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Cold Front

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I headed out Saturday morning to the lake where I go to do my noon fishing. I knew the crappie were in and with the rain we had the previous few days there were too many mud holes to get to a lot of the ponds. Besides that this would be a way to get a bunch of crappie and to help the lake a little by "decreasing the surplus population."

I was not real bright when I got up as I did not look at the thermometer. I came to the office and picked up a 5 wt rod and the 10.5 ft 3 wt I built. I figured it was time to really put it to use. With my two rods, vest, hat and fish basket I headed off. I had the radio on and when the weather came on they said it was 40 degrees in Lamoni. I had not brought a coat or jacket with me and I was too far from home to go back. The first turn around was 13 miles from home.

When I got to the lake there were three boats out near the jetty. I know these folks and they said the fishing was very slow. This is not what I had expected. I was going to fish from the shore as I had done so well a few days before.

I went to the south end of the rip rap along the road and started casting. I had a Streamer Nymph and a Perch-a-bou on the rods. This is what had worked Thursday and I would see what might be going on with these flies to start. I started with the streamer nymph. It is my very favorite crappie fly. I cast it out and started bringing it in very slowly. I had moved it about 3 feet when the fly disappeared. I set the hook and saw the fly move through the water. I was watching the fly when it disappeared again. I waited a second to make sure and then set the hook. This time I had a crappie.

The guys in the boats started riding me because I had caught a fish so quickly. They had been fishing for a long time and had caught very few. I told them it was superior ability. They told me to prove it and catch another fish.

I cast toward the north because the last cast was to the south. I was letting the fly drop when I saw the line moving. This time I had a crappie hooked deeply. The guys in the boats really started giving me a bad time now. They told me that I had used up all my luck. I cast to the south again and let the fly drop. I saw it disappear and sat the hook too quickly again. I had the fish for a second but then it flipped off. The guys in the boat told me that the idea was to hook and land them. I replied that at least I was hooking them.

I alternated casts to the north and south and managed to catch several more fish. Then nothing happened for several casts. I tried the perch-a-bou and did not have any luck. By now the sun was getting above the horizon enough to let me see down into the water. I could seed the flash of several fish in the deeper water, but could not interest them in any flies. I tried another 13 patterns but could not get one of them to work.

I went back to the streamer nymph and cast to the south. Nothing happened. I cast to the north and nothing happened until I made a little longer cast and then I had another crappie. I made another cast into the same general area and picked up another fish.

I had an idea of what was going on. The wind was starting to pick up a little and it was beginning to feel colder than it was. Wind coming across water has a tendency to do that.

I took the one rod back to the pickup and put it in the cab. I went with the other rod and started moving along the rip rap to the north. I would make a few casts and catch a few fish. When this stopped I would move about 5 feet and then cast again. At each place I stopped I would catch a few fish. There were a few spots where I would pick up a dozen fish. I am not sure why but as long as they would bite I would stay at the same place.

I worked to the north end of the rip rap and then started back. The wind was slowly increasing in speed. As I started back south along the rip rap, I was able to see more of the fish that hit the fly. I missed several as I was too quick on the strike. When I waited until they turned or the line moved to the side I would catch them. If I did strike too fast, when the fly started to drop after the strike a fish would come up and smack it. I then started making the cast, let it drop and then pull it a couple of feet and let it drop. The fly was about 4 to 5 feet from the shore and it was fish that were near the shore that were hitting the fly. No fish came out of the deeper water to hit the fly.

I think all the active fish were up near the shore and spawning. The rest of the fish were deeper and in a negative mood. In any case I keep moving the fly near shore and catching fish. My friends in the boats were going nuts. I told them that I felt they should go to the point across the lake and fish the shallows there. I know there is a flat about 3 feet deep there that is about 1200 square feet in area. I thought that active crappie would be in that area.

When my basket was fairly full, I decided to quit. The wind was picking up more speed and was going about 25 mph. It is not easy to cast the 3 wt in the wind at that speed.

I went home and found that I had my first 100 fish day of the year. I received a phone call from one of the boaters that told me they had a ball over on the point catching crappie that were against the shore. It turned out to be a fun day, but I was fairly cold when I got in the pick up. I figure I got a 100 plus fish with the 10.5 ft 3 wt I built this winter.

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

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