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Evening Bonus

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

My wife went to visit her brother for about a week. That meant all my evenings were free. So Thursday evening I headed out to a pond. The wind was blowing about 25 mph so I decided to leave the canoe and head for a pond where I knew the trees would block the wind some.

When I got to the pond, I saw that I would be able to cast from the far side of the pond but not into the wind. I walked around to the other side and then found the other problem. The grass was about 9 feet tall, right to the edge of the water. I had to make a path to get around the pond.

When I got to the one place I had to bend the grass over so that I could have room to stand and cast a little. When I got it all ready, I cast out with a fly. It had barely hit the water when a gill smacked it hard. He cut some nice didos before I got him in. The next cast brought another gill to hand. They were right under the surface cruising around the pond.

I decided to put on one of the 'no-tie' foam spiders I make and see it they would take it off the surface. I decided that it would be fun to put a Pheasant Tail Nymph (PTN) as a dropper under this. I tied it so it hung down about a foot under the spider. I cast it out and let it set. All of a sudden the spider started skittering across the surface. I set the hook, this stopped the spider for a second, and a gill slurped it off the surface. I had two fish on at the same time and they wanted to go opposite directions. I got them close and saw the gill on the spider and a crappie on the PTN. I did manage to get both of them landed.

That was fun so I decided to try it again. Cast out and let the spider set. In about 20 seconds it started moving again. When I sat the hook the spider stopped moving and another gill hit it. I again had doubled on a gill and a crappie. I did this five more times, before my crappie fever struck. I then took the spider off and started casting the PTN by itself. When it would get down about a foot, the line would start going sideways. I would have another crappie on the line.

I did this until I had 24 crappie. With the gills I had caught I was having a good evening. One of my friends showed up at this point. He wanted to get some fish to have a dinner the next evening. I invited him to come over where I was.

We cleared a little more area for him to stand and he started casting with his spinning gear. He was not catching anything with that. I did have a second fly rod with me so I set it up with a spider and a PTN. He has fly fished a little so he could cast it. It was a ball to watch him the first time he got a double. He was like a kid that has just figured out that you get candy when you knock on doors at Halloween. He had a ball catching these fish.

At 8:00 p.m. I told him that I needed to head home so I would have light to fillet the fish. He said that he would leave at the same time, but to come by his house. I followed him out and went to his place. He wanted to fillet all the fish there. He has a nice big piece of counter top that he uses as a fillet board. We could dump all the fish out and still have plenty of room to work on each side.

We set up a rhythm of cleaning. I took the fillets off the side and then he took them off the skin.

Between us we had caught 45 crappie and 32 bluegills. We got them cleaned in 30 minutes.

He then took the guts to his garden and buried them where he will plant some late corn.

He then dumped all the crappie in one bag for me to take and over half of the gills into another bag. He said that he does not like to eat crappie and that he had enough gills. I should go make my fish run and get rid of the rest.

All in all it was a fun evening, especially to watch someone else have so much fun catching fish.

The PTN that worked the best had the body and wing case tied with a mix of regular pheasant, Golden pheasant, and Reeve's Pheasant tail fibers. This worked better than a fly tied with all of one type of fiber. The thorax was made with peacock herl.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick (written 06/22/03)

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