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In the Canoe Again

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I got to head out on Saturday. I had been gone to CE courses for two days and I was home. My wife was gone to a weekend meeting with a friend. When I got to the pond I did not have to worry about when I got home, as there would be no one there. It is the time of year for mid-day fishing. I do that when the hunting seasons start. It is rare to see anyone in the fields from about 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Those turn out to be my fishing hours.

The rains had stopped and the fields had dried out some. I could get the truck into the ponds and that means the canoe could be there also. I was not going to have to stand on the bank and cast. I got all the important equipment into the canoe and headed out.

This is my favorite time of the year to fish. The water is cooling down, the vegetation is dying off, and the fish are putting on the feedbag. The largest fish I catch each year, usually come during this time. It is more comfortable to fish now, as it is not as hot out.

I have a 1 wt with a black marabou leech on it. One 3 wt has a Gilly on it and the other 3 wt has a white boa yarn leech. The 5 wt has a Goldie on it. This way I have a light fly, a dark fly, a bright fly and a shiny fly to start casting with.

This is a pond that I have only been to one time before. It is one that I can get into because I helped chase cows down one time. The pond is just short of being square. It is an area that was dammed up because there were about five places that were starting to wash out. By building a 50-foot dam a nice pond was formed. The dam is on the south end. The pond is about 90 yards wide and just over 100 yards long. There are also a couple of humps in the pond that you can locate b y following the lay of the land. The deepest water is about 16 feet deep. Most is about 8 to 10 feet, between the humps.

If "stupid" would remember to check his camera to make sure the battery was not dead you would be seeing a picture of the pond now. It would be easy to see how you can locate the humps. I had charged the other battery, but had not brought it with me. So you will have to take my word for it.

I went to the east side and anchored about 20 feet off shore. This way I can cast to the shore and to the top of one of the humps. I will just have to find out where the fish are located. I grab a rod; I never look at the first one, to start casting with. I have the rod with the Gilly. I cast to the shore and let the fly drop. I start a slow retrieve in and have a fish hit it. I quickly know that this is a bluegill because of the way it twists around in circles. I am surprised at the size of this fish when I get it near the canoe. I lip this fish, a twelve plus inch bluegill. She goes back into the pond. What a way to start. The biggest gill I have caught in this pond.

My next cast is out over the hump. I want the shoreline to rest for a minute or two. I let the fly drop a few seconds and start a slow retrieve. The fly has not moved far when I have another fish smash the fly. The fish is hooked when it takes the fly. It is another bluegill that does not like to be hooked. This is a nice fat 10-inch fish. This one is headed for the fish basket.

I cast to the shore again and don't even have time for the fly to drop. I am not sure what I am hooked into, but it puts a nice bend in the rod. I have the fish about 15 feet from the canoe when it comes out of the water and flips around. It was a nice crappie, but that aerial display resulted in the hook coming out. I can't remember very many crappie jumping out of the water. Time to cast again to find another one.

I cast over the hump again. This time I let the fly fall down the face of the hump to see what might happen. I am near the bottom when I start to retrieve the fly, as I don't want to snag on the bottom. I have not moved the fly far when the fly quits moving. The rod tip went down, but the line did not come in. I think I am snagged in spite of my trying not to. I am reaching for the anchor rope, to move the canoe when the line starts to move.

I am not snagged; I am tied up with a big fish! I have to let the fish swim around, as I cannot really do anything with it. The fish finally figures out it is attached to something, and does not like the idea. I can feel the fish shaking its' head. The fish starts swimming away and I can feel the body movement in the rod. I want this fish in my hand. I finally get the fish to turn a little and start making circles around the canoe. But I am not gaining any line, but I can keep the fish moving and hopefully tire out. After several trips around the canoe I begin to gain some line. It is not fast, but I gain a little more than I lose each time. fter 30 minutes I can see the fish. This is a huge bass. I know it is too big for the net that I carry with me, so it will be lipping this fish. This fish is so big that I work on getting the anchor up so that she cannot wrap around the anchor line. We end up out in the middle of the pond before I can get her up to get my hands on her. She is the biggest bass I have every caught. She is around 28 inches long and looks more like a football than a fish. I get her back in the water quickly and let her go. I will look for her again next year.

I move the canoe over between two humps before I try another cast. I am in about 8 feet of water. I pick up the 5 wt with the Goldie on it and start casting that. I want to try to get a few crappie for dinner. The fly has not moved far when a fish hits it hard. This time I manage to get a nice crappie into the boat. I cast out again and have a repeat of this on the next three casts. The crappie seem to like this fly. But after four fish there is no more action with this. I grab the 1 wt and get the black marabou leech out. The fly is dropping when the line moves to the side. I have another nice gill on the line. Great fun with a very light rod. I get another six fish to hit this fly the same way before things turn off.

I move the canoe about 30 feet and try the same thing again. I am getting fish, but about half the crappie are getting off as they are jumping out of the water. I have no idea why they are jumping. It is not the usual behavior I get from crappie. The gills seem to want to annihilate the fly.

I move around several more times on the pond. I am having a blast with all the fish that are hitting. I had not brought a watch so I had no idea what time it was. I was settled in to have more time on the pond.

The sound of two shots, not that far from me, changed my mind. I got the rods stowed and the anchors up and headed for the truck. I got everything into the truck and was heading for the gate when I saw the hunters. It was only 1:00 pm, but they were out.

I had a nice mess of fish. Good size crappie and very nice gills. I got home and got most things put away. The canoe was till on the rack and the rods were behind the pickup seat. With my wife out of town I could try again on Sunday afternoon.

I cleaned up after filleting the fish and watched a few football games. I also had a nice dinner of crappie fillets, fresh green beans, green peppers and tomatoes. I can cook, did I mention that? It was a great day.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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