Posts Tagged bluegill

When Sunsets are Sudden

When Sunsets are Sudden . . .

 

Bluegill in November (NYC 11 2016)

Bluegill in November
(NYC 11 2016)

Sunsets are sudden in November. A day filled with fine mist and nimbus sky can open up, sprint into a quick dip of the sun, a sudden appearance by the moon, indigo sky meeting a horizon silhouetted for a brief period before an almost liquid tangerine infinity.  Venus glows star-white bright low to the southwest.

Leaves give tannin to the color tone of darker autumn water. Some lower branches of the Norway maples hold onto pennants of green and gold. Ginkgo like old gold coins pile into wind-drawn patches along the pond path. The oaks above and behind keep a full coat of the most russet leaves that whisper in low passing passages when the weather is best for angling. Mitten weather, still air, cold enough for a fingerless weave if dressed for comfort.

 

 Mitten Weather: Autumn Impressionism (NYC 2016)

Mitten Weather:
Autumn Impressionism
(NYC 2016)

A city park light switches on and the scattered bite of bluegill juveniles ceases. The bite become as light as the feather and fur assembled onto a crimped barbless salmon hook. The size 8 shank gets nibbled in and a light set of the rod raised connects to heaving sideswipes repeated four or five times before the fish in net measures out to ten inches, a quarter pound. Small fish this time of year bolstered by the stronger resistance the finned ones use in the angling wrestle.

Black crappies by the light of the night, and then, after a final fish, an early “Good night.”

Days follow that might be bright and cold and clear. The city soars into Holiday Season. The coated oaks then chatter and even roar in a strong sustained blow from the Canadian west. Days bright, best spent recasting, spent writing.

 

Black Crappie at Dusk (NYC 11 2016)

Black Crappie at Dusk
(NYC 11 2016)

 

– rPs 11 28 2016

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Bass at First Light

Bass at First Light . . .

 

Earth Day: Bullfrog and Boulder (NYC 04 2016)

Earth Day: Dawn, Bullfrog and Boulder
(NYC 04 2016)

 

Spring’s risen sun seems to hover just above the tree line when positioned beside the freshwater in Central Park. The Hudson River’s brackish waters on the West Side of Manhattan and The Bronx are still flowing under full shadow at this early daytime.

Trees just beginning to sprout leaves offer a canopy as fine as a newborn’s hair. Lots of sunlight filters through the bright green around the water. Slight haze of pollen catches sun as it suspends over large frogs and the occasional turtle that surfaces to swim by. One woodpecker provides the beat of nature’s jackhammer, a mellow sound on wood set a few decibels below that of steel on asphalt no doubt going on deeper in the city.

The water stirs by the early riser. The bass are active.

When, in spring, the pond weed returns in its first growth to just below the surface, a predatory zone forms. Below sits a few openings, a few here and there holding depressions, and the flat roof top of golden green weed.

Poppers and other surface gurglers draw strikes on top as does a Green Guarantee, unweighted, pulsing in the emergent column. The deer belly hair of the green pattern’s wing adds buoyancy as it pushes water when pulled to simulate a pulse.

Largemouth bass, bigger pickles in the green trout class, make up the bulk of the dominant Centrarchidae in the Five Borough’s still waters. Such bass are bright, alert, and frisky, able jumpers worthy of 4x tippet.

First Bass Of 2016 (NYC Spring 2016)

First Bass of 2016
(NYC Spring 2016)

 

Urban Angler alum, Christopher Chang, worked a selection of poppers on a conventional 3-weight floating line and landed several respectable bass of the first size class. Such fish range two to four pounds and are breeding females. Each one caught quickly and humanely released. Action enough to satisfy a busy world traveler set to serve the Peace Corp. in Peru for the next two years.

Christopher Chang holds a bass lured by a popper. (NYC 04 2016)

Christopher Chang holds a bass lured by a popper.
(NYC 04 2016)

 

Ebisu’s lillian slip-knotted onto the traditional tapered line of tenkara matched with a sporting 6X tippet again continued to produce good numbers in variety as well:

The Obligatory Bluegill (NYC Spring 2016)

The Obligatory Bluegill
(NYC Spring 2016)

 

The Obligatory Bluegill . . .

And,

Bass Above The Weed (NYC 04 2016)

Bass Above The Weed.
(NYC 04 2016)

 

Second Bass of 2016 . . .

