I got out to a pond on Saturday afternoon on March 11 with the canoe. I had
been to a few places and fished off the shore, but this was the first true
fishing excursion of the year. It was in the mid 60's and the only problem
was the wind. It was blowing about 20 mph from the southwest. We have severe
weather headed toward us for late Sunday afternoon and evening.
In any case it will help the drought conditions we are under.
I got onto the pond and decided I would fish across the dam first off.
The wind slowly moved me along the face of the dam as I cast out into the
pond and retrieved the fly back in over the breakline. My thought was
the crappie might be staging in this area and I could catch a few to
eat. This is when the problems started. I had a fair number of strikes and
several hook ups, but then the fish were gone. I finally got a few fish close
enough that I could see the flash of silver as they were fighting and then
they were gone. I was hooking the crappie but not getting them in.
I went to a smaller fly of the same pattern, wondering if they were short
striking. I also hoped the fly might get a little deeper into their mouth
and give me a better hook set. It was about the same result. Several strikes
and hook ups, but the fish were off in about 15 seconds, in spite of my
trying to skip them across the surface.
My next thought was to move about 50 feet and get to a little bay on the
west side of the pond. The wind was blowing the waves into this and I
thought some fish might be stacked up on the flat or near it to feed. The
first cast into this area resulted in the fly being smashed. The fish was
hooked before I knew what was going on. It was a nice sized gill that was
determined to not come to the canoe. I thought I might be onto something.
The next dozen casts were back to the old story, strikes and hook ups, but
the fish were getting off. I switched to different flies to see if that
would make any difference. I tied on the black boa yarn leech that I had
great success with last year. I had moved a little ways so that I could cast
over some tree limbs that I know are in the pond, hoping some fish
might be relating to this wood as cover.
I had some success with the gills that were there as they hit the fly a
little harder than the crappie were. Most of the time I just felt some
weight on the line or it just did not feel the same. That is when I tried to
set the hook. I did hook some, but did not get any to the canoe.
All during this time the wind had been picking up and it finally got to the
place where it was very hard to cast into the wind. Casting into the wind
was the only way that I could get the fish to hit the fly. Nothing happened
when I cast with the wind. Also, it was getting hard to hold the canoe
steady even with both anchors down.
I made one more cast to come across the submerged trees, just to see what
would happen. I had the fly almost back to the canoe when I realized that
there was something on the line. I gently tugged the line and continued to
bring it in. I had a crappie on and did I want to land this one. I worked it
very slowly to the canoe and reached down and lipped the fish. Just after
lipping the fish the hook tore out of the mouth of the crappie. This one had
almost joined his cousins. But I had 13 inches of crappie in the canoe. But
it was time to get off of the pond. The canoe was starting to rock a little
and the wind was still increasing in speed.
I tried casting with my new 1 wt that I built, but the wind was just too
strong to make it work.
This brings me to the three things that might have been happening with the
fish. First that my technique of casting and hook setting is terrible. The
second is that the fish were short striking. Third is that my reflexes are
gone and I missed the time when I should have set the hook.
The first I have to dismiss as that is the way I cast all of the time and I
have hooked fish before. The second is a great possibility as the one
crappie I got was not well hooked. I don't even want to consider the third one.
Still it was great to be out and catch some fish. Also, fun to be able to
share a few fillets with a couple of folks.
Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick