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Black Day


By Rick Zieger, Iowa

I went out to a pond that I get to a few times a year. It all depends on the rotation of the cattle in the fields. I cross two fields to get to this pond. I don't cross fields when cattle are in them.

I had all the stuff in the canoe and made the first casts from shore. I used the sorta wacky worm fly and a Goldie Jr. to start in this area. There was not any success so I got the canoe out into the water. I know there are crappie in this pond. I tossed out the minnow pattern I have been using and got some good exercise in casting with it. Translation, no fish on the fly.

I moved around the pond some and was not having any success with any of the flies I had on.

This means it was time to change. I went with a black leech made with coot feathers, a hares ear type fly from llama fur, and a Skip Morris Panfish fly in yellow and red. I changed the minnow fly to one with bead chain eyes instead of heavier eyes, so it would fall slower.

Pure luck of the draw, meaning the first rod I picked up, had the black leech on it. I cast it out near the shore and started to slowly bring it back. This fly has a 1 mm black bead on it. The fly had not moved very far, when I felt the resistance and had the first fish of day on. It was a feisty bluegill that was fun to catch. Another cast in the same area did not produce another fish.

I was casting about every foot along the shore, just to see where fish might be. When I got about ten feet from where I caught the first fish, I tagged another one. This was a scrappy little crappie, all of about six inches long. It still went in the basket, as I don't throw any crappie back in small ponds.

A few casts out toward the center of the pond resulted in a few fish. After a while I figured out that the casts had to be about 10 feet apart to catch any fish. I am not sure if the fish were that far apart or if they were just that spooky. I started making the casts 10 feet apart all the time. I did try the other flies, but did not have any success with them.

I got to the shallow end of the pond. This pond is about the size of a football field, goalpost to goal post and just a little wider. It lies in a northwest to southeast direction with the dam at the southeast end. The deepest water is about 14 feet near the dam and slopes up to about six feet deep for the last 20 yards of the pond. So this is a nice big flat area.

I make the first cast with the minnow pattern. I am wondering if there might be some of the larger crappie up on this flat looking for food. I know it is the middle of the morning, but that means there might be more bugs coming off. If more bugs are coming off, then the smaller fish would be there trying to get the little bugs. The larger fish, hopefully, will be there to eat little fish and/or bugs. This has worked so well for me so many times that I think the logic of it is true. Even if it is not true, it sure does sound impressive.

On my third cast with the minnow I hook a good fish. The fish hit just after the fly hit the water and is not interested in coming to the canoe. I am thinking bass, or maybe channel cat, as I bring this fish in. It is a welcome surprise to find a 4-inch crappie on the line. This fish gets netted and put in the basket. A few more casts does not produce any more fish. I have a few taps, but hook nothing. I cast the black leech into the same area that I have worked with the minnow. The difference between a size 6 streamer hook and a size 10 hook could make the difference in hooking some fish.

This results in my getting some nice size gills and a few smaller crappie into the boat. I think the minnow pattern was too large for them to get in their mouth. They hit it, but could not take it in.

I move on the pond after casting around the canoe.

The minnow goes in the pond first, as I am looking for another of those nice crappie. I have success on the second cast. The fly has just barely hit the water when it is taken. The fight is the same and I am sure it is another nice crappie. I get her netted and into the basket.

A few more casts around the canoe doe not result in any more fish. The black leech produces a few more fish, but the other flies do not. I keep trying them, but I also go back to the ones that work for me.

I move the canoe two more times and get about the same results. A nice crappie on the minnow pattern and a few more fish with the other fly. I think the larger crappie were swimming by them selves. They do not have to worry about any predators in the pond. I think they were are cruising looking for food. I think they do this by themselves so they do not have the competition of other fish around them.

I had a few other things to do and headed back to the house. I got some very nice fillets to eat and share.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick (Written 10/03/08)

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