I bought my first fly rod two years ago, but it wasn’t until Memorial Day that I was finally able to use it to catch bluegills on their spawning beds, which is one of the primary reasons I bought it.
I’d caught plenty of bluegill on the fly, but my free time, of which I have little, spawning time and no wind had yet to coincide. I have yet to master casting on a calm day, so the third factor is as important as the previous two. And the free time and the spawn has more than once found me fishing with my son, Mace, now 6. That in itself requires leaving time to bait hooks and remove fish and usually means a shorter trip than I might take on my own, both of which are better than fly fishing.
On Monday, I headed for Holmes Lake and dragged former NEBRASKAland writer and photographer Ken Bouc with me. Ken was the one who convinced me bluegills on the fly was the way to go. We’d made a few trips to Burchard in years past. As he pulled bluegill after bluegill off the bed with his unobtrusive presentation, I first spent time cleaning moss off my beetle spin. I had more luck throwing a fly and a casting bubble, but the splat of the bubble scared more fish off the bed than the fly caught.
On Monday, we went fish for fish. They weren’t overly aggressive, most taking and spitting the fly. Maybe some bee-scented bug juice would help that (Is Berkley making anything like that yet?). There were no big bulls on the stringers when we left, but there were enough fish to put a stink in a pan. And a smile on my face. I like to say that pound-for-pound, bluegill have as much fight as any fish that swims. Using a fly rod does nothing to diminish that reputation.
Ken and I might have been the only ones casting flies at Holmes Lake Monday, but we certainly weren’t the only ones fishing. The shoreline and jetties were crawling with what I would guess to be 200 anglers, young and old. That visual certainly justified the work done to rehabilitate the lake in recent years. Not long ago, it was a big mud puddle. Now its rare when you drive by and don’t see someone fishing, whether they’re on a jetty or casting from a $50,000 bass boat.
And it’s all 10 minutes from my front door. Close enough that I can pick Mace up from school and drown a worm for an hour. Or run down after work with the fly rod.