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Breakline Fish

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I did not get out to go fishing until Sunday afternoon. We moved our bedroom from the first floor to the second and it took a few trips to get all the paraphanelia that we needed to do this. Then it was a matter of getting everything else moved and organized. That took the morning and then the wind was blowing about 35 mph. I decided that I would be better off waiting until Sunday afternoon when the wind was supposed to be calmer.

I went to a pond that I do not get into very often. I have to go through three fields. The land owner does not want me to cross the fields if cattle are in them. With the way he rotates the cattle through the fields that means that I can get into the pond once or twice a year. This pond was formed by damming a ravine. He tried a couple of things to stop the erosion and they did not work. He finally made it a pond. It covers more area than was being eroded.

It is a rectangle about 120 yards long and 60 yards wide. The deepest water is about 14 feet near the center of the dam. The sides of the pond have two break lines on each side and across the dam. The first is about a three-foot drop and goes out about 8 feet. The second is a 5-foot drop and is 10 feet wide before it slopes on out the rest of the way. He built this pond himself and I got to help design it. That is why he cut the two break lines with the dozer in the construction process. There are also a couple of good size trees anchored in the bottom of the pond.

I went out with three rods this time. I took another rod with a sinking line on it. The whole line sinks, not just the tip. I have had this line for a long time. I thought I might have to try deeper to get any fish. I had a flasher on one rod for crappie. Another rod had a Skip Morris Panfish fly on it in red and yellow. I put a modified Hares Ear on the sinking line.

I got onto the water and anchored over the second breakline on the west side of the pond. I dropped the front anchor (Joe Hydes' system) and cast with the SMP. Since the water is cooling, I thought the fish would be moving slower and I would probably have to be deeper.

I cast along the edge of the second breakline and let the fly drop. I slowly moved it along and did not have any action. I then cast to the edge of the first breakline and started bringing the fly at an angle to the second breakline. When the fly was about 3 to 4 feet out from the first breakline I felt some weight on the line and set the hook. I got the fish close enough to see that it was a crappie before it got off. It was time to switch rods and go with the flasher.

I cast this fly out and let it drop and started bringing it back in. I was using a lift drop retrieve so the blade flips a little more. I had moved about 5 feet when I felt a sold hit. I had a nice crappie on the line. I cast to the area again and caught another one. After that I could not get a hit on anything.

I moved about 40 feet to the south, where the water is shallower, and got set up again. No luck on crappie, but I did get a gill on the SMP. I decided to try the sinking line and see what would happen. I was slowly retrieving the line when it took off sideways. The water might be cooling but this bass wanted to fly. She came out of the water four times before I got her to the canoe. She measured out at about 18 inches. I put her back in to fight again another day. With the commotion I decided to move again.

I went about another 30 feet to the south. I tried the flasher with no luck and got another gill on the SMP. I caught two more bass on the sinking line moving the fly very slowly. Both were about 14 inches long. They were fun to catch, but they disturbed the water a lot.

By now I am getting to the shallow end of the pond where the water stays about 5 to 6 feet deep over the whole expanse. It is a nice broad flat to fish. I move out more to the center and anchor the canoe. With the system Joe has this takes just a few seconds to raise or lower the anchor so moving is not a hassle. I get a few gills in this area but the action is very slow. I try the Hares Ear but no fish seem to be there.

I move over to the east side of the pond and up to where the breaklines are again. I try the flasher first and have no luck. I try the SMP and get one light tap. I decided to change to another nymph pattern and see if the gills like that. I cast near the shore and bring the fly out. It has moved about 3 feet when it is slammed. This gill took the fly like a freight train. I had to remove it with my forceps. I picked up a few more gills and a couple of bass along here.

The last bass I caught slipped out of my hand and fell in the bottom of the canoe. As I reached to pick it up the bass regurgitated a leech. Now I am not always the brightest guy on the block, but I knew what I was going to tie on. I tied an unweighted leech on the sinking line and cast it out. I caught several fish, mostly bass on this fly. The largest bas was almost 24 inches long.

I was still on the hunt for crappie and headed toward the dam. I cast with the flasher and had another crappie take the fly. This fish came off about 10 feet from the canoe. I changed to another flasher that I tied so the hook is more horizontal when it is presented. On the next cast I had a solid strike. It was another crappie and this one was hooked in the roof of the mouth. I caught another dozen fish in this area before they turned off.

I moved up the pond again, but could not find any more crappie. I did get a few more gills on the leech pattern, one of which was huge. At first I thought it was a hybrid gill, but there aren't any of those in this pond. That fish went back in the pond to breed. As I continued I was getting bass to hit the fly, but not any other fish.

The wind was picking up and I decided that it was really time to get off the pond. It was getting hard to cast into the wind any way.

When I got home I had 16 crappie and 20 gills. I even caught of few of them casting left handed. I have been working on this some this summer. I did this even before Castwell wrote his article.

It was a fun time being on the pond. The fillets were great as them are coming out of cooler water.

I hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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