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High and Muddy

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa
Publisher's Note:
Rick's fishing season is over until the ice melts, but we have a nice stash of articles he has written in the past as ideas or events occured to him. We hope this will explain apparent 'out of season' articles.


I headed out on Saturday morning for my normal fishing excursion. On Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning we had from 3.5 to 4 inches of rain fall. I knew one of the ponds I fished and had a lot of weed growth on the surface and I thought this rain might have washed those weeds off the surface and down the drain pipe.

When I got to the pond, I found two things that could be a problem. First I had forgotten to put my life jacket and canoe paddle in the truck. I swim like a rock so I don't go out in the canoe without the life jacket. I drove back home and picked those up and returned to the pond.

At this pond I park in the overflow spillway at the end of the dam. The second problem was that water was very near to coming over this spillway. I unloaded the canoe but did not put my rods in yet. I paddled down to the drain pipe to see what might be going on.

There is a grating around the drain pipe to keep debris out of the pipe. The rain had washed a lot of small sticks and a few limbs into the pond and they were smashed against the grating. The pond weeds had come down to the grating and were trapped in the sticks and such. This made a very effective dam. Very little water was going down the pipe.

I decided to clean a bunch of this stuff away from the grating. The first few sticks came off pretty easily, but then things got harder. I was able to toss the sticks up onto the dam so they would be out of the way. With the sticks out of the way the water started to flow. Now I had to fight the water flow as I tried to get the rest of the junk away from the grating. It continues to amaze me the power that water has while it is moving.

I finally realized that I had a good sized limb that was around the grating. I tied onto the limb with my anchor rope and then moved the canoe back about twenty feet. I dropped the anchor and tied it off so the canoe would not move. I then grabbed the rope to the limb and started pulling. I could tell that I was gaining a little bit of ground as I pulled on the limb but it was not very fast. I decided to move the canoe about 15 feet to the side and then pull again. At this point I got the limb to move a little better. I finally got it away from the drain and could take it to shore.

This really let the water start to flow. I went back to the drain and took some more of the smaller limbs away from the grating. This allowed the surface weeds to go down the drain pipe.

With the drain clear I went back to get my rods and headed for the other end of the pond. I did not want to fight the current as the water drained out.

All the water that had washed into the pond carried a lot of sediment with it. With the drain plugged the water had not been able to run out so all the sediment was suspending in the water column. I decided to go with flies that had some flash in them.

I had several hits on the flies but I was not able to hook any fish. I would feel weight on the line and then there would be nothing. I changed to other flies and sizes but that did not help the process. I was wondering if the fish were short striking me, but smaller flies and even a few with a tandem hook in the tail material did not result in hook ups.

Time to try one of my experiments. I have tied a few flies with bead chain eyes and a strip of closed cell foam on the hook shank. I put the hook in the vice and then turn it 90 degrees. I want the hook horizontal and not vertical. I then tie in the bead chain eyes on the bottom of the hook and wrap the foam on the top of the shank with thread. This is a very thin (1/16") strip of foam.

I have a few Streamer nymphs and a few Marabou Misses (See Ricks Favorite Crappie flies) tied up this way.

I tied on a streamer nymph and cast it out. I had not moved the fly far when the rod tip went down and I had a fish on. This was a nice crappie, hooked in the roof of the mouth. A few casts later I had a fairly good bass take the fly, again hooked in the roof of the mouth. In the next 30 minutes I caught three more crappie and had several fish get off after hitting the fly.

My trouble was that I had run out of time. Most of it was my fault for having to go back home to get the life jacket and paddle(a mistake I will not repeat for a long time). Cleaning the grate took time but needed to be done.

Every fish I caught was hooked in the top of the mouth. My guess is that the fish were rolling on the fly when they hit it. With flies tied normally I was hooking the crappie in the thin membrane on the side of their mouth and pulling the hook out. By using the other flies I was able to hook the fish.

My wife razzed me as did several other folks that I normally take fish to. They all said I must be losing my touch. It is wonderful to get support.

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

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