Pull up to the fly rod re-match location with the tooner and gear in tow. An overcast sky shrouded the landscape in a veil of gray fog. Visibility was enough to see what you were loading and unloading but not much else. Air temps started at a slightly frigid 55-degrees but would build to near 80 for the high by noon. All we needed was the sun to break through the haze.
There was little surface action so it was an easy option to go with the all braid setup right from the start. Large purple wooly bugger with a bead head is tied on the braided setup as where a nymph pattern was rigged on the standard floating line setup. About the third or fourth cast I come up with a dink fish. It is a small fish but helps support my pattern choice. A few moments later I get a larger hit from something substantial.
The fish finder screen was showing a water temp fluctuating from 63 to 65 degrees. Algae appeared to be fairly thick in the water making visibility even harder with the overcast skies. You couldn’t see an inch through it to start out. Finding fish would be a test.
Let the fish go and I continue my search for fish in the hazy murk. Then as if by magic, the clouds began to break. The sun peered through dissolving the haze and the window of sight was opened into the water. Being able to see the submerged weed structure made a lot of difference. But it also allowed me to spot schools of panfish. For some reason I am unable to pass these palm-sized fin slappers by. My casting elbow reaches for the other fly rod with the tiny nymph presentation and hammer some of these little guys for a while.
After getting a good gill fix I decide to put the nymph rod down and start chasing bucketmouth bass again. Roll near some wood structure and drop a cast to let it slowly sink to the bottom. Pull out a decent 15-inch chunk and start cleaning the fly. Algae builds up on the wooly bugger\streamer and requires a little maintenance now and again. Just about ready to drop down again when I see a small congregation of crappie. They were clinging to the wood structure and not easy to see unless you very close. A furious panic ensued as I switched back to the nymph rod and set out to cure my panfish addiction all over again.
Why do I lose my mind over panfish? Maybe it is the pint-sized battle in an extremely colorful fish. It could be the fact that these fish congregate in groups and make the slamtastic action soooo easy. There are certain times of year where I think that I might actually need counseling for my panfish addiction.
Nail a few black crappie and they all seem to be carbon copies of each other. Just as I am about to leave the nymph setup I see a flash from deep in the water. At first it looks like a bass. I lower the nymph rod and miss the strike on an enormous crappie (or at least enormous for my standards). Drop down again with more focus and land the black crappie beast. I do my best to get a picture with the failing camera (the battery door is loose forcing me to hold the bottom shut while I take a photo). The photos don’t do this fish justice but at least I was able to grab some sort of capture.
Wind was nil in the morning but steadily increased as we reached noon. Afternoon gusts are something I could set my watch by these days. I hunker down with an anchor in one spot and start using the wind to my advantage. The trick here is to look at the water and see the direction of the current. Factor in areas where baitfish may be pushed up against a deep bank or ambush points. Imagine yourself as a fish looking to avoid the steady current but be where the food is being accumulated or positioned well for ambushing prey as it passes by.
One thing I noticed was that the fish would burst in a flurry of movement when the water was calm. Baitfish would rise to the surface and occasionally there would be a large roll on top of the water from a large bass smacking the daylights out of said baitfish. To my right I see a large bass miss a small bluegill at the edge of the weed-villa. Toss the purple bugger out and let it sink for a few seconds while I trim some slack. The fish moves for it and I give the line a few short zips while getting the rod ready to go pow. Fish hit the bait and was sure that this fish was going to give me the slip. Instead of burrowing into the weeds it ran for open water. Big mistake.
Get the fish back in the water and go back to the two-rod switch up. The nymph was jettisoned and replaced with a small bass popper from Cortland. This was a mistake as the lure was an absolute no bite getter. A few gills would nip at the edges but otherwise the lure was scoffed at. Maybe it’s a little early for this pattern.
All in all it was a very productive day. Lost count of the total number of fish caught and even pulled a few that were not in the ho-hum section. These fly rod only trips teach me a lot and the challenge helps make me a better angler overall.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.