August 19th, 2015
Big summer blue gills are getting ready to start getting fat on millions of bugs, moths, mosquitoes, or any other tiny winged thing that lands on the water. There are as many different ways to fish for blue gills during the summer months as there are fisherman. One technique that is often underutilized but undeniably effective in catching these dog day pan fish is simply a water bobber matched with your favorite buggy looking fly.
Not that long ago a friend and I went blue gill fishing on a local pond for a few hours right before dark. I brought my Tenkara rod from Tenkara USA and he brought live bait. Like how most fishing buddies do, we had a bet on who would catch the most fish, biggest fish, first fish, etc.
Right away, I started winning the bet in just about every category. I could actively spot cast to raises in the water where a bluebill just popped a bug. I was also using something that looked like what they just ate giving me a pretty solid advantage. My unlucky friend was limited to the area right around his bobber. Fortunately for him, he had a good view of Tenkara in action.
By about prime time of the evening, my friend put the night crawlers down and borrowed one of my flies. Next, he placed an un-weighted slip bobber 24” above the dry fly. Soon he was actually catching more blue gills than I was. In part, the spinning rod he was using could cast that fly and bobber like a bullet all the way down the bank where I was limited to the length of my Tenkara line. Once the bobber landed, he pulled the line tight and very slowly twitched the fly back until a bluegill came up and ate.
This style of fishing is also more active than just sitting on a chair and watching a bobber. Upon the cast, make a few cranks of the reel to allow the water bobber and fly to straighten everything out and get in-line. This will also allow you to locate the fly in the water. Make a few very slight twitches while reeling up the slack every ten to fifteen seconds. One very important aspect to this style of fishing is to set the hook upon the fish hitting the fly, not on the fish sinking the bobber. If you wait for the bobber to go down, you will miss a lot of strikes as well as kill a lot of fish due to them swallowing the hook.
Cautionary warning; this style of fishing can create an addiction that is hard to beat. Just like my friend, I know another angler who bought a fly tying kit and started making his own flies to match any possible bug for the spring, summer, and fall. He now has flies that look like grasshoppers, ants, wasps, dragon flies, mosquitos, moths, and just about anything else that has wings that could helplessly land on water. His live bait fishing has also dropped dramatically. He still hasn’t picked up a Tenkara rod or fly rod yet, but hopefully that might be in his future.
Brad Smith is an avid outdoors enthusiast as well as being an outdoor photographer, writer, and wild game cook. Brad has spent time as a fishing guide and lure designer but there’s not much more he enjoys these days than being able to spend time fishing or hunting while taking photo’s of the trip and writing about it when he gets home. If you look close, you can find some of his work on various websites and magazines all over the country. Just recently Brad has become an active member of the National Outdoor Writers Association.
You can follow Brad on Twitter at: @bradsmith319