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By Rick Zieger, Iowa

I headed out to the lake again over my lunch hour the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The weather is still fairly nice, but I am pushing my luck as to how much longer it is going to last. But the ice is not on the lake and it is time to try to catch another fish.

The past few days it has been better to fish the main lake as the crappie are beginning to stage about 30 feet off the shore and about five feet deep. I got to the lake and there was no one on the jetty by the parking lot so I headed out on it. This jetty goes north off the parking lot and is about 80 feet long. The water to the east side is about 6 feet deep for half the length of the jetty and then drops off to about 12 feet deep. The water on the west side of the jetty is about 6 feet deep to start with and drops off fairly quickly to about 10 feet for a long way out. The water off the north end is about 12 feet deep. There is one brush pile about 35 feet out off the northeast corner of the jetty. There is about 8 feet of water over the top of the brush pile.

I had on the yellow SAAP Body Fur leech pattern, a white boa yarn leech, and a weird Muddler type fly that came off the vice. I decided to try the Muddler first. No more reason that it was something that I had played with, by varying materials, and I was interested to see if it worked.

I cast this fly out and let it drop a long time, about 12 seconds. I then started very slow one inch pulls with a 3-second pause. Anything faster than this has not worked in the last week or so. I had moved the fly several times when I let a little resistance as I started to pull on the fly line. I did a strip hook set and had a fish on. It was one of the cookie cutter 7.5 inch crappie that predominate in this lake. It was hooked in the corner of the mouth and I was able to release it without handling the fish. I lay the fish in the water and then do a quick flip of the wrist and the hook comes out.

I continued to cast this fly out and do the same sort of retrieve. I caught 5 more crappie and some strikes that I did not get hook sets on. Out of curiosity I was keeping track and I had made 10 casts. I had 9 strikes and landed 6 fish. Not bad for a pattern that was made mostly from scraps of material that I had not been able to toss out.

I decided to try the other two flies for 10 casts each and see what might happen with them. I went with the white boa leech next. I cast this out and let it drop down again. I was retrieving the fly in when I noticed the end of the fly line starting to move to the left. I set the hook and had another crappie on the line. I never felt any resistance or weight on the line, but the line moved and I reacted. I cast this fly out again and started the retrieve. Again the fly line moved to let me know I had a fish on. Another one of the cookie cutter crappie in this lake. With this fly I had 10 casts, 9 strikes and 6 fish landed.

I went to the yellow fly and cast it out. I again let it drop and then started the retrieve. After several strips and pauses I felt the hit of a fish. Not a light tap but a good smack. It turned out to be another of those crappie that are in this lake. I cast out again and let the fly drop. After several strips I again felt another good hit and had another fish on the line. In my 10 casts with this fly I had 9 hits and landed 6 fish.

It was a little weird that I had the same number of strikes and caught the same number of fish on each fly. This did happen, not that I tried to make it happen. What did hit me though, was that the fish hit each fly very differently. The Muddler type was a little resistance, the white fly movement and the yellow fly was a good solid hit.

In any case my time was up and I needed to head back to work. That is 30 casts of about 35 feet in 55 minutes. The fish I hooked were all about 25 to 30 feet off the shore. But it was till fun to catch a few fish and to be out.

Hope you can get out on the water. Richard Zieger

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