Posts Tagged bluegill

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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Gray and Green

Gray and Green . . .

Bluegill and Ebisu (photo taken 05 15 2014)

Bluegill and Ebisu (photo taken 05 15 2014)

Weather patterns vary by season and region. One consistent to spring in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania is a stretch of about three weeks between late April and the middle of May. I call these the gray and green days when the trees bear pastel leaves and flowers under an overcast gray sky that gives forth a fine mist or scattered light showers. This is a time dominated by water, cool temperatures, clean air, and the palpable smell of earth.

Ponds become stage center for a community of living things during these salad green days. Cattails, phragmites, and pickerel grasses have reached halfway to maturity and stand about knee high. The yellow flag has not yet begun to bloom, although the dandelions on the surrounding lawns now blend golden blooms with pale gray spheres of seed. Wakes in the shallows could be a turtle surfacing for a breath, or bluegills and bass sprinting below, preparing to construct beds for spawning.

The overriding dampness will normally keep most people engaged in indoor activities. The angler, however, and this angler for certain, becomes compelled to go forth and fish as often as possible.

Tenkara equipment provides an ideal tool here and now. Between the edge of the flooded grass and the mats of pondweed starting to form at pond center often resides a strip of open water varying between five and thirty feet in width. Here fish can even be seen for sight casting chances at times. The long telescoping tenkara rod easily reaches over the shoreline vegetation and the limber nature of the pole allows accurate fly placement along the near and far edges of the plants where aggressive panfish and cruising bass swim in abundance.

Tenkara fishing along a pond edge. (photo taken 05 08 2014)

Tenkara fishing along a pond edge. (photo taken 05 08 2014)

Evenings tend to produce the best fishing. The stillness that often settles after the day allows for more accurate casting and also the opportunity for topwater action using dry fly patterns (Deer and Elk Hair Caddis) and panfish poppers (Foam Gurglers and Rubber Leg Spiders) . Two recent visits to my local waters have produced some good catches, including:

Bluegill

(photo taken 05 15 2014)

(photo taken 05 15 2014)

Green Sunfish

(photo taken 05 15 2014)

(photo taken 05 15 2014)

Largemouth Bass

(photo taken by Tony Panasiti 05 08 2014)

(photo taken by Tony Panasiti 05 08 2014)

The gray and green days have about another week or two left in them before brighter, warmer weather arrives. Go forth and fish if you have the time.

– rPs 05 16 2014

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A Late Autumn Tenkara Trick

A Late Autumn Tenkara Trick . . .

Harlem Meer in November: The fish are there . . . but where? (photo taken 11 12 2012)

Fish do not disappear. They are always there, somewhere within the course of a flow or the confines of a stillwater. A pond fed by a spring, or a manmade impoundment unconnected to a river or stream, supports fish in a fixed area, but at various locations according to the season. Think of the water as a three-dimensional space akin to a house with multiple rooms, each of which becomes the kitchen at a different time of the day, or the year.

When the leaves are mostly down and the shoreline reeds go brown, bass and bluegill tend to bunch up near points and drop offs. This type of cover is static, unlike that afforded by the cyclical growth of vegetation. The plant matter does remain as litter on the bottom and stalks along the edges, which give fish something other than shelter. What earlier in the year provided shade or a hiding place for the predator has become a source of nutrition for the prey. The beneficiary is a major fish food source and subject for a subsequent set of fly patterns: the nymph.

Fallow vegetation along a point on the water’s edge attracts nymphs, and by extension, gamefish. (photo taken 11 12 2012)

Fished slowly along a pond’s leaf-littered bottom, the nymph may be the very best fly fishing (and tenkara) trick available to the autumn-season pond angler. One particular retrieve works very well with the long tenkara rod and level line. The tactic takes a tenkara limitation and transforms it into an asset. Since tenkara anglers cannot strip in a flyline, or inch in a flyline, through guides, the solution is a long, slow lift to simulate a nymph leaving the bottom. Pulses and other incremental retrieval motions are not necessary, and in fact would only interfere with the best presentation. What is needed is patience and resilient shoulder muscles. Once the cast is made, and time taken for the nymph to settle on or near the bottom, what follows is a very slow, very steady, vertical lift of the rod arm that takes into account the crawling pace of insect larvae. Reliable patterns include: Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail, Prince, Zug Bug, even the Copper John, in sizes 10 through 14.

Evaluation day came when I met my coworker Jesse Valentin on a sunny November Monday off from the fly shop. We were lucky to enjoy a free day at Harlem Meer during one of the last periods of jacket and sweatshirt weather. The sun was gold, the sky pale blue, the surrounding trees brown, holding just a scattered few leaves that resembled little flags rippling in the damp breeze. He chose to work the edges with a spinning rod and jig pattern. I knotted on a size 14 Olive Hare’s Ear. Each of us worked our lure slowly, methodically. The Hare’s Ear scored first with the bluegill.

This bluegill pounced on an Olive Hare’s Ear nymph during the middle of November and in the middle of Manhattan. (photo taken 11 12 2012)

Jesse connected with a small largemouth shortly thereafter. We were both now on the board and eager to keep moving, working the banks. He pulled ahead, as I was putting my tenkara slow nymphing trick to a serious test. I scored a passing grade of sorts  when my own rod bent to the strong dives of a largemouth bass.

Largemouth bass like the slow nymph, too! (photo taken 11 12 2012)

While I cannot yet submit this tactic for inclusion into the tenkara canon, I do stand by late-autumn nymphing for stillwater bass and bluegill, and believe the tenkara rod to be the best vehicle. The only drawback to this type of slow fishing is the ironic quickness of a day’s passage at this time of year. Jesse and I had barely moved beyond the initial euphoria of our back-to-back bass when the sun dropped behind the trees, the wind increased, and the cold came out to tell us to head for home.

– rPs 11 28 2012

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