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Good Day with the Olive and Orange

By C. Stewart Denton (Gandolf)

This spring, Kevin and I were out after crappie in northeast Kansas. Our families were all on vacation, we were staying with Kevin and his family. The men's plans were fly fishing, fly tying, fly shops, sleeping, eating, church on Sunday, and little else. The women were more into visiting, shopping, and watching movies.

We started a little after 8:00, and had our normal mild dispute about who got the first cast, as always each insisting that it was the others turn to take the first cast. Kevin finally won out, insisting that since I was the guest, that it was my turn. He had caught a 2.5 lb smallmouth in this exact spot on his first cast a year ago.

We were after crappie though, and Kev and his son had caught a bunch here the year before. They were small, a little smaller than keepers, but I had caught only one crappie on a fly rod, so to catch quite a few was the goal. Kev had his rod ready first, with a #6 hot flash minnow on it so he insisted that I take my first cast with his rod. One cast and one crappie, all right!

I put a big shad pattern on my rod, but after 10 minutes, Kev had about half a dozen crappie, and I was still stuck on number one. Time to change patterns. Oh No! I had brought my canvas tote of trout flies, not my warm water flies, and worse had transferred my box of trout streamers into the warm water tackle box the day before! No streamers, what to do, bum some flies off Kev? I like to fish flies that I have tied myself, though, not quite to the point of obsession, but didn't want to bum a fly. A man does have his pride.

In one box of trout odds and ends I found four streamers. I had tied the pattern for friend Scott a few years ago, as he had been given some, done well with them on Cohos in Colorado a few years ago, and had no source to buy them. While I was tying some for him, I tied four for myself, and they had been in the box unused since that time. They were small bead head "Just a bug," the pattern being a no hackle woolly bugger, and I had tied these with an orange tail, an olive chenille body, and a small 1/16 inch bead head, all tied on a #10 and #12 3X long hook. They were similar in shape to the marabou jigs that I had caught a bunch crappie with as a kid, but olive and orange?

Well, only one thing to do, and on the first cast, crappie! I was catching crappie as fast as Kevin. In the next half hour Kevin and I each cast and released quite a few crappie, but Kevin said it was time to launch the boat, so we went from the bank to the water. Pretty soon I was catching bluegills and green sunfish. The bluegills, like the crappies, were just a little smaller than keepers, but some were small keeper size.

About then I had a powerful strike and a good fish on. It had a steady pull, so I began to think it was a channel cat. The battle went on quite a while, and I had begun to lean fairly heavily on the fish, when Kev gave me a well deserved chastisement, not to lean so heavily on the fish, since I had on fairly light tippet. I would have been satisfied just to get to see the fish, but Kev would have none of it, and after a while boated about a 3 lbs channel.

Next, we started fishing across the length of the Dam, and Kev switched to a number 6 olive crazy dad in hopes of smallmouth. I stayed with the olive and orange. Across the face of the dam I caught a few more bluegills and green sunfish, a small largemouth, and lost a couple of smallies. Kevin caught a largemouth or two and a couple of smallmouth. Kevin also lost one nicer largemouth than the one pound variety that he landed. I had never caught a smallmouth on a fly rod, so had hoped to land one, but it wasn't to be that day.

That evening we went out to try for some wipers and did pretty well. I caught mine on the olive and orange and Kev had gone back to his hot flash minnow.

Later in the trip I did manage to catch a smallmouth. I seldom get to fish classic streamers, so tied some streamers, including a Mickey Finn. The Mickey Finn came through for my first fly rod smallmouth.

I talked to Kevin last week, and he had caught a 4 lbs smallmouth on a crazy dad. After our trip I bought supplies to tie hot flash minnows and crazy dads, and Kevin now ties the olive and orange. He has continued to do well with it. I also continue to tie the olive and orange, and fish it when I get a chance. ~ Gandolf

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