I went out on my normal Saturday morning
excursion following the celebration of the
4th of July.
Headed out to a pond that I had not visited
for a while. Cattle were out of the field
and the gates were open all the way in. Got
to the pond at about 6:00 am to beat the heat.
I loaded all my stuff in the canoe and headed
out into the pond. I stated casting with a fly
and felt hits but I could not hook anything.
After this happened a dozen times I went to a
smaller fly and a different pattern. Same thing
happened to me. I would feel the hit but I would
not get anything when I tried to set the hook.
This continued to happen as I downsized my fly.
I had stated with a size 8 Miss Marabou. I went
through Perch-a-bou, Streamer nymph, Bead body
minnow, marabou leeches, other nymph patterns.
At this point I had managed to catch about
a dozen fish, but all of them were barely
hooked on the lip. I had a hit on almost
every cast but whatever I was doing was not
working the way I wanted it to. When this
happens it is time to set still and watch
what is happening.
The wind was blowing enough to ripple the
surface with waves about an inch high. This
broke up the surface enough that I could not
really see down into the water. As I was
watching the water around me, trying to figure
out what to do, I had a bluegill come up and
slurp something from just under the surface
out three feet from the canoe. I thought I
had heard this but I did not expect it to
happen when the wind was blowing this much.
I dipped some water up but I could not see
anything in the water.
I decided it was time to go much smaller. I
have some size 18 Pheasant Tail Nymphs tied
up and I put one of those on. I cast out and
let it drop just a little and started to bring
it in. I had something swirl at it and I felt
the hit, but again no fish. I cast out again
and repeated this for another seven or eight
times. Then I got lucky and landed another bluegill.
I was starting to call myself names and
doubt my ability to catch fish. This pond
seemed to be full of fish but I was not
catching any of them. Then I had a gill
come up and nip at the tail of the fly but
nothing more. I felt the hit but there was
no way to hook the fish. I tried a few more
casts close to the canoe and saw this repeated.
I may not be the brightest bulb in the pack,
but I know when something like that is happening
it is time to go to a different approach. I
decided last fall that I had not tied any small
flies, say size 20 to 24, and that as a fly tier
I should do this. I got some materials and hooks
and tied some up. I still like larger hooks as
those little hooks are harder to do.
I had a few of these along with me so I decided
it was time to put one on. No tail to hit and
if they nibbled on this the hook would be there
to greet them. I tied on a size 22 midge pattern,
using orange and yellow horse hair with a
grizzly hackle. I cast this out and I am sure
that it was under water almost immediately. I
think the wave action broke the surface tension
and allowed it to drop.
It had not dropped very far when I saw the
line move and set the hook. I had a nice gill
on and got it into the canoe. Then I had the
fun of finding the fly and getting it out.
Having the yellow and orange horsehair colors
do make it easier to see.
I cast out again and had the same thing happen,
after about five seconds the line moved and I
had another gill. This seemed to be a pattern.
The fish seemed to be just under the surface
and cruising around looking for some small insect
life to eat. I did figure out that if I tightened
the line after about three seconds that many times
I would feel the fish and the fly would not be as
deep in the fish's gullet.
I was making casts and getting a fish on almost
every cast. I think the ones I missed were when
I got too excited and struck to fast. I would
catch a few fish and then move a little on the
pond just to see what would happen. I got to
the point where I knew there was a breakline.
The water goes from about five feet deep to
about nine feet deep. I cast the fly out and
had a hit. Was I ever surprised to see a crappie
coming in. But if it works, try again. I caught
18 crappie at that point, using this fly and they
all hit just after the fly hit the water.
At this point I looked at my watch and saw
it was much later than I thought. I decided
that by the time I got home and cleaned the
fish it would be hot out, time to head home.
After I filleted the fish, I found that I had
caught 70 gills and 18 crappie. Most of those
were in the last hour and a half. I was very
surprised to catch fish on a fly this small
in the wind.
If I hear that slurping sound again even if
the wind is blowing, I am going to change
flies. I also put more small flies into the
boxes in my vest.
It was a fun morning. Hope you can get out on the water.
~ Rick written 07/07/03