There is something to be said about the simplicity of fly fishing for bluegill. I love tossing a popper, letting the rubber legs quiver and being greeted by that classic slurp. If you were ever looking to get in to fly fishing this is surely the way to do it. Any rod from a 3-6 wt is proficient, and it doesn't have to be technical. I have been known to use a straight section of 6-10 lb test monofilament as a leader, no tippet involved. Yet time after time, I have success, but more importantly, I have fun. This morning was no different.
I started out slow, only catching one small bluegill before daylight. It took my Bea Bea Bug after I placed a cast on top of the seawall, and tugged it to land very lightly in the water. It wasn't a big fish, but a good start. After sun up though, it was like a switch flipped. I paddled on over to a spot that is oddly consistent for me. It has no distinct features that are visible from the surface, so I am suspicious of some submerged structure. Anyways, almost immediately I hooked up to the biggest gill of the day.*
He measured in at a touch over 9 inches. A few yards down the shoreline I had a perfect cast into some vegetation. I was greeted by a much bigger pop than the usual bream kiss, and the subsequent jump gave away this largemouth's identity. He really inhaled the bug, and put a solid bend in the rod.
This particular canal that I fish is laid out in a very urban setting. It is part of a water management area, and serves as a drainage system for quite a large area. As a result, it provides excellent fishing in the late summer months. The rainwater flushes out the canal, oxygenates and cools the water, yet pours over a spillway into a larger bottle of water before the levels can get too high. Another benefit of being part of a water management area, is that many retention ponds and storm drains flow into this canal by way of culverts. After any period of steady rain they begin to flow and where they flow, the bass like to lurk. I tossed a popper under the first culvert I saw and was instantly greeted by a second bass for the day. This one was about the same length, but had a much fuller belly.*
I managed to wrestle this fish out of some lily pads with a 6 pound test leader. I must say, I don't understand typical bass fishing rigs. I don't have any need for 50 lb. test on a baitcaster when I can catch a nice 2 pounder on a size 10 fly. After this fish, I began working my way back to the launch. On the way back I caught two of the most colorful, beautiful shellcrackers. I was surprised to catch them on a topwater, as most of their food comes in the form of snails and other mollusks. They also put up quite a different fight, making fast runs where a bluegill will tend to turn to its side and use the natural drag of its body.
This fish, the larger of the two, went just over 10 inches. The smaller was right at 9. The colors were amazing, and this picture barely does it justice. I rarely catch these in this canal so catching two nice sized specimens in one day was quite a thrill. The Bea Bea bug slowly became less appetizing to the fish, so I switched to a bead headed nymph to wrap up the day. I tend to catch more fish with the nymphs and today was no different, however the quality of fish is slightly less. I attribute this to the smaller fish being more aggressive and getting to the fly quicker, where with topwater flies there are many times a smaller fish will peck at it but not be able to get it inside of its mouth. Anyways, to finish off this post here is the largest gill I managed on the nymph...
Not a great fish but a fun way to end the day. I have a feeling I will be sitting down and tying a few scuds for a few more trips coming up! Until next time, keep those rods bent!