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Ten by Eleven

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

We have had a drought. It has not rained for 10 days in a row. There may be a few sprinkles today, but no serious rain. I don't know what to do with the dry weather. But I head out to one of my favorite ponds. I have not been there in along time. It has been too wet to get to it.

I get to the gate that leads to the field where the pond is. I am getting ready to take the canoe trailer out of the pick up so I can haul the canoe into the pond. The land owner told me he did not want people driving across the fields to get to the pond. The person who is farming the land came by. He told me I could open the gate and drive up to the pond. He trusted me not to cross the fields if it was wet.

I got to the pond and got all my stuff into the canoe. I went to the edge of the shore. I made my first casts from there. The water was really fairly clear. It was the clearest I had seen in months.

The first cast resulted in a bluegill smashing the fly. No doubt about the bite. In fact I had five fish in six casts from the shore. It took a few more casts to get the next five fish, but they were in a receptive mood.

I wondered how many different flies I could use to catch 10 fish on. I got out in the canoe and started casting. I was using the second rod I had with me and the fly that was on it. It took 13 casts to get the 10 fish landed. I have not had fishing like this all year. This was much more like the early spring when the bluegills are up on their beds to spawn. I have not made a cast longer than 15 feet yet. I am fishing the water closest to me.

I change both flies to something else that is in a box. I open the box, close my eyes, pick up two flies, one from each side and then tie them on.. I decide to add another variable to this. I want to catch half the fish on each fly while casting left handed. Castwell suggested learning to do this a few years ago and I have worked on it some since that time. I am not near as good or accurate left handed as I am right handed, but it is improving.

I have an orange marabou leech and a yellow soft hackle fly on the two rods. It takes a few casts with each of these flies before a fish takes them. By accident I find that the fish like a lift and drop retrieve. Pull the fly a few inches and then let it drop. It might take a while, but then a fish would take the fly. It did not take long to catch ten fish on each of these flies. I think the fish hit these brightly colored flies harder than they had hit some of the first flies I had on.

I am not as smooth and proficient in landing the fish when casting left handed. I have not practiced that as much as just the casting and it showed. I was getting some practice in that deficiency in my fishing ability. Retrieving line with a fish on it is different than just pulling the line in with no resistance.

I tied on two more flies to go for the next 10 fish on each. I was into another experiment. I have tied up leeches with "leech yarn". I decided to tie some of them with a furled tail to see if that would work better. The straight tails on some others got chewed up so fast that the flies did not last long. I got a skein of black yarn at the knitting store, and was given another half skein. So the materials are not the problem. I still try to make sure my flies are durable. It is more fun to catch fish than to tie flies on.

I have a leech tied each way on the rods. I will cast one out and retrieve it, and then cast the other out so it lands near where the first one was and then retrieve it on. Then the second fly will be cast out and retrieved again. Then the first fly will be cast where the previous fly was. This seemed to be a way to see which might work better.

Results were the furled tail took16 casts to catch 10 fish. The straight tail took 18 casts to catch 10 fish, but the straight tail was looking really bad by the time the tenth fish had been landed. So I think they worked equally well, but the furled tail looked a whole lot more like it did at the start, thus I think it is more durable.

I switch flies again. I don't remember which flies they were, but they are ones that some folks had sent me. I was casting almost exclusively left handed now. I could see some slow improvement in what I was doing and I wanted to build on it. I continued to cast and get a fish on about three of five casts. I was having a ball.

By now I was toward the shallower end of the pond. I was using a 3 wt and tossed the fly near the weed edge. There was a large swirl and I was into a big fish. I had some 5 X tippet on so there was no horsing this fish. We did the tug-of-war thing. She would take line and then I would get some back. This was repeated several times. She finally began to tire and I got her lipped. She was just over 24 inches long and fatter than a football. Great fun to catch and she is still swimming in the pond.

I moved on around the pond and continued to catch fish. It did not seem to matter what fly it was, it just had to be dropping. I ran into a spot hat I had several fish hit, but I did not get them in. I stopped and fished this area a little more. I was into a school of crappie. I did not land a lot of them, but I sure was getting the hits.

About every third hit was a bluegill that hooked itself. I went through two sets of flies in this area.

I looked at my watch and saw that my time was running out. I changed flies and moved on down the pond. The fish were still cooperating. I had to start casting right handed as my left arm was beginning to tell me that it had enough. A nice problem to have.

Some of the fish I had caught were bass and they had been returned to the pond. I pulled the basket up and thought about how long I would have to fillet fish. I caught three more fish on the fly I was using. That made 10 fish on each of 11 different flies. By far they best day of fishing I have had this year. More fish today than I caught in all of July.

I had 68 bluegill and 12 crappie in the fish basket. If you remember the Bulletin Board thread about filleting speed I had on the warm water board, this will give you an idea of my fileting time.

I did these fish, buried the guts, washed the fillets and had everything put away in one hour.

A very fun day.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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