Welcome to Panfish!

Part Two hundred-eleven

Planting A Seed


By Johnny (aka Hillfisher), Texas

What is the most remembered fish to us as kids? For most it's the panfish, more specifically the bream, which includes the bluegill and sunfishes. Summers spent usually with a bobber and worm catching these little feisty fish from some pond, creek or lake.

Where I originally grew up in the West Texas region, water was scarce. There were no creeks or ponds available for any causal fishing. Therefore fishing was a savored summer pastime. I always looked forward to my father's vacation time, as he was an avid fisherman back then. We always went to favored lakes or river locations and that usually meant a trip up to a couple of hundred miles.

Some of my most cherished memories are of Brady Lake, just outside of Brady, Texas. This sleepy little town was on the edge of what is known as the as the Texas Hill Country with it's Green hills and lots of large oak and pecan trees. I knew that some day I would be living in the Texas Hill Country, it captured my heart then and still does today. Quite a change from West Texas where the tallest trees were four foot scrubby looking mesquite trees that have three inch thorns and greenery was cactus, lots of cactus. One quickly learns that in West Texas just about everything kicks, scratches, bites, pinches and is just down right ornery.

Brady Lake used to be known for it's large population of crappie. This is where my dad was his happiest. We would spend a whole week camping on the lake, each day going out and catching crappie. When the days heat became too much for the "older folks" we kids would grab our tackle and head for the backwaters and creeks. These were my teen summer years right up to the time when I left home. This is when I learned for the first time to truly fish. Here I learned the secrets of the panfish.

This was in the days before "fish finders" and all the associated electronic gear, which is in use to find fish these days. My father taught me to read the waters whether it is still or moving. He taught me to locate structure and identify possible areas where fish would be holding. I learned to look for that overhanging tree, an undercut bank, the boulder in the water and what riffles, eddies, runs and swirls were. I learned about lakes "turning over" and the affect it had on oxygen displacement and the fishery and that this phoneme did not exist in moving waters. Looking back, I realize just how knowledgeable my dad really is and the seed he planted took hold and grew.

There have been several times during my fishing over the years that I have attracted the attention of a young person watching me pull in one bream after another and being overly curious, would strike up a conversation to find out what I was doing and how come I was catching so many. In most cases this ends with them leaving wishing they too could do such a thing. Not so in all encounters. I remember a few years back of having an unseen shadow for many of my trips fishing in downtown Llano below the dam, on Llano River. One day the "shadow" approached me and was holding one of those twenty-dollar Wal-Mart fly fishing combo sets, still in the box. He simply asked straight out if I would teach him how to use it. So I spent the rest of the day explaining knots, backing, fly lines, flies and of course the basic casting lesson. I put him onto some very willing sunfish and it was all smiles for him that day. I still see him every now and then, a young adult, older, wiser and an avid fly angler. I had planted a seed and it grew.

Before all the floods recently here in the Hill Country, I, Justin and Scott were on the San Gabriel South Fork and we came across a family who had their two sons fishing with a bobber and corn, apparently they were not doing well. When they saw us catching fish, as it is the custom of all young children, they began to ask a lot of questions. While I chatted with the parents, Justin and Scott gave the boys some quick fly fishing instruction but mostly doing the casting and letting the boys bring in the fish.

They were small sunfish, but to the boys, they were the prizes of the day. Needless to say they were having a great time and really wanted to know more! I had a great time explaining fly fishing to the parents and to their astonishment that it could be no more expensive than normal fishing. I gave them my card and told them if they were ever interested and needed more information to search FAOL or contact me. We left them to move on down the river before it became too dark . . .knowing we had planted more seeds.

Until next time, good fishing to all and to all a good fish! ~ Hillfisher

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