I pondered on how to get the fly out of this fish. This fly had barely hit the water when a fish slurped it. I waited a second and then set the hook. This gill came straight up and out of the water. He jumped three more times before I got him into the canoe. Again the fly was deep down the gullet.

I decided to go back to the shore and beach the canoe. I walked back to the pickup and got a flashlight out and came back to the canoe. This is one of the long flashlights so I could hold it under my arm, hold the fish and with my forceps see the fly to get it out. Did this with both flies and then moved back onto the pond. To get away from the deeply hook fish I began to think that I need to strike faster to hook them in the mouth or lips. It would also be easier to get the hook out.

I cast the hackled fly out and let it set for a few seconds when it was slurped under. I set the hook immediately and have a gill launch itself into the air. By the time the gill hits the water it is free. I bring the fly into check to make sure that I have not damaged it. I can't see anything wrong with it.

I cast it again and when a fish slurps it, I hesitate for an instant before setting the hook. This fish comes out of the water but I am ready for this and the rod tip goes down. The fish is still on, but shakes the hook after a few more jumps. Not many fish but a lot of fun.

I decide to try the hackleless fly next. As soon as I see the line twitch, I set the hook. I do get this gill in but have to net it as the fish is barely lip hooked. I try this again and hesitate a little before setting the hook. I think I have a good hook set but the fish throws the hook on the fourth jump. I check the hook again but it is OK. On the next cast I wait for a second before I set the hook. This fish is on solidly. He does not want to come in and circles the canoe a couple of times before I can get the upper hand and have the fish in the canoe. Again this fish is hooked fairly deeply.

By now the dawn is starting to break and I can see rises all over the place. I am just casting and letting the fish hit. If I can force myself to wait a second or more before striking I get a good hook set and have a fish in the boat. Most of the time I strike too fast and end up lip hooking the fish and they toss the hook when they jump out of the water. This is the most that I have ever had bluegills jump out of the water.

I had caught several when the wind started to blow a little. I caught a few more and then it was over. I tried both flies for a while longer but nothing happened. I went through several other flies and would catch an occasional fish, but they were few and far between.

Finally decided that it was time to quit. I headed for the shore and had just got the canoe up to the truck when the wind picked up about another 15 mph. Since I had been paddling into the wind, I sure was glad to be off the pond.

After I filleted the gills at home, I cut open the stomach of each of them. They were all full of the midges. I did not really see any other insects, minnows or food items in them. The two crappie I got on other flies also had mostly the midges in them.

I am not used to midge fishing for panfish, but it may be something that we need to look at.

If you see rises on the pond but the fish are not taking anything, try a midge. Also let me know if it works for you. I am curious to know if this is something local to me or if it happens else where.

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

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