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First and Third

By Rick Zieger, Iowa

It is mid October and the fall weather has started. It rained on Saturday with gusty winds. The temperatures had just barely got into the 40's. Sunday afternoon was to be much better. So the normal Saturday excursion got postponed by about 30 hours.

With all of the rain that we got I knew that there were several ponds that I would not be able to drive into. There was just too much mud to be able to do that. So it was time to fish from the shore and see what I might get.

I hiked into a pond that I get to every couple of years. The easy way to get to it is across the field after it has been harvested. The hard way is through a deep gully on the other side. With all the rain I knew the gully would be very muddy. The owner does not want me to cross the field while the crops are in, so it is a wait until they are out.

The pond is almost a perfect rectangle, about 100 yards long and 45 yards wide. The deepest water is about 12 feet deep. The ground under the water was undisturbed when the dam was built. The dirt for the dam came from another place. The pond runs east-west for its length.

The dam is on the east end. The north side has had a lot of trees planed along the shore.

The closest trees are only about 10 feet from the shore. This means there is very little fly casting from the north shore.

I had two rods with me, a 3 wt. and a 5 wt. I had a black crow body feather leech with a fairly good size bead head on it to fish deeper with the 5 wt. The other fly was a yellow bodied Peacock Sword Tail Nymph (See Ricks Favorite flies in the panfish archives) with a small bead head on the fly to use with the 3 wt.

I got to the pond and decided to fish the South side first. I cast out, about 10 feet from the dam, let the fly drop for about five seconds and started to retrieve it. I was using a slow two inch strip with a two-second pause. As the water is cooling, this is a good time to slow the retrieve down. The fly had moved about three feet when it was hit hard. I had a 10-inch crappie on the line that did not like the idea of being hooked. I got her in and into the fish basket. I was feeling good. Things looked promising. I had caught a fish on the first cast I made.

The wind was starting to pick up as I made the next cast. This one landed about 5 feet from the shore and when I let it drop I was into the tops of the weeds. I brought in some salad, if you want to use the greens to go with the fish. I cleaned the fly off and cast it out again.

This time I aimed a little more to the west to see if I could get the fly to land farther out from the dam. I succeeded in that the fly landed out about 15 feet from shore. The fly was still dropping when I saw the end of the fly line move. When I set the hook, I knew that it was a bluegill. The fish turned sideways and tried to swim far away from me. I finally got the fish in and was a very nice fat bluegill.

I am feeling good. I have made three casts, two of them good and I have two fish to show for it. This looks like it will be a great day. In rough figures I am catching fish on 67% of my casts. Who would not be happy with that? Most of the time I would be happy to catch fish on a third of my casts.

I should have quit while I was ahead. The wind picked up some more from the south west. I found that when I cast I would very quickly get a bow in the line. This was enough that when I saw the fish hit I would not be able to set the hook. I had several more strikes, but did not catch any more fish. My catch rate on the fish went somewhere south of 1% for the day.

Still I consider it a fun day. I got to get out to the pond. I did catch a fish. I got to see several flights of geese. I even saw some wild turkeys(non-human) on the way out from the pond.

The rain is supposed to be over now, on Thursday. Hopefully the fields will dry out some and I can get the canoe into this pond this next weekend. That way I will not have to worry about a bow in the line and I will see if that makes me any more successful.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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