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Nature Is Nasty

By Rick Zieger, Iowa

Today is February 13, 2009. It is snowing and we are under a winter storm warning.

The ice went off the ponds on Monday. We were running around in 60 degree temperatures.

I went out to a pond yesterday afternoon.

It is too wet to try to drive into anything. Fields are wet. The top few inches of dirt have thawed, but the rest is frozen. This would be a great way for me to get stuck. So it was a hike to get into the pond.

I took a 3 wt and a 5 wt with me. I also took a fanny pack of flies. I did not want to wear my vest as I hiked into the pond. There was not a cloud in the sky. It was 48 degrees out. There was a 10-mph wind out of the north. The water appeared to be fairly clear.

I put on a flasher (Ricks Favorite Crappie Flies) and a furled tail leech. I wanted to fish a bright fly and a dark fly and see what the fish might be interested in. I stated fishing at the southeast corner of the dam.

I would be able to cast over some shallow water and along the breaklines that are about 10 feet out from shore. I know this because from the number of times I have dropped my canoe anchors in this pond. I also know that along the dam the water drops to about seven feet deep. Along the shore the water drops to about 4 feet deep for a large flat that is about forty feet wide.

I would be fishing flats, drop offs and some fairly shallow water, all from standing in two spots, about 20 feet apart. Not a bad way to try to figure out where the fish might be.

Both flies were un-weighted. I wanted to be able to move them very slowly. The water is not that warm. There was still some ice along the edge of the grass at the edge of the water along the south side of the pond. Not a lot of ice, but it still was not all melted. So nice and slow with the flies to let the fish have a chance to make up their minds to bite them.

On about my tenth cast I felt some resistance on the line. I sat the hook and had a very old, brown, half rotten weed came in on the hook. All was not bad, because I had felt the resistance.

I had not forgotten everything I had learned before. There are some folks that would not believe this.

The other information was that I needed to keep the fly up a little farther in the water column. Easier to tempt fish that are looking up than those that are looking down. A few casts doing this produced the first fish of the year. It was a foot long bass. It did not hit the fly hard, but just made the line feel a little heavier. It did not fight very hard. It looked a lot like a crankbait as it comes through the water. The wiggle and flop from side to side.

I released the fish and cast in the other direction. On the third cast I connected with the twin of the first fish. Again, it was the heavy feel of the line, not a nibble or hit. But it was the second fish of the year.

Several more casts did not produce any more action. I did not go to the east side of the pond as there are trees that grow about two feet from the shoreline. Hard to walk along and even harder to try to cast a fly line. I have tried to cast there from the shore and I caught several trees but no fish.

I spent the next hour moving slowly along the west edge of the pond. I cast to retrieve through the shallow water and along the breakline. I also tried some casts straight out in the pond and retrieved the fly in.

I did manage to get three more bass as I went along this shoreline. One was near the shore and other two were farther out in the pond, in about four feet of water. All were very light hits.

The wind began to pick up and the temperature was dropping. The other thing was my arm was getting tired from casting.

I did not think this was a bad day at all. Three bass on the flasher and two bass on the black furl-tailed leech. I would have preferred crappie or gills, to get some fillets, but that is not the way it happened.

Be sure to check your state regulations as you get your license this year. Iowa has started a 25 bluegill and 25 crappie limits per day, this year. The booklet says on public waters, so I have to see if that counts on farm ponds also. But better to know, because they never accept the plea of ignorance.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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