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Hail Day

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I went out Saturday morning to go fishing. I unloaded the canoe before I even went. We had some serious storms with tornados in the area Saturday night. But Friday night we got the big rain storms. It poured for about three hours straight. I knew that I would not be able to drive into any of the ponds.

I went to the first pond and found that there were already some folks there. I did not want to have to put up with any other folks and headed off to another pond. This one had people at it also. Time to head to a pond that involved a hike back to it. I know of one that is about half a mile off the road and most folks don't even know that it exists. Wanting to keep the location private I parked at another spot this is about 3/4 of a mile from the pond, but let me get off the road.

There was another reason to park here. I could walk across pasture and not down the mud road. I would not pick up all the mud on my shoes and that would make it easier walking. With the cows in the field it would be hard to see where I went. The road would show that up easily.

I took two rods and a fish basket and headed back to the pond. In the first 30 feet I was soaked from the knees down, but I knew that would not bother the fish. I had an old pair of tenny runners on just for that reason.

I got to the pond and saw that it was up about two feet. Water gets pulled out of the pond for cattle. With the rain it was full again. I thought that the fish might be up close to the shore looking for food in the vegetation. I made my first cast about 12 feet down the shore and let the fly hit. A 6" bass hit the fly just after it hit the water. I did see a couple of other fish spook that were out just a little farther.

I tried a few more casts along the shore and got some more little bass. Time to change so I cast about 6 feet out from the shore and started to retrieve the fly. I had moved it just a few inches when it got smashed. The fish started twisting and turning and thrashing around on the surface. It was a good sized gill. I tried casting in this area some more but there did not seems to be any fish.

I moved down the shore a little ways and cast out again. I had another gill smash at the fly but miss it. I was letting the fly drop as I was bemoaning my missing the gill when another gill decided to take the fly to the other side of the pond. This was turning out to be fun. This was a nice thick gill. The only problem was that I did not catch another fish at this spot. This bugged me as I knew that there had been another gill there. I was beginning to wonder if maybe the fight with one fish was scaring the others. Time to test this theory.

I moved down the shore again and decided to fish the area differently. I would cast straight out and bring the fly in. I had it about 15 feet out from the shore when I saw the crappie come shooting up and inhale the fly. I very carefully brought this fish in through the weeds and added her to the fish basket. I now cast about 20 feet to my left and out into the pond again. When the fly was about 15 feet offshore again and bass intercepted it. This fish cartwheeled all over the place. I release him to grow up and fight another day. I cast to the right and brought the fly in. Again when it was about 15 feet offshore a gill smashed it. I was beginning to see a pattern.

I know that there is a fairly sharp drop off on this pond that would be about 15 feet out. I think the fish were along the drop off and hitting anything that came by.

I looked to the southwest and saw a dark cloud coming. I figured my fishing time might be short so I tied a second fly on for a tandem rig, blame Joe Hyde for this. I moved and cast it out again. I had two fish on the line, both of them nice gills. On the next cast I got a gill and a crappie. This was fun, but the cloud was coming. I moved on the pond several more times getting a few fish at each place.

Finally the cloud bothered me enough that I headed out. I kept looking back to see how close it was getting and realized that if I was going to beat it to the truck I would have to run. The real clincher on this was the first bolt of lightening I saw. Graphite rods and a lead butt are not a good combination with lightening and thunder in the air.

I hoofed it across the pasture and got everything into the pickup. I was just starting down the road when the rain hit. I could drive about 15 mph and still see where I was going. There were places in this storm that had pea sized hail. I drove out of this about a mile from our house. My wife was hoping that I had enough sense not to be out in that.

I cleaned the fish and got everything put away. I ended up with 30 gills and 5 crappie. Not bad for about an hour and standing on the shore. Just got everything where it belonged and the rain started at the house. I spend the rest of the day inside, but my garden loved it.

I will get back to this pond with my canoe sometime.

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

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