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Gills Galore

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I went out on my usual Saturday morning jaunt to reconstitute the soul. I went to a pond that I have not been at for a few years. The land just changed hands and I was given permission, even requested to see if there were any decent fish in the pond.

As I started across the field to get into the pond I saw that the owner had mowed a path to the pond for me. This sure kept a lot of grass seed and other garbage off the radiator. It was also very nice to unload the canoe to launch.

I always make a few casts before I put the canoe into the water just to see if there are any fish there before I scare them away. Got a bluegill on each of my first five casts. All of them were about seven-inches long. This start gave me hope for a very good day.

As I worked on down the shoreline I picked up a few more fish, but not like I did at the start. There was a very slight breeze blowing, barely enough to move the canoe. The breeze was strong enough to carry some of the pollen from the plants in the field to my nose and cause to me go into my coughing spells. Allergies are a royal pain in the rear most of the time.

One of my coughing spells came as I was casting. It hit on the backcast so I let the fly drop into the water. When I stopped coughing, I started to retrieve the line so I could cast again. The gill that had inhaled the fly did not like that idea and cut some fancy didos in coming to the canoe.

I have had several folks, including my wife at times, that have told me that I am not the brightest bulb in the pack. One thing I do know is that if something works then you try it again. I cast out toward the center of the pond again and let the fly drop. It might have dropped a foot when the line started going sideways. I set the hook and had a crappie this time. I can fall into habits like this real fast. I started casting away from the shore all of the time.

As I stated to get out over the deeper water the fish started to get a little bigger. I had gills that were up to 14-inches long and a few crappie pushing 16-inches. This was a blast on a 3 wt. I had to net a lot of these fish because the rod would not let me lift them in.

The large gills I put back in the pond. I read a synopsis of some research that said that large gills will inhibit the spawning of small gills. I was never able to get the research paper but I talked to a couple of folks who saw it and said the research seemed to be valid. In any case, I want the big fish to spawn so that the big genetics stay in the pond.

About this time another vehicle pulled in to fish the pond. This guy was casting tube jigs around the shore. He was not catching very many fish. He asked me what I was doing and using. When I told him, I was informed that fly rods were for trout. I told him that fly rods were for whatever fish you wanted to pursue now.

He saw me catch another of the big gills and was unhappy when I returned it. When I explained why he said that he had never heard of anything like this, but would look into it.

The fun thing was is that I was catching about five fish to his every one. Drove him crazy because he thought that he knew all about fishing for panfish. He continued to fish along the shore, while I fan cast around the canoe.

I had put my anchor down a couple of times, and the best I could tell is that the water was about 18-feet deep where I had the biggest fish hit. They seemed to be just under the surface and would hit the fly as it just started to drop. I pulled another of my brilliant maneuvers, forgetting to retie the fly. The next fish took the fly when the line broke.

I tied on a fly with a very small bead head and cast it out. Nothing happened for ten casts. I changed lies to one that was unweighted and started catching fish again. Even that small weight made the fly drop too fast, or something else, that turned the fish off.

I decided to head home so that I could get some other things done in the yard. When I put the canoe on the bank the other fellow came down to see how I had done. He looked at the fish I had kept and told me that fly rods should be banned as 'Those things are just too darned efficient". He told me that he did not know that there were that many fish in the pond.

I wished him well and headed home. When I got home I found that I had brought 78 bluegills and 18 crappie home. I know that I released at least 30 large gills and twenty bass. I did notice as I filleted the fish that the gills were a little thin. I think that more of them need to be taken out of the pond. That way there will be more food for the others. Also I did not catch any small fish. The smallest gill was 7-inches long and the smallest crappie was 9-inches long.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick ziegeria@grm.net.

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