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Small Rings

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I went out to the lake again over my lunch hour. I know the fish will be hitting soon and it is a fun way to spend the time. Got out there and noticed that there were small ring rises all over the little settling pond on the one side of the road.

I figure that this water would be a few degrees warmer and that it would be a better place to fish. Rigged up with a couple of my favorite flies and started casting. I was getting the sum total of nothing. I decided to watch what was happening around the pond. I needed a clue to know what was going on.

I glanced to the side and saw a good size bass swimming in the shallow water. I then saw her rise up and sip something just under the surface or on it, I couldn't tell. I decided it was time to try one of the little flies that I had tied.

I had been in a hackle swap and got several different colors of hackles to use. One of them was some midge feathers so I got some small hooks and tied up some midges. When a size 16 had been your 'small hook' and you go to size 18 to 22, those things get very small. I tied up several different patterns I found online.

Tied on a size 22 black midge and cast it out in the general area where I had seen the bass swimming. Let it set there, partially because I could not see it and also I thought the bass might come back in again. In about a minute I saw the bass swimming along again and coming up to the surface to sip something. I wondered if she would take the midge but just had to wait as I was not sure exactly where it was.

She rose up again and I saw the line twitch so I set the hook. She took great exception to this and went ballistic. She came out of the water three times before I got her landed. She was 16 inches long and full of eggs. I admired her for a few seconds and then looked for the fly. Finally found it on the inside of her lip and got it removed to let her swim again.

I then noticed a couple of small gills were in the shallow water and making small rise form rings. I had always thought that all the little rings that I was seeing were made by gills or very small bass. Even I learn after a while so I thought that maybe some of the other risers out in the pond might be decent size fish.

Cast out in the area where I could see the rings and let the fly set. After less than a minute the line twitched and I set the hook. I had a bluegill that was about eight inches long. He put a nice bend in the rod and cut some nice circles before he came in.

I moved down the shore line a little ways and cast out again. This time I got a bass of about twelve inches. This continued to happen as I went up and down the shore line I could cover.

The interesting things is that I also caught a couple of crappie that were about six inches long. This was not something that I had expected.

My guess is that the competition for food is fairly severe and every fish is taking what it can find. I never did see what they were taking but the fly was working for me and that was good enough.

This is the first time that I have been aware of bass coming up and sipping insects like they were small fish. Should have guessed this, because trout do it. I had always assumed that bass would swirl, slash or jump at a fly. This taught me I should not make as many assumptions as I have.

Also, I need to tie more small flies.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick (Written May 5, 2003)

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