So 2013 is supposed to be the year of the Bluegill if you follow new school fly-fishing luminaries like the Fiberglass Manifesto. There seems to be a rally cry around this fish (group of fish) as the next trend in fly fishing. I won’t argue against that; I’m seeing more posts, blogs, art, articles, and videos proving this claim out. How long will it be until Sage comes out with a panfish/bluegill rod for $700?
Bluegills, redears, pumpkinseeds, and other panfish are certainly worth chasing this year..any year actually. I plan on opting for the little froggy lakes miles from my house vs. the trout streams and rivers 30 miles away more this Summer. A three weight is a three weight, and this year it has panfish on poppers written all over it. Last year I had some amazing popper fishing for pumpkinseeds about a mile from my house; a swampy backwater lake that Zebulon Pike (below) surely explored in the heart of downtown St. Paul. I’m sure this water inspires power riffs from band bearing his name as well.
But I don’t see this Bluegill/Panfish trend developing because these fish and their waters are so amazing; I see it as a trend spurred by a newer generation of fly-fisherman returning to their roots, and doing so by exploring their local waters. Realizing that the fly rod and reel are just tools to catch fish, a method of choice, and decision to fish a certain way and perhaps with certain other people leads to the enviable question of, “Why am I fishing for X, and not for Y?”. At least in my own case, as a father who is trying to introduce fishing to my youngling, panfish become the natural target. This shit is just cyclical, right?
But why limit your forays into the fish of warm water to panfish? In those same waters there’s 99.9% gaurantee that carp and other rough fish or various kinds are lurking in shallow waters. The “walleye with a hoover attachment” is quickly becoming the warmwater version of the Bonefish.
Further, where there are panfish there are predators eating said panfish: Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass are sure to be in the shallows during late Spring and Fall, and lurking along drop offs and weedlines come Summer. And if you’re down for some night fishing on a good river, walleyes are sure to be chasing baitfish in the moonlight (disclaimer: they fight like a wet sock).
Smallies are a given, and if you’re not fishing for them already then you dumb and should stop following this blog.
I love trout. Chances are if you fly-fish, so do you. And if you are lucky to have trout fisheries in your backyard, then fish the hell out of them. But I grew up in central MN, and cut my teeth fishing the warmwaters of the Mississippi, Sauk River, Rum River, Lake George, Green Lake, Big Fish (and Little Fish) Lake, Mille Lacs, and dozens of other small, medium and large lakes. You know what we caught? Carp, redhorse, sheepheads, dogfish, eelpout, catfish, pike, largemouth bass and small mouth bass, muskies (by accident), walleyes, and anything else that swims in these diverse waters. These were the waters we had, the fish we chased, and I never complained about a lack of opportunities, quality or diversity. I was a bike ride away from a world class smallmouth fishery and could throw corn any any direction and catch a rough fish.
2013 isn’t so much about the Bluegill to me, it’s about local water; my local water. It’s about embracing the waters of my up-brining, my fish that brought me thus far, and celebrating this place within the fishing universe.
I don’t have amazing trout rivers right where I live. I don’t have saltwater flats. I don’t have sea-run this or that.
What I do have is a prime Pumpkinseed, Golden Bone, Waterwolf, Bucketmouth, Mooneye, and Bronzeback fishery down the hill from my house and lakes dotted all over the map within a 10 minute drive. Year of the Bluegill is Year of Your Local. Cheers.