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Weedline Bass
Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger

I went out Saturday morning for my normal "reviving of the soul" according to my wife. I went to the pond that Joe Hyde and I went to after he helped me with the anchoring system on my canoe. First time I have been there this year. The land is rented for haying and the renter did not want people driving across the grass. They had cut it and baled it last week so I could go in.

I was able to drive to about 6 feet from the pond. I could see activity all over the surface of the pond. No wind and the water was as flat as a mirror. I got everything into the canoe and then took a minute to decide what to toss at the fish. I have learned that it is better to do this before I get on the water than after. I went with a foam popper, with the midge dropper, and with an unweighted fly that is a bugger variation.

I cast the popper out first to see if anything would take it. I did not have the canoe in the water yet. I wanted to see if any fish would take the popper or midge. I had several fish swirls near both of these flies but they would not take them. I cast the other fly out and had a gill hit it immediately. This fish turned sideways and tried to head for the other side of the pond. Not having any luck with that the fish headed for the weeds on the edge of the shore. I managed to get the fish up a little higher in the water column and that let me land the fish without the line getting tangled in the weeds.

If the fish were going to head for the weeds then I needed to get out in the pond so I could try to lead them away from the weeds and not toward the weeds. I did change the popper-midge to an unweighted olive peacock sword tail nymph. I just had a feeling that this might work better.

I put the canoe in slowly so as not to disturb the water too much. I got in and moved it out a little way, just enough that I was setting at the edge of the weeds. With no wind I did not need to put down an anchor. I cast about 15 feet to my left and let the fly just get under the surface and started to bring it back. I had moved the fly about 5 feet when the water just opened up and the fly disappeared. I knew it was a good sized bass and I wanted to get it into my hands. I wanted to land it, even though it would go back into the pond. I grabbed the paddle and pushed the canoe out into the pond so I would be away from the weed edge to fight the fish. Wouldn't you know it was the 7 ft 3 wt with a 5X tippet on it. I knew I could not horse the fish, but I had to keep it away from the weeds.

It was a constant battle to keep the fish away from the weeds. Many times I had the rod tip down near the surface of the water to turn the fish away from the weeds. Whenever I got the fish to head toward the middle of the pond, I would grab the paddle and move the canoe out a little farther from the shore. I figured the more space the easier it would be to land the fish. I finally got the fish to start circling the canoe. I was not gaining much line, but I was not losing it either. Finally I started to exert some control over this fish. I could start to gain some line and was figuring out the best place to land her. She finally took care of this as she started to swim at me. I grabbed line fast and got her head up on the surface and just let her come at me. When she was close, I lipped her and took her out of the water for a minute. I know the separations of the line guides on this rod, one I built, so I measure fish according to these. This one came out to be about 22 inches long. The best bass I have caught in this pond. In fact I did not know this pond had fish this size in it. I put her back in and moved her back and forth to put some water over the gills. As soon as I felt her tugging against my hand, I let her go and watched her swim away.

I figured this water was somewhat disturbed and that I should fish some of the water the bass had not disturbed. I cast the fly out into the water and started slowly stripping it back. About half the time I would get a gill to hit the fly somewhere in the retrieve. I did this with both flies, as I am always curious to see if it is the pattern or the presentation. I did catch several gills doing this.

In fighting the gills I moved to near the weed edge again so I cast a fly there. I let it drop a second and then started to retrieve it. The fly had barely moved when the line just took off. I clamped down on the line a little to set the hook better but for the most part just let the fish run. This one headed for the middle of the pond and that is where the fight took place. I put just enough pressure on the fish to get her to swim in a circle. I let her do this until she tired and I then tried to get some line back in. Again the fish had hit while I was casting the 3 wt. I finally got her in and she was a carbon copy of the first bass I had caught.

I was curious and cast up near the shore again. I had another small bass hit the fly. I did this four more places along the shoreline. Now it was beginning to sink in. If I fished the weed edges, I caught bass. If I fished in the middle of the pond then it was gills.

I headed back out to the middle and cast for the gills. I still like catching crappie and gills more than I do bass. I was getting a fish about every third cast now. The sun was higher in the sky and I had to let the fly drop a little deeper.

I had some other things to get done at home, so I decided to let the fish grow bigger for the next time I come back. It was fun to get the bass and to know that the pond had some good sized fish in it. They will help control the number of gills that are in the pond. The pond owner did not know that he had any fish of that size in the pond.

I got home, got the gills filleted and then started on the necessary jobs. The fishing was more fun, but the other things must be done.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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