Whip Finish


Ralph Long - Aug 30, 2018

To say that a bull Bluegill “rises” to take a fly would be misleading at best. If you have ever watched a trout approach a drifting fly, then after scrutiny open its mouth to sip it in leaving a tell-tale rise-form. That….is a rise. A big colored-up bull Bluegill on the other hand attacks a fly, porpoising over it in a way that will not only suck in the bug, but kill it in the same motion. They can at times put the surface take of a largemouth bass to shame, leaving you in astonishment to find that it’s not a 3 pound bass on the end of your line, but rather a 12 inch bluegill with shoulders an inch wide.

This fact alone is why I love to pursue spring bluegills. I am a visually oriented fly fisherman. I prefer surface flies over nymphs and even nymphing with an indicator for that very reason. So, beginning in May, while we wait for a weather pattern that will string 3-4 consecutive sunny days together. You will find me prowling the local ponds and casting small popping bugs along the edges. Usually in vain because I am a little early yet. But I know that once the small ponds show fish, the larger lakes and ponds are only a week or so behind. It’s the event that breaks the stranglehold of cabin fever, as light once again enters the world and the float tubes get pumped up and checked for leaks. It is also the time of the year when my shoes are constantly dusted with deer hair clippings of a myriad of colors.

Spring is such a visual time of year, with trees blossoming , birds nesting, turkeys gobbling and strutting and fish rising. What more could an outdoorsman ask for? So much to offer and so much to do. And as a result I go from cabin fever to struggles with life/time management. Trout are rising. A fact that is never lost on me. Turkey season is in and tags are unfilled on my vest. A situation that needs to be rectified. And yet, those bluegills are almost certainly on the edges now. Throw in yard and house work, family needs and where does the time come from? Especially when that pool of time for the other half of life does not have this struggle for clarity. Which is why when that screen door closes behind me, I am like a big tom cat that has been trying to sneak out the door for weeks and suddenly I am on the doorstep…..FREE! But now what? Which way do I turn? To the pond? Or to the stream? I can only hunt turkey until noon. Yard work? It will still be here when I get back. Go back inside? Fat chance, I will have all next winter for that. Normally, the answer is easy. But those Bull’s were so close last time I checked? Just maybe…….

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