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Saturday on the Shoreline

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

The rain that came through during the weeks has made the fields to wet to drive in.

The only ponds that might have some clear water in them are too far away from the road to be taking the canoe into. I don't want to have to muscle the canoe through some of the low spots that are very muddy.

It has rained during the night so it is 11:00 am before I head out to check which pond I might fish in. I wanted the storms to be past me before I tried to go out.

The first pond I looked at looked like chocolate milk. I could not see two inches into the water. I tried fishing this pond once before when it was this muddy and did not have any success. I drove off to another pond.

This one is about a quarter of a mile off the road, but it is a half-mile hike to get to the pond. It is not a direct line from the road to the gate into the pond. I will fish in this pond, as I am sure it will have the clearest water of any of the ponds I can get to.

Without the canoe there is about half of this pond that I will not be able to fish. There are numerous young sapling trees all along the one side. There is just not room to cast. Not a problem if I am in the canoe, but I don't want to spend all my time trying to get flies out of the trees.

I decided to start fishing near the dam and work my way down the shoreline. I know the water is about 6 to 8 feet deep out for about 40 feet in this area of the pond. The water drops off to about 12 feet deep over a very short distance. Hopefully there might be some fish that have come out of the deep water and are looking for food along the flat area.

I make a short cast the first time. If there are fish I don't want to spook any of them by taking a hooked fish by them. I still do that too many times, even though I know better.

I have cast about five feet out from the dam and start bringing the fly in slowly. The fly has not moved very far when the end of the fly line goes down in the water. I set the hook and have a feisty bluegill on the line.

It is a nice tussle to get this fish in. I have the first fish in the fish basket on my first cast. I know better than to hope that I can keep this average up for the whole day. My next cast is about the same distance, but about 10 feet out from the dam. This time I don't get to move the fly before I set the hook, or better stated hold onto the rod so that it does not disappear. This is a huge bluegill. She is just short of a foot long and as fat as a pig. Her gut is swollen with eggs. As you can probably guess, STUPID has forgotten the camera again. As much as I would like to show you a picture of her, she is still swimming in the lake.

I made some more casts around this area, working the near water first and then lengthening the casts a little on each round. The fish were being very cooperative. In fact, I stopped for a minute to count the fish that were in the basket. I had 15 fish in fifteen casts. I just knew this average would start to drop at some time, but it sure was fun having it at that lofty level. I did get two more fish on the next two casts, 17 for 17. Then it stopped, I think the water had been disturbed too much.

I moved about 25 feet down the bank to start casting again. This was just short of where I had been casting to before. It was another short cast along the shoreline to see what might be there. The fly had not dropped far when the line moved toward the lake. I set the hook, and had my first crappie of the day. This fish was about 8 inches long, but they just don't go back into the small ponds that I fish. Almost every time I catch a crappie I will toss the fly back into that area. Crappie school so much that I don't want to miss the opportunity to put a fly in front of them.

To shorten this ramble, I got three more crappie, the same size, out of the same general area. My next cast was perpendicular to the shoreline. I wanted to let the other water rest for a few minutes. I let the fly drop for a slow count of 10 and started to bring it in very slowly. The fly had not moved very far, when there was some resistance and I had another fish on the line. This was a nice size bluegill that made the rod tip dance around with her antics in being brought in.

A few more casts in the area did not result in any more fish. It was time to move again, but this time a little farther to get around some trees that are along the bank on this side of the pond. In fact I moved far enough that I could be centered between two trees, to fish the water between them. This was my best chance to not catch one of the trees. If I am within15 feet of a tree, I will catch it. No question about it, I am death on trees.

I worked this area slowly and thoroughly. I picked up several more fish. They either took the fly on the run, hooking themselves, or it was just some weight on the line. But it was fun to catch them.

I moved again to get past the one tree that I had not managed to catch. I guess I was far enough away from it. I had just moved into this place when some other folks showed up in the field behind me. They were coming down to fish the pond also. That meant I would not move farther down the pond. I did not want to crowd them.

The sun came out at this point. The clouds had moved on and the fishing really slowed down. I did get a few more fish, but they were much farther out from the bank and deeper in the water column.

As I moved back up the area that I had fished over, I began to notice how heavy the fish basket was. The more I thought about it, and the hike out, the more I thought it might be a good idea to stop. I needed to get some things planted in the garden also.

I did learn one thing. Start fishing at the far end of the pond, so as the fish basket gets heavier you are getting closer to your vehicle.

I got to share fillets with several folks. I also got several things planted in the garden.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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