Sunday, June 10, 2012

Weekend of Big Bluegill | 1lb

Everyone loves the bluegill on a fly rod. Its the aggressive (I always think of the high school cheerleaders singing that cheer to help me spell that word) nature and their voracious appetite that make them such great fare on a fly rod. From a 1wt to an 8wt, they will bend a rod. Dry flies, streamers, wet flies. They eat everything with relish. 

This weekend turned out to be the hottest weekend of the season so far. It looks like the largemouth were hiding in the Tidal Basin and out in Reston's Lake Audubon. 

I tied up a bunch of multi-color hoppers and dropped damsel nymphs and copper john's about 18" below the dry fly. 

We started on Friday at the Tidal Basin. Todd and Rachel. It would be really nice if the National Park Service would let me guide there for a living. They won't allow me to work there so sometimes I take people there for fun. 

Lots of kids around. The water was a bit choppy as the wind was blowing. Parking sucked. There was also a national Girl Scouts event on the Mall so kids and buses everywhere. We started off at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and worked our way toward the Martin Luther King. Jr Monument.

We got to the first overhanging cherry tree and Todd hooked up. We kept going and fishing was tough. The water is still stained from the rain a week ago.

Rachel hooked into a strong bluegill and brought it to hand.  

We were under the trees so the picture didn't come out too great. Of course the Washington  Monument has to be in the background. That is the US Mint to the right.

We took the hook out and threw it back in. That is when young Albert showed up. He had a spinning rod and a piece of 'fish' on his hook. He wasn't having a lot of luck.

I cut off his hook and put on a 'foam depot' with a copper john dropper. He tossed it in and got a bite right away. He was so excited I thought he was going to burst. His mom and sister were just down the path. They were fishing without conventional gear. Just a piece of bamboo and mono with a hook. They sat under a cherry tree and fished. You mountain people can have your mountains, and  you beach peeps can have your sand. We get to fish with monuments and the scenery is ridiculously awesome. They had such a great spot.

I cut off the leftover mono and tied on about five feet of 20lb Berkley Vanish. I tied on a hook and they baited it. They tossed it in and a minute later THEY WERE BROKEN OFF AGAIN. This place has some serious fish.

I told Albert I had a friend with the same name. My friend Albert lives in Miami and lives in the same building as Keith Richards. Keith Richards likes to drink orange soda and vodka a the pool.

This kid Albert was not familiar with the 'Stones. He kept asking me to sing to him. He was great. So much enthusiasm. We left him to find more shade in the other direction.

Albert then ran up to us with another fish he caught. I got him with the monument in the background. I told him to use Spam next time for bait. Stuff works like gangbusters.

By the way, Rachel has some really fun nail polish colors. I told her we needed a picture of her nails with a fish. Just so happened that one of the nails matched the fly line. Great pic I think.

Its always nice when a female client shows up with a hair rubber band. It comes in handy when they are casting with too much wrist. Tuck that fighting butt into the band and it shows them when they 'break their wrist.'

Rachel and I were walking along trying to keep up with Todd. We found a baby duck that was abandoned. I pulled it out for a photo opp.

The tide was dropping and the fish were acting slow. Rachel tossed the fly against the wall and a big old largemouth came out to investigate. She twitched the fly and it turned and went back. Several casts later it never returned.

It was a couple of more steps later when she hooked another bluegill. Nothing big but a special fish for someone who is learning the fly fishing lifestyle.

We got a picture in of the fingernails. Before long we had walked really far and cast more times than I can count. The wind started to pick up and the fishing turned off. We called it a day.


I finally got around to fixing my drift boat rowing seat. As my boat has been outside for 5 years in the elements, things get gross. I broke through the seat last month and used a strap from the Home Depot to fix it. I was sitting high. 
Temps were in the low 90s and the wind was blowing. Made for tough rowing. I took out the WAVA ladies (thats an inside story, you'll have to ask). 

Same fly rod set up as the day before. Fishing my old Orvis Madison Disc reel from 1995. Lori hooked into several big bluegill on the lake.  

 We got one bass to leap. The bass just were not cooperating. Not sure if it was the heat, if the fish have not recovered from the flood last year, or if they just wanted something bigger.
 More big bluegill. These fish were bending 9' 5wt rods. Horseshoe style.