 

– rPs 05 12 2016

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Minted in March

Minted in March . . .

 

Two for a Cent (NYC 03 2016)

Two for a Cent
(NYC 03 2016)

“Two for a Cent” is an early short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The author describes with a mannered eloquence the ember at the end of a lit cigarette. That scene from a mellow night remains one of my favorite descriptive passages in American Literature.

My essential pattern, the “one fly” for the tenkara fishing I most often do, begins with The Green Guarantee, two of which are pictured above with a wheatie from Fitzgerald’s era. Coins and fly patterns model well together and give me a chance to combine two of my interests in a single frame. As for the pattern, its universal color and shape viewed from a fish’s underneath perspective, dressed in fur and feather activated by motion though water, attracts all of the pond’s residents at some various points in the season, including season’s start.

 

Fifty Cents for a Quarter Dozen? (03 2016)

Half Dollar for a Quarter Dozen?
(03 2016)

 

“Half Dollar for a Quarter Dozen” is a possible title of three Muddy Moreblack arranged with an American half dollar to scale. The Muddy Moreblack continues the use of the double consonant and offers a pun on the mirrored famous last name of an acclaimed guitarist whose band’s music I hear played on fly shop playlists all the time.

This pattern matches tan and black on a size 6 or 8 streamer hook and, being weighted, smokes under the water. The effect conveys the colors of late winter, something waking, emerging from the water bottom’s silt and leaf litter. The dobsonfly nymph, hellgrammite, crayfish, and stonefly all the Muddy Moreblack may be. The pattern worked along banks, within the sticks that dropped those bottom leaves, can produce the one earned fish of a day when sudden sun chases the fishes from more open areas.

Freshwater fishes may suspend in tough spots as a defense mechanism. The clustering of various species of Centrarchidae also brings to mind an expression of conscious social interaction. May such gatherings be a fishes’ summit to plan the following growing season? Perhaps territories within the pond’s perimeter are hashed out here with the whiskered bullhead given free reign along the bottom and the entirety patrolled by a few scattered schools of carp prone to basking just out of conventional and fly casting distance.

Carp have been nowhere to be seen during the Ides of March. Sudden sun and warmth during the winter to spring transition has pushed New York’s sunfishes down or into what dense shaded cover may exist so early in the season. Fallen trees and a nest of limber overhangs then present the long fly rod throwing a line a more complex scenario. The fishes, still hovering, appear to challenge:

“Catch us if you can!”

 

"Catch Us if You Can!" (NYC 03 2016)

“Catch Us if You Can!”
(NYC 03 2016)

 

I did.

 

Bluegill (NYC 03 2016)

Bluegill
(NYC 03 2016)

 

Minted in March Black Crappie (NYC 03 2016)

Black Crappie
(NYC 03 2016)

 

Sunfish the color of a penny nestled in the sticks. Black crappie as iridescent as a silver coin.

Minted in March: Season’s Start

– rPs 03 18 2016

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Tippets and Tibbetts

Tippets and Tibbetts . . .

 

Tibbetts Brook (06 2015)

Tibbetts Brook
(06 2015)

 

George Tippett, a colonial loyalist, lost his land where a major skirmish in alliance with native tribes was waged against the British crown during the American Revolution. The battle was lost, the war was won. The outcome turned the land over and again, a name alteration emerged into a new standard, and land acquisition through marriage came to Jacobus Van Cortlandt.

Tibbetts Brook flows, rather meanders, meanders down through a forested vein in The Bronx. Two parks: Tibbetts Brook and Van Cortlandt, give the northern frontier of New York City freshwater fishing as close as the salt of the Hudson River where the striped bass swims.

Water Lily, Spatterdock, and sediment flats offer a few fit and fat Centrarchidae with an appetite. Females, finished doing duty and ready for a meal, make up the bulk of the menu in June. Scattered few have fallen for a kebari. Others have been and may be in future flushed by frisky waterfowl or a passing cyclist if one pauses to inquires “How’s the fishing?” or “Catch any?” The most polite individual encountered, the one I ally with, is instead the semiaquatic genus Ondontra. The only one of its kind, the Muskrat deserves a most elevated status for its humble, pleasant nature and mild, herbivorous ways.

