By Richard Zieger, Iowa
Archive of Panfish
We had a nice day in late November that called me
to go out to a pond and see if the fish would bite.
Loaded everything up and headed out. My biggest
problem was to find a pond where the pheasant
hunters were not around. There were a huge number
of people out.
Finally found a pond that has a lot of trees around
it. There is not much open space so there is not room
to shoot anything that can move very fast. Got the
canoe off and almost all the fishing equipment in
it and drug the canoe about 50 feet over the grass
to get to the pond. I also had to go over three
fairly good size gullies that I did not want to
drop a tire into.
Got onto the water and looked over the pond. The
water was really fairly clear and calm. Use my handy,
dandy thermometer to check water temperature. It was
a nice 40 degrees. Time for a pattern that can move
slow and has some size as everything is larger at
this time of year. Went for the Thief again. There
are three trees that have fallen into this pond over
I positioned myself about 25 feet from the end of
the trees and cast up along sides the tree and started
to retrieve. I thought I was retrieving the fly slowly
enough for fish to hit it. I tried fishing deeper as
I thought I might have the fly too high in the water
column. Losing two flies to the tree soon taught me
how far to let the fly drop. This is part of why I
carry so many of the same pattern with me.
My first fish came when I was distracted by a flight
of geese going over the pond. I stopped moving the fly
and watched them fly over about 40 feet above my head.
When I started to move the fly there was some weight
on the line so I set the hook. Brought in a twelve-inch
crappie. This did capture my attention. I cast again
and let the fly drop and then barely moved it. Let it
drop and then barely moved it again. I was taking in
about one inch of fly line without moving the fly rod.
I had moved the fly about 5 feet down the tree when
I felt weight again. Brought in a carbon copy crappie.
Three more casts to the tree brought no action. I moved
down to the next tree and did the same thing. I picked
up two bass and one crappie here. Moved to the third
tree and went through the same process. This was two
crappie and one bass.
I decided to try along the shore to see if anything
was going on there. I moved the fly about the same way
about 15 feet out from shore. The water was about 10
feet deep in this area. Doing this, I caught a dozen
bass weighting up to four pounds. I decided that I
needed to head back to the trees to see if I could
catch another crappie or two.
I also decided to try to be a little smarter this time
when I got to the tree. I made a 15-foot cast and let
the fly settle down and started the slow retrieve.
I had barely started to move the fly when the line
moved and I set the hook. Another carbon copy crappie.
I cast a few feet further in to the tree and repeated
this several times. I picked up another 10 crappie off
of each tree as I went around the pond. I also caught
several more bass from each of the trees.
On my third round to the trees I started to catch some
bluegills. I would catch two or three off of each tree
and then everything would shut down. I tried along the
edge of the pond again but it was very slow going.
At this point I looked at my watch and realized I had
been out for almost four hours. To try to keep a little
peace in the family I decided that I needed to head home.
But first I decided to go look at each of the trees while
the water was clear so I would have a better idea of how
to fish them the next time I came.
It was interesting to see the number of fish that would
swim by as I sat looking at the branches under water.
I saw way more than I had caught or hooked. More proof
of what a magnet wood cover is to fish.
Also at the first tree I looked for the flies I had lost
and was able to retrieve one of them. That meant that I
lost only one fly on the trip. This was much better
than I normally do. I keep trying to see how close I
can cast to something without losing the fly. I leave
a lot of flies in the water.
The fish fillets were good eating out of the cold water.
I did leave all of the bass in the pond.
Hope you can get out on the water.
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