August 7th, 2006

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Green Zone
By Michael Aldridge

You suspect it is going to be a good day when you toss your bug over the side of the yak in the middle of the lake and a gill takes it while you are getting all of you gear in order. As I said in a previous rendering ". . .I can be trained" so I started fishing in the middle of the ten acre, eighty year old lake. I began to pick up a gill about every five minutes, just enough to keep me interested in blind casting a #12 epoxy black ant. That is hard to do when you are a structure/bank kind'a guy. Since I'm an "OLD GUY" I have trouble seeing the end of the line sometimes so I usually tie a quarter-inch strip of yellow craft foam in the loop to loop connection at the line to leader connection. The foam is cut down to leave only the knot so there is no problems from this crutch. All of the takes were gentle as the fly dropped naturally. The line/indicator just started to move off as the gill swam away with his snack of black ant de jour.

This time of the year there is vegetation growing out from many of the banks for five to fivteen feet. This makes my usual 'hit the banks' approach problematic and even the 'hit the structure' approach suffers since most of it is in the GREEN ZONE. Spell that bug sliming, profanity causing, time-wasting GREEN ZONE. One end (east), or about a quarter of the lake, is practically unfishable since it is only one to four feet deep and now weed packed. The only fishable shallows are where the cows keep the vegetation tramped out. That is an area which I call the 'Cow Shelf' along the north bank in 1 to 4 ft of surface growth free water that leads to a ten foot bottom. Along the south bank, the depth runs to about 14 feet on a steep drop (20 ft from the shore it is 14 feet deep).

As I let the wind push me to deeper water near the south shore, the catching dropped off in comparison to the fishing. This south shore provided a few strikes and swirls but only one gill (8" and a blue black Dude). I started switching flies to test the culinary tastes of the fish that day. There are some great looking, and in the past, good producing areas here: old posts from a fence line, old stumps, downed trees, a pier, stick-ups. . .but NO JOY. The whole south side adjacent to deep water was just casting experience (yep , I need it). I got plenty while rounding the west end and moving up the more shallow north shore still using ants, bullie spiders, a hackle-type spider and other wet/sinking flies.

I'm getting frustrated and it is hot and still and humid and. . .man! This feels like a popper afternoon (7:00PM). Have you ever had that little voice saying tryapopper, tryapopper, tryapopper? I have. . .and I did, and it became a 'SNEAKY PETE DAY.'

Sneaky Pete Fly

The day turned around immediately. I was using a PETE that is a dremel type bug which was too big for smaller gills, just right for 8 inchers, and tempting for any bass. I lost count of the takers in the next hour and a half. It was finally just too dark to see where I was casting and I still had to get the truck out of the pasture. The catch proportion was 90% bass (12 to 16 inch) and 10% gills (and shellcrackers). They wanted that PETE to be making a fuss on the water. Most of the strikes came just after (like 2 sec) a couple of 6 to 12 inch strips. The 'Cow Shelf' was bass central.

I won't go into a lot of fish catching detail but the 16 incher stands out. This worthy was off of the bank about 20 feet (and 10 ft from the weed line). It was immediately evident that he had a real attitude about being restrained as he took off for deep water and then directly toward the Yak. I have a chain anchor hanging about two feet below the yak to drop in the wind and a UL spinning rod pointing off the rear of the yak (for really frustrating days ONLY). Yep, he put my flyline in the hook on the spinner and wrapped the anchor line. You would have paid to see the contortions displayed as I tried to untangle everything without breaking a rod, loosing the fish, or dumping the yak. Miraculously he was so well hooked that he was still on after the spinner was eliminated from the equation, then he very obligingly unwrapped himself from the chain…. Yep, gotta' go the church Sunday.

Lesson learned: Listen to that little voice. Stay tuned for the next "training experience" from the 'not real smart guy'. ~ Michael Aldridge


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