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Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I went to a pond that I don't get to very often for my normal Saturday morning excursion. This pond is about the size of two football fields. The deepest water is about 14 feet and most of the pond is about 6 to 8 feet deep. It drains pasture land so there are no chemicals going into it. The only problem is that the cattle on it are Brahmas. I just don't go into fields with those. Since there are three fields to cross it is not often that all three are free of cattle. But it worked out for this day.

The landowner also told me to leave all of the gates open when I went in. He would be doing some work in the fields and that would make it easier for him.

I got to the pond and got everything loaded into the canoe. I had a 3 wt and a 5 wt rod with me. I had tied on tandem flies (blame Joe Hyde for this). This way I could see what flies would work the best faster. I got out on the pond and started casting. It did not take me long to figure out that the fish were all near the weed edges. That is the only spot that I was catching fish.

I was getting fish on every fly that I had tied on. I would get one or two fish in a spot and then have to cast about 10 feet away from them. I think the fish were fairly spooky and the fight would scare them off. There was a lot of shore line and the fish were cooperative.

I finally got the place on the pond where I could go down the weed line with the breeze behind me. I dropped the back anchor down about 3 feet to help slow down the drift. This was easy to do with the cam cleats on the anchoring system. I continued to catch fish as I slowly moved down this shore line. I would let the fly drop about a foot and then slowly move them back with very slow easy strips.

The fish would either hammer the fly or I would feel some weight on the line. I even changed flies on both rods and continued to catch fish. It was one of those days when everything worked.

I did see why the fish were near the weed edges. The fry from the spawn were hiding in the weeds. I am not sure which fry they were but the fish were in looking for them.

I was a little surprised that I had not caught any crappie. I had caught several gills and had even picked up a fair number of bass up to about three pounds. I even hooked two three-pound bass on the 3 wt at the same time. What a circus trying to get them in.

I got to the end of the pond and headed back up the other shore. On this side I had to put the front anchor down to hold position as the breeze was in my face. Just enough to ripple the surface but too much to try to paddle and fish against. I was curious so I put a popper and midge dropper rig on the one rod.

I cast this rig near the edge about 15 feet ahead of the canoe. The fly had hit and settled for about 5 seconds when the popper took off side ways. As I brought this gill in, I could see three others around it. As soon as I got this gill off, I cast into the same place. I had another gill take this fly the same way. I ended up catching 6 gills in this same spot with the midge. After they stopped hitting the midge, I caught a couple of more on the other rod.

I moved up the shore line about 20 feet and started casting again with the midge rig. I caught more gills with this than I did with any of the other fly combinations I tried, at each place that I cast it. I will have to try this some more to see if it is a pattern that will hold up.

When I tried the other rod at this spot, I caught my first crappie. I was gone. I changed over to two crappie flies and tried for some more. I caught a few at each place that I stopped. I moved slowly and continued to fish for them. I also tried the midge rig again, after catching the crappie. I would get a few gills on it and even had a few gills hit the popper now. Great fun to have two gills on at the same time.

I was approaching the dam end of the pond again. I decided to make one more cast and then head home. I had a lot of fish to clean and it was getting warm. I dropped the flies into a little depression in the weeds, let them fall for a few seconds and then started a slow retrieve. I had moved them a foot or so when they got hammered. I thought I had a bass on. This fish went all over the place. I finally got it away from the weeds and worked on wearing it down some. Was I ever surprised to find out that this was a crappie. I then got really excited as I wanted to get this fish into my hand. Being a little cautious I did use the net.

When I got this fish out of the water, I saw that it was bleeding out of one gill plate. This fish had taken both flies and the one had been in the gills. As the fight went on this fly pulled through the gill filaments and had caused the bleeding. I figured this fish was dead so I kept it.

I did head home after catching this fish. The disappointment came as I started filleting the fish.

The gills were not bad but the crappie had very thin fillets on them. The big crappie did not have much more flesh on it than did the smaller crappie I caught.

The only reason I can think of for this is that there is not enough food in this pond for fish of this size. There is not much algae showing in this pond. This was a female crappie. I think she had used up a lot of energy in the production of eggs and the spawn and was now feeding trying to make up for it. That is the only reason I can think of for a fish this big to be in about 4 feet of water at about 8:45 am with the sun having been on the water for about three hours. I am going to try to fish this pond more and see if taking some more fish out will help.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick (written 06/26/05)

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