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Weed Tops

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I was out on another of my Saturday morning revive the head time. This is a pond that I do not get to very often. It involves crossing a couple of fields and many times there are cattle on one field or another. I can only go to the pond when there are no cattle in the fields.

The pond is about 80 yards wide and 110 yards long. The water near the dam is 14 feet deep and it slopes up to about 3 feet deep at the shallow end. There are lily pads growing around the edge of the pond of the whole circumference now. There are also some other water weeds that grow in the pond. The land around this pond is only used for grazing cattle. He will spray for thistle twice a year, but just sprays on the plant and not the whole field. The water stays very clear most of the time.

I got out on the pond and started casting. Since it was late July, I thought that I should let the flies drop a little farther as the fish would be deeper. I did get a few small bass, but none of the crappie that are in the pond. I even moved twice and kept on trying to see what would work.

I was set up about 30 feet from the edge of the lily pads on the south side of the pond. There were some water weeds that were about six inches under the water, all over this area.

I was getting ready to change flies when I looked down and watched two crappie swim by. They were at the height of the top of the weeds. Had I been fishing too deep? There was a way to find out. I grabbed the rod with the yellow boa yarn leech on it and cast it out. I let it drop a couple of seconds and then started to bring it in. The fly had only moved a few feet when I saw the fish take the fly. There was no need to set the hook as the fish had done that. It was a nice foot long crappie that had attacked the fly. I had to keep the rod tip up very high to keep this fish from getting down in the weeds. But it was the first crappie of the day.

I cast out again, about twenty feet to the left of where I had cast the first time. Again the fly had not moved far when a fish smashed it. This was not a subtle take. It was the let's make sure we get this thing. Again I was holding the rod tip up to keep the fish out of the weeds.

With the fish being this aggressive, I wondered if there might be a school there and I could pick up several fish in the same area. You just never know until you try, and that is why I cast back to the same place. This time it was a 16-inch bass that took the fly. This fish took more work to get in as she continually went into the weeds to get rid of that pesky hook in her mouth. I did have a couple of pieces of weed on the line before I got her landed.

I returned her, with the suggestion that she send her cousins, as I was more interested in them.

The next cast resulted in another crappie taking the fly. I did not do as well this time and lost this fish in the weeds. But you can't land what you don't hook.

I continued to fish this area. About every third strike was a crappie, but I was losing about half of them in the weeds. Then I hooked into a bigger bass and this fish went nuts. She jumped several times and thrashed around on the surface a lot. For a while it was just trying to hold on and not do much with the fish as to landing it. After a while she got tired and I did manage to get her into the canoe. She was just a hair over 20 inches long and butter ball fat. I did release her, without a kiss, as that is not my thing.

I tried a few more casts, but the commotion of catching that bass seemed to have spooked the others. It was time to move. I moved about 50 feet down the pond and set up in another location that is very much like the place I had just left. The fish were in the same place also, and they did like the yellow fly. I did try other flies and other colors of the boa flies, but yellow was the favorite today for the fish. For some reason it was my favorite fly that day also.

The fishing did slow a little as the sun got higher in the sky. I would catch just a few fish at each place I cast to, but there are a lot of places to cast to. I slowly went around the pond, just to see if the fish were all over the pond. To the best of my knowledge, they were everywhere.

It finally got to the time when it was getting to be too hot to be comfortable. The high was supposed to be in the upper 90's. I decided to head home and get everything done before it got too hot and made it miserable to be doing anything.

I had 29 crappie when I got home. All of them were a foot long or better. I know that I released at least two bass for every crappie that I caught. I also know that I lost more fish than I caught. But it sure was fun to catch crappie in late July on a hot day.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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