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Hiking In

By Rick Zieger, Iowa

It is December 16 and I can't drive into the pond. It has rained too much. There is too much mud in the low spots. Not what I expect in December, but it's what has happened.

I hike in with two fly rods. I took a 5 wt with a floating line and a 6 wt with a full sinking line. I have not been to this pond for a few years. It recently changed renters and this one will let me go on the land. It had bluegill, crappie and bass the last time I fished it.

My thought was that with none fishing it for four years the fish might be in competition for any food that is in the pond. I am not sure that is true, but it does sound good, doesn't it? Actually I do think that it is very important in small ponds, but have no way to prove it, except by experience.

I get to the pond and find that it has a band of dead weeds that stick out about six feet from the shore. I know that the water is about two feet deep where the weeds are and then slopes down to eight feet deep over the next twelve feet out from shore.

I cast the sinking line out and lay the rod down. I want the line to go to the bottom. I cast with the other rod to see if there are any fish swimming higher in the water column. No luck with fish being higher in the water column. I pick up the rod with the sinking line on it and start to retrieve the fly very slowly. This is a half inch strip done slowly with a five to six second pause.

The fish are not moving fast, so the fly does not move fast. I move it a little, but let it stay in place a long time to let any fish take it with minimal effort if it is in front of them.

I have on a black marabou leech. There is no weight on this fly as the line will take it down and the leader is only about four feet long. I can keep contact with the fly better with a shorter leader. That may be due to my style more than anything else.

I had moved the fly about five feet before I felt some resistance and had a fish on the line. I got the fish up near the shore, when the difficulty began. The fish was staying deep and ended up getting into the weeds. I could see that it was a nice crappie, but the weeds and the strain put on the hook resulted in the fish getting off.

So the next time I will work harder on getting the fish up higher to stay out of the weeds. Great theory, as you will see. I cast out again and let the line go to the bottom. Again when the line has come in about five feet I have another fish on the line. The rod goes over my head and I bring the fish in slower. I hope to get the fish up higher to stay out of the weeds, but loose another one in the weeds. I don't like to loose crappie!

I shorten the line by about three feet and cast again. I did not go the full five feet as I was not sure if the fish were following the fly in or were just that far from shore. But with a shorter cast I would find out sooner. Turned out the fish were that far from shore.

I hooked a fish on nearly every cast, but only got three out of the water. Everything I tried to get the fish to be higher in the water column did not work. I lost about thirty fish in the weeds.

The weather looks like it might be warm enough after Christmas that I can get out on that Saturday. If I can, I am going back with a rake also. I will see if I can make a narrow channel in the weeds and get a few more of the fish landed.

Any hints on using a full sinking line and getting fish nearer the surface?

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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