Warmwater Tips

Whatever it Takes! A Bluegill Adventure
By: Joe Valencic

After helping my twin brother replace a hot water tank on a recent Sunday (it started leaking at 2:30 in the morning) I suggested we finish the day with a little bluegill action in a private pond near his home where he has permission to fish. Being a Scoutmaster in his community for more than 20 years, Matt has access to some really nice private ponds and lakes.
The weather was sunny all day and had warmed the water in the shallow end of the pond. I knew the action would be good during the last hour of daylight, so we headed out...me with my fly rod and Matt with his ultralight spinning rod. I tied on a #14 Elk Hair Caddis to my 6X tippet and immediately started catching some big pre-spawn gills, and he was catching small to medium size bass with a 1/8 oz. chartreuse rooster tail spinner. This had the makings of an action packed evening of catch & release for both species.

After catching about a dozen big gills, Matt saw how much fun I was having with the fly rod and asked for a fly to replace the spinner he had lost to a submerged log. I looked at his rig and asked him what he was planning to do with my hand-tied custom-made fly. His response was... "Shut up and give me one of those flies." I chuckled, gave him a #10 Elk Hair Caddis, and watched him tie it to his 6# K-Mart monofilament. He then clipped on a 1" round red and white bobber about 24" above the fly, and cast it into the area where I was catching the gills. All I could think was; "... you can take the fisherman off the bucket, but you can't take the bucket out of the fisherman." I think he was born with a 5-gallon bucket on his butt and a Zebco 202 in his left hand.

"SPLATT" went the bobber when it hit the water and a huge ripple went across the whole area we were fishing. I though his severely un-orthodox methods would be the end of our catching big gills, when all at once I saw this oversized fly get sipped in by a gill larger than my hand. The fight was on as the gill turned broadside to the bank and started a run that placed a good curl in his 5-foot ultra light rod. In short order he landed and release the fish, looked at me with that "I told you so" face, and cast the weird setup back into the same area. After twitching the bobber a couple of times to give some action to the fly (and send more ripples across the still water), another big gill sipped the caddis from the surface and took off running. All I could do was laugh and get back into the action with my fly rod.

We fished until it was too dark to see, and went back to the truck for the short drive home. He offered my fly back when we got home, and I told him I didn't think I could put that fly on the end of my fly line, knowing where it had been.
I chalked this experience up to the resourcefulness of a Scoutmaster, and filed it away for the next time I get in a pinch without my fly rod. It's amazing what works when you're desperate for some big bluegill action.



Joe Valencic is a Life Member of FFF, VP of Communications for the Great Lakes Council of FFF, and Communications Director for the Ohio Sub Council (FFF) & North Coast Fly Fishers (an FFF Charter Club). Joe & his brother have fished their entire lives thanks to their father's influence. Both are "converts" to fly fishing in the past 10 years, and Joe is an avid fly tyer