Calm water, or perhaps rippled from a sustained breeze, both enjoy the presence of the solitary bass of several pounds lurking below. Patterns may take the form of a size 6 Green Guarantee streamer or perhaps a kebari of a different kind, such as the foam Panfish Spider. Experiments on the latter pattern using all game feather and fur remain ongoing and make for awesome time at the vise.

Tippet, here in 2015, takes the form of three to six feet of 4x monofilament knotted to a twelve foot Level Line or Traditional Tapered Line. The less opaque Level Line makes a better choice in skinny water and finds itself used more often for this fly fishing. The line and leader formula gives a surging bass of three pounds sporting opportunity to break free into cover. Fishes with a face full of weed can come with this territory, making a stiffer 7/3 flex like that of the Tenkara USA Yamame rod a prudent choice.

Fights are fun, and fishes landed by bending rod and body in the protracted wrestle strike the profile of a true football. Nerf nerds might appreciate a comparison in the mix as well. A female, long and muscled, at this time of year will feel deflated and seem somewhat airy next to an earlier one heavy with eggs, the kind of bass an angler with a soul let rest, as she is best then left alone.

Aggressive females: the after party is a second story. Hungry, collected, they strike if presented a morsel of opportunity during a cruise in open water. A big girl emerges from cover with a slow, confident pulse that excites. Casting form may suffer from adrenaline jitters unless absolute focus is maintained.

The female Largemouth Bass now wants to bite, to pounce on prey lingering too far from a green algae mat or lily pad or stand of pickerel weed. The pond permit, the Bluegill, shares the pattern. Olive and silver in tone with distinct vertical bars, the ladies inhale a fly, hold it in mouth often without the hook penetrating, making release easy if forceps have been brought along.

 

Aggressive Female Bluegill (06 2015)

Aggressive Female Bluegill
(06 2015)

 

Meanwhile, male Centrachidae are too busy to bite. Young bucks are swift, nimble, and chase instead of take. Try your best. The men are interested in pushing you away, not pulling. Noses nudge a fly pattern along, far away from nests full of fry, far from from a potential hook set. Smart behavior expressed by strong fish.

From bottom to top, from end to end, full fishing reportage takes at minimum a full day to cover. The explorer angler’s hike, jog, or bike best includes some time in between to stop and read the informative historical markers and enjoy the wildflowers. Tippett’s land has changed, as has the legacy of his name. Still, scattered spots along this namesake brook in the Bronx may offer encounter with the kind of Largemouth Bass that can begin and end a memorable day in one respectable cast.

 

A size 8 Panfish Spider lured this solid female largemouth bass to the top. (06 2015)

A size 8 Panfish Spider lured this solid female largemouth bass to the top.
(06 2015)

– rPs 06 12 2015

Postscript: In Memory of Andrew Victor Amici, United States Navy, 1950-2015

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Bare Months Bluegills

Bare Months Bluegills . . .

Bare Months Bluegills by ron P. swegman On the Water 03 2015

Bare Months Bluegills
by ron P. swegman
On the Water 03 2015

The March 2015 issue of On the Water features my story “Bare Months Bluegills”

Bluegills can be difficult to find and fish for during the bare months, those slivers of time when the ice may be off the water and leaves are still off the trees. Elements of conventional and tenkara fly fishing are included in the piece. My personal tenkara pond fishing technique, which includes elements of high stick nymphing and the Leisenring Lift, are described along with useful nymph patterns that can coax reticent panfish to strike.

— rPs 03 09 2015

Postscipt: The website of On the Waterhttp://www.onthewater.com/

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Football Helmets and Fall Fishes

Football Helmets and Fall Fishes . . .

The Reach of Tenkara (photo taken 09 2014)

The Reach of Tenkara
(photo taken 09 2014)

The night game of summer has moved on to new rules played in the daylight. Rain may pass through, and the reopening of the sky brings good time to go outside and fish. When the dark does descend, quickly and almost cold, home calls as the nostalgia door opens to college year memories or past seasons, some of national championship caliber.

Part of my own continued education in life experience has been set amidst a geography where home waters caress manes of watercress. There trout abound. Other neighbors on the stream, offered perhaps a polite wave from a fly fishing undergraduate, have included names of Harvey, Humphreys, and Meck and a Gordon, too, among many others; my constant sense of the eastern provincial in America stays connected, centered on a Pennsylvania county as well as five boroughs of New York City.

