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Crappie Coming In

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

The crappie are starting to come in on the main lake. This makes things more interesting for the lunch hour period. The water levels have been low in the lakes and ponds in this area. The rain the past week has helped that to some extent.

When I headed out to the lake there were several folks on the one jetty and no one else at the far jetty. I went to the far jetty, so I did not have to worry about casting around folks. I was just heading to the jetty from the pick up when one of the old geezers showed up. He told me "To get down there and he would be there in a minute with his bucket." I told him that if he got bossy that he would not get any fish. Our normal type of greeting to each other.

There were three boats out from the jetty fishing for crappie. All of them were about 50 feet offshore, safe from my casts. They told me that the fishing was slow. They could see fish on their graphs but they were just not getting them to bite. In any case I still wanted to try and see what I could do.

I had three rods with me. They were rigged with a white boa yarn leech, a Marabou Miss, and a streamer nymph. The last two are in Ricks Favorite Crappie Flies in the panfish archives.

I started with the white boa yarn leech. I cast it out about 30 feet and let it drop for a long time. I then very slowly moved it an inch or two and then let it set again. The fly had moved a few feet when the first crappie decided to take it out to the middle of the lake. I did not know the fish was on until the rod tip was down, it was that fast. It was one of the 8 inch cookie cutter crappie that are in the lake. The old geezer was happy to get it in his bucket.

I caught two more crappie on this fly by casting to the same area and doing the same retrieve. I hooked another fish on the next cast but it felt different. This fish had a lot more energy and wanted to stay deep. I finally got it up and saw that I had a small walleye on it. The walleye did a job on the fly and it was destroyed after the fight. The teeth of the walleye were grinding on the thread wraps to tie the fly off and they were gone. Here I have to admit something that I preach about all the time. This was the only white boa yarn leech I had with me. I have a lot of them tied up, but I had not stocked the boxes that I had with me. What stupidity.

I decided to try the streamer nymph next. It is my go to crappie fly. This is the fly that I tie on when I want to make sure that the fish are not biting. I cast this fly out and let it drop for a long time. It was un-weighted and it takes a long time to drop very far, but it can suspend wonderfully because of that. That means that the fly can stay in the same place for a long time and let the fish come to it.

While letting the fly drop I happened to look down at the jetty as it went into the water. About five feet out from where I could not see the rocks of the jetty anymore I was seeing the flash of fish turning. Not a lot of them, but enough to make it interesting. I wondered if it might be that the more active fish were very close to the jetty and in the shallower water. The boats were over 12 to 14 feet of water. Near the jetty where I was seeing fish it is only about 6 to 7 feet deep.

I slowly moved the fly in toward the jetty to test this out. When the fly was about 15 feet out from the jetty another crappie rolled on the fly and was hooked. I thought I might be onto something. The next cast was about 20 feet out and I let the fly drop. The water was clear enough that I could see it with my polarized lenses on. When the color disappeared, I set the hook on another crappie. This was another contribution to the old geezer's bucket.

I started casting about 15 feet offshore and let the fly drop. On almost every cast I had a fish hit the fly. I missed several of them, but I hooked a lot of them also. In the lot I picked up some nice sized bluegills also. Two of them were 10 inches long and they are still swimming in the lake, much to the regret of a few folks. They told me that I was nuts to let them go even after I explained why the biggest fish needed to stay in the lake. That didn't work, so I went to the statement of last resort: "It is my fish and I will do what I want with it."

I did get a good number of fish into the old geezer's bucket before I had to leave. One lady in a boat told me that while I was there that 67 fish had been caught near this jetty. She then told me that I had caught 52 of that total.

It was a fun lunch hour, and I look forward to several more over the next month or so while the crappie are in. I did carry the bucket out for the old geezer, after I told him that I did not want him to strain himself. He could carry it because he is in very good shape for his age, but I was doing a nice thing for him for a change. Besides that it bugged him a little.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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