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Upswing Week


By Rick Zieger, Iowa

This second full week of November was much different from the first full week of November. The fishing stated fast last week and slowed down. This week was just the opposite.

I went out Tuesday and braved the wind. I was still coming up a little short of where I wanted my casts to go, but that is the way things happen when you fish when you can. I am still working on this casting into the wind and getting the same distance I do when the wind is not blowing.

I did work on my left-handed casting and can get about 80% of the distance that I do when casting right-handed. Not bad when going into the wind. I am finding more and more times that I am making left-handed casts, even in the canoe, because it is easier to put the fly where I want it to go.

I did not get any fish, but the time was well spent in my mind. I don't think this statement was a rationalization in my mind. But being a fisherman you never can tell.

Thursday was another story. The wind was blowing about 30 mph out of the north. I did go out to the lake, but after about 15 minutes my hands were freezing. Bringing the wet fly line in, with bare hands, in the wind was just not working out. The wind coming across my wet hands was causing them to go numb. When I had trouble feeling the fly line, I quit and came back to the office.

Friday was a different story. I went out and decided to try the settling pond this time. I got to where the culvert is and set up to fish. I made the first cast straight out, just to see what might happen. I let the fly drop for a count of 10 and then started to slowly retrieve it. That did not work. In fact it did not work on the next several casts, even with a second fly.

The solution came by serendipity. I made another cast and somehow managed to get the line to the reel to spin. It did not come off the reel, but it unwrapped on the reel. I am smart enough to know to fix this before I try to do anything else. It took about 30 seconds to get the line straightened out on the reel. When I started to retrieve the fly, I had a fish on the line.

This turned out to be a crappie, about 10 inches long. This is a little bigger than they normally run in this lake. But who am I to argue with success?

On the next cast I let the fly drop for a much longer time period than I had been doing at the beginning. Again when I started to retrieve the fly, another fish was on the line. It was another crappie of the same size. Could it be that the fish were deeper and taking the fly on the drop?

The way to tell is to get the fly out there again. Each time I got the fly out about 35 to 40 feet, straight out from the shore, and let it drop for about 30 seconds, I would hook a fish. All of them were on the fly as soon as I started to retrieve the fly after it had dropped. If there was not a fish on it by then, I did not get a strike on the rest of the retrieve.

I am not saying that they would not hit on the retrieve. If I could have cast out farther and brought the fly by the place where the fish were hitting the fish might have hit the fly on the retrieve. I had a few casts fall short and the fish did not take the fly. The only time I got fish when I was out near the maximum distance that I could cast the fly.

After I figured out what was going on, more by luck than smarts, I caught 23 fish in 25 casts.

Most of them were crappie, but I got a few bluegills and one bass in the mix. Then the inevitable happened. It was time to go back to work.

It was a fun way to end the work week. Tonight I will be a good guy and donate blood for the blood bank. Tomorrow I will try to hit a pond.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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