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Another Canoeless Saturday

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I headed out early to get to a pond. We had some other things that we wanted to work on in the yard. It has rained again, several times, and it is just not dry enough to drive across the fields. Too many places to get stuck and too easy to leave ruts in the fields if you drive on them.

I hike into a pond that is almost half a mile from the road. It sure doesn't seem that far when I can drive in, but walking through the mud seems to make it a lot longer. It is still easier to walk in than to try to get myself unstuck.

The water is not really clear, but it is not really muddy either. Kind of the golden brown color you would like a marshmallow to be just before it goes on a s'more. There is some hope that the fish can see the flies a little farther than they have before. I am going with a hares ear type fly on one rod and a silver goldie jr on the other rod. I want a bright flashy fly and a more natural fly to start fishing with.

I cast the hares ear near the shoreline about 12 feet to my right and slowly start to retrieve it. I want to know if there are any fish close to the shoreline. I almost have the fly back to me when a nice gill inhales it. It takes forceps to reach down the gullet of this fish to remove the fly. This is a big gill, but I am afraid I may have injured it too much and put it in the basket.

I cast down the shoreline on my left side and slowly start to retrieve. I see the flash of a fish rolling on the fly. I think crappie and set the hook. The fish is on for about five seconds and then the line is limp. I grab the other rod with the silver goldie jr on it and cast a few feet farther out in the pond and start retrieving the fly. I see the flash of a fish as I take the fly out of the water. I slow my next retrieve down, but then I am in the weeds.

Time to change flies. Fishndave sent me some of the flies he tied, "Crappie like these" on FAOL, that are unweighted. I think this is the fly to try. Flash in a fly that can move slowly. I tie one on and cast to the right. The fly has moved a couple of feet when a small crappie inhales the fly. This fish goes in the basket. I cast to the left again and try a slow retrieve again. The fly has moved a few feet when a nicer crappie takes it. This fish acts more like a bass as it tries to lose the fly by twisting and turning as it comes in.

This fish has made enough commotion that I don't get any more fish at this place. I move a few feet to my left and cast that way again. I am hoping that by moving a few feet I may find fish that were not disturbed by the previous fish. By hooking them and bringing them toward me the others just might not notice.

My first cast results in another very nice crappie. This is a fat fish that makes a nice addition to the fish basket. Another cast to the area just a little farther out from shore results in another small crappie taking the fly. A few more casts result in no fish, but it is good practice. On a whim I toss the fly toward the middle of the pond and start retrieving it. The fly has not gone far when a fat, sassy bluegill takes it. Lots of turns and didoes by this fish before it comes to shore. That was the only fish in that area.

I am beginning to see a pattern here. One or two fish out of each area and then it is time to move. I start doing this in a more deliberate manner. It seems to work. A couple of fish near the shore, usually crappie. Then I would catch one or two more fish from farther out, usually bluegills.

I move on around the pond doing this, catching a few fish at almost every place until I get to the shallow end of the pond. The fish do not seem to like this area, so I don't spend much time there.

I keep making short casts just out in front of me as I move along the pond. It seems there are fish all along the edge, but they are skittish. I get a few good-sized bass that spook several other fish. I am moving fairly fast as there is not a need to recast over an area.

I get back to where I started and try the same routine. It worked the first time, but not now.

I try several other things and several other flies, but the fish seemed to have turned off.

After about 30 minutes with no fish, I decided to head home. The fish basket gets heavy on a longer hike. It is exciting to catch fish, but they do get heavier the farther you have to walk.

I had 29 crappie and 24 bluegill for the day. A good day of fishing, with some catching involved. I got to share fillets with several folks.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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