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A Tale of Two Speeds

By Rick Zieger, Iowa

It was a week of contrasts at the lake over my lunch hours. The main thing is that it is getting hot. There has not been very much rain and the settling pond is dropping about an inch every day. That may not sound like much but over a week or more it makes a large difference. The rocks that are at the end of the culvert are becoming more exposed every day. I can go out about six feet farther than I had been before. In a few more days it may be the whole 10 feet of rock will be exposed.

The other thing is that the water is becoming very clear. I can see down about five feet now. There are a few new boulders on the bottom that I had not seen before. The wind has been blowing enough that the algae clumps are piled up along the sides of the pond.

A few folks have heard me say that this is a neat addition to the compost pile and are coming by and taking some of it away.

I tied on a popper as I saw a few fish swirling at the surface when I got out on Tuesday. It looked a lot more like bass than the carp that are in the pond. I decided to try a soft hackle fly to temp the bluegill.

Since I fish poppers very slowly to start with, I cast it out and let it set. I put the rod between my legs and cast the other rod with the soft hackle on it. I thought I might as well try for a gill before I did anything with the popper.

I did not get anything interested in the soft hackle. I thought it might be time to change to another fly. It is my habit when I am going to do that to cast the fly out and reel the line in. If I don't do that then the line falls on the ground and gets dirty or I get knots in it. Not everyone is talented enough to do that, but for those of you aren't, count your lucky stars.

I was reeling the line in when a gill took the fly that was making a "V" on the surface. I am not sure which of us was more surprised about this. But if it works once then try it again. I cast out and retrieved the line, but not by reeling it in. The fish did not take the fly. Could it be that it had to be the steady speed of reeling? There is only one way to find out. On the next cast I reeled the line in and had another gill smash the fly.

I have caught three gills when a bass comes up and takes the popper. By the time I put the other rod down and grab the rod between my legs, it is time to set the hook. When the fish feels the barb it goes berserk. In very short order I am into backing as the fly line is headed across the pond. I finally get the fish turned and gain some of the line back. It is a tug-of-war. I pull line in and the fish takes it back out.

Over time I get the fish to swimming back and forth in front of me. I still have about 40 feet of backing out. This is going to be a long tussle. I continue to put as much pressure on the fish as I can. After a long time I finally get the fly line back onto the reel. The fish is not running as fast or as far as it had before. I try to put more pressure on the fish to get it landed faster. I do not want the fish completely exhausted before I land it.

I knew that a vehicle had stopped behind me. I had not turned around to see who or what it was. I heard a voice ask me if I would be interested in having someone net the fish when I got it close. I recognized the voice of a person who has done this before.

The fish was getting tired enough that I had more control over it. It was coming in fairly fast. He put the net down in the water and I lead the fish over it so he could net it. It was a bass just shy of five lbs. We moved her in the water for a few minutes while in the net. When she started flipping around a little we let her go.

I think someone is becoming converted to try a fly rod. This is about the eighth fish that he as netted for me. But that blew my time for the day. Back to the office.

I did find that on Thursday and Friday that I could catch bluegills by retrieving the soft hackle fly right at the surface, to form a "V" in the water. That is the only way they would hit it. The only way to catch and bass or large green sunfish was to let the popper set forever and longer. It was the ultimate do nothing with the popper.

Each day I got about a dozen bluegills on the soft hackle and a couple of bass over that time also. I did not think that was bad for temps in the high 80"s, clear skies and waters.

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

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