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Finally in the Canoe

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

It was a Saturday morning. It had not rained for a couple of days. With all the rain we have had lately that is a major event. I knew most of the fields would be to wet too drive in and decided to go to the game preserve. I can drive to this on rock roads. There is no real hike to get to the water.

That means I could take the canoe out for the first time this year. I loaded the canoe and all the other stuff that I "need" when I go out in the canoe. This would be the first time that I had fished with four fly rods ready to go. When I hike in it is two rods.

I am hoping that the water would be a little clearer than some of the other ponds. These ponds drain land that is never tilled. Every few years the grass is burned on this land to help keep some of the brush down, but that is about the only thing that is done to it.

I get to the ponds and stop at the top pond. The visibility is about four inches. I go to the lower pond and find that the visibility is about an inch. I guess too much water has run over the dirt road that is about 50 yards from the east end of this pond. I head back up to the upper pond.

I get all the stuff on and in the canoe. I make my first few casts from about 15 feet back on the shore. I wonder if there are any fish near the edge. If so I don't want to spook them. I do get two bass, about eight inches long, before I launch the canoe.

There are several trees that were flooded when this pond was built. Some of those still stick up out of the water, but many of them are just under the surface. This is a very good place to loose a couple of flies. My hope is that the fish are relating to structure and if I bring the flies by this stickup they will bite it.

It was a great theory, but did not work in practice. I spent an hour casting around the different trees in the pond. I had two small bluegill to show for my effort.

Time to change tactics. I let the wind push me until I was about 35 feet from the shoreline. I dropped the back anchor and started casting. I cast straight out ahead of me and slowly retrieved the fly in. I know the water is about a feet deep around the edge and slowly drops to about six feet deep where I was anchored.

If straight ahead is 12:00 o'clock on the clock, my next casts were where the hour hand would be for 12:30 and 11:30. I was going to fan cast over the area and see if I could find fish. Each successive cast to each side would move about this much farther from the 12:00 o'clock position.

I covered a lot of water, but did not get many fish. I would pick up a small bass, from six inches to about 12 inches long if I got the fly right up against the shore. So I tried not to get the fly that close to shore. I was looking for crappie and gills.

Every once in a while I would get something to hit the fly. Most of the time I was not able to hook whatever did this. From the fish that I caught, I would assume that this would be very small bluegill.

I fished at all depths, usually slowly, and tried a bunch of flies. I know that I retied flies on all the rods at least six times. That means a minimum of two-dozen flies went into the water. I did lose a few flies to the underwater branches. Those got replaced with another fly when that happened.

My total for the day was 2 crappie and 8 bluegill. I also had about two-dozen bass that I threw back in the pond. Not the most productive day I have ever had. Now the mind is conjuring up ideas on what to do next weekend when I head back out. If the water is still this dirty, then I need to figure out what to do to get the fish to be interested in the fly.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick (Written 6/18/08)

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