Neighbors of the urban angle abound also and some distant shores have been or shall be explored alone and together with even more others. Before such diversions, the sharpened focus on a single bass, any bass, remains first in line.

Largemouth Bass (photo taken 09 16 2014)

Largemouth Bass
(photo taken 09 16 2014)

Bass season is again back in session.

Temperatures drop to fifties and sixties Fahrenheit. Sunlight remains bright, often unfiltered, but days of rippled gray skies do pass. Rain remains brief unless it’s a hurricane trailing through for four to five days. Ponds again begin to clear and darken. A frosting of bright duckweed foots cattails and pickerel weed. Slow presentation with a long horizontal reach, a natural fishing problem for tenkara to tackle and bring to quick resolve, can take a kebari to the bass level (a multifaceted pun too compelling not to intend).

The largemouth and smallmouth bass alike, after striking your pattern in a singular fashion near the water column’s bottom, bring fast reactions to the top. This athleticism has had a portion of its antecedence come from the fish’s own daily hunting. Black and blue damselflies, measured in inches, still pass time in the air. Nymphs that resemble such varieties in various stages of development swim and crawl throughout a still water. Bluegill fry swim in small schools, too. Bass can be lured when these larger naturals are mimicked by an equal kebari tied to a generous tippet matched with a Level Line or a Traditional Tapered.

A largemouth, hooked on such a kebari of size 8 or 10, may jump three times and roll on each leap skyward. Size varies by location. Any fish that is perhaps best sized to a September zucchini may be noteworthy to big fish fans.

Smaller fish – dill pickle bass and slab bluegill – still insist on being counted. Vigorous takes by a quarter pound fish inhales the pattern deep in the mouth, doubles the perceived strength of pull during breaking sprints, which brings added utility to the longer tippet with its greater capability for stretch.

Be mindful to bring clamps with a few inches of reach. To release a bluegill hooked so deeply, first fold the fish’s spiny dorsal fin down with the inside of your wet fingers, grip the fly with the teeth of the clamp, twist as far as necessary as a slight downward push on the pattern is made. This most often dislodges the hook with minimal penetration of the fish’s interior. Most small fish will thrust voluntarily from hands placed low over the water and depart with a resounding and reassuring splash.

A net facilitates the unhooking of an autumn bright bluegill. (photo taken 09 16 2014)

A net facilitates the unhooking of an autumn bright bluegill.
(photo taken 09 16 2014)

Orange Jewelweed and pale purple clusters of New York Ironweed border many New York stillwaters by late September. The green of leaves has acquired a more yellow cast. Some bluegills exhibit similar rusted or buttered bellies below strong barred sides. The bass remain silvered and green with a distinct black lateral band. Colored patterns all that would fit on a football helmet with ease.

The Football Helmet Bass (photo taken 09 2014)

The Football Helmet Bass
(photo taken 09 2014)

– rps 09 24 2014

Postscript: Read more about the damselfly and dragonfly at Backyard and Beyond here: http://matthewwills.com/2013/08/07/lilypad-forktail/

And here: http://matthewwills.com/2013/05/31/dragonfly-pond-watch/

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Yamame Yama-MAY

Yamame Yama-MAY: A Tenkara Rod Review . . .

Yamame and Bluegill (photo taken 05 21 2014)

Yamame and Bluegill (photo taken 05 21 2014)

Discourse on my equipment folds into most of my written accounts of tenkara fly fishing. One has seen new water, new species of fishes, and why not, now a new written form on an important subject: the tenkara rod: a review.

Yamame
Tenkara USA
12 ft; 360 cm
7/3 flex
$139.00 US
http://www.tenkarausa.com/shop/product_info.php/products_id/35?osCsid=2d00b1ec198ec793a2d8703aefad9f14

The Yamame provided my fishing with three new doors to open and explore beyond:

One, the grip of cork
Two, the 7/3 flex
Three, the matte finish

The third of the three is my preferred place to begin. The amateur photographer I am has come to prefer prints on matte paper. Softer, impressionistic: depth is felt as well as perceived. The similar texture of this rod, along the grain of sanded wood or smooth limestone, breaks up the light, softens the reflection. Yamame appears much like a curved branch overhanging the water. I am convinced the glint from a gloss finish meeting direct sunlight creates an attention target for at least the alpha fish, focused forward on alert, often already because of insect hatches. This telescoping graphite fishing tool has the color of a dark olive; a limber summer stalk, one attached to a string.

