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Lily Pad Pond

By Rick Zieger, Iowa

We had been home from eating pizza on Friday night when the phone rang. It was my friend David, asking if I would like a fishing partner in the morning. I said you bet and told him I would pick him up.

We met at 6:00 am and headed out to a pond that I just got permission to fish again. I can drag the canoe in, but he does not want me driving across the field until he gets the hay cut. It is his field so I go with his rules.

We got everything in the canoe and down to the lake. It is about 150 yards from the road. There is a gully to cross, but there is one area of it that is fairly broad and the sides are not too steep there. When we got to the pond, we put the anchors where they belong to work and went out on the pond.

We were at the dam end of the pond. The water slopes slowly to about 6 feet deep over the first 12 feet from the edge and then drops off into deep water. The deepest water in the pond is around 14 feet deep. There is a ring of lily pads around most of the pond. This means that it does not get fished from shore very much. There is no crop land that this pond drains. The water is almost always clear.

I have not yet managed to get Dave to fly fish, but he is a friend and we enjoy our time together.

He was casting up into the pads along the dam end of the pond. I decided to cast along the drop off and see if there might be a crappie or two along in that area. This pond has bass, crappie and some green sunfish in it. The owner does not want any bluegill put into it.

I had several taps on the fly, but was not getting any hook ups. I had started with a streamer nymph to see what it might do. I was using a size 8, so I dropped to a size 12 to see if that would help. I still got the taps but no hook sets. I was wondering what was going on when I saw a crappie nip the end of the marabou on the fly and then turn away.

It seemed that no matter what the fly it would have to have the hook at the very end of the fly to catch the fish as they seemed to be short striking. I switched to a white boa yarn leech as the hook is very near the end of the material on this fly. I saw several fish come up toward the fly and then turn away. This fly did have a bead head on it as I figured that it would have to be deeper in the water column. Great theory, but it did not seem to be working.

I changed to another fly without a bead head. I let the fly drop a long time and then slowly started to twitch the fly in. I would take about half-an-inch of line in at a time and then let the fly set for a few seconds. Then repeat this again and again for the retrieve.

We could see the stems of more lily pads poking up in the water column, but they had not reached the surface. Several times I had felt a little weight on the line, but felt that I was rubbing against one of those lily pad stems and did not do anything about it. On one of the retrieves I had about 10 feet of fly line still out when I felt this. I decided this was a good time to cast again, and started to do that. For some reason the crappie that got hooked in this process just did not like the notion of being cast. But I sure did like the idea of that crappie being on the end of the line. This was a very nice crappie that was just over a foot long and very fat.

Hooking this fish caused me to wake up. I wonder if it might be that the fish were swimming with the fly and what I thought was rubbing against the stems was a fish with the fly in its mouth. So the next time I felt that little bit of weight I set the hook. I did not get this crappie in as she came to the surface and flipped off, but it sure did help that I had hooked her.

I told Dave that whenever anything felt different for him to set the hook. We both managed to hook several fish and landed about a third of them. Several of them came to the surface and flipped off while they were on the surface.

We did manage to get 29 of them between us. I know we hooked many more than that and had missed hooking several because we just did not pay enough attention to what was happening. Several of these were in the foot long category. Several were about 10 inches long with the best being 14 inches long.

They were all fat enough to fillet over the ribs. It made a nice mess of fish. Dave and I want to get back to that pond and see what we can do if we pay attention to what is happening. It was a fun morning with a good friend.

I did notice that several of the smaller crappie still had eggs and I wonder if the larger crappie keep the smaller ones from spawning. I know that this has been proven for bluegills, but wonder if the same thing might be happening in small ponds with the crappie. Anyone read anything on this?

Hope you can get out on the water. Rick ~ Rick

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