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Crappie Binge

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I had an extra morning to spend at a pond on Labor Day. My wife said that was good so she could sleep in later. I did get everything loaded on Sunday afternoon so I could get out at first light.

I was going to a pond that I have not fished for a few years. This land had changed hands a few times and was back to a person that will let me fish on it. This pond is about a football field in size and has a healthy growth of lily pads around the edge. The deepest water is to the east and the west end goes to about a foot deep. I know this pond has crappie, green sunfish and bass in it. I was out for the crappie.

I had tied on a Streamer Nymph and a Miss Marabou variation (Ricks favorite crappie flies in the panfish archives). The variation is that I had spiraled some foam up the hook shank before I tied the rest of the fly. This lets the fly suspend more and the retrieve can be very slow.

I got through the lily pads at the edge of the pond. There is about a 12-foot wide band around most of the pond now. I used the streamer nymph first and cast to my left along the lily pads. As the fly came by the first pad, I saw the line twitch and I was into the first fish of the day. This fish headed for the middle of the pond and wanted to stay deep. I thought I had a bass on, but it turned out to be a foot long crappie. What a way to start the day.

Could there be a crappie by every lily pad at the edge of the pond? So I made a short cast to my right. As they fly came by the lily pad, I had another strike. Again this fish headed for the center of the pond and wanted to stay deep. It was another crappie.

I caught three more crappie on the next 3 casts to my right by lengthening the cast just enough to come by the next pad that was sticking out. I cast back to the left but I had disturbed all of the fish and needed to move.

I moved to the left, toward the dam. There was no wind so I could stay put without putting down an anchor. I cast toward the first lily pad and had another crappie on the line. This one decided to try to get into the lily pads and took a little more work to get in.

I caught fish off of the next three pads that were sticking out a little from the rest of the pads.

I was curious and decided to try the Marabou Miss toward the center of the pond and see if I might get a fish. I cast it out and let it drop for several seconds. I then move it a couple of inches and let it sit. I had done this three times when I saw the fly disappear. I had a fish on, but it got off in a few seconds. My thought was, this is a crappie that has rolled on the fly and it was hooked in the side of the mouth.

Again I cast this fly out, because you can't land them if you don't hook them. I had four more fish hit the fly, but I did not get them into the canoe. I decided to move up the shoreline a few feet and see what I could do. I caught more fish along the edge of the lily pads and had several strikers as I cast to the center of the pond.

I did catch several more fish along the way, even getting a few out of the center of the pond. It worked better if I let the line tighten on its own and not setting the hook at all.

The fish were hooked in the side of the mouth but the hook tore through the membrane of the cheek until it hit the edge of the mouth. It is thick enough there that I was able to land several of these fish.

As the sun got higher in the sky, the fishing at the edge stopped. The fish went deeper or went back under the pads and would not come out for the fly. I was still getting some in the middle of the pond.

On one of my last casts I hooked into a huge bass. It took a long time to land her. I almost lost her a few times as she headed for the lily pads. Probably more through dumb luck, than skill, I managed to get her to the canoe. I had to lip her as she was too big for my net.

This was the largest bass I have ever caught. On the one rod the separation between two of the line guides is 27 inches. This fish was about 2 inches longer than that. I will admit to wondering if this might be a state record, but she went back into the pond.

I did get a few more crappie after this, but I knew it was getting later in the day. Also, the fish basket was getting full. It was time to head back and get a few things done.

After filleting the fish and getting everything cleaned up, I found that I had brought home 65 crappie. I had many more hits than this, but it took a while to figure out how to land some of them. It was a fun day to be out on the water. It was great fun to have the fish hitting this way.

Just so you know, I will not tell where this pond is. I probably will not even take anyone there. Some things just have to be kept secret.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick (written 09/11/05)

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