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No Follow Through

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
I went out to the lake for one of my normal lunch hour fishing excursions. It was a mild day and there was just a slight breeze blowing. When I got to the lake I could see that the water was smooth on the settling pond on the east side of the road. I decided to fish there and avoid a couple of folks that were fishing the jetties.

I had a size 8 McCrey's Honey and a size 10 Suspending/Floating nymph on the lines. (See Ricks favorite Bluegill flies) I decided those were good flies to start with. I cast out the McCrey's Honey and let it drop for a few seconds and then started retrieving it very slowly. When the fly was about 15 to 20 feet out I could start to see it in the water. I could also see the fish that were following the fly. I slowed the fly down and that did not trigger them to hit the fly.

I tried retrieving the fly deeper in the water column and shallower in the water column. I retrieved it faster, I did strip and pause at different speeds and lengths. I even changed to an unweighted fly and that did not help.

I tried the suspending nymph and had the same thing happen. Fish would follow the fly and would even stay under it, but would not hit it. I let the fly sit for three minutes, timed by my watch, and the fish would not hit it. I pulled it across the surface of the water and the fish would not hit it.

It was time to change flies and sizes. I put on a size 8 black gill bug (black marabou tail, black chenille body, bead head and three black rubber hackle legs at the front). I tied a size 20 Pheasant Tail Nymph (PTN) on the other line that was unweighted.

I cast the PTN out first and sat that rod down to let the fly drop in the water column. I cast the black gill bug out and started to slowly retrieve it in. When I got the fly in fairly close to shore I could see the fish swimming around the fly, but not taking it. I changed the retrieve speed and depth of the fly to no avail. I even tied an olive bug tied the same way with yellow legs. Lots of following but no takers.

By this time the other line had been in the same spot for about 10 minutes with nothing happening. I started to very slowly retrieve this line. I was doing a short, slow pull and then pause but, I could not see this fly in the water I could tell where it was by the fish that were following it. I varied everything that I could think of and still no takers.

I was beginning to wonder if I knew anything about catching fish. I had run out of time and needed to head back to work. I am sure that all of the fish were laughing at my efforts to catch them. One of those days when I could not figure out what was going on.

I returned to the lake two days later, my next lunch hour in this office and had dramatically different results. I caught fish on every fly I had tried two days before. I was fishing at the same spot and retrieving the same way that I had before. It restored some of my self confidence that I might know what was going on.

It is interesting how a day or two can make so much difference in how the fishing goes. It also helps to keep us humble to know that we can't always fool the fish. It is also why they call it fishing and not catching.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick ziegeria@grm.net

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