Welcome to Panfish!

Bass Off the Bottom

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I was out at the lake to spend my lunch hour. It was a blustery day. The wind was blowing from 10 to 20 mph from the south and the temperatures were above normal and getting warmer. No jackets needed. This is weird for mid-November in Iowa.

Other folks have decided that this is a good day to be out. There are folks on both jetties. I decide to go to the flat on the main lake that I fish quite often. The wind is blowing against this shore and there is a dirty water line about 25 feet offshore. I am thinking this might be a good place to cast as the breakline is at about that same distance out from the shore.

I try a nymph pattern first. I cast it out and let it drop and then slowly retrieve it. When the fly gets near the shore and I raise the rod tip for the next cast I see the flash of a fish behind the fly. I decide to move the fly slower and see what happens. This happens again. The fish follow but will not hit the fly.

I drop to a smaller size fly to see what will happen. Again the fish follow but nothing happens. I drop down to a size 16 Pheasant Tail Nymph. The same thing happens. I see the fish but I don't get them to hit the fly.

By now I am thinking, "if the small fly does not work, go bigger." I look in my box and see one of my experiments. This is a Gary LaFontaine pattern up sized. I took some red foam and made a disk out of it. I drilled a 1/64 inch hole in it. I pulled a red marabou feather through this hole. When I got it near where I wanted the foam to be on the feather I put some super glue on the marabou and then pulled the foam over it. I have about one inch of feather behind the foam. I tie the marabou feather onto the hook about three inches from the foam. I super glue this spot so the body will not move. I twist the marabou feather and wrap it up the shank to the largest bead head I have placed on the hook. I then palmer the thread up the hook to help reinforce the marabou.

This way the bead head will drop to the bottom but the foam will keep the tail up in the water column. Just a note, if you do this. Put the bead head on the hook and run the foam disk over the hook point. Drop it into some water in the sink and see if the hook goes to the bottom. If the hook floats, then trim the foam some. If the bend is not standing up, with the bead head on the bottom, then you need more foam. I do try to get the hook to be just off the bottom as the marabou does add some weight. I hope this is as clear as mud to you. After I tie the fly I do this again. If the foam keeps the fly from dropping all the way then I cut notches in the disk so it has a herky-jerky movement to it.

I do chicken out and tie on a heavier leader. I cast this fly out past the mud line and let it drop. I know the water is only about 6 to 8 feet deep along here. This is a 10-foot leader so it will reach the bottom. I also know there is not much of anything along this flat. No trees or brush and only a few rocks. It is a mud bottom that I think has a ton of nymphs in it.

I let the fly set for a little bit and then hop it a few inches and let it set again. I want to stir the mud a little and get the marabou tail to move some. I do this several times and then the line takes off sideways. I wait a few seconds to let it tighten and then set the hook. I am fast into a fish that is not happy to be on the line. I work the fish to get it to turn and swim parallel to the shore. This way I can tire it out. I get the fish to come to the shore and it is a nice bass. She measures 21 inches long and is chunky heading into the winter. I let her go. It sure is fun when an experiment works.

I move about 20 feet down the shore and cast out again. The second time I try to hop the fly I feel weight and set the hook. This is a bigger fish. This fish takes me into my backing on the first run. I am glad I put the heavier leader on. I hang onto the fish for a while to wear some energy off. We then go into the tug of war. I gain some line and the fish takes it back. This goes on for about 10 minutes before I can get the fly line back onto the reel.

By now one of the guys on the jetty has come down with a net. He wants to see what I have on the line. I am slowly gaining line. I get the fish to swim in kind of a circle out in front of me and can gain about two feet of line on each round. The fish finally comes to the surface and it is a big bass. Now I really want to get it in to see just how big she is. I keep working her in closer and closer. We finally get her in close enough to net.

She tapes out at 26 inches. I have to use forceps to get the fly out as she inhaled it so deep. We admire her for a minute and then return her to the lake. I thank the gentleman for bringing the net. The net sure made it easier to the land the fish. I may be teaching him what I know about fly fishing, after I caught two fish and he had zero with bait casting stuff.

My time has run out and unfortunately some of the folks on the far jetty have come down to fish the flat. I decide that it is easier to leave than to talk to them. Besides that it had been such a good day that I did not want anything to mess with that.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

Archive of Panfish

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice