Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Pond With No Fish

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I traveled to Memphis for a family high school graduation party. Though I didn't get a chance to fish -- a hardship one must endure from time to time -- I did chat with my aunt and uncle about the state of their farm pond.

A few local fishermen declared that there "weren't any fish in your pond" after fishing it in the spring. Ice fisherman had likewise caught nothing during the previous winter, which prompted my family to consider the fact that the pond might have turned over in the late summer, early fall. It was certainly a very real possibility with the lack of rainfall and record high temperatures the Midwest experienced last year.

So, being the good nephew, I decided to conduct my own "fisheries research" and find out what's going on. If there were fish to be caught, I had a reasonable good chance of catching them.

With a Redington 5 weight, Sage Bass rod, and FishPond pack in tow, I ventured to the pond, not knowing what to expect, but hoping that the worst cast scenario would not come to fruition. After a quick scan of the water, I noticed tell-tale sign of bass: fish swimming with purpose, elongated in profile with black tipped tails. No only were there fish here, but according to the body language of these bass, they were actively feeding.

I rigged up my 5 weight, attached some tippet material to my 4x leader, and tied on a size 14 bead head pheasant tail. After a few casts into the shallows with no hits, I placed my fly just beyond the line that delineated the skinny water from deeper depths. By the slight twinge in my leader, I could tell that a fish sucked in my pheasant tail.

With a slight raise of my rod tip, the fly rod bowed and the fight was on. After a short fight, albeit exciting, this fine bluegill came to hand. It was released unharmed. 

The process repeated itself again, with an even more impressive specimen eating my pheasant tail and putting up one hell of a fight. Pound for pound I doubt there is more exciting fish than the bluegill. It's ubiquitous availability and willingness to take flies makes it a great gamefish for the fly angler.

Here's lookin' at you, kid.

For all of the bluegill's merits, though, I wanted a change. Bass were swimming in and out of the shallows, inspecting any item that came into their environment as a potential food source. It was time to give these top line predators some meat.

As I culled through my fly box, I decided on a frog color Dahlberg Diver. I like this pattern in general and with a healthy population of bull frogs in the pond ecosystem, it seemed like a logical choice. Switching to the Sage Bass rod, I attached the fly to a straight 8 pound mono leader.

Pushing right under the surface film, leaving bubbles in its wake, the Dahlberg Diver is hard to ignore, even by the most wary largemouth. I walked around the pond, working shallow water flats, underwater stumps and deep water drop offs. The bass responded, smashing the deer hair surface fly. Between the notorious head shakes, jumps and tailwalks, it was damn fun catching these fish.

Over the winter, I had been tying up some Backstabber Carp flies for the upcoming carp season. Having never tested these flies in the water before, I thought this day would be a perfect opportunity. With the Backstabber's jigging action imparted by the dumbbell eyes, along with the sick movement from the marabou wing and soft hackle collar, it seemed like a no brainer that it would take largemouth. It did.

The final analysis from my "fisheries research" is that there are still fish in this pond, they readily take flies and, most importantly, you can have a fun time doing it. I'll be the first to admit that pond fishing is easier to figure out than other types of waters, but I don't let this fact distract me from getting out and fishing these small waters. Trophy fish are trophy fish. Truth be told, sometimes the best place to find them is in your local farm pond.

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