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Sore Knees

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I headed out Saturday morning for my normal fishing expedition. I was going to a pond that I had not been able to get into this year. This was the first time that there were no cattle in any of the fields I had to cross. The best part was that all of the gates were open so it made it easier to get into.

The big problem was that the wind was blowing about 20 to 25 mph out of the south. This pond is between two fairly high hills and oriented north and south. This acted to funnel the wind a little more and make fly casting a real challenge.

I got the canoe off the truck and my stuff into it and launched out into the pond. As fast as the wind was pushing me around I might have been able to pull a water skier. I had three fly rods with me so I could go through fly trials faster. I had three different flies on and none of them produced a single hit. I switched to three more flies and tried again. Same result, no hits after 12 to 15 casts with each fly. I know there are fish in this pond, I just needed to figure out what to do.

After going through about 2 dozen flies, with no fish interest in any of them, I was to the point of trying everything different that you have with you. One of the flies I tied on was a dark olive green marabou leech fly, size 10 or 12 hook with a black bead head. (Pull fibers off a large marabou feather and tie in a tail. Coat the thread wraps with nail polish and the wrap the marabou up the shank. Palmer the thread over the marabou 2 or three times and tie off.)

On my first cast with this fly I messed up and it landed about 6 feet behind me. When I untangled the wind knot, (really caused by the wind not my incompetence), I had a fish on. I had a gill that was about nine inches long and very fat. I decided I needed to try that again and tried to cast back into the wind. This time the cast went about 10 feet but it resulted in another bite, but not a hook up, too much slack in the fly line.

I tied my anchor off on one of the canoe thwarts. I then turned around and knelt down so I could cast directly into the wind instead of trying to back cast. My forward cast is not real great and my back casting is much worse, especially into the wind.

I did change the fly to another rod with a furled leader on it. I was able to cast about 25 to 30 feet with this when I did everything right, most of the time about 20 feet. I would let the fly drop and then retrieve the line just fast enough to keep the slack out of the line as the wind pushed in back to me. I had a bite on almost every cast. I was not catching many fish, but they were biting. I finally had one hit near the canoe and could see that they were hitting the tail but not taking anything more than that.

Time to try something I had not done before. Since I had put finger nail polish on the thread wraps just before I wound the marabou and had tied off the thread, I cut the thread that was palmered over the marabou. I cast this fly out and had a gill hit it after it had dropped about a foot. I was sure of this hit because the line went sideways and the rod tip went down. Not a delicate strike at all. I continued to cast this fly until the fish had beaten it to death. I dug around in another box and found a couple of flies that I had not used finger nail polish on. I cut the thread where I had palmered it and then unwrapped the thread and the bend to tie down the tail. I unwrapped the marabou from around the shank and then tied the thread off on the shank with a few hand whip finishes.

So this fly was a bead head hook with a marabou wing. The fish went nuts for this. I would let it hit the water and drop for about 12 to 15 seconds. If nothing hit it then I would start slowly retrieving the line so it moved just faster than the wind would have pushed it. I had several hits and managed to land some fish.

Several crappie would follow with the fly in their mouth but I did not feel them. My first indication would be when I saw the flash of the fish turning away. I started setting the hook every so often on the retrieve and did manage to get a dozen crappie that way.

By this time I needed to head home. The wind was so strong that I was not able to really paddle the canoe into it. I headed into shore, beached the canoe and then drove to where the canoe was. I have tied some more of that fly this week and I am going to try to get to the pond again this next weekend. Hopefully there will be less wind.

I ended up with 36 fish to filet. I am sure that I did not hook 80% of the fish that bit. I did have very sore knees from spending that much time kneeling in the canoe.

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

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