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Shallow and Spooky

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I went out for my normal fishing excursion on Saturday morning. This is the first Saturday in September and I am anticipating the fishing starting to pick up some. The nights are starting to cool off a few degrees more than they have before. That means that the temperatures are cooler in the early morning when I get to the pond.

I was supposed to meet a friend so I headed out to one of our favorite ponds. I got there and started unloading stuff. I got everything ready and I was still waiting. I was watching the pond and I could see fish feeding just under the surface. They did not break the surface, but I could see the swirl. I cast at a few near the shore but did not connect with them.

I finally gave up and headed out into the pond. I could always come back to shore to pick him up when he came. I cast with several different flies and was not having any success. I was trying everything and it just was not working. In fact everyplace I cast to the fish quit working in that area.

It was time for a radical change. I went to a size 13 Skip Morris Panfish fly that had no weight of any sort on it. There is a woven body of silver and brown embroidery thread on the shank. The winging was a dull orange marabou with black marabou above it. I also mixed in a few strands of flash material in the wing. This is tied fairly sparse with the marabou.

I decided to make a long cast so I could straighten the line out on the reel. I had some tight loops and some loose loops all mixed up on the reel. It was time to get that straighten out. I tied this fly on the 3 wt rod that I built and had a furled leader to use with it. I also put about 3 feet of 5X tippet on the end of the furled leader.

When I cast the fly out it hit the water very softly. I was not ready to have a fish hit the fly that quickly, but fortunately the fish hooked himself and I had a nice gill to bring to the boat. I cast about 10 feet to the side of where I had caught this fish and had another strike, just after the fly hit the water. This time I was ready to set the hook. I had another nice gill that put up a nice fight before getting him to the canoe.

I made another cast to the opposite side of where I had caught the first fish and had another gill smack the fly just after it hit the water. It was another nice gill. At this point I am seeing the pattern. It takes a long cast with a very gently entry for the fly, so the fish will not spook. When I do this I get a fish.

Just to be sure I tie on a bead head fly on the other rod that I have with me. This is a black leech fly. I cast it out about 20 feet to the side where I have seen a few fish feeding. I can see the wakes as they spook and take off. I only experiment few times, before I go back to the unweighted fly.

Each time I make long cast and have a gentle entry into the water I am catching a fish. As I slowly move down the pond and get toward some of the shallower water, I begin to catch more bass. The bass or mostly around a foot long, but I get a few that are pushing 3 lbs. I am also picking up the odd gill here and there, but not nearly as many as over the deeper water.

I have been watching the shore to see if my friend shows up to go fishing. At the same time I have been watching a front come along. It is a fortunate thing that as I decide to head back toward the dam to fish the deeper water the breeze shifts and is blowing toward the dam. I don't have to do anything, but let the canoe turn around and keep on casting.

I continue to catch gills as I go back up the pond. I try a few other flies that are unweighted, but nothing works as well as this fly. I keep going back to it as I never have taken it off the one rod.

When I am about 40 feet from the dam I hook the first crappie. When I get the fish near the canoe I can see the hook in the thin membrane on the side of the mouth. The fish flips off on the surface. I drop the rear anchor so I can stay in this place and try for another crappie. I hook several more, but only manage to land two of them.

Then suddenly it is over. I can't get a fish to hit on anything. I see no signs of feeding or activity. After another 10 minutes of casting with no hits I decide to head in. I get every thing loaded into and on the pick up and head out.

I go by my friend's house on the way home and they are not there. I find out later that one of the good friends from work was hurt in a car accident and they went to be with the family at the hospital. I don't blame him for doing that, but we will get together another day.

I had a nice mess of gills when I got home. We got to share them with several folks.

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

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