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Comin' at Ya
By Rick Zieger, Iowa

I went out for my normal fishing excursion early Saturday morning. The temperatures had been in the high 90's with no wind. Saturday was going to be another hot day. I was hoping to get a few fish before the sun came up and made things miserable. At 5:15 am it was 72 degrees out.

The first pond I headed to had a chain on the gate with a lock on it. I had not known this in advance so I had to change gears and head to another pond. I got everything into the canoe and got organized as to what I was going to fish with.

I could see the rings of rising fish on the pond. I decided to go with a popper/midge combination and then to use a leech pattern on the other rod. I was fishing a 3 wt and a 5 wt that are both 8.5 ft long. Since the fish were hitting at or near the surface I went with the popping bug/midge first.

I cast it out and let it set. After about 5 seconds a gill hit the popper. I set the hook and brought it in. It was all of three inches long. I was not unhappy to see this fish. This means that there are fish being recruited into the population of this pond. They all used to be one size.

I cast out again to the other side of the canoe. This time a bass of about five inches took the fly. This continued for several more casts. At this point I figured out that it must be the smaller fish that were taking things at the surface. Time to switch to the other rod and see what would happen.

This leech is tied with black boa yarn with a fairly good size bead head on it. I like the bead head as you can get more of a lift-drop action with the fly this way. I have had more luck with the bead head pattern than with an unweighted fly on this pattern. I cast it out and let it drop for a few seconds and then started retrieving it with a strip of about 3 inches and then a 2 second pause. Don't ask me why I just started there to see if it would work.

I had the fly almost back to the canoe when the line felt funny. I set the hook and had a fish on for a few seconds. Then there was nothing on the line. This is not nice to do to the nice fisherman. I cast out again about 30 feet and started this again. Again when I had the fly about 12 feet from the canoe the line felt funny. This time I got to see the gill before he got off.

I am beginning to think there might be a pattern here. I decided to retrieve a little faster to see if that would help. No such luck, the fish were still getting off. Time to do drastic things. I took this pattern off and put another one on. This one I tied on a long shank aberdeen hook. This had about the same hook gap as a size 10 fly hook. I tied this so that the bend of the hook was just inside the end of the strands of yarn forming the tail of the fly. This means that the thread was tied on about 1/3 of the way up the shank. This way if the fish were going to short strike, then I might be ready for them.

I cast this fly out and let it drop. I then started the same sort of retrieve. This time the fly had moved about 10 feet when I felt the weight and set the hook. This time I had a nice gill on the line. This fish was also solidly hooked. None of the just barely lip hooked stuff.

I cast out again and went through the same retrieve. This time I missed the fish. I am not sure why, but I never felt the fish or saw the line twitch. I kept on casting, getting a fish every once in a while, but losing most of them.

Then I had the answer come because of a poor cast. I know that I am the only one that does this with any regularity. The cast ended up about 15 feet from where I wanted it to be. It was over a weed patch and I started bringing in the fly, keeping it out of the weeds. Just after it passed over the weed edge a gill came up and followed the fly. The fish took the fly in its mouth but I still did not see the line move or feel any weight. I continued to retrieve the fly, without setting the hook, to see what would happen. When the fish got about 12 feet from the canoe, I think it saw the canoe and then spit the fly out. That is the action that I think that I was feeling.

I started doing some blind hook setting and caught a few more fish. About 8:30 am in the morning everything stopped. I did not get another hit and quit about 9 am. This is one of the slowest mornings I have experienced this summer. I ended up with 14 gills to take home.

Still it was a fun day and I learned a few things.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick (written 07/29/05)

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