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Weird Day

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

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I went out on another of my noon fishing expeditions. Got to the lake and everyone said that it was slow. I could not understand how this could be because the crappie have just started their spawn and a lot of the gills are starting to move in.

I got to the water and proceeded to cast a fly out. I let it drop a couple of feet and then started to bring it in slowly. I watched four fish come up under it and follow the fly but not doing anything more. What a challenge. I tried again with the same fly. I can have a tendency to be persistent.

After four more casts with the same result, I switched to a smaller size of the same fly. This time one of the fish came up and hit the very tail end of the marabou tail of the fly. Time to change. I went to another fly that is tied on a smaller hook with a very short marabou tail.

Again they would come up, follow the fly for a long way and then maybe hit just the very tail end of the marabou. This is starting to get serious, as I have a bigger brain (questionable in some places) than the fish. I should be able to figure out a fly that they will take.

I went through all of my standard crappie flies and a few others that I have received in swaps. In 35 minutes of fishing I had totaled five decent strikes and two fish caught. I had watched about 100 fish follow flies as I moved down the shore line to see if that made any difference.

It was now time to set down and see if the fish would tell me anything. I don't remember the author, but one of the books I have relates the story of watching a fish for two hours before making the first cast. I am obsessive at times, but not that bad. I found a nice clean flat rock to sit on and just looked at the water.

After a few seconds I began to notice that I would see a little bit of flash about four to five feet down in the water column. This is in water that is six to seven feet deep. I saw this several times and decided to get closer to the water to see if there was a hatch going on. Got down to the edge of the lake and looked for any sort of insect activity. I could not see anything.

Time for a drastic change in flies. I tied on bead head Pheasant Tail nymph with a red ostrich herl thorax in size 16. I tied this fly with the abdomen using three different species of pheasants' tail fibers. I used regular pheasant, Reeves pheasant and Golden pheasant. It gives a nice mottled appearance.

I cast this out and let it drop for a long time. I saw a flash and the line tightened. I set the hook and had a 9-inch crappie. Some folks just a little ways from me wanted it so I gave it to them. I repeated this on the next cast with a carbon copy crappie. I would get a strike on about every other cast while it was dropping. I got a few fish to hit the fly while I was retrieving it, but always on the pause. I am assuming that it was starting to drop a little.

I would catch four or five fish at a spot and then need to move. The people I gave the fish to just followed me down the shoreline to get the fish. I did catch a few big bluegills during this time also. Had one that went 11.5 inches and one that was 12 inches long. Both were females full of eggs and went back into the lake. This was not popular with the folks following me, but I told them it was my choice to give them the fish and what fish to give them. They told me that I was to give them every fish that I caught. At that point I started releasing every fish that I caught.

There is a bit of perversity that resides in me. If people are not happy with the fish that I give them and make demands then I stop doing it.

I had not seen the fish in this lake totally ignore the other flies that I was using. I am assuming that there was some sort of hatch that was beginning and the nymphs were starting to move up and down in the water column a little bit. None of them were coming to the surface. I wish I could have been there when the started coming off the surface to see what they were. There must have been a lot of them to get the crappies and gills to key on them.

Turned out to be fun to figure out what they would hit and be the only one catching a number of fish. Reminded me that I had to pay attention to what was happening and not think that I had all the answers. Also made me feel better that I might be smarter than the fish.

Hope you can get out on the water. ziegeria@grm.net. ~ Rick

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