Trip Report 12-25-12

To many people, Christmas in Central Park is all about horse drawn carriages. That's not all the park has to offer, though. The Harlem Meer, at the northern end of the park, provides an opportunity to get a wet line, a bent rod and fishy smelling hands right in the middle of Manhattan.

I don't fish the Meer much. Though as much as I complain about how long it takes me to go fishing, with the subway, the commuter train and the hike to the streams, I should. Timed both ways today, it was exactly a half hour from door to shore and exactly the same on the way home.  

The Harlem Meer in New York's Central Park

The day started out sunny, but by the time I decided to go fishing and got to the Meer it was overcast. There was a slight breeze part of the time, but not enough to make me switch from a size 3 line to a size 4.

Killer Bugger tied with Granite yarn

The fly of the day was a Killer Bugger, which is no more than a killer bug tied with a marabou tail. This one was tied with Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift Granite yarn, which is predominantly light gray when dry but a mix of light and dark gray when wet. The bluegills took a variety of flies equally, but the crappies only wanted the Killer Bugger.

Central Park fishing is catch and release with barbless flies (which makes releasing fish easy, even at a distance).

Black crappie caught in Harlem Meer

Other than the first one, I did not feel the crappies hit the fly or see a twitch in the line. What I saw was a bright flash as they rose from the depths and turned sideways to hit the fly just before starting back down. Blink and you'd miss it. I missed most of them. I often write that if you fish by feel you will miss strikes. Today proved that, in spades! To maximize your catch, you have to watch for twitches or hesitations in your line and also watch for flashes of turning fish where you think your fly is.

I don't catch that many crappies, and I'd never before really noticed the spots on the tail.

Close-up of crappie tail, showing olive spots on a black background

The bluegills were much easier to hook. I'm sure it is because their mouth is so much smaller. Once the hook goes in it is very hard to come back out without catching (even with hemostats). With the crappies, their mouth is large enough for the fly to come back out easily. Of course, I might have just been striking too quickly when I saw the flash and pulling the fly away from them. (Probably should have said "God rest ye merry gentlemen" before striking.)

Angler holding bluegill at the edge of the pond

The bluegills in the Meer seem to be very orange. 'Gills I catch in other places range from a silvery green to almost black, but these are pretty unique. And if they aren't orange, they look almost purple.

Bluegill with a slight purple color

After catching some crappies and bluegills, I headed to the stream where I'd seen some little guys - minnows or darters of some sort - earlier in the year. Yeah, I said stream. There's a stream in Central Park! Who knew?

The micros were not where I'd seen them before, so after a bit more looking in a few other likely spots, without spotting them, I went back for a few more bluegills. (In the winter, micros are never where you saw them before. They must swim south for the winter.)

Not the best fish of the day, but certainly the most accommodating, was the one that hit just seconds after I heard a woman on the path behind me call to her companion, "Wait, I want to see him catch a fish." I don't know who was the most surprised: her, me or the fish. After a short tussle and close up looks all around, we three went our separate ways.

Angler holding bluegill at water's edge

TenkaraBum Home > Tenkara Trip Reports > Trip Report 12-25-12

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
Col. Robert Venables 1662

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

Beware of the Dogma