The Lillian on the Yamame is dark brown, unlike the Ebisu, the red Lillian of which resembles a San Juan Worm. To it I use traditional tapered line in all but the most challenging situations, such as line shy trout on a low and clear freestone creek. The simple girth hitch, a knot that knots itself, connects this woven line to the Lillian. The color of the Tenkara USA brand I use casts the same color field as many trout lines by RIO or Royal Wulff. The additional few feet of 5x, 6x, or 7x tippet I use is slip knotted to a short butt of end knotted 12 lb. Trilene. This line and leader formula provides casting and connection capable of reaching and holding strong fish, an insight collected during some tests of the rod’s stiffer flex.

The 7/3 on this 12 ft. rod conveys feel comparable to a fast conventional nine-foot 4-weight of your choice. A noteworthy bluegill can give the PhD defense in landing a strong fish on this tackle. You can also feel a spirited pumpkinseed sunfish holding in its corner of the water. Two visits to my regional heavyweight sunfish lake revealed the extent of the Yamame’s action. I have come to call this time . . .

Yama-MAY

The lake, like most, really, does not give up bigger sunfish except during one period, the pugnacious before and after the spawning time when sunfish’s redds dot the still shallows like polka dots.

My kebari connected first in conjunction with the Yamame is one I call a silver tinsel and natural deer hair simple bucktail. Tied on a Mustad size 12 or 14 streamer hook, dressed sparingly; I use two batches of deer hair, one less than a classic Mickey Finn recipe; my initial role model.

The concept of mini (and micro) streamers includes the Mickey Finn, an idea documented previously at The Global FlyFisher for one example, which involves only a reduction in the standard fly recipe’s size of hook. Streamer meets nymph in scale and looks to match the tightly schooled fish fry that appear like tiny dark squiggles in the shallows.

The simple bucktail kebari knotted to the end of my Yamame rig riled one large female bluegill. The lady sprinted thirty feet three times in three directions like a permit scaled to a farm pond. My left arm high, left palm upturned, in this position began the arm wrestling. I did note the bend of the rod reached a shallower root, not because of the fish, which fought strongly; it’s just the final flex of the Yamame does fall along the third section rather than near the grip as on the 5/5 Ebisu.

Several sunfish added their opinion, many coaxed by a green caddis pupa featuring a sparse soft hackle paired with a bead. This one came courtesy of my colleague, Edwin Valentin: a tyer known more for his saltwater patterns, yet just as adept on the artificial fly for trout.

Mature males (brick red and moss green in hue with strong shoulders) and females (somewhat pale and barred with bellies full of eggs) reached my little Brodin net and lengths adjacent to a foot. Some were two–and-a-half inches (6.5 cm) broad. Pumpkinseed sunfish, smaller, still engaged well in the fray. The catches were released vigorous from my grasp.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus. (Photo taken 05 29 2014)

Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus. (Photo taken 05 29 2014)

The grip of the Yamame features sanded cork at the length consistent with the current standard. Cork is new to my tenkara experience. My own fishing in this style has centered on more of a one-off piece: the short, pine handle and 5/5 wisp of the Tenkara USA Ebisu used exclusively between April of 2012 and April of 2014.

Consistency. Simplicity. Each is the other.

Less pressure resistance from the cork in hand brought the matter of the grip up less than when I used the harder knocking pine of the Ebisu. There is as much, if not a little more, cork in play with the Yamame grip, shaped in a kind of extended yet slightly off-center manner, like a variation on the full wells familiar to conventional salmon and saltwater fly fishers. The shallow concave off-center sits in a sweet spot. Fishing in hand makes easy; I even forgot the difference in grip as an issue before my first outing with the hugegills was over.

Tenkara Impressionism, May

Tenkara Impressionism, May

– rPs 06 06 2014

Postscript. Read about min (and micro) streamers and the Mickey Finn at The Global FlyFisher by following one of these two links:

Mickey Finn

http://globalflyfisher.com/patterns/mickey-finn/

Mini (or Micro) Streamer

http://globalflyfisher.com/streamers/swaps/mini/

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