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Three Days - Three Ways

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I went out to the lake over my lunch hour the three days I was at my second office. The conditions varied each day. With the change in conditions I found that I had to change the tactics I used each day. I still caught fish on the same flies, but I had to use them differently. I fish the same general areas of the lake and settling pond.

Tuesday the wind was blowing out of the south at about 15 mph. This had been going on for a couple of days. I could see that there was a line of algae out about 15 feet from the shore along the flat of the main lake that I fish. The wind had pushed all of this algae against this shore and it sure looked like a place to try. The water was a pea green color like a pea soup that had been cut by adding the same amount of water.

I went with a leech pattern on a size 10 hook with a small black bead head on it. I tied this with boa yarn, wrapping it up the shank about four times. I like this for a leech pattern as it has some bulk, but also has a lot of movement as you strip it, let it drop or put any other action on it. When the water is clear I go to patterns that have more bulk. I think it lets the fish locate them better.

I cast this fly out and let it drop for about 12 seconds. I knew that this would put it down about 5 to 6 feet as I started to retrieve it. I moved the fly at the same speed the waves were pushing the fly line in. I tried to keep the line fairly tight. The line was about a third of the way in from the edge of the algae line when I saw the line dip a little. I set the hook and had a very feisty gill on the line. This was a nice fat female and I returned her to the water.

I figure if it works once then try it again. Each time I would cast out and let the fly drop like I did the first time with the slow retrieve I would get a fish on. I got gills and a few bass by doing this. It is not fast fishing, but it sure beats sitting in the office.

When I went out Thursday the wind was not blowing very hard. There was a slight breeze out of the west. I could see that the algae was gone from the flat. I was watching the lake and the settling pond to see if I saw any activity. I finally saw a little surface activity on the settling pond and decided to try there.

Since there were a few fish taking something off the surface I put on a popping bug made out of 5 sheets of foam, alternating black with yellow. There are black discs on the ends and in the middle with yellow discs between them. It is a bee imitation. I cast this out about 10 feet from the edge of the weeds and let it set for a few seconds. A very cooperative gill came up and took the bug. I even waited long enough to let the gill really get it before setting the hook.

This gill decided that the best place to go was into the weeds. I had to work for a while to get her out of them and landed. But that is part of fishing and what makes it fun, to be challenged. I cast a few more times along this weed edge and got another gill and a small bass. I decided to cast the other direction and see what would happen. I had just let the fly settle, and was waiting to move it when the water opened up under it. More out of surprise than skill, it was a little while before I was smart enough to set the hook. When this bass felt the hook she went into orbit. Fortunately she decided to head for the other side of the pond and not into the weeds. I let her run to wear some energy off.

Just as this fish had hit a truck was pulling onto the road. Two guys had been fishing the main lake for the morning and were headed home. When they saw this fish hit they stopped to see what it was. They were very courteous and stayed out of the way.

After the fish ran I worked on getting some line back in, but more I was trying to keep her moving to get tired. I did have the rod high in the air to keep her up in the water column. I was afraid if she got deep she might wrap me around something. All in all I could not put a lot of pressure on with 4X tippet going to the fly. I just tried to keep tension on her and keep her away from the weeds. After about 12 minutes I got her to where she was about 20 feet from shore. She jumped at this time and we got to see how big she was. She also saw us and took off on another run.

One of the guys went to the boat and got a long handled net so he could land her if and when I got her in. She jumped a few more times, but I could tell that she was starting to get tired. I could exert a little more control over her. I was still letting her swim around against the tension of the rod and line. She finally got tired enough that I could really dictate where I wanted her to go. I brought her in at an angle to the shore where we were standing and the other gentleman netted her.

This was a huge bass. This was a net with a scale and showed just over 8.5 pounds. I took the fly out of her mouth and we looked at her for a minute. We did have her down in the water, but still in the net. I thought about it for a few minutes and then decided that we should release her in the main lake. Too many people would fish this settling pond and the would catch her. I know that many of them would keep her. We took her over to the main lake in the net and then he released her, without our handling her very much.

I had to hold her lower jaw to get the hook out but that was it. This is the largest bass I have caught in this lake. But then I had to head back to work.

On Friday I headed back out to the lake. I could not see anything happening so I decided to cast in the areas where I had caught fish before. Nothing was happening.

I changed flies and still nothing. I was getting ready to move when I found out what would work. When I get ready to move I always cast the line out and then wind it in fairly fast using my off hand to put some tension on the line so it winds on the reel better.

I was winding the line it with a McCreys Honey (Ricks Favorite Bluegill flies in the panfish archives) on the line when a gill hit it. I decided to try this again and had fish hit the fly every time as I brought it in this fast. I decided to try a popper with the same fast retrieve and it worked.

I would have gills or bass come up and hit the fly while it was moving fast and always near the surface. This is crazy for the middle of July, at noon and with the temperature near 90 degrees. But if it works I will do it. I tried three other flies and they all worked the same way. Nothing hit if the fly was still on the surface of if I retrieved them deep. But make a wake on the surface and the fish smashed them. I caught several fish and then had to head back to the office.

Kind of crazy that things change so much from day to day but that is part of fishing.

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

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