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Popper Fun

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I went out early Saturday morning to get some fishing time in. One of the guys who gave me some of the first information I ever got for warm water fishing, and the location of several ponds had died after a long bout with Alzheimers. The family had asked me to say a few words at the service as he had loved to go fishing.

When I got to the pond at 4:45 am it was a smooth as glass. There was no wind and I could see a few fish sipping bugs. It was time to get a popper on and see if there was any surface action.

I quickly got everything into the canoe and got out past the weeds. It is surprising but the temperature has been high enough and the wind blowing enough that the ponds have started to drop a little in water depth. I cast the bug about two feet from the weeds and waited for the action to start.

After a few minutes with nothing happening I moved the bug some. Still nothing all the way back to the canoe. I cast out again about 10 feet from where I had been. As I was bringing in the bug I got the line caught on some weeds. As I tried to get the line off the weeds I moved the fly about 5 feet through the air, it was not a gentle process. Just as the bug landed on the water a fish took it. I had a nice fat gill that put up a nice tussle before I got him in.

I decided to cast the other direction. Just after the bug landed it was pulled under the water. This was a small bass but still fun to land. On my next cast the bug landed safely and was brought all the way back to the canoe. I then did one of my wonderful back casts, it landed on the water. When I started to bring it forward I had a fish on.

At this point I think I am beginning to see a pattern. I think they will only take the bug when it lands right on top of them. Moving this or things just sitting there just don't cut the mustard. It is time to experiment. I start casting and letting the popping bug land on the water. If it is not taken in a few seconds I am picking it up and casting to another spot. It does surprise me when this works. It is bang-bang fishing.

I have caught about 15 fish when the bug is taken. This fish feels different and I am very surprised to have a crappie on the bug. This just does not happen very often to me. I also managed to get the fish into the canoe. I continue the quick fire casting and continue to catch fish.

After I have caught another dozen fish when I have another crappie take the bug. This one I have to be very careful with as the bug is in the side of the mouth. I gently lead her into the net just before the bug comes out. No I don't feel guilty abut that.

I come to a flat that is about 5 feet deep and has weeds growing about 15 feet out on it. I find a large number of gills on this flat. Just about every cast I am having a fish hit the popping bug. Several of these are large gills that I return to the pond. I am returning gills that are over 10 inches long to the pond.

I know that I have about half an hour left before I need to leave and I want to try a few other places on the pond. I paddle down the shore about 20 yards to a place I know there is a stump. There are some weeds around it and I figure that there has to be a good fish there. I am planning to release the bass I figured is there but I want to catch her. I was greatly surprised to find that it was a huge crappie taking up this space. She was 17.5 " long. I did not know there were fish that big in this pond.

I moved on down the shoreline headed for the pick up. I then noticed another fisherman on the bank. He was not having very much luck. I caught a few more fish along the way and then decided that I really needed to leave. As I was loading the canoe the other fisherman came up and asked if I knew of a pond he could catch some gills in. He could not get them in through the weeds along the shore.

I told him that all the ponds I knew of had the weeds. He was disappointed as he had promised fish to some friends that were going to stop at this house. I was a nice guy and gave him 10 gills to make a meal. It was also 10 fewer that I needed to take care of and I had caught more than I thought.

I went home a filleted fish and then headed to the memorial service. I ended up with 45 gills and 4 crappie at home. We are going to eat the crappie tonight.

It turned out that the memorial service was a joyous occasion. Several folks told stories of what Dale had meant to them and it was a nice experience. I hope that I can be remembered that way when the time comes.

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

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