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Very Softly

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I went out to a pond on Saturday morning. This time I did not have to be in as much of a hurry as nothing was really planed until about 11:00 am in the morning. This is a pond I have not been to in a few years. It is one of those that is not as fertile and can only be fished every couple of years.

I got the canoe loaded with all the stuff that it takes to have a fishing excursion. The fly rods, fish basket, paddle, anchors and the water bottle were all in. There are weeds out about 15 feet all around this pond. I decided to launch the canoe before I did any casting as I was worried about getting fish into the weeds and having the leader break.

I started off with a black boa yarn leech. I made the first cast just a few feet off the edge of the weeds and started retrieving the fly with a very slow short strip and a few second pause. The fly had moved just a few feet when I felt some pressure and set the hook. I had a foot long bass on the line that decided he had a pilot's licence. This fish spent more time in the air than on the water. By the time I got the fish in and released I was sure there was not another fish within 30 feet because of all the noise. But I still tried some casts, just to prove it and to find if there were any deaf fish in the area. No luck in that regard.

I moved about 20 feet and tried casting again. On the second cast I felt a little resistance on the line and set the hook. It sure acted like I had a bluegill on the line and that proved true. I got this fish in close and started to swing it up into the canoe. That is when I found out the fish was barely lip-hooked. As I was swinging the fish up the hook tore out of the fish's mouth and the fish went swimming again.

This happened to me again in a couple of casts. I don't always learn very fast. As I was trying to bring the fish out of the water the hooks were tearing out and the fish would go back into the water, outside of the fish basket.

On the next fish that took the fly I was ready. I used the landing net I always carry in the canoe. This fish flipped the hook off while in the net, but I was able to get it into the fish basket.

I tried a few more times and then moved the canoe again.

What I found is that each place that I stopped I would manage to hook two or three fish. The thing was that none of the strikes were really hard hits. It was all weight/resistance on the line. And all of the fish were just barely lip hooked. I lost many more fish in the water than I ever got anywhere near the net.

I changed flies in the hope that the fish might hit another fly with a little bit more authority. To make a long story short, I can tell you that the fish hit every one of the twenty flies I tried the same way. None of the fish hit with any authority.

I did catch several bass over the time I was on the pond and I did hook several fish I never saw.

I ended up with eleven bluegills and one crappie. But it was a fun morning to be out.

I hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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