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Labor Day Crappie

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I went out with one of my friends on Labor Day. It was early in the day and this was the first time we have fished together all year. We headed off to a pond that has crappie in it.

This pond is a rectangle with very deep water near the dam. It goes to 18 to 20 feet over a fairly large area of the pond. The west end of the pond is only about two to three feet deep from the accumulation of stuff that has washed into the pond when there was some row crop around it. It has been hay land for the past ten years.

It was a cool morning. The temperature was 58 degrees. There was a very slight breeze. We got out on the pond and started casting. I have not converted EB to fly fishing yet. He has done a little of it, but is in love with spin casting right now.

I went with a yellow boa yarn fly. This just because I thought it would show up better in the water. I can see it farther away than I can any of the other colors of boa yarn that I have. I hoped that it would be an attractor pattern for the crappie in the pond.

The first place we fished was a flat with about six feet of water over it. There are weed patches spread across this area. We were casting between the weed patches. EB was bringing his Rooster Tail or Twister tails back in much faster than I was retrieving the fly.

I had several hits on the fly, but the fish got off after about five seconds. I finally saw one of the fish hit the fly. It was a crappie and it was rolling on the fly. By striking quickly I was hooking the fish in the thin tissue on the side of their mouth. This is not a good place to hook a crappie as they are impossible to land when you do this.

On the next strike I counted to two before setting the hook and managed to get a crappie landed.

I tried this again, but still lost most of the fish I hooked. I tried waiting longer or shorter periods of time, but it made no difference. The fish were still getting off most of the time. I even tried faster retrieves, but then they did not hit the fly.

So I went back to the two count and managed to land about one out of ten fish that hit the fly.

The fish seemed to be feeding on something in the weeds. We could see the weeds move as the fish swam through the weeds and a few times we saw the backs of fish as they went through the tops of the weeds.

After hooking about five fish they would turn off in that area and we would be forced to move. But there were fish around and in every patch of weeds that we tried on the pond. The weeds were too thick to cast into. All you did was hook weeds and spook the fish. We tried that too many times, but hope always springs eternal.

At about 8:30 in the morning a front came through. The wind blew about 25 miles per hour. With the wind making waves we could not see where the weed patches were. We still tried but spent the vast majority of our time taking weeds off the hooks.

It was time to quit. We got his boat out of the water, and loaded on his truck. When we got to his house, he wanted to count the number of fish we had. I had out-fished him nine to one. I may have him convinced to use a fly rod the next time we go.

When I got home and filleted the fish, I looked at the stomach contents of each fish. They were feeding on some sort of nymph. It looked to be about a size 18 or 20. Some peacock herl wrapped on the hook with a small black head looked to be a good imitation.

They are tied and I will try to get back there in the next few weeks to see if they work.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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