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Canoe Again

By Rick Zieger

We had a week when it did not rain. That is unusual this spring. I decided to take my canoe out. I knew I would have to take it in on the little cart I have to haul it on. I also knew that would let me get out on the pond.

I decided to try another pond that I had not been to this year. It is a little way back off the main road, but has a nice field road to get to it. It is just over a half-mile hike to get into the pond via the road. I got everything loaded in the canoe and started into the field. It was a little harder than I expected. Wet grass has more drag than you might think. I did get to the pond. Again the water was not very clear, but it was better than some others I had seen.

I had a black mohair leech on one rod and put a Cyperts minnow, with red chenille, on the other rod. I had no idea what might work in this pond. I started casting toward the shore and slowly retrieving the fly out. I wanted it to come out over the breakline and drop down the face of the slope on the breakline. I hoped the fish might be along the breakline.

I know there are weeds along the shoreline. I can see them and I know they extend underwater. I thought I was hitting the tops of the weeds as I retrieved the fly. It was just that little knick of a tug. Not a single fish was hitting.

I was getting ready to move the canoe to another spot. I cast out and let the fly drop and started to slowly reel the line in. This klutz has learned to reel the line in before he moved the canoe. That way the tangle gods cannot have anything to play with. I have not figured out how to exorcise them from my canoe. As the line came in, it started to move to the side. I did a quick hook set and had a gill on the line. Could it be that all those little line knick were fish hitting?

There is only one way to find out. I put another cast out and as soon as I felt the little hit I sat the hook. I got another bluegill on the line. They were not hitting the fly very hard.

This one was barely lip hooked and I almost lost him in trying to get him into the canoe.

I made some more casts before I moved the canoe. I had several fish on for a few seconds before they got off. They were either crappie that rolled on the fly or were fish that were barely lip hooked.

I moved on around the pond. I did put on another leech that did not have as long a tail on it. Maybe with the shorter tail I would get a better hook set. At least it sounds profound. I caught a few more fish in each place I stopped, but lost more than I could get to the canoe.

Every once in a while I would tie into a good-sized bass. I caught several smaller ones also. I did get over a dozen bass that went from 3 to 5 pounds in size. They are all still swimming in the pond.

As the sun got higher the wind started to blow from the east. I know that this pond has a long slope that takes water from about three feet deep to eight feet deep. This is on the end opposite the dam. I wondered if there might be some fish on this slope looking for food to be pushed onto this slope by the wave action.

I anchored the canoe about 10 feet from where the slope starts. I cast into the wind and let the fly drop and slowly started retrieving the line. I was letting the wind move the fly and just keeping the slack out of the line. I noticed the end of the fly line going deeper into the water. I sat the hooked and had a very nice crappie on the line.

I made another cast and had two fish hit the fly, but lost both of them. On the next cast the fly was almost at the canoe when I saw the flash of a crappie rolling on the fly. I had this fish on for a few seconds and then it was off. Those fish were being hooked in the side of the mouth and the hook was ripping out.

Time to change. I tied on another couple of flies. Both of these have small beadheads on them. The beads are really made for size 16 to 18 hooks. These were on size 12 hooks. It adds just a little weight and gets the flies just a little deeper. I hoped by being deeper the fish might rise to the fly and not roll on it. You just don't know unless you try.

It did work for me. I caught several more fish. Both the crappie and the gills were about 9 inches long. I got to thinking about how many fish I had caught, so I lifted the basket to look at it. There were a few more than I had thought I had caught. I also thought of how far I had to roll the canoe to get out to the road. As much as I hate to leave biting fish, it was time to head out.

I got the canoe on the cart again and started to move it. I had not moved far when I lost a wheel. I lost a cottering pin and the washer that was between it and the wheel. I have no idea how long the pin had been out and could not find it. I considered dragging the canoe all the way out with everything in it. I had moved the canoe about forty feet when that idea lost its appeal. Wet grass causes a lot of drag on a 17-foot canoe. I took the fish back to the pond and put them in the water.

I then carried the canoe out to the gate near the road. I went back and put the anchor rope on the paddle. This way I could carry both of them that way. I put my life jacket and vest back on and carried the little trailer in my other hand. This was my second trip to the gate. I came back and got the rods and the fish basket on the next trip.

That was my exercise for the day.

I did end up with 42 bluegills, 12 crappie, and left a bunch of bass in the pond. I also hooked less than half the fish that hit for the day. Not great success in catching all the fish I hooked, but still the best day I have had this year.

I did get to share fish with a family that was visiting from Sweden. The father had been a foreign exchange student several years ago. They were back visiting. They were happy to be able to try the fish.

I spent the early afternoon picking and cleaning my gooseberries. My plants are starting to do better. The fresh gooseberry pie was wonderful. Trust me on that. My good friend Frank said it was wonderful also.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick Zieger

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