 The fish kept biting as we drifted the lake. The three ladies had never fly fished before. The only one that didn't get a fish to hand was Sha-Sha-Sha-Sheila (inside joke.) She hooked several but just didn't set the hook in time to land them.
 Next up was Jack and Rosen (sp?). We got into more big bluegill.
 Still no big bass. It was a bluegill day.
 Big enough that we started to weigh them. This bluegill weighed in at 0.77lb.
 Next up was Melody and "Snook." You know its going to be a good day when your client has a name like that. They are from south Florida. We talked Florida and the Keys for two hours. My new go to friends for when I need to book a hotel/motel and places to eat. They have 30+ years of information to share.
 After 6 hours of rowing I was exhausted. I pulled out the boat and got home and had a great cold shower. Then off to Will/Bill's house for some food cooked on his Green Egg (burgers, brie, mac and cheese balls, corn cobbs.)


Back to the lake at 0800. No traffic, the best time to drive in DC. I met Chris.  He just had a kid and is just as tired as me. We fish hard on glass like water for 3 hours. His wife bought him a half day trip. It was hot enough that we decided to fish 3 hours and he can use his 4th for a trip to Gravelly one night. 

Big bluegill again. Lots of fingerling largemouth. Schools of them, a half dozen at a time. They would nip a the damsel nymphs but not take them. 

Lots of turtles, geese, wood ducks, a cormorant, and more. One friend on the lake claims the flood from last year is the reason her hydrangeas are blooming the best in 20 years. I agree, the  hydrangeas along the shoreline were busting with blossoms. It was hot. We needed Gatorade. 

Next up was MJ. She is so enthusiastic and learns so much on each trip. We could not believe the amount of tiny bass we saw. None of them had interest. The first leg of the lake was slow. Just a few bluegill. We spooked some carp in the carp flats. No love from carp. 

As we crossed the lake I was looking at some condos. MJ tossed the foam hopper rig on her 4wt Orvis Clearwater to the left side of the boat. There was a huge explosion and the fight was on. This was no ordinary bluegill. It was peeling line off her reel. After a vicious fight the fish was landed. We put it on the scale. The first measurement was OVER A POUND. The fish weighed in at 1.01lb. 

 I handed the scale to MJ with the fish. She got it at just a smidge under 1lb.
 Next up was Pete and Kades (sp?). The first leg of the lake was again slow. It picked up on the 3/4 mark. They had a great banter going back and forth. Did the fish we caught during casting practice count? Did the fish that touched the boat and fell off count? Did the first fish on a dry fly all day count as 2? It was hilarious.
 Neither of these guys had fly fished before. it didn't take long for them to pick it up.
I'm exhausted from walking for 3hrs Friday, rowing 6 hours Saturday, and 7 hours Sunday. It was 94 when we took the boat out today. Saw some kids swimming and jumping off the drain. Haven't seen that in over 20 years.

I've got lots of e-mails to get to and several fly fishing gift certificates for fathers day.

What is the biggest bluegill  you have hooked? Where? When? On what fly? What rod?

 Thanks for reading.


I love bluegills for all the reasons you mentioned Rob. Even when I worry they might be interfering with my hooking into something bigger, I still love 'em they're great.

I have this incredible vivid memory of fishing the Schuylkill river outside of Philadelphia and catching a giant bluegill right above the second dam up from the set museum. people have hooked into big fish like carp, muskie, and cats fishing below that dam probably since it was built. I liked to fish for the sunnies above while my dad did his thing below. Back then at eight years old I can imagine things seemed a bit larger from my perspective than they might today. however, this one day I hooked into the biggest bluegill I'd ever seen. to this day, as I remember it, It's probably still the biggest. I don't remember it being particularly heavy though. just broad and long, probably 16 inches long and around 10 inches in span from top to bottom. Other than its size and slightly distorted outline around the face, it looked like any other pumpkinseed fish though.I tried showing it to my dad from above the dam but he clearly didn't understand what I'd caught cause he just smiled and waved. I dutifully removed the hook and bade my catch goodbye (we were strictly catch and release). Wonder how it really stacks up to this day.

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