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)