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Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

Went out Labor Day morning for some bonus fishing time. Had a slight wind blowing and the temperatures were in the low 60's. Very nice to be out. I was at a pond that I have fished before.

Got out into the middle of the pond and dropped the anchor. Cast out with a Marabou Miss and started to slowly retrieve in about a foot under the surface. I had moved the fly about five feet when I had a hit. I set the hook and had a nice crappie come to the surface. The fly was in the side of his mouth so I tried to be gentle. No such luck the hook came out.

I thought what the heck, I mean I got a strike on the first cast so it should be a good day if the fish are that active. I cast out again about 10 feet to the side of where I had cast before. Moved the fly about eight feet and had another crappie on that duplicate the previous one. I thought I might be setting the hook too hard.

I cast again on the other side of the canoe. Had a fish hit just after the fly hit the water. Another crappie came up to the surface. He flopped around and came off. I had been careful not to set the hook too hard. Time to change tactics though. Losing three straight fish hurts my pride.

Slid off the canoe seat and got on my knees, not praying. I cast again and started retrieving the fly. This time when the fish hit I put the tip of my fly rod down by the surface of the water. The fish stayed on a little while longer but still got off.

Time to change to another fly and see if they will hit it and be hooked better. Went to a Perch-a-bou. I had the same thing happen with this fly on the next five casts. Five crappie hooked and five crappie flipping off. Time to go the other way and went to a bigger fly. Use a Flasher with the spinner blade on a loop of monofilament of the bend. I had eight strikes in ten casts and eight fish get off.

This was getting disgusting!

I went to a Streamer Nymph I had tied on a size 14 hook. I thought they might take this one deeper in their mouth and I could land a fish. I hooked fifteen fish on twenty casts and landed one, this one I had hooked in the roof of the mouth. The rest were on the side of the mouth and the hook came out.

I kept trying flies, and different retrieves at different depths. All resulted in hook ups but most also resulted in the fish flipping off. I kept on casting trying to figure out what would work.

As I am doing this, I remember reading about the size of the brain of a fish. I also remember how big my brain was supposed to be. I wondered if maybe it just wasn't backwards.

I had been keeping track of my nonsuccess. I hooked fish on every fly that I tried. Went through all 18 crappie patterns I have. Even hooked them on a few streamer patterns I tied. The fish were hitting but getting off.

I looked at my watch and realized in was a little after 9:00 am. I had told my wife that we would do a couple of other things that day. I decided that I needed to head home.

When I pulled my fish basket in, I had six fish in it. I had hooked 151 of them. That means I had a hook-to-land ratio of 4%. This also means that I have to get back into the pond as my ego is a little battered.

If you have a suggestion of how to catch these fish, maybe even dynamite, let me know.

Can you tell it was a little frustrating? Just goes to show that I don't always get a huge number of fish.

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

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