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Shore Huggers

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I went out to a pond early on Saturday morning. It was one of those days that I had a lot of things to do and not enough time to get them done. The main thing was there needed to be some time spent on the pond.

I had the chance to get into a pond that I have not been to for a few years. The land has been used as pasture or for haying. It has recently changed owners and I now have permission to fish the pond.

We have had some rain, so the water level is finally up in the ponds. The water is also a little colored. I could see a white fly down about four feet in the water. Most of the time you can see down eight feet in this pond.

I got everything into the canoe and got ready to drag the canoe the 50 feet to the water. This pond is fenced to keep cattle out of it. The gate is locked and I do not have, or want, a key for it. It is not that far to move the canoe. When I got near the shore, I made my first few casts.

I caught one bluegill and one bass. Both of them were near the edge of the pond. I got the canoe out into the water and started to cast. There was no breeze, so I did not have an anchor down. I was not doing very much until I decided that if the first fish had been near the shore that just might be the place to cast.

I dropped the fly about six inches from shore and started to retrieve. The fly had moved about two inches when there was a swirl and I set the hook. This was a nice, chunky bluegill that did not like the idea of being hooked. This fish stayed deep and worked to stay broadside to the pressure of the line on him. Great fun on a 3 wt. I finally got the fish up and got him into the canoe.

My next cast was about five feet to the right of where I had hooked the previous fish. The scenario was repeated again. The fly had just moved when another bluegill swirled on it and was on the line. This fish went deep again and took some time to get up to the surface where it could be brought into the canoe.

I did make some casts out into the pond and some that were farther out from the bank. I did not have any success with any of these casts. In the case it was time to get back into casting near the shoreline where the fish seemed to be.

Just about every time that I cast the fly so that it would land within a foot of the shoreline, I would have a fish hit it. If the fly landed more than a foot away from the bank, the fish just did not seem to be interested. So I tried to get the fly close to the shore line on every cast.

After a while I had worked my way down to the end of the pond. I know that the water is about two to three feet deep for the last 30 feet of the pond to the shallow end. I thought there just might be some fish up in this area feeding.

A slight breeze had come up so I did put one of the anchors down and started casting. I was not doing much until I had one of those "dumb luck" things happen. I had been casting into the area and on one of the casts brought the fly back by a little stem left from an aquatic plant from last year. The fly was about an inch away from the stem and just past it when the line went tight and I had a nice fish on. This turned out to be an 11-inch bluegill. This was a nice fat fish, and still swims in the pond.

I did have a thought that the fish might be holding tight to these stickups like the others were close to the shore line. I decided to cast so that I could bring the fly back very close to these stickups. Each time I did this I had a fish hit the fly. I did not hook all of them, but they took the fly.

I did catch several more large bluegills in this area and returned all of them to spawn. I also managed to get a few crappie out of this area. I did lose several crappie that seemed to be hooked in the side of the mouth. But you can't catch what you don't hook.

I had been watching a large dark cloud that was coming toward the pond. When I felt some downdraft wind out of this cloud, I decided that it might be smarter to get of the pond. I had to take the canoe and stuff a little farther and then put it over the fence. I got out to the road and was headed home when the shower came through. No lightening, but I would have gotten soaked.

It was a fun morning and I had fish to eat and share. In all of this I was able to keep my fly loss to two flies. One up in a tree about 12 feet and another in a large bass that just did not like the feel of the hook. Not bad for me for a morning of fishing.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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