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Very, Very Softly

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

It was opening day of pheasant season. That means that I go out fishing during the middle of the day, when fewer hunters are out in the fields. I just feel safer under those conditions. At this time of year it is also a little warmer than being out at daybreak.

As I drove up to the pond that I wanted to fish, I saw vehicles leaving the field on the other side of the pond, I knew that I would have a few hours before anyone returned to hunt, if they came back to this spot. The other thing that helps is that it was about 20 degrees warmer than it had been at daybreak. I reason that the fish are more active then, but it may be a little more comfortable for me also.

I got out on the pond and started casting along a break line at the dam end. There did not seem to be much happening. The wind was blowing about 15 mph out of the south. I decided to go to the north side of the pond and cast into the wind. This way I could bring the flies back with the wind and that might just interest the fish.

I cast out with a popper/PTN dropper combination and let them sit on the water. I cast out with a Skip Morris Panfish fly in red and yellow on the other rod. I was slowly retrieving the SMP when I noticed that the popper was not moving in like it had been before. I grabbed the rod and I had a fish on it.

It was a nice gill that had taken the PTN. I cast this combo out again and watched it a little more closely as I was casting the other fly. After three casts with the SMP, I noticed the popper had stopped again. It was another nice gill on the line.

It was time to change the fly on the second rod. I got some Aberdeen jig hooks and tied some patterns on those to use during the fall. These hooks have a 90 degree bend on the shank so the eye is about level with the hook point. I can tie patterns on these and they stay fairly level when they are under water.

I put on a black leech pattern and cast it out. I had shortened the leader to about five feet also. I wanted the fly to drop and then come in at the speed of the waves would move the end of the line. That is the way I had caught fish on the popper/PTN dropper rig and I wondered if that is what the fish wanted.

The fly had moved about five feet when I saw the end of the line start to go under the surface of the water. I set the hook and had a nice crappie on the line. While bringing this fish in I saw two more fish swimming around the one on the line.

I cast this out again and let it drop. I held the rod, but did not do anything to the line. I just let the wind push the end of the line back towards me. That is all the action that the fish wanted in the fly. I would have a strike on almost every cast. Well not really a strike, but I would see the end of the fly line start to go under water. When I would tighten the line I would have a fish on it. I did loose several fish, but I think they were crappie and I did not have them hooked well.

I did try retrieving the fly again and that did not work. I had to let the wind move it, that was the only way the fish would take the fly. The bites were very soft.

My guess is that as the water is cooling, the fish are moving slower and the fly has to be right on their nose to be taken. All of the fish were hooked fairly deeply in their mouth.

I caught several bass as I was doing this. The bass went from about 6 to 15 inches long.

The fly had to be moving super slowly to get the fish to take it. All these fish were in water from 5 to 8 feet deep. All of them were caught when casting out with the wind in my face.

I went home with a fair number of fish. They were good eating.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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