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Strike Tells


By Rick Zieger, Iowa

I had a chance to get out on a Thursday. The weather had warmed up some, but the main thing was the wind was not blowing as hard. Getting out in 40 to 50 mile-per-hour winds is not my idea of fun. It had rained some more, never ending it seems.

Knowing that I would not be able to drive into any place, I did not even try to take the canoe out.

I drove to a pond and rigged up the two rods I was taking with me on the road. I had a 3 wt and the bamboo rod with me. I tied on a silver Goldie Jr and a Peacock Sword Tail Nymph. This gave me a shiny fly and a fairly dark fly to start with.

Hiking into the pond was an experience. No puddles of water, but the whole road was a mass of mud. It was slicker than snot on a door knob. I walked in the grass on the side of the road as much as possible. It is going to be a while before there is any planting done in the fields around here. Even a longer time with the rain that is predicted to fall in the next few days.

I got to the pond in fairly good shape. Not much mud on the bottom of my shoes. My socks were even dry. I have since picked up a pair of rubber boots to wear in times like this. The water was very dirty again. Visibility of about two inches with the Goldie Jr. I am very glad that fish see better in dirty water than I do!

I made some casts where I first got into the pond. The first ones were when I was about 20 feet back from the pond. I cast straight out to see if there are any fish there, especially near the shore.

No luck with that, so I moved up to about 10 feet and made a few casts to each side to see what might be happening.

I got my first strike when the fly was about two feet from shore, being retrieved parallel to the shore. It was a bluegill that hit the fly. I was surprised to see the gill jump out of the water after hitting the fly. I don't get very many gills that jump out of the water after being hooked.

I tired a few more casts without success. Since the first fish was in fairly shallow water, I headed for the far end of the pond. That is where more of the shallow water is. I can always come back to deeper water.

I had made a few casts before I pulled a boner that showed me how the fish wanted a fly.

Not everyone has the casting abilities that I do. Everyone should be happy about that. I had made a cast and had a wind knot in the fly line. I immediately pulled the line back in so I could undo this. That moved the fly in the top couple inches of water. Before I could get the line untangled, the line moved to the side. I forgot the line and hooked the fish. One must put their priorities in order of importance. I was very happy that I did this as I had a nice crappie on the line.

After the fish was in the basket, I fixed the line. There is no understanding in my head of how I tangled the line, but I have talents. I made another cast and keep the fly in the top part of the water. It had not moved far when I had another fish take the fly to the side. It was another nice crappie on the line. There would be some good eating tonight.

The next cast resulted in another gill taking the fly and coming out of the water. This fish did a cartwheel. I have no idea of why, but it sure was fun. This seemed to be the pattern for the day.

Cast the fly out and keep it in the top couple inches of water, in areas where the water was not over about four feet deep.

I should mention that this area of this pond has several limbs that had washed into the area. If the fly gets too deep then there is a tendency to snag on something. There always seem to be some fish in this area so I decorate the underwater obstructions. I also lose a few fish that wrap the leader around something. You cannot catch what you do not hook. Places like this are why I tied flies to save me the money it would cost me to buy flies that I can lose that fast and often.

I found that I could tell what fish had hit the fly, right at the strike. It was very simple. The gills jumped out of the water. Every single one of them, just after the hook set. No matter what you think I did not hit them that hard. The crappies moved the line to the side. No hard hits with these fish. I caught a few bass and there was a big swirl each time on the strike.

I ended up with a dozen crappie and gills. Not large number, but a lot of fun. There was a faint rumble of thunder that had me leave the pond. We did not get a storm, but I have great respect for the power of storms.

We had some nice fillets and I got to share with a few other people.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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