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Shore Gills

By Rick Zieger, Iowa

I went out for my normal Saturday morning reviving of the soul on the pond experience. This is one of the ponds that I get into every couple of years. One year cattle are on it and the next year it is hay ground. It just depends when they get the hay cut and into bales. While they are working it, I can go into the pond. The rest of the time the gate is locked and it is over half a mile from the road to the pond. The land owner does not want me to drive on it while the grass is very tall. He does not want it pressed down and I go with his wishes.

In any case, I could get into the pond. This pond has bass, bluegills and a few green sunfish. The fish have a tendency to be good sized in this pond. I take the bluegills and green sun fish and the landowner takes a few bass out of it each year. It is a nice arrangement.

I got the canoe off the pickup and had everything in it ready to go. I was making my first cast when I heard a tractor come into the field, I always make a few casts before I put the canoe in, just to see if there is a fish there. If I put the canoe in first, the fish is gone.

The guy in the tractor stopped to check to see who I was. I had not met him before, but he knew that it was OK for me to fish the pond. He wanted to watch me cast, believe it or not, as he had not seen very many folks fly fish. The second cast resulted in a very nice bass deciding to annihilate the fly. This fish came out of the water twice before I got her in. She was just short of twenty inches long according to a tape measure. In any case she went back into the water.

With all the commotion she made I knew the other fish were gone or turned off. Time to put the canoe in. I did have the two thwarts replaced and things were back to normal. I knew that the bass had hit the fly about five feet from shore. I cast toward the shore so the fly landed about three feet offshore and slowly retrieved it out. The fly had moved just a few feet when the line twitched and the rod moved to set the hook.

It was a nice gill that headed for the center of the pond. It was a time to just let the fish swim around and get tired before trying to do anything. I was using a 3 wt with a 5X tippet. Not the equipment to try to horse fish in. After a few minutes I could get the fish to start doing what I wanted it to. I landed it and put it in the basket. It was a nice fat bluegill.

I cast toward the shore again and got a repeat performance. It was another bluegill that headed for China. This was fun. Hold on and let them get tired so they could be lipped. It was a fish about every five to 10 feet as I moved around the pond. About every fourth fish was a bass. This got to be fun at times as some of them were pushing the five-pound mark. It took a long time to get them in, but they were all released.

There is a place on the far side of the pond where a tree has fallen into the pond. The top fifteen feet of the tree is in the water. There are always a few fish in this area. My first cast to this area resulted in a jarring strike. This was not a bluegill and did not act like a bass, but it sure did not like the hook. It turned out to be a large green sunfish. This is the largest green sunfish I had caught in this pond. In any case I let her go back into the water. Maybe we can have another dance in a year or two.

I slowly worked my way around the pond. All of the fish were near the shore and they were in a feeding mood. The casts that were out farther into the pond just did not seem to interest any fish. If they want to be near the shore that is where I will cast to try to catch them.

I was about two thirds of the way around the pond when I saw the tractor driver waving at me. I headed over so see what was going on. The tractor had broken down and he wanted to know if I could give him a ride into town to get someone to come out and fix it. He could also get another tractor to get his work done.

I said to let me get the canoe loaded and I would take him in. He was amazed at how fast all of the stuff in the canoe could get into the pickup and the canoe strapped down on top. We then went into town so he could get on with his work.

I ended up with forty nice gills at home and I know that I tossed that many fish back in. It was a fun day with very nice fish. I was also able to be a nice guy and help someone.

I hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick (written 09/06/06)

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