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Lily Pad Crappie

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

It is a week after I had fished with Joe and Dave. The farmers have been haying so I can get into a few more ponds. Several of the farmers don't want me to drive across the fields the two weeks before they hay. It is their land so I go with their wishes.

I get to the pond and see that the water is still fairly muddy. But I am there and I don't think any other ponds will be any better. Besides that I know that this pond has some nice crappie in it. I want to catch some crappie. I have not caught more than a couple on most Saturdays. I get everything into the canoe, at which point I realize that the camera is at home. It is safe there but not very usable to take pictures.

I have just put the canoe in the water when the pond owner shows up. He has a 12-foot flat bottom boat on a trailer that he puts in the pond. He tells me he is there to show me how to do it.

He started down the shoreline casting for bass. I am out about 20 feet casting parallel to the breakline that I know is there. I am thinking that the crappie will be somewhere along the breakline. They will either be on the flat near the breakline of will be tucked in against the edge of the slope in deeper water. I can cover both from where I am positioned.

In an hour and a half, I have caught a dozen bass that are from about eight to fourteen inches long. Not a single crappie has taken the fly. I have gone through my favorites and a few others. It is time to do something radically different.

Some time back someone on the list talked about using rubber legs on the boa yarn flies. I had tied some of those up, but had not used them a lot. Today was the day to change that. I changed to some 3X tippet for my leader and tied on a yellow boa yarn leech with yellow legs. This fly also had a bead head on it. I use thicker rubber for my legs and I think the bead head causes them to drop faster, giving the rubber legs a little more action. I want this to happen in murky water. With no bead head I don't think the fly moves fast enough to get the rubber legs to move. This is what I see as I have dropped the flies near the canoe in the water.

I had a heavier leader as I was going to cast into the lily pads and weeds that were on the side of the pond. There is not much room between them and if I hook a fish, I know it will be into the weeds. This leader is a little bit of an equalizer for that.

I cast this fly back into the lily pads and let it drop. I know the water is about four feet deep along this part of the pond. I start to move the fly and the line is heavy. That is time to set the hook and see what is causing the heaviness. After working the fish for about five minutes I get a nice crappie into the canoe. This fish went around several weeds and it just took some time to get her to swim back around them.

But it was success. My first crappie of the day. I cast about three feet to the side of where I had cast before. Again as the fly dropped a fish took it. This was another crappie that I got to see, but I lost this one when she got into the weeds. But you don't catch when you don't hook.

I cast back into this area again, but I don't cast as close to shore. I wonder if there are fish closer to the edge that I might have a better chance of catching. There is only one way to find out. The fish are there, but they are not any easier to catch. I hook a lot of them, but they get off in the weeds. I donate a few flies to the weeds also as they get hooked on the stems after the fish get off.

As the fish are still hitting at this spot I stay put and try for them. The landowner comes by to see what I am getting. With his sonar unit he can see that the fish are swimming through the lily pads. They are not staying in one place. That means that fresh recruits are coming into range all of the time.

I spend a little over an hour working this area. I land about 20 percent of the fish that I hook. The tension on the line as they have the line around the weeds many times pulls the hook out. But I found them.

I ran out of time, as there are other duties to perform at home. These are things that I need and want to get done. I find that I have 14 nice crappies when I get home. This made a very nice mess of filets.

I hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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