By Richard Zieger, Iowa
Archive of Panfish
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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
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
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
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. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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