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Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I was out at the lake on a Friday noon hour. I was fishing the settling pond on the east side of the lake and it was as smooth as glass. I decided that this was a good time to go with a popping bug. I do like to have fish hit on the surface. I picked a red popping bug to start with. This is because I had some fish hit the red shrink wrap I had used to finish off making loops on a couple of fly lines I have. They ignored the flies but hit the red on the line.

After I got my first line that had a loop-to-loop connection I was in love with them. I have changed all my lines so that they have a loop end on them. My friendly friend at the local Radio Shack Store lets me buy just a few inches of shrink wrap each time I need it. He has sold a ton of this stuff by doing it this way.

I got out to a flat rock that is about one inch above the water line but puts me about 6 feet farther out than I had been before. This lets me cast a little farther also as I don't hit things on the back with the back cast as easily. The weed edge is about 5 feet farther out from where I am standing. There is an opening, about 12 feet wide, just in front of the drain pipe. I am about five feet in front of the drain pipe and just on the right side.

I decided to cast to the right and managed to drop the popping bug about three feet from the weeds about 12 feet from the opening. I always make short casts first to see if there are any fish close and then lengthen the casts. Too often I have watched the wakes of other fish as they spooked when I brought a hooked fish by them. I had just twitched the bug when a nice gill took the bug with the "nice slurping" sound. I did manage to get the gill to head out toward the center of the pond and then worked on landing him.

I had just got the gill in hand when I heard the voice behind me saying, "If you aren't keeping them then you need to feed an old geezer." I told him that I was not sure if I would get any more, but if I did then he was welcome to them. He had his bucket with him so I swung the fish back and he removed the hook.

I cast about 2 to 3 feet farther up the weed line but nothing happened. I increased the length about another 2 to 3 feet and had another gill inhale the fly. This one wanted to be in the weeds so it took a little longer to get him in. Again the old geezer unhooked him and told me to get at it, I was wasting time.

I decided to add about 5 feet to the next cast. It landed and was immediately sucked under. This fish headed for deeper water and did not want to come in. The fish turned sideways and worked to stay out. I kept some pressure on the fish and finally got it to head to shore. It turned out to be a large green sunfish, about 11 inches long. This was the second largest one that I have ever caught at this lake. The old geezer had to use long nose plies to get the bug out of the fish's mouth.

I decided to cast to the left because of the commotion the last fish made during the fight. I dropped the bug in a little depression in the weed line. It was a picture perfect cast, a rare event for me. The ripples had just disappeared when I saw the gill come up and stop under the bug. There was a great temptation to do something, but I resisted. After about a minute I gave the rod tip a little shake, just enough to move the line, which just barely moved the popping bug. The fish inhaled it and I had another nice gill to add to the bucket.

My next cast was not as pretty as the previous one. It ended up putting the bug about 15 feet out from the weed line. I was trying to decide whether to pick up the bug and cast again or fish it there. A gill decided that for me as she jumped out of the water and hit the bug coming down.

This does not happen very often on this body of water. This fish was hooked before I could do anything. It took the pliers to get the bug out.

I cast out again and tried to put the bug about 10 feet the side of where it had landed before. I came within a country mile of that. Another gill jumped on the bug after it had sat for about 30 seconds. I repeated this four more times to give the old geezer a nice mess.

I cast out one more time and when nothing happened for a minute I started bringing in the bug by making some popping sounds and splashing some water. It had moved about five feet when the water opened up and the bug disappeared. More from shock than skill, it took a few seconds to set the hook. But it was the correct way to do it. I had a huge bass on the line. The first thing the fish did was take about 50 feet of line out. I then slowly started to get some of the line back and get the fish coming toward me. The fish jumped three times and I knew that a couple of cars had stopped to watch.

I was in the middle of the fight when a guy came down and told me to give him the rod that he was going to catch the fish. I told him that was a nice joke, but that is not what was going to happen. I would release the fish and he could try for her another day. What happened next was unexpected.

He kidney punched me. When that happened the fly rod really jerked and the leader broke. I was mad because he hit me and because I lost the fish for a dumb reason. I don't like to leave hooks in fish if I can help it at all. I turned around and he told me that I deserved that to happen and swung again. I dropped the rod, ducked his swing and decked him. I then saw that another guy was trying to take the fish from the old geezer. When I told him to stop, he informed me that I should preform a sexual act with myself. Talking time was over so I went up and took the bucket from him in a less than civil manner. I carried it to the old geezers' car and got him on his way. I then went back and got my two rods and headed for the pickup.

Just then one of the local cops came by and asked what happened. When I told him, he said that I could leave and not to worry. These two characters had been bullying people all over the county. They had just never been able to catch them. He also said that there was a witness that said they had started it.

I left but there was a sour taste to the day. That behavior just does not fit in with fishing. First real problem of the year. That is why I spend most of my time on farm ponds.

I hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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