Welcome to Panfish!

Part Ninety-four


Panfish Chat- Host FRITZ FRATZ - Monday. 6-8 p.m. PST (9-11 EST)

Panfish Food

By the Northlander, (a.k.a. Craig Thorp)

*Note: Due to technical difficulites (camera problems) the next installment of Poppers will not appear this week. Stay tuned!

At least once every year, sometimes even two or three times, I find myself standing next to a still, mirror-finish lake with a companion. As we look out over the water, standing speechless for a period of time, I find that I am once again awed by the massive number of rings that can be seen on top of the water. Hundreds of thousands of tiny rings on the surface of the lake every minute. This is an activity that could be witnessed all day long if the lake stays like glass. Often I turn to my companion and say, " it always amazes me to see that many nymphs all hatching at the same time." From experience I know that this will usually cause my companion to give me a look like I may not have both oars in the water.

Rather than leaving them questioning me, I offer the information that each one of those rings is a nymph breaking the surface to dry it's wing and fly away. I understand (and don't offer the information) that some of the rings are caused by air bubbles, weed seeds, adult bugs and fish, but they are a small percentage. The reason that I don't say anything then is because the goal of the statement is to help them to develop an understanding of the importance of the nymph to the ecosystem of a lake.

While sitting in a boat bobber fishing with minnows, have you ever wondered what minnows eat? Have you ever wondered why, if you use worms to catch sunfish how do enough worms get in the lake for that many sunfish?

The answer is they don't. The answer is nymphs . . . and that's my final answer. Nymphs are to fish as grass is to cows. Add this analogy to your fishing knowledge, because it is a truth that panfish graze on nymphs. Armed with this knowledge you will understand what you are looking at next time you see it. Why do panfish school in a specific spot? Nymphs. If it's a truth that fish couldn't live without water, they certainly couldn't live without nymphs. Next time your cleaning a bunch of sunfish look at the stomach contents. That grayish, black goo is nymphs.

This is now the point in the article where the writer has the opportunity to start writing in great detail with lots of scientific words in parentheses, and little tiny pictures of specific species with tiny, tiny type and arrows. If you don't mind I think we can skip that part, if you feel a deep seated need for that type of info you can find it somewhere else on FAOL. I have neither the knowledge nor the desire to get into that. If you come away from reading this with the knowledge of the importance of nymphs then this article has served it's intended first purpose.

The second point that I would like to try to explain to you is a retrieval technique that I find very useful when nymphing for panfish. Nymphs eat organisms smaller than themselves to survive. To get to a food supply some nymphs crawl and some swim. The ones that swim, swim in or just over the vegetation on the bottom of the lake. I have always made an effort to, as closely as possible, duplicate what I feel the swimming nymphs actions would be in the water.

Nymphing for panfish can be done with either a weighted or non-weighted nymph. You could also weight either the nymph or the line, and use or not use a strike indicator. Fishing with a non-weighted nymph you will find that you can watch the connection between your leader and flyline for the take. It will reduce the amount of hardware that you are trying to cast and probably take care of a few casting problems you may be experiencing.

Enough said about all that, let me get to this retrieval technique that I promised you. Now I will assume for the purpose of this explanation that you are right handed, if you are left handed you will have to do this backwards. I don't mean by that, that you will have to try to push the line out through the guides, just read left for right and right for left. Hold the rod in your right hand at a comfortable position in front of yourself. Your left hand is positioned so the line lays across your thumb to your little finger. Pinch the line between your thumb and index finger and roll your hand clockwise. Next lift your pinkie over the line and roll your hand counterclockwise. Now repinch the line between your thumb and index finger and repeat the process.

This retreive will slowly move the fly along, much as a real nymph would move. If the fly is weighted it will move slowly enough to maintain a consistent depth during your retrieve. With a little practice you will be able make the fly look as if it's floating or slowly swimming through the water.

Good luck with this and like we say around the bait store . . . see ya wader. ~ C. T.

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