Several cool evenings have invigorated the bluegill populations. They are spending longer periods on and near the shallow flats feeding to build reserves for the coming winter. Olive Bully’s Bluegill Spiders cast to the edge of the flats and counted down (one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.) to a depth of 3 feet before imparting action provided consistent action. Many strikes came on the vertical drop and others on the first short strip. A 10-incher’s valiant fight provided a fitting end to a memorable evening.
Streams that flow into reservoirs host migrating fish intent on feeding heavily before the onset of winter. Armed with a 5 wt. and Mini Minnies, I waded downstream to a shaded deep hole with a multi-tentacled deadfall. Many presentations that were counted down to a depth of 4 feet then erratically stripped were intercepted by a thumping strike followed by a thrashing fight. A few of the crappies were lost among the clusters of branches but far more were brought to hand. Our fishing log entry noted the yipping coyotes just before dark as we headed home.
Carrying a 3 wt., floating line, a 9′ leader tapered to 4X, and a size-10 black Bully Spider, I crunched across a gravel bar in search of Green Sunfish and Longear Sunfish. Deadfalls divert the current from protected pockets in the long pool chosen for my first casts. Solid strikes greeted my casts that were vertically dropped among the branches and logs. Several of the muscular green sunfish won the battle to stay at home but faar more were brought to hand and released. Many pockets held brightly-colored longear that hit like they wanted to steal my rod and reel. Their beauty rivals any fish that swims. Big fish are fun, but some evenings sunfish are “funner.”
A hunt for big bass sent me to a pond armed with an 8 wt., 4 i.p.s. (inches per second) sinking line, and a 4-ft. length of 16-lb. tippet, and our H.O.T. (acronym for “Hold On Tight”) Streamer in the sunfish pattern. Along the face of the dam I counted the fly down (using the one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, etc. method) to 8 feet of depth next to a thick weedbed of coontail and imparted a strong lift, drop, strip retrieve. The tail vibrations signaled the bass population that a wounded baitfish was in their territory and caused innumerable smashing hits followed by memorable battles. What a great way to spend a sticky evening!
Recent rain showers left our nearby stream stained, which raised concern that the fish would be unable to locate our flies visually. Our Ozark Woolly Bugger, with its bead head, was the logical choice for “rock-banging” presentations. It would enable smallmouths to utilize their lateral lines to locate our flies. Casts were delivered up-and-across the slow current above submerged rocks. A firm strip made the fly hit the rock which produced a clicking sound. Then a strong “mend” toward open water and stripped line caused the fly to dart away from its target. Many smallies of 9 to 13 inches fell for the tactic before sunset.
A falling barometer meant the pond’s microorganisms would be rising to the surface and that minnows and small baitfish would follow. In turn, the bass and bluegills would follow. A black sponge spider with red and black banded legs proved to be the magic bullet for both species. I cast them into weedline pockets from my float tube in the final two hours before dark and netted 31 fish including 12 largemouths to 17 inches. Barred owls serenaded my departure.