Welcome to Panfish!

Part Seventy-seven

An Affair With Bluegills
By Geno Loro Sr.

It was a warm sunny day with a slight breeze blowing out of the west. I wondered if we would be lucky today as I slipped the square stern canoe off the top of the van. So far, we had been lucky . . . the weather had been great but you never can tell with the wind out of the west.

My son, Geno Jr. begin to unload the gear as I turned the canoe over to put on the 4 horse weedless. This was Allequash and it was loaded with grass and pads all the way through the channel from the landing to where it opens up to a beautiful, clear lake . . . a distance of about one and a half miles.

The channel, about 100 yards wide, has grass and lily pads on each side of a strip through the middle. The shore had boulders and fallen trees all along the route, a prime lake for Smallmouth bass. Today my love affair with Bluegills and flyrod was about to begin . . .

We finished loading the canoe and began to paddle to get us out a bit before I started the motor. Geno was pretty good at paddling for a youngster and we made good time getting out into the main channel. I began to enjoy the beautiful crisp air and the feeling I always get when I am about to start a day on the lake. Geno started to get his gear ready after I started the motor and since he was a die-hard worm fisherman, all he needed was a small split-shot, hook, bobber and worm . . . all he needed to get that big one!!

I had put a fly rod in the canoe as an afterthought as we were going after Smallmouth bass with spinning gear and lures. Weedless spoons were the rule here but failing that we would turn to using nightcrawlers. A light bobber and 8 lb. line so we could put that worm as lightly as possible right on top of the logs or next to boulders. We would let it sink to about 5 feet . . . slowly . . . then, if he was in there at all, he would come out fast and take that worm as though it were the last worm in the lake!

A clear lake like Allequash demands a long cast, light line and an almost spooky way of sneaking up to any boulder, log or structure you can find. We never got to Smallmouth that day, no sir, as we moved along through the channel I saw bays and coves that I couldn't resist.

I put in towards the shore to get a closer look and see what structure I could find. I cut the motor, picked up the paddle and glided the canoe in over the pads and weeds towards the shore.

I was hoping to find some deep pool or logs that we might fish before we got into the main body of water. The shore line here looked very good.

What I found made me feel 10 years old again. There along the shore about four feet out in clear water about two feet deep, was an area full of spawning beds, loaded with Bluegills.

I almost passed up what to my son must have looked like a treasure of gold from a Spanish galleon! Almost every bed had a Bluegill on it and in the clear water you could see them from about ten feet away. I stopped the canoe as easily as possible and as close as I dared get.

There are times in a fathers life when he experiences something with his son that he can treasure for the rest of his life... this moment for me was that time. Just some Bluegills you say . . .? well, tell that to a seven-year-old boy as you watch him get so excited that you're afraid he'll fall out of the boat.

I don't believe in all the years of fishing have I been lucky enough to get to a bed of Bluegills like this. Right time of day, time of year and the right lake with my son.

I dropped a light anchor over the side to hold us there and sat for a moment enjoying the sight of my son Geno trying to get his line ready to fish... with fingers and thumbs not working, it was a funny sight.

When he finally got ready he tossed his line out to the nearest bed. In no time had a palm-sized Bluegill on his stringer. You could see in the clear water the mad dash the Bluegill would make to the worm.

I put the paddle down and half decided not to fish but to just sit and watch him enjoy himself. I couldn't resist any longer . . . I put my flyrod together and attached a small, ant-like fly called a "double martini". . . a black and red body with white legs like a spider. I have only found these flys in Wisconsin. It is deadly on Bluegills.

I flipped it out about 15 feet and watched it sink slowly down... it only got about 6 inches down when a Bluegill hit it. I forgot all about the Smallmouth bass that day.

We worked the bed over from one end to the other, catching and releasing Bluegill after Bluegill. When you fish spawning beds it is best to start at the closer edge and work your way into the middle... moving left to right. We released most of them but kept the larger ones for dinner that evening. When camping out on a fishing trip, fried panfish, potatoes, biscuits and hot coffee are a must! Throw in a cool evening by the fire and find out what contentment really is.

We caught about 50 Bluegills that day before we decided to take a shore lunch. I paddled over to a shady spot and let the canoe slide onto the bank.

I have been using a flyrod for about 20 years primarily for Bass and Crappie, occasionally Bluegills. I have to admit that although I enjoy it all, nothing gave me so much enjoyment as my flyrod, Bluegills and watching my son's eyes as he pulled in Bluegill after Bluegill.

It was then that I truly realized it really didn't matter so much how big or how many fish you catch, but the moments experienced while doing it. I decided never to let size or number be my goal when it comes to fishing.

I want to let all you non-flyrodders out there know that I believe no other fishing can begin to give you the pound for pound excitement that flyrodding for Bluegills can. No other fish is so obliging as they are... and found in so many parts of the country. I guess that's why I call them "America's fish". . . and they go so well with seven year old sons . . .

Sure, I could tell you stories about Bass I catch with the flyrod and the Crappies on the beds in Lake Shawno, but the Bluegills gave me a special day that year. There is just something special about flyrods and Bluegills... and my love affair continues to this day. ~ Geno Loro, Sr.

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