Monday, April 19, 2010

Hunting for Bluegill

I was standing on the edge of a well manicured pond, one in a group of nine spaced around baseball diamonds and soccer fields. Knee high in new growth cattails the wind was blowing in my face, (that’s the trouble with fishing in the spring in open fields) casting a bead headed soft hackle hare’s ear, that’s a mouth full, a weed brushed up against my leg. The distraction or rather the holly shit being scared out of me (do to my imagination of an eight foot long water snake) caused me to miss the take of a bluegill or a crappie or I guess I’ll never know. Distractions seam to always happen at the worst times, when ironically fishing, supposedly is to distract us from life.
Fly-fishing for bluegill or perhaps I’ll leave it at pan fish, seeing how this time of year you never know what you going to get, this time of year being spring and not to sound like Forest Gump, can be just as complicated as fishing for brook trout in the high country. I like discovering new ponds and lakes, as long as the body of water fits the idea of what I expect a pond or lake to look like. Cattails, clean water, maybe a blue sky, (even though overcast days can sometimes be better) no wind would be nice and oh yes the occasional bite, I guess you could call me a fair weather fisherman. Fair weather or not I do enjoy fishing whether I catch fish or not. If I can catch one short bluegill I walk away feeling successful. The nine ponds are nice; the choices alone make the short drive well worth it, if one pond seems inactive then just try another.
My youngest son and I took our canoe to a small lake east on I-70 from our home near Kansas City, Missouri. Maple Leaf Lake is about two coffee cups away, or 45minutes. It’s a small lake about 140 acres and shaped like a maple leaf, hints the name. The sitting is picturesque, large lily pads during the summer tall waving grasses in late spring that surround it and green meadows that flow into the arms of the lake or rather the stems of the leaf. The conservation department had recently burned off some of the fields and wild flowers had taken over the charred areas. I don’t pretend to be an expert but find there are two ways to fish for bluegill one is sub-surface the other above. Dry flies; my favorite the foam beetle, are probley the most exciting way to catch a fish. A bluegill has a small take from the surface; a slight sip, then pound for pound an assume fight. Bluegill seem to feed in the evenings on top water making small rings, if you cast to these rings even if you’re a tad late you’ll usually pick up several small fish. Then it’s just a matter of persistent casting to pick the occasional slab. My other method is using a nymph or a wet fly, a slow retrieve with the sudden fast strip will often induce a strike.This particular day with my son was in early spring, it was during the middle of the week and there were very few people on the lake. We caught one fish after another, I would reel them in and take them of the hook and hand them to Tyler, who is five, he would pitch them back into the clear green water. Tyler would marvel at the mud and silt kick up by their ferocious escape. After many hours Tyler came to the reality if we kept throwing them fish back in the water how’s were we goanna eat em. So I set out to catch one more fish hopefully a heaver, we eventually settled on one rather puny fish that I found myself somewhat hiding from the other fisherman. When we arrived at home Tyler sat at the kitchen table while I cooked his two tiny fillets. He enjoyed it.

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