Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 52 - Panfish

Panfish are dumb, and fun to catch.

After heading to Costco with my wife, I found myself with a few hours to kill. I tried to watch TV, and even managed to watch an episode of the Fly Rod Chronicles. However, I started to get restless, and thought about the fishing that I was going to do tomorrow. I decided that I would try and hit the private lake that our housing community has access to. I had just received the passcode to the gate after two days of playing phone tag with the property manager, and this seemed like a good time to use it.

I got in the car and drove the mile or so to the lake. I entered the code and like magic the gate opened. Success! I drove the car to the lower parking lot and I noticed a couple of teens hanging out. I felt like I got the death stare as I pulled into the lot. I shrugged it off, maybe I was just being paranoid.

I opened up the back hatch and started to go for my standard fly rod, a 5-weight rod. I stopped myself though. I wasn't going for anything big (if at all really, I just wanted to practice my cast). Instead, I reached for the whippy 4-weight bamboo rod that I have. I pieced the rod together and gave the rod, sans reel, a quick snap or two of my wrist. Yep, just like I remembered. I placed the reel into the reel seat and started stripping line so that I could easily thread it through the guides.

"Is that a fly rod?" questioned one of the teens. I hadn't realized that they were still watching me.

"Yep. Have you ever gone fly fishing before?" I asked in return.

"Naah, not really. Is it hard?"

"Can you ride a bike, or throw a football with a spiral? If so, you can fly fish. Just takes a little practice." The kid looked at me with some skepticism. I added, "If you'd like I can give you a lesson."

He shrugged, and went back talking with his friends. I proceeded to finish loading up the line through the guides. After running the leader through my hands to straighten the curls left by the reel, I added a piece of tippet to the end. The last time I used this reel, I must have snipped off the last of the tippet before putting it away.

I turned to vest, which was on a hanger hanging from the hook in the back, and wondered what fly to use. I looked at the piece of felt that held a plethora of hooks from previous outings. I spotted the pink squirrel, and the adage "Bright sky, bright fly" rang in my ears. Perfect. Today was a nice cloudless sunny day.

I walked down to the lake and gave a cast by the fishing dock. Panfish love structure, and this dock was perfect structure. I watched the Pink Squirrel sit on top of the water absorbing the water, before it slowly sank. A moment or two later, and my strike indicator started to dance.

Past experience has taught me to wait until the indicator is completely under, as smaller fish can't take the fly outright. Another moment passed, the indicator still seemed to dance and then shot down into the water. A quick twitch of the line and the hook was set. I played the fish for a moment enjoying the feeling having electric impulses sent through my rod.

A decent size bluegill took the fly. I admired the blue-ish gray marking under its jaw before throwing him back into the lake. Within a half hour I would repeat the process about 12 more times (that could be a stretch, it may have only been ten, but 12 sounds like a good round number). Beside bluegills, I also caught a few sunnies.

Growing up in Iowa, I learned to call them panfish. When I lived in Minnesota, these panfish were sunnies, unless it was a perch or a crappie. Down here in North Carolina, they are called breem (pronounced brim). Whatever the case may be, they can be fun to catch. Today I witnessed breem pull like a hemi, fly through the air like sparrows, and toy with my patience as they eventually took the fly. Maybe that is why both adults and children love to fish for them.

1 comment:

  1. This story really took me back to our spring here and early summer when we fished on Crooked Creek just upstream from our resort on the White River. Even the tiniest of bream fought like tigers, but when I caught my first huge smallmouth bass on a 4 wt. (also my favorite rod), that was the greatest thrill of all. I'll eventually work my way through all your fly fishing stories. They're good!