There were two goals for the day: catch a few micros for the TenkaraBum Streamer Challenge and get a first look at a few new rods that I just received from Japan.
Coach and I started the day on the stream we normally go to when fishing for micros. It's a warmwater stream that holds a pretty good number of species. At the start of the day, Coach predicted that I'd be able to add four new species to my tally - although he wouldn't name which four.
As is so often the case, shortly after we got there the words "you should have been here last week" were uttered. Instead of huge schools of banded killifish coach saw the last time he was there, we saw nothing. A bit further upstream, we saw micros - or rather micro wakes as they fled from our approach. Some micros are not at all concerned with your presence, and if you stand still for a while they'll mill around so close to you that a 4' tanago rod is too long to catch them. Others seem to be a spooky as trout.
I started the day with a size 26 Minimal Dace, and had a couple bumps
but no hook ups. The fly of the day turned out to be a bead head white
Killer Bugger in either a size 20 or 26. The Killer Bugger is so much easier to tie in the small sizes than the Minimal Dace that I would suggest people who want to catch some micros for the contest tie it instead. (Besides, I have caught lots of micros on both black and white Killer Buggers, and have not caught even one micro with a small Minimal Dace.) The flies were tied with red Veevus 16/0 thread in place of red copper wire. The bead head provides a bit of weight and the thread is easier to manage than extra-small Ultra Wire.
Even though the Banded Killifish were not there in droves, they were still around and after a frustratingly long time I finally got one to take the white Killer Bugger.
My next catch was a common shiner - which may be common where you live, but there are only two streams where I have caught them. I am sure they are more common; I am not sure why I haven't caught more.
This particular stream has a good population of satinfin shiners, and the satinfin was my third new species for the Challenge. They will readily take a small bead head Killer Bugger, either black or white, fished downstream.
Another fish, very common in this particular stream, and one that will hit just about anything you throw near it, is the redbreast sunfish. I'd already caught one for the TenkaraBum Streamer Challenge, but this little guy was so cute I had to take a photo.
We then went to a small pond in search of golden shiners. Coach had caught his for the Challenge there, and he assured me that I could catch a golden there if I could get past all the bluegills. As it turned out, I was barely able to catch a single bluegill and no shiners. Recent rains had muddied the water and it was no surprise that the pond didn't produce.
Coach then suggested a couple lakes nearby where he thought I could catch a white crappie or a white perch. At the first lake, "the" spot to fish turned out to require a cast directly into the wind. The result, or rather, lack thereof was about as expected.
What was not expected, a little further down the lake (and past a point so a downwind cast was possible), was the golden shiner I blanked on at the previous spot. For this fish, and for most of the rest of the day, I used a size 20 bead head White Killer Bugger.
Coach was right on the money - four new species.
On the next lake, where the target species was white perch, as I was rigging up a different rod Coach said "cast right out here" and proceeded to catch a white perch. I probably don't have to tell you that it was the first, last and only white perch either of us caught that day.
If you are wondering why Coach knows all these spots, and where I can catch what fish, it is because he is retired and I think all he does is fish.
For me, fishing is work. No, really. I always have rods or lines or flies I need to evaluate or get photos of for the website. It has to be done. I had received three new rods from Japan that I need to cast and needed catch some fish with. As is probably the case in much of the country, if you NEED to catch fish, you go fishing for bluegills.
The bluegills didn't disappoint. There were enough largemouth bass and pumpkinseeds in the mix to keep things interesting - but really, even the surprising color variation from one bluegill to the next did that. Some were quite dark, some light, a couple had white borders to the anal fin and tail, which I had never seen before.
I fished with a number of flies, but of those I tried what they wanted the most was the same size 20 white Killer Bugger with which I'd caught the golden shiner.
Bluegills are funny. They have tiny little mouths but they will try to eat anything. They are very fond of nipping at the tail of a fly. I have found they are much easier to catch with a smaller fly. The size 20 white Killer Bugger was small enough that they didn't just nip at it, they inhaled it. The Dr. Slick Spring Creek Clamps made retrieving it a simple matter, even from smaller fish. One added advantage of the white Killer Bugger was that I could usually see the fly, so even when I couldn't feel a take, I could see the fly and see it disappear as a fish took it.
No photos of the new rods to spark interest. Last time I did that, someone's interest was sparked enough to chase down the rod and buy it from a competitor. I'll post photos of the rods when I have them in stock.
The golden shiner may have been my largest fish of the day but size doesn't always matter. On Sunday, size definitely mattered for the flies but didn't matter at all for the fish. It was a many day, I caught some fish for the Challenge and got to fish with some new rods. Can't beat that.
It's a tough job but somebody has to do it.