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Fishing With Anglerdave

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I finally got to meet David last Saturday. We hooked up at about 8:00 am and headed out for a pond. We had received about a quarter of inch of rain at our house Friday night but when we got out to the pond and tried to drive into it, it was too slick to make it all the way in. We pulled back near the road and hiked into the pond to fish from the shore. On Sunday I had a person tell me that they got three inches of rain Friday night. They live about half a mile from the pond.

I knew that we would catch some fish, but not nearly as many as if we could get out on the pond.

I was not sure what patterns to use and how deep to fish but thought we would figure that out fairly quickly. Also the pond has come up about two feet with all the rain that we have had. That means the water is in the grass that grew earlier so we got our feet wet as we fished.

Dave did get the first fish on a popping bug. I got a few small bass on a fly but figured out that the gills must be out farther than the bass were. I started casting straight out into the pond. I would let the fly drop about a foot or two and then slowly start retrieving the fly. The fish started hitting then but most of the takes were fairly light and I missed several fish.

I changed the fly to a peacock sword nymph, (in the favorites article), and started casting. I was using a pattern with black ostrich in it. The gills like this better and I caught a few on it. Since the fish seemed to be over deeper water we moved down the pond from the dam about 50 feet.

At this place we started in catching more fish. I do have to tell you that anglerdave has a tendency to do long-distance releases. I did tell him that I would like to take a bunch of fish out of this pond and he did a little better after that. I did have a hard time getting him into the technique of catching bushes and grass. I did a much better job of that than he did, even though he tried to do it a few times.

As we were fishing along this side of the pond I could see a lot of fish rising out in the center of the pond. Most of these fish were about 80 feet out in the pond. This is beyond my casting range. That is why I fish from the canoe most of the time. It lets me get in casting range.

We moved on around the pond. The fishing started to slow down about 10:30. I think the fish were going out farther to be over deeper water. We did still manage to catch a few more. It then became time that David had to leave. We hiked out and headed for the house.

We caught 43 gills, 2 crappie, and several small bass while we were out.

I had a very good time fishing with anglerdave and we are going to do it again sometime. Hopefully the road will be dry and we can get the canoe into the pond. We received about another two inches of rain in the past 24 hours. The land owner told me the road is under about a foot of water now. It will take a month or so to dry out.

I hope you can get out on the water and meet folks as nice as anglerdave. ~ Rick

Fly Fishn' with Rick!

By anglerdave (Dave Rosset)

Rick Zieger is no stranger to members of FAOL. Especially to those of us who chase blue gills and crappie with a fly rod. So it was with heightened anticipation that I loaded my gear in my truck and headed to Southwest Iowa, this past Saturday, for a morning of fishing with the "Panfish Master."

This trip had gradually evolved over the past eighteen months. It was about that long ago when Rick and I first started communicating by e mail. Since we lived about an hour's drive of each other, we decided we should get together some time and do some fishing. I had actually planned on fishing with Rick last summer, but prostate cancer, the surgery and a slow recovery, pretty much sidelined me for most of last year.

As I was driving south on I-35, I marveled at just how pretty Iowa is this time of year. Spring and early summer bring with it newness. Everything is so green and fresh. Soy beans and corn have been in the ground and are beginning to grow. In the morning, it's not unusual to see a flock of turkeys or a deer in the fields along the way. Watching the highway and occasional glances at the scenery, I felt like I was in "hog heaven." Yes, Iowa is known for its hogs as well. You will most likely smell them before you see them, But that's another story. Then it happened. I started thinking. And not about fishing.

If you've read some of Rick's Panfish articles, you're most likely aware of occasional encounters that he has had while fishing some of these local ponds. And we've all read how Rick has dealt with those individuals. Would I be witness, or a participant in an exchange of pleasantries with one of these hooligans? Should I have left the three weight rod at home and opted for a baseball bat instead? I could just image calling my wife. "Judy it's me. Could you come to Lamoni? Stop by the ATM first and get some cash. I'm in jail and they don't take Visa." Snap out of it Dave!

I arrived at Rick's house shortly after 8 AM. Greetings were exchanged and we loaded my gear in his truck and headed to a nearby farm pond he has access to. Our plan was to launch his canoe and spend a leisurely morning casting to shore, picking off bluegills and crappies as we went along. Unfortunately recent rain showers prevented us from driving back to the pond. Even with four wheel drive, the rain-slicked mud made driving back to the pond impossible. So we left the canoe on the truck and walked in.

The pond was tucked in amongst newly planted bean fields, and had a welcoming look about it. As if to say: I've been waiting for you and am willing to reward your efforts this morning.

The thunderstorms that blew through the night before and the ones that were forecasted for later that evening left the air humid and sticky. It's unusual for it to be this hot and humid so early in the summer. August maybe, when the "dog days" arrive, but not early June.

There was a flurry of activity on the pond as we crested the small dam on the south end. Dragon flies and other terrestrials were buzzing about and you could see occasional rises. My excitement turned to concern as I gazed at the tall grass and trees that encircled this lovely Shangri-La. I glanced at the two short rods I held in my hand, especially the 7' 3wt and now wished I had brought my 9' 6 wt. I had expected to be fishing from a canoe, not making "steeple back casts" over tall grass. Oh well. No point in worrying about that now. Years of fishing and life for that matter have taught me that you can adapt to almost any situation.

Rods were strung and to my 3 wt I tied a #10 chartreuse blue gill popper. To the 5 wt one of my old standbys, a #12 black/olive bead headed Woolly Bugger. Rick had graciously offered me some of the pan fish flies that he ties and has success with on this particular body of water. I graciously declined. Duh!

I did manage to catch a nice gill on the popper, but only one. The "old standby" was producing some fish, but my rod was bending less frequently than Rick's. Here I am fishing with the "Z" man, the "Panfish Master" and I declined using some of his "killer patterns." What was I thinking? I soon came to my senses and moseyed on over and asked Rick which one of his patterns he would suggest I borrow from him. He handed me a Peacock Sword Nymph (see Panfish Achieve/Rick's Favorite Bluegill Flies Part 1) and a simple fly tied with black chenille some rubber legs and a small bead head. Okay, so I'm a slow learner. My wife would give testament to that.

I would like to say that I outfished the master, even with his own flies. But I can't. What I can tell you is that I had a great time catching chunky blue gills on a pond with a true gentleman. It was fun sharing fishing experiences with Rick. Getting to know one another and spending time together pursuing a shared passion.

Other commitments caused me to have to end the day before noon. On the drive back, to get my truck, Rick gave me some more of his flies. We also stopped by his office. He had a bass popper that he recently tied and wanted to me to give it a try. Thank goodness for an 8 wt! He also presented me with a snowflake Christmas ornament that he crocheted to take home to my wife. A thank you for "letting your little boy come out and play this morning." We said our good byes and promised to stay in contact and to do this more often.

As I was driving back home, once again it occurred to me how throughout my life, at just the right time, God has graciously allowed me to cross paths with special people, at a special time and place. Fly fishn' with Rick, on a hot and humid Iowa morning has been one of them. ~ anglerdave

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