I launched my float tube at a small secluded cove on a major impoundment. With the water level 4 feet above power pool submerged brush had become the dining room for the bluegill population. Secure in the knowledge that powerboats couldn’t reach this protected area I cast size-8 fluorescent pink Bully Spiders over the brushy areas. Despite numerous hangups 2 dozen bluegills were caught and released. before I noticed that hits were coming in progressively shallow water. This prompted a switch to size-10 Sponge Spiders. The hangups were dramatically reduced as aggressive strikes increased. Three more dozen bluegills were left with tiny holes in their jaws before lengthening shadows sent me home with a smile.
I needed to fish before the onset of the forecasted seven days of rain. The problem was that the low temperature the night before was 35 degrees. I thought the fish would be scattered and deep, and I was correct. Intermediate line enabled me to cover depths to 4 feet, but only one small male was caught. A switch to full-sinking line led to a countdown to 6 to 8 feet near submerged brush where slowly retrieved size-10 black Bully’s Bluegill Spiders coaxed five more of the reluctant bluegills to bite. Three were brightly-colored males that hit on the verticle drop and two were females that still had eggs. I speculate that the weather had likely backed them off the nests several times and that either they will spawn upon the June full moon or drop their eggs soon and miss it altogether. Bear in mind that each body of water, even in the same area, is affected differently with changes in water temperatures. It depends on the size of the pond or lake, composition of the bottoms, and other factors.
With a 5-wt. rod, an intermediate line that sinks at 1-1/2 i.p.s., and size-10 Mini Minnies I was armed and dangerous for my trip to a large pond. The slow-sinking line stayed under the choppy water that resulted from the day’s persistent wind. The Mini Minnies provided a meaty snack for the male bluegill population that staged along the deep flats. The first cast resulted in a gratifying bend in my rod as an 8-incher fought its circular battle before being brought to hand Two dozen thick bluegills were landed and released in forty minutes before a rumble of thunder sent me to shore. Lightning and wind-driven rain enhanced my retreat from the pasture pond that provoked me to lament what might have been.
Another gully-washer transformed the rivers into raging torrents, so I loaded the float tube for a pond trip. Sunny skies normally send the fish into deep water, but today the stained water neutralized the brightness. A 7-weight rod, floating line, and 3X tippet were chosen to enable casts of size-2 streamers for bass as well as Bully Spiders to bluegills. The plan was to probe the edges of the shallow flats with Bully Siders until shade begins to find the west side of the pond, then change flies to target the bass. Cajun Bullys (black with a red butt) were regularly hit on the vertical drop. Two dozen bluegills of 7 to 8 1/2 inches were released before it was time to pursue bass. Our newest original fly, the H.O.T. Streamer (an acronym for Hold On Tight) in the bluegill pattern was allowed to sink to the bottom in 6 to 7 feet of water before an aggressive “lift, drop, strip” retrieve caused the imitation to replicate the actions of an escaping baitfish. Fourteen bass of 10 to 16 inches fell for the tactic. All were released including the “long-distance release” of an 18 to 19 incher that avoided capture with a headshake at arm’s length.
Drifting and slow-stripping streamers and crayfish patterns produced only four 9 to 10-inch smallmouths and a few green sunfish from a favorite section of a nearby river. As the sun slipped behind the forested ridge I approached a tributary that created a small plunge pool as its rushing water entered the river’s flow. I switched flies to our Wilson’s Jointed Hellgrammite. The first cast sank into the swirling pool and wiggled only a couple of feet before the throb of a strong fish put a bend in my 5 weight. The next action-filled minutes brought three more smallies of 13 to 15 inches to hand. During periods of low light, it is my “go-to” fly in swift water for smallmouth bass.