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Part One hundred sixty-seven

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A Lazy, Hazy Afternoon

By Jason Tinling, Lancaster, PA



The heat wave and humidity finally broke here in PA. It took a couple of days of good, solid rain, but it's finally gone. Saturday was the heaviest rain in this area, leaving the air with that fresh, damp smell that comes with a good rain. We were under flash flood warning for the third or fourth time this weekend on Sunday afternoon. Big storm coming in around 2 p.m., 2 hours of flood watch.

2:00

2:30

3:00 . . .still no rain and it's getting brighter outside. I gotta get out.

The rivers will be (and are) chocolate milk. Where to go? Decided to head back out to the C & R pond I had been fishing earlier in the year. It's notoriously overgrown in the summer months, but it was the only place I could think of that might have fish. I pulled in to a crowded parking lot. There are hiking trails around the area, so not a big deal. A group of kids pitching bait under the drowsy, watchful eyes of a father were the only other people on the pond.

Nearly 3/5 of the lake was covered in green. I don't know what it's called, the small floating vegetation, like tiny clover leaves. Doesn't impede the fishing, but sticks to everything. The pond must have been really hurting for water recently, as the heavy rains of the night before still had left it below normal level. I had on a small foam/flash wasp that I had fished last week. I had had some moderate success with it, so I stuck with it. I didn't change flies for the hour and a half that I fished.

There's a small lily pad bed right on the shore of the curving "bay" of this pond. Dropping the fly into open pockets managed to generate some flashes of color from within the maze of stems, but no fish. I cast out into the greenery, watching the weeds part as the mono cut through to the water below. A few tugs and strikes that I miss. Several casts have left their "scar" upon the surface, reptilian curves marking where I have retrieved the fly line through the cover.

A cast down and off shore gets the now standard soft taps, and after a soft touch I stop the retrieve, watching the mono pull slowly into the water. Suddenly, the mono cuts to the side, clearing a swath of vegetation like a machete-wielding explorer in the heart of a hidden jungle. I tighten the line and the water surges, small greenery boiling aside. A couple of strong, head shaking runs and a 14 inch bass breaks through the green surface, body twisting in the air before he splashes back into his world. He runs a few more times, with smaller jumps, and finally comes to hand. I retrieve the fly from the corner of his mouth, and let him go. If I don't catch anything else, the day has been a good one.

I move down the shoreline, fishing a flat on the far side of the lily pads, and find smaller bluegill schooling there. After several fish go back into the water, I'm hooked into another. I hear voices carrying across the water.

"Man, he's got *another* one!"

"Who?"

"The guy with the fly pole."

I smile to myself as I release the small bluegill. Maybe someday one of those kids will be out at a local store, and remember today, and pick up a fly rod to try himself. Maybe not. As long as they keep fishing, they'll get along, I'm sure.

I pull a couple of dozen bluegills and 2 or 3 small bass off this flat. One of the bass has a large bite mark out of his back, and I'm honestly surprised that he's still swimming. The wound looks fresh, unscarred, but it's not bloody. It's too big and oval shaped to be a heron strike, Too deep and not round enough to be another bass. There is a snapping turtle in this pond. My guess is that the little fellow had a closer call with him than he would have liked. He seems to be thriving, in that he swam hard when hooked, wasn't skinny, etc. I wonder how well a fish can recover from a wound like that?

The numbers I'm getting are nice, but the 'gills are not the quality of size that I know this pond can produce. I work quickly down the shoreline to the far side. I catch a few fish along the way, and miss others. The far corner is very different from the upper end. Where the upper end is a large flat with a channel cut by the incoming feeder creek, the far corner is shoreline, a foot of 6" deep water and then 4-6' deep water. I tend to get my larger bluegill here, holding in the deeper water waiting for terrestrials coming out of the overhanging trees and shoreline greenery.

I flip the wasp tight to the bank, under the branches of a shoreline tree. The fish were cooperative. It's always a rush, fish coming off the bottom towards a fly. 4 - 5 hand sized bluegill seem to materialize in the middle of the water column, racing each other towards the slowly sinking morsel. There are flashes of blue, copper and silver as a fish turns in the water after grabbing the fly, the short line going tight in my hands. The fish streaks toward the deep water, coming up against the restraint of the line and swimming the multiple, rapid circles that every 'gill fisherman knows and loves. I get fewer fish here, but much better quality.

Suddenly, water drops seem to be leaping from the pond like hatching flies. The thunder rumbles in the difference. If it wasn't time to go before, it is now. The rain isn't heavy, I'd probably have just stood in it and fished, but there's been too much lightning in this weekend's storms. I don't need to be standing around, waving an 8' lightning rod. My wife says I'm attractive, but I don't think that's what she had in mind.

Foam/Flash Wasp

Foam/Flash Wasp

    Hook:   #10 - 14 dry.

    Thread:   Black 6/0.

    Tail:  4 - 6 red hackle fibers.

    Body:   Yellow foam, black silk/floss.

    Wing:   Pearl Krystal flash.

    Head:   Black foam.

1. Tie in thread and wrap to bend. Tie in hackle fibers, sparsely, about 1/3-1/4 body length.

2. Tie in silk. Lay foam so that it covers the back half of the hook, extending back over the tail.

3. Wrap tightly with thread to bind foam to hook. Pull foam tight and wrap forward to thread. Tie off foam and counter wrap silk forward. Tie off silk.

4. Tie in black foam just ahead of silk tie off. Wrap to eye and back, leaving a tag projecting in both directions.

5. Cut flash, and tie in a flat, fan shape on top of rear tag of foam. Trim foam tight below wing, and trim flash to length of body. The foam tag under the wing will help push up and splay the flash wing.

6. Pull the tag of foam over the eye back to the wing and tie off. Trim tight to thread. Whip finish, cement tie off and underside of head, where exposed thread is.

In theory, the foam for the body portion of the fly should be compressed enough that it remains neutrally buoyant or sinks very slowly. The foam of the head should float above the water, leaving the K-Flash splayed across the surface, much like a tired insect's wing. Mine do that for about 4-5 fish. But they keep catching fish under the water, so I'm not too worried. Because of available materials, I have tied my F/F wasps with Chartreuse flash for the wings and it has not hindered their fish catching ability at all. Since they're underwater most of the time, the chartreuse wing probably keeps me in visual contact with the fly longer, and may actually be a plus. ~ ~ Jason

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