March 29th, 2004

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Panfish
By W.E. Endicott (PanFisher), Mesa, Az

What is a panfish? Well, it's not in the dictionary. I can tell because this fool computer keeps underlining the word in "Red" as misspelled. Ok, the traditional definition is a fish that will fit into a pan. Sounds simple enough. But wait. There's much more involved. Let me tell you a story. This is a story of growing up in the pursuit of such piscatorial prey.

Many years ago, perhaps as a High School freshman, I was really into chasing these slippery devils. I read books? Now that's a real shocker. This endeavor was in the effort to learn how to fly fish for these fish. You see I had seen my childhood TV hero Gadabout Gaddis catch fish this way. So I had to learn to fly fish. Even if this meant I had to read. I had conned my parents into purchasing the equipment necessary. Rod and reel for Christmas and fly tying tools for my birthday. I had saved for subscriptions to the necessary documentation on the subject (Field & Stream, Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, etc.). I was ready to match the great feats of my hero.

Well, I came across an article in one of the major outdoor magazines. It sounded so interesting. You see it mentioned cleaning the collection of moss off of your fly that seems to grow as you fish a small farm pond. That was a problem I could relate to, as I mostly fished a small farm pond my Dad would take me to called Fisherman's Retreat. It was a quiet little place, except for the train that would roll by every two hours night and day. It had a farm pond that was just chock full of Bluegill. Ah the Bluegill, king supreme of the panfish.

We had arrived the night before and I had gotten up early to try this new technique. My dad and uncle were still asleep in the camper. I walked to the edge of the pond and immediately caught a Bluegill. This was encouraging. Then after a few more casts, I could see my Royal Coachman was looking kind of green. It was time to try what I had read about. I understood the instructions well. Just make a slower than normal cast and catch the end of the line in mid-air. Once caught it was simple to take hold of the fly and clean it off. All this worked quite well, but not having further instructions and as far as I knew Gadabout and I were the only people ever to fly fish, so how was I to know what to do next? Here I stood with this big pile of line at my feet and no idea of how to get my clean fly back out on to the water.

Ok, so I could have pulled the line back up through the rod and started at the beginning. Perhaps if I had read more, I would have known about a roll cast. No, being lazy, I wasn't about to hear any of that. So here it came. A long wide sweeping overhead swing of the arm in an effort to get all that line in the air at the same time. I guess it would have worked, if not for the fly getting hung up on the tip of my nose!

Now this was a situation, no one had ever told me about barbless hooks either. So there I stood feeling like a fool. I had just caught myself! My eyes were going cross-eyed looking at this thing! There it was! One home-tied, size 12 Royal Coachman, sitting on the end of my nose. I could hear the laugh of the fish coming up from the water. Oh I'm sure they'd have loved to get a hold of the rod. Fortunately it was early and no one had seen this. I gotta tell ya, that barb hurt coming out of my nose. I managed to stop the bleeding and no one ever knew about this, but the fish and me.

However lessons were learned. First - do more research. Jeez, that meant I had to read some more. Second - Always wear glasses when fly-fishing. Why hadn't Gaddis mentioned that? I could've lost an eye. I suppose not all documentation is complete. Third - How to discontinue magazine subscriptions. Fourth - How to crimp the barb on a fly. Fifth - How to research enough to learn what a roll cast is. You know my mom and dad never did understand why I was so determined to discontinue my subscription to that particular outdoor magazine.

Now you ask, what does all this have to do with the definition of a panfish? Well, a panfish is a journey. It's lessons learned, fun getting there, and friendship with others, anticipation of success, etc. And just think it all fits in a pan. ~ W.E. Endicott (PanFisher)


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