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First Crappie of 2009

By Rick Zieger, Iowa

I had a Monday off from work. The ice is long gone. The wind was blowing about 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 miles per hour. It was still time to go to the water. I did leave the canoe at home.

I took the boo rod and a 6 wt graphite out. I was not sure how well I would be able to cast with either one of them. But it was a fairly nice day and it was time to be trying to catch fish. There had not been any rain, but the wind had been blowing. I hoped the ponds might be clearer than they had been before.

I took my vest with me so I would have a full choice of the flies that I have tied. That means I have serval boxes of flies to choose from. Probably too many boxes, but I don't know what to eliminate.

When I got into the pond, I could see that the wind was whipping it up. On the north side of the pond there were white caps. The waves were about a foot high. I did have a glimmer of what amount of sanity I might have, but I was at a pond and it was time to get a fly in the water.

The water was a little bit clearer than it had been before. I could see down about six inches now.

Since the sun was shining, I went with a silver Goldie Jr and a boa like yarn. This is a yellow sparkly yarn fly that came from some material that was given to me by a knitter. She did not know where it came from or what the name of it was. But it makes a nice fly.

I was surprised to find that I could make about 40 foot casts in the wind. That is much better than I normally do. I was casting out over an area that has water from about 10 feet deep to about a foot deep near the shore. I hope that the fish might have moved in to be feeding.

I made several casts and brought the fly in at different depths and at different retrieve methods.

Not a whole lot of anything was working. I made another cast and started to reel the line in.

The fly was about 10 feet offshore when a bluegill inhaled it. No need for a hook set the fish was on. It was a good size gill and made several different twists and turns before I got him landed.

I tried doing this several more times and it did not work. I even tied on a black marabou leech, which did not interest any fish. So it was time to move down the pond. I cast over areas with deep water. I hit areas with shallow water and had the same result in both places. It was some good practice casting.

My migration along the pond brought me to a place where there is about five feet of space between the limbs of two trees. Both of the trees are about 60 feet tall. That means the limbs are big and bushy. It is always a challenge to me to try to cast a fly here. Can I keep it between the limbs and not lose the fly? A couple of the limbs almost look like Christmas trees with all the decorative flies that are on them. Hope does spring eternal, because I keep trying.

On this day my first cast puts a fly in the water and not on a limb. The fly had just hit the water when the crappie came up and hit it. Half the body of the crappie was out of the water as the fish took the fly. I had my first crappie of the year on the line! I carefully worked this fish in and got her landed. I took two deep breaths and then cast again, hoping there would be another fish in thee area. That hope was dashed over the next several casts.

The wind shifted its direction a little and made the casting much harder. When I was hitting myself on three of five casts, I decided that it was time to leave. The wind coming over the water was also very cold. I had not brought a jacket with me.

Hopefully the wind will stop blowing and the water will begin to warm up so the fish are more active.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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