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Bonus Time

By Rick Zieger, Iowa

It turned out that a few things we had planned on needing to do had fallen through.

I had the opportunity to hit a pond on a Saturday afternoon. We are having a weird August.

The temperatures are not getting that hot. It was 80 degrees when I headed out. It is usually much hotter than that.

I headed to a pond that I had not been to yet this year. It has dried out enough that I knew I could get into the pond. I got the key, to unlock the gate, and headed into the pond. I got the canoe set up and down to the edge of the water. I then decided to cast the Goldie Jr. into the pond to see if there might be any fish in the area before I moved the canoe into the water.

The fly had not moved very far when a nice bluegill decided to take it to the other end of the pond. The rod tip was down before I knew the fish had hit. This fish cut several didos and several circles before he got put in the fish basket. I cast out about five feet to the side of this and had a fish inhale the fly as it hit the water. I felt the weight when I started to retrieve the fly and set the hook. This fish decided to try to head for the weeds and bury herself in those. I gave some slack on the line and she headed back out to the center of the pond. I tried that rather than fight the fish in the weeds. I would probably have broken the fly off if the fish got in the weeds.

I would rather lose the fish than leave a fly in the fishes mouth.

It got a few more fish in this area before the canoe went into the water. When I got the canoe into the water, I stated fishing down the bank. I know there is a three-foot drop off about six feet out from the bank. I wanted to bring flies out of the shallow water and let them, drop down into the deeper water. I also wanted to try retrieving along the break line to see if the fish wanted the fly that way. I could also cast out into the deeper water and see if fish were suspending in the deeper water.

I had four rods with me. Two 3 wts and two 5 wts. I was using a Goldie Jr, a black mohair leech, a popper-midge combination, and a white boa yarn fly. I had flash, a dark color, a light color, a small fly and a surface fly to try with this combination.

I did manage to catch fish on all of them. The flies had to be fished slowly and it seemed to be one or two fish in each area. I am not sure if that was all the fish in the area or if the others got spooked.

I know that the casts had to be twenty to thirty feet for me to catch any fish. Any cast shorter than that, and I made them, did not result in any fish. My tendency is to think that the fish were very skittish. The canoe was spooking any fish that were close to it. When I hooked a fish then the resulting fight would spook any other fish in the area.

I figured out to catch one or two fish and then move on. A very gentle breeze had come up after I got to the pond. It was just enough to move me along at a slow pace. I could fish without having to drop the anchor or paddle. A natural trolling motor.

When I got to the end of the pond I paddled back to the place I had launched. I then moved to the other shore and fished down that shore line. Every little bit I would get another fish to hit.

This side of the pond is deeper. I changed the white boa fly to one with a bead head to get it a little deeper. I was making an attempt to interest any crappie that might be in the area. I was still casting to the shore line and retrieving the fly out. I also tried bringing the fly along about eight feet out from shore. The popper-midge combination I had out over the deeper water most of the time. I got a few fish on the midge and one on the popper. This had not been a good top water year for me.

I hooked a lot of fish along this shore line, but lost most of them. I think they were crappie rolling on the fly. I did manage to land a few crappie in this area. Most of the time the fish were on for between 5 and 10 seconds. That thin membrane on the side of a crappies mouth is just not a good place to hook them.

I had several fish in the basket and decided to head home. I returned the key to the barn where I got it. The land owner was there and said he would like some fish when I questioned him on this. The best part was he said he would clean them! He likes to cook them with the bones still in them.

I had caught over 60 fish in this pond. I am fortunate to have so many fertile ponds that I can fish. I got to share fillets with several folks.

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

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