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Halloween Fun

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I waited until Sunday afternoon to go out fishing. Saturday the wind was blowing at 40 mph steadily with gusts up to 55 mph. Not only is it hard to cast in that wind, but it is not safe to be out in the canoe. In the late afternoon the wind began to slow down, but we were involved in other things.

Sunday morning dawned clear and there was no wind. We did our normal things for Sunday and managed to get home fairly early. At 1:45 PM I was at the pond. This is a pond I have not fished for a couple of years. I have to cross a field to get to it and the landowners were having a fight about that and I stayed out of it. I have to open a gate and go about 100 feet to get to the pond. I finally got permission to cross the land, after I ask the owner each time.

As I pulled up to the pond, it was glassy smooth. No wind. Then the interest was perked. Three different places on the pond and fish boiled on the surface or just under the surface, but the water was disturbed. It took longer to unload the canoe and get everything into it, I kept watching the pond and the fish moving in the water.

I finally got out onto the water and started casting with a Hares Ear Nymph on one rod and a Skip Morris Panfish in red and yellow on the other rod. After several casts and nothing happening it was time to change flies. I went to a black marabou leech and a yellow nymph pattern.

The yellow nymph did nothing after several casts. I switched and cast the black leech. The fly had just hit the water and I had a fish on. As soon as this fish felt the hook it headed down in the water column. A gill sideways under six feet of water is a blast. On the next cast I had another fish hit and when I set the hook the gill came out of the water. The hook set was not that hard, just the gill going ballistic. On the second jump the hook came out.

Just as I was bemoaning losing the fish the line tightened and I had another gill on the fly. This one went deep also. I had a 4 lb leader on so I did not want to put too much pressure on the fish to bring it up. There was a nice bow in the rod and the tip was dancing. I finally got this fish up and into the basket.

A few casts later I saw the flash of a fish and had a crappie on for a few seconds before the hook came out. This happened on six straight casts. The fish were rolling on the fly and were being hooked in the thin part of the mouth. You can't catch them if you don't hook them.

The next fish I hooked was a huge bluegill. This fish came up and wallowed on the surface and flopped around. I was being very careful as I wanted this fish in my hand. This fish went around the canoe three times before I got her in. I had to lip her to do it. She measured just shy of 13 inches, and was very thick. I thought about keeping her to show some folks and brag a little, but she is still swimming in the pond. The interesting thing I saw was the other fish swimming with her as I was trying to land her. I could see another dozen fish around her as she circled the canoe.

The next fish I hooked that I managed to keep up near the surface gave me some more information. When I got the fish up near the canoe, I could see several other fish around this one.

I changed fishing tactics. Instead of starting off with short casts and then slowly making them longer I went to long casts. I had lost several fish when they jumped or just after hooking them.

My thought was that there were several others around for everyone that I hooked. My guess is that they were in competition for food. If I lost one, they would be another to hit the fly.

This worked very well and I continued to catch fish. I also lost several fish. But if one came off another would hit the fly. I did not have the anchor down and just let the fish on the line move me around the pond. I have a watch that has an alarm on it and at 4:30 it went off. I decided that it was time to head home.

I did miscalculate a little as I had caught more fish than I thought. I had to turn the back porch light on and fillet the fish under the light for the last 18 fish. I can't do them as fast this way.

When I was washing the fillets, I found out that I had caught 57 gills and 1 crappie. I know I lost at least that many also, but it was so much fun having them on the line.

It seemed a little strange that they did not hit any of the other flies, but who am I to argue with success.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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