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One of 3 Things


Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I got out to a pond on Saturday afternoon on March 11 with the canoe. I had been to a few places and fished off the shore, but this was the first true fishing excursion of the year. It was in the mid 60's and the only problem was the wind. It was blowing about 20 mph from the southwest. We have severe weather headed toward us for late Sunday afternoon and evening.

In any case it will help the drought conditions we are under.

I got onto the pond and decided I would fish across the dam first off. The wind slowly moved me along the face of the dam as I cast out into the pond and retrieved the fly back in over the breakline. My thought was the crappie might be staging in this area and I could catch a few to eat. This is when the problems started. I had a fair number of strikes and several hook ups, but then the fish were gone. I finally got a few fish close enough that I could see the flash of silver as they were fighting and then they were gone. I was hooking the crappie but not getting them in.

I went to a smaller fly of the same pattern, wondering if they were short striking. I also hoped the fly might get a little deeper into their mouth and give me a better hook set. It was about the same result. Several strikes and hook ups, but the fish were off in about 15 seconds, in spite of my trying to skip them across the surface.

My next thought was to move about 50 feet and get to a little bay on the west side of the pond. The wind was blowing the waves into this and I thought some fish might be stacked up on the flat or near it to feed. The first cast into this area resulted in the fly being smashed. The fish was hooked before I knew what was going on. It was a nice sized gill that was determined to not come to the canoe. I thought I might be onto something.

The next dozen casts were back to the old story, strikes and hook ups, but the fish were getting off. I switched to different flies to see if that would make any difference. I tied on the black boa yarn leech that I had great success with last year. I had moved a little ways so that I could cast over some tree limbs that I know are in the pond, hoping some fish might be relating to this wood as cover.

I had some success with the gills that were there as they hit the fly a little harder than the crappie were. Most of the time I just felt some weight on the line or it just did not feel the same. That is when I tried to set the hook. I did hook some, but did not get any to the canoe. All during this time the wind had been picking up and it finally got to the place where it was very hard to cast into the wind. Casting into the wind was the only way that I could get the fish to hit the fly. Nothing happened when I cast with the wind. Also, it was getting hard to hold the canoe steady even with both anchors down.

I made one more cast to come across the submerged trees, just to see what would happen. I had the fly almost back to the canoe when I realized that there was something on the line. I gently tugged the line and continued to bring it in. I had a crappie on and did I want to land this one. I worked it very slowly to the canoe and reached down and lipped the fish. Just after lipping the fish the hook tore out of the mouth of the crappie. This one had almost joined his cousins. But I had 13 inches of crappie in the canoe. But it was time to get off of the pond. The canoe was starting to rock a little and the wind was still increasing in speed.

I tried casting with my new 1 wt that I built, but the wind was just too strong to make it work.

This brings me to the three things that might have been happening with the fish. First that my technique of casting and hook setting is terrible. The second is that the fish were short striking. Third is that my reflexes are gone and I missed the time when I should have set the hook.

The first I have to dismiss as that is the way I cast all of the time and I have hooked fish before. The second is a great possibility as the one crappie I got was not well hooked. I don't even want to consider the third one.

Still it was great to be out and catch some fish. Also, fun to be able to share a few fillets with a couple of folks.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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