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Wierd Day

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I went out to the lake over my lunch hour in early October. It had been foggy in the morning and then sun had finally burned the fog off. It was just too nice to stay in. Besides that it was shirt sleeve weather.

When I got to the lake there was a slight breeze that was blowing off and on. It was coming from the west. It was a beautiful autumn day. As I was getting the fly rods out, I saw a fish jump near the shore on the northeast side of the pond. It sure did look like a carp.

I stood by the edge of the settling pond to see if there was any activity. I could see a few bugs. There were skittering across the surface. They formed a very distinctive "V" pattern in the water. They would go about 10 feet and then meet their demise.

I changed the fly on one rod to a floating/suspending nymph pattern (see Ricks Favorite bluegill flies in the panfish archives). This one was dark red on a size 12 hook. I cast it out and let it set for a few seconds. I was just getting ready to twitch it when a fish slurped it down. It was a nice gill about 7 inches long. That is a fairly good size for this pond.

I cast out in the same general area and let the fly set for a few seconds. So I twitched it a little and let it set. I had done this a few times when a fish came from the side, like a freight train, and inhaled the fly. It was another nice gill. I had just released the fish, when one of the "old geezers" showed up. He told me that I could not release any more of them. He would release them into his bucket. We bantered about this for a minute, just because I did not want him to think that I was easy.

I decided at this point that I should become systematic in my casting, since I was stuck on shore. I had been casting straight out from me. I decided to cast at about the 9 o'clock orientation and see if there were any fish near the shore. The fly hit the water and a 9" gill inhaled it. This fish then decided to head for the center of the pond. I got him turned and brought him in as he cut all of the dido's that he could. It was great fun.

I then cast to about the 2 o'clock position and let the fly set. After about 3 seconds there was a slurp and I had another gill on the line. This was another feisty fish. I do like to catch gills on the surface, especially when they slurp the fly in. I continued to cast around the area varying from side to side. I slowly increased the distance I cast on each rotation through the area. I try not to spook fish by making long casts the first time. I usually try to make short casts first and then increase the length of the cast. I have seen too many fish spook when I hook a fish on the first cast a long way out.

I had caught about 15 fish by the time I had covered the water, as far as I can cast. About equal number hit when the fly hit the water and the others after the fly was twitched.

I did remember seeing the bug skating across the surface. I cast out and let the fly set for a few seconds. I then put the rod under my arm and started slowly stripping the line in. I wanted a steady retrieve as that is the way the bug moved. I had moved the fly about 6 feet when a fish came up and hit it. This fish came straight up and came partially out of the water to take the fly. This was another fat gill.

I tried this again. Again after about 6 to 8 feet of moving the fly a gill would come straight up and hit the fly. This one I saw coming up and still managed to hook it. I was getting hits on every cast. I did not hook fish every time, some were too small and sometimes I was just to darn fast or slow on the uptake. I was getting a strike almost every time.

By this time the geezer had enough fish. I decided to try a few other flies. I put on a small brown foam popper that I got in a swap. As long as I made the "V" the fish would hit the fly. In fact the one time the wind came up as I was retrieving and the fish hit the fly.

I had tied up a few large midges, size 12, because of Jack Hise talking about them. I tied one of these on and it worked the same way. It did not seem to matter what the fly was as long as the "V" was formed. I am wondering if it was a caddis hatch, but I did not see any of the bugs very close.

My guess is that the fish are on the fall feed, getting ready for the winter. In any case it was fun and the "old geezer" appreciated the fish. I will have to try this again on a few other ponds and see if it works there also.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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