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Frustration
By Richard Zieger, Iowa


I went out Saturday morning for my norm reconstitution of the soul, according to my wife. I got out to the pond at 5:45 am. It was just starting to get light, but it was light enough to see what I was doing. This is a pond that I have not been to for a few years. I used to fish it, but then it changed hands and I just received permission to fish it again.

This pond is almost rectangular, about 10 yards wider and longer than a football field. The deepest water is about 12 feet deep and that is about the third of the pond nearest the dam. About two thirds of the rest of the pond is from five to 8 feet deep. The far end is silted in some and is from one to 3 feet deep. This siltation was from when the land was farmed, but it has been pasture for the last 10 years. This pond lies in an east-west orientation. Trees have been planted on the north side and there is about a foot between the water and the trees. This pond has gills, crappie, green sunfish, bass and a few channel catfish in it. The owner wants the bass and catfish left in for him to catch.

When I pulled up to the pond, I could see a great deal of activity on the pond. In fact the water looked like it was boiling at times everywhere on the pond. I will admit to a little, "fish fever" and it took a little longer to get everything off the pickup and loaded into the canoe. I had visions of a hundred fish day in my head.

I got into the canoe and moved it out so the canoe was still just barely caught in the 10 foot wide strip of water weeds around most of this pond. This is a good place to cast from and I have potential targets all over the place. Fish would rise in one spot and then go down, to have more come up in another spot. I did figure out that it was some sort of hatch, but I had not seen anything come off the water and had not found any bugs on the vegetation around the pond. I thought that I could catch the emergence of whatever it was.

I had tied on a size 16 PTN and had a black popper with a black midge trailer on it to start with. I cast the PTN out and did not really let it drop before I started to slowly retrieve this with a lift - pause retrieve. I did this eight times with no strikes. I changed to the popper/midge combo and cast it out and let it set. Fish swirled around it but no takers.

I try several other flies, usually in tandem and I am not having any success. The visions of a hundred fish days are becoming vision of an "any fish" day. I do have to tell you that I have not ran onto a hatch like this before. Usually I could see the bugs coming off.

I decide it is time to go very small. I have tied some bead head flies on size 20 and 22 hooks. Yes I did find beads small enough to go onto those hooks. Most of these I tied with just thread to form the body. On a few I used other things. These are tiny little flies, but when the other things don't work it is time to try them.

I tied a black and a white one on one rod about a foot apart. The other rod and a light olive and a red pattern tied in tandem. I cast these out and just let them drop. They do this very slowly as there is not much weight to them. I waited to see if something would happen. About a minute later the one line stated to move, I set the hook and had nothing. I wondered if I might have to wait longer, as the hook is so small I might have pulled it out, but at least I had a bite.

I left the line out and waited again. In a minute or two the line started to move again. I waited until the line tightened and then gave a very small tug on the rod. I had a gill on the line. I worked this fish in carefully and got it near the canoe before the hook came out. But I could see that the fish was on the white bug.

I cast this out again and let it sit. Again the line moved and I waited until it tightened up before giving a light tug on the line. This time I managed to get the gill into the canoe. This was my first fish in an hour of fishing. Again it was on the white bug. So I changed all the flies to the white pattern and cast both lines out.

By letting the flies just settle in the water column, every few minutes I would have a bite. Many of these fish I lost as they got near the canoe, but at least I was hooking them. I did manage to get a few more fish into the boat. I probably caught about 10% of the fish I hooked. Many of them were barely lip hooked and got off near the canoe.

I fished until I began to have guilt feelings about being out so long. On my next to last cast I managed to get a crappie on the line. I even got this fish into the canoe. But it was time to go and my dreams of a hundred fish day were in ruins.

I got home and found that I had caught 15 gills and the crappie. I had returned a few bass. It had been a fun morning, but I was going to find out what the fish were eating.

After filleting the fish, I opened the stomachs on all of them. They all were stuffed full of the pupal stage of an insect. They were about 1/16 of an inch long and a cream/white color. Just about the length of the fly I had been using, But these bugs were twice the diameter of my flies. I did not find anything else in the stomachs of these fish. They were keyed in on this one bug.

I did see a couple of "moth like" bugs, about 3/8 of an inch long, flying around when I got off the pond. That is all I could tell about them as I could not get any close. They were a white color though. I am going to have to do some research on this. Let me know if you have any idea what this bug might be.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick ziegeria@grm.net

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