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Leech Day

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I have been tying up some leeches using boa yarn, eyelash yarn and crow body feathers. I had tied a few and they were working fairly well for me so I decided I needed more so I would have them in different sizes and with different size bead heads on them. So I tied them on hooks from size 6 to 10 with different size and colored bead heads. I also tied some of them with more turns of yarn or feather and some that were more palmered style. I also tied a few with white boa and eyelash yarn. I tied a few with a yellow boa type yarn.

I brought some of them with me so I could use them over my lunch hour. I figured that this would be a good test to see how they worked. I was all ready to do it on Tuesday when it rained. I was glad for the rain, but why did it have to rain over the lunch hour? Not that I am addicted to go to the lake or anything like that.

On Thursday I went out, without much hope of catching anything. I was about 85 degrees with very little breeze going on. But this was the time I had and it is more fun that sitting inside. I decided to fish the settling pond first. I was a little surprised to see that the level of the pond had not gone up with the two plus inches of rain we received.

I tied on a black eyelash yarn leech first and cast it out. This fly had no weight on it. I let it drop for a little while and then started a very slow strip of about 3 inches and then a 4 to 5 second pause. I had moved the fly about a foot when I saw the line twitch. I had a nice gill on the line. I decided that if it would work one time I would try it again. I did the same thing and had a bass that weighed about three pounds hit the fly. This fish; put on an aerial show. She came out of the water 5 times before I got her in. But what fun to have a fish do this.

I thought she might have spooked any other fish in this area so I cast over to the other side of the opening and was letting the fly drop when there was a big swirl where the fly was. I set the hook and had another good size bass on the line. This fish decided to come out of the water also. But this fish decided to do it after she got near the weeds that are on the edge of the pond. Having a fish try to tail walk across the weeds at the edge of the pond does get the heart going. I moved out onto a rock that is by the edge of the water and put the rod tip down perpendicular to the weed line but near the water to try to move the fish away from the weeds. I finally got her away from the weeds and into the area where I could feel a little more confident of handling her. She was 19 inches long and fat like a football. I returned her to fight another day.

I was curious and decided to try a popping bug to see if I could get any top water hits, since she had been so close to the surface. I cast of with the popping bug, with a midge dropper, and let the fly sit until the rings were gone. This was a red live foam body, with yellow legs and purple feathers for the legs with a green hackle wrapped at the back of the foam (see Ricks Favorite Bluegill Flies for the black one). I then twitched it and let it sit again. I was just getting ready to move the fly again when a bass attacked it from the side. This fish came across the surface and just smashed into the fly and kept on going. I just held on and let the line set the hook when it tightened up. This fish was only about 12 inches long but what great fun to have it hit that way.

I was not sure if there would be any more fish out there but I cast the bug out again. This time I had moved it in about two feet when the popping bug began to move sideways. I had a big green sunfish on the line. This fish had taken the midge dropper and was not happy about being attached to a line. I had attached the midge with 5 X tippet so I did not want to horse the fish. I got this fish in and measured her at just under 12 inches long. A very good size for this pond. I was out of time and needed to head back to work.

When I went out Friday, the wind was blowing a little more and I did not think the popping bug would work. I changed to a black boa yarn leech to see if it would work as well as the eyelash yarn leech. I went back to the same place I had been Thursday and cast the eyelash yarn leech out. I let it drop and started the same type of retrieve as I had Thursday. No bites after about 5 cast covering most of the area I can reach at this pond. I cast this fly out and was reeling it in when a gill decided that he wanted a meal in motion.

He came up and hit this fly and was hooked because the fly was moving so fast. I had been bringing the fly in just under the surface, causing the water to bulge up in front of the fly. As always, if it works once try it again. I could not get the constant, consistent movement by stripping the line so I was reeling it in. I caught several more gills and a few bass doing this. I did use the other rod with the boa yarn leech and it worked just as well, as long as it was moving fairly fast.

I don't really know why the retrieves had to be so different, but I will adapt to get a fish to bite.

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

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