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Brisk Morning

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I can tell that fall is coming. We had a cold front come through and the temperatures went down about 20 degrees. With the days getting shorter and the cooler temperatures I went out later in the day. I did not get to the pond until about 8:00 am in the morning. I will admit that I spent about an hour before going out picking apples to make cider later.

I got to the pond and loaded everything into the canoe. I could see no activity on the pond. I put my hand down in the water and it was cooler than it had been before. This tells me that the fall bite may be on. I find that as the water cools the fish are more aggressive as they feed for the winter.

I had three rods with me. One rod had a popper/midge combo that I would cast out and just let set. The second had a streamer nymph on it. The third rod had a black leech pattern on it. I thought it was time to fish the break lines in the pond. The fish would be moving along them searching for food.

I cast the popper/midge combo out. The midge was about a foot under the popper. I made it from a red pheasant tail barb with some copper wire for a rib. I started casting with the streamer nymph along the break line at the same time.

I caught a few small bass, but nothing else. After 10 minutes I moved about 40 feet and set up again. The popper midge went out first and then I cast the streamer nymph toward a little flat that I know is along the shore line. The fly had just barely gone under the water, when the line went sideways. I set the hook and had a nice gill on the line. I knew it was a gill because it came out of the water twice before I got it landed. I don't have gills jump very often, but it happens on a rare circumstance.

I had just put this fish in the basket, when the popper started to move. I waited a few seconds and then gently set the hook. I knew this was a gill from the way the popper was cutting didos. This was a huge gill. This one went back in the pond after I got the midge out of her mouth.

I cast the popper/midge back out. I decided to try the leech over the little flat where I had cast before. Just as the leech hit the water a fish swirled on it. I thought bass and set the hook. This fish stayed deep and swam in a semi circle by the canoe. I was very surprised to find a crappie on the line. Surprised but happy and the fish went into the basket.

There were no more fish on the little flat, but I knew where a bigger flat was and moved toward that spot. I anchored about 25 feet away from it and cast the popper/midge to the edge of the flat. I cast the leech to the edge of the flat and started to retrieve it very slowly. I did about a 2-inch strip with a 5-second pause. I did this a few times and then the fly would get hammered.

Most of these were gills, but I would get a crappie now and then.

As I continued to cast to the flat, I was getting several more strikes. Many of these I could see were crappie that were rolling on the fly. That meant a short fight before they got off the line. But it was still fun to know that I had figured out where they were.

I did catch more fish on the popper/midge combo. They were gills, but they were all big fish. This fly might set for 10 minutes or more before a fish took it. The only movement this fly gets is what is caused by the water or the wind. I do nothing to it. I do use 7X tippet to attach the midge. That might let it have a little more movement.

I had covered most of the flat, when I heard a shot gun blast. I am not sure what they might have been hunting or doing, but it was time to leave. This is a pond that I had stocked and not many folks know there are fish in it. There are also a few folks that I don't want to know that it has fish.

It was a fun morning and great fun to have the fish hitting the flies so hard. Fun to hear the geese flying overhead. I also saw about a hundred Monarch butterflies feeding on some flowers along the shore.

I ended up spending about 2 hours out on the pond. If I had been able to spend the other hour I might have had another 100 fish day. But I had fish to eat and share. I also have good memories of the time at this pond.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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