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Challenge

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
The Saturday before Memorial Day I headed for the lake again. The crappie were still in and I had a guy that wanted to take me out on the lake. He felt that he could catch more fish with tube baits than I could with flies, but wanted to try it at the places that he fished. He also wanted to try a fly rod and this would give us the chance to do it.

I got to the lake about 5:30 am and he was not there yet. I went out on the jetty and started casting. I could see the fish flashing under the water and would have fish follow the fly but not take it. Time to put the thinking cap on. I tired another fly but the same thing happened. I changed retrieves and depths and nothing happened.

I figured that this was another one of those fickle days when I was going to have to find the particular fly that would work. I stated using everything I had in my boxes, while casting flies tied in tandem. This way I could test them twice as fast.

I tied on a new fly that I had received in a swap. The first 6 casts resulted in a crappie taking the fly. I had liked the look of this fly so I had tied a few up and had them in my box. I took the swap fly off and tied the ones I had done on and started casting. I was getting one or two fish to hit on every cast. I was having some trouble hooking them.

At this point my friend drove up to the parking lot. I noticed he did not have his boat with him. When I asked why he said that the hitch assembly had come off the truck when he hooked the boat up. He had spent some time getting the boat secured before he came out to the lake. He said that he would not have time to fish as he needed to get his hitch fixed.

I did ask him what time he could go to get that done. He said not until about 7:30 am. I told him that we had some time for him to catch a few fish with the fly rod. We could fish from the shore and he could try one of the rods and see how he liked it. He decided that he had some time to do that.

I rigged up the other rod with one fly on it, and showed him the basics of casting. I quickly realized that he was having a hard time doing this. He had way too much arm in the cast and was snapping the line. I knew that drastic measures would need to be taken to get him to get into the swing of things.

I went and got two sticks from the willows that had been cut down near the lake. I also got some rope out of his truck. I tied his arm to his side and then had him just move the rod back and forth between the two sticks that I was holding in front and back of him.

It took about 10 minutes before he got the feel of the movement. We then took some line out and had him start casting again. He had trouble feeling when the line was straight behind him. I turned him sideways and had him watch the line go back and not start forward until the line was straight. It took quite a while before he got the feeling of this. I do have to say that he picked it up faster than I did.

He finally got all the pieces together and decided that he wanted to try for a fish. We headed to the shore and let him have at it. He could get about 30 feet of line out, but that was enough line to reach the fish. He did miss the first several fish as he was having trouble remembering to clamp his finger down before he tried to set the hook. It took him a little while but he picked up on this and finally hooked a fish. He had great fun bringing it in.

He did catch about a dozen fish before he felt that he needed to leave. He also decided that he wanted to get a fly rod. He said that catching fish that way was too much fun not to do it. When he gets it in, we will go to a pond that he knows of and catch some fish.

I stayed for about another hour after he left and got some more fish. It was a slow retrieve with long pauses that got the fish to hit the fly. They were not hitting the fly very hard. It was a matter of waiting a few seconds after they hit the fly before setting the hook. When I showed enough patience, I would catch a fish or two. They were all lips hooked. I did loose more than I caught, but I was having fun.

I did head home earlier than usual but we had several things that needed to be done. I also knew that I would be going out Memorial Day morning. Getting the things done Saturday would make me free to stay longer on Monday.

I still had about 70 crappie when I got home. Made for some good eating.

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

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