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First Timer

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
Last Saturday I had a Lions club function that took up the early part of the day. I was not done with this until 8:30 in the morning. Knowing that this was coming I had made arrangements to take a teenager out fishing with me. He had fished a couple of times before but had never used a fly rod.

I got everything loaded in the truck and went to his house to pick him up. His father was very nice in that he stressed that Sterling would need to do everything that I told him. We took off and headed for a pond. Having received about 3.5 inches of rain on Thursday night and early Friday morning there were many places that we could not get to.

We got to the pond and unloaded the canoe. I had spent some time earlier with Sterling and he could cast about 25 to 30 feet. I had made him do this sitting down so he would be able to do it in the canoe. We reviewed things on the bank and then got onto the pond. We were dealing with a wind that was blowing about 15 mph straight out of the west. I had Sterling turn to the left and cast that direction while he was in the front of the canoe. I turned to the right a little and cast that way.

I saw that the water was discolored a little but felt that using white flies might help them to be a little more visible. I had tied up a few bugs with a white marabou tail with a few stands of krystal flash in it, a white chenille body and three white legs at the front. I have used this pattern in olive and black before. These were on size 10 streamer hooks. They also had a small bead head on them to help them get a little deeper.

I really wanted Sterling to catch the first fish, so I watched him as he worked on the cast for a while. He was so excited to be out that he did the normal thing of trying to muscle the line out. I let him do that for a few minutes and then reminded him that it would work better if he remembered what we had practiced before. He asked me to show him again so I did one cast for him and then told him to duplicate most of it.

He got a fairly nice cast out, about 25 feet. I told him to let the fly drop a little and then to slowly start to retrieve it. He had moved it about 4 to 5 feet when I saw the line moving and told him to set the hook.

What came next was a barrel of laughs, but also great fun for Sterling. He sat the hook and then started stripping the line in slowly. The rod tip was bouncing around all over the place, partly from the fish and partly from Sterling. He would get some line in and then in his excitement he would let go of the line and the fish would take the line out and we would start again. I finally had him reel some of the line in so that he could get the fish landed. He had a nice bluegill of about 10 inches.

He was so excited and wanted to get another one. I cautioned him that it might take a little while, as fish don't bite every time you cast the fly out. He fished out of the front and I started in the back then. By fishing the flies very slowly and steadily we were able to catch some fish. Sterling did have a little trouble seeing when there was a fish on the line. It would have been easier without the wind.

We moved around the pond as we were getting one or two strikes at each place we stopped. Sterling did have several bass hit the fly, but he never got the rod tip down, so they tossed the fly. The main thing was that he was having a good time.

After about one and a half hours he said that he was getting tired so we headed back for the truck. He helped get everything loaded and we headed for the house to fillet the fish. I had him help fillet by taking the fillets off the skin. I had talked to his father about this previously and he had okayed it. He did a very good job of that.

As I was taking him home, I had him take fish to a few folks that I supply with fish. They all made a big thing of him bringing the fish to them. I felt it was a good lesson to learn to share the fish.

Later that evening I heard that Sterling had cooked the fish and made the rest of the meal. He was one proud kid that he could do that.

It was fun to take him out and see him catch his first fly rod fish. It was also fun to watch him get hooked on fly fishing. He asked me Sunday when I saw him if I would take him again sometime. I said that we would get that done.

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

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