Posts Tagged bluegill

Spawning Season

Spawning Season . . .

A Gathering of the Tribes: (bass, bluegill, crappie)
(NYC 05 2019)

 

Shoals of small bluegill gather just below the surface of the open water as the very long shadow of a largemouth bass passes nearby. A large crappie holds guard over a cleared nest within an opening in the weeds near the bank.

It’s May, when all the fish of the pond are active and in sight: Spawning Season.

What a delight it was to see so much piscatorial action in the good company of Garrett Fallon, publisher of Fallon’s Angler, this month. He was in town on business, but found a few hours of time to go fishing in the center of New York City.

He was not disappointed.

First Fish for Mr. Fallon
(NYC 05 2019)

Tenkara offered a new twist in his seasoned hand, which managed to pluck a feisty bluegill from Central Park’s Harlem Meer after just a few casts.

The golden shiner, so much like the European rudd to which he is well acquainted, also rushed to the artificial fly in the bright morning sun.

Golden Shiner, Golden Sunlight
(NYC 05 2019)

Our little trip ended with the big one. The shaded banks and weedy waters held some very large black crappie, the kind some like to call a slab.

A Slab: black crappie dressed in spawning colors
(NYC 05 2019)

May is spawning season; a great time to fish, alone, or with a fellow angler.

— rPs 05 31 2019

 

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Summer’s End

Summer’s End . . .

 

The Beginning: Rain
(09 2018)

The autumnal equinox brings a change not so much of physical character, not at first, but in the immediate of light, light lost, as an evening falls so quickly, dramatic, perceptible, noticeable, between the beginning, the center, and the end of September.

 

The Beginning

FALLfish: (September Tarpon)
(09 2018)

 

The Center

September Sands (North Atlantic) (09 2018)

September Cocktail
(09 2018)

 

The End

September Bank Foliage
(09 2018)

Big Belly Bluegill
(09 2018)

— rPs 09 30 2018

 

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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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