Why bluegills? Recently I have been asked this question on numerous occasions. Most people that know me well know I am an avid cold water fly fisherman. Meaning I am passionate about fishing for trout and salmon. What they may not know that I am equally excited, maybe more so, about warm water fly fishing, particularly for panfish. In the past, I have been a fairly prolific writer on the subject of fly fishing and fly tying for trout. There was always a sprinkling of warm water fishing/tying sprinkled in, but the focus was on trout.
Why bluegills? I fly fished just as often for bluegills back then as I do now I just did not write about it. These fish have always had a special place in my heart. The bluegill was the first fish I ever landed on a rod and reel, and it will likely be my last. Don’t get me wrong I still love the hours and days I spend on a trout stream. Trout and salmon live in some of the most beautiful places on earth. Fishing for them present unique challenges, and it’s these challenges that keep bringing me back to the moving waters where they live. My local farm ponds, though part of the natural world, cannot compare with the beauty of a tumbling stream flowing through a forested glen. That is not to say they don't have a beauty all their own; it is just different.
Why bluegills? They are my neighbors. They live close by, real close. I can be shaking hands with them within 5 minutes of walking out my front door. Spending time with a trout is an all day affair. For me, it is over an hour drive to my nearest trout stream. That means that time on a trout stream has to be planned; time has to be dedicated, schedules cleared. Bluegills are spontaneous, always close at hand and ready to play at a moment’s notice. A little spare time between the day’s commitments can be spent on a local pond. There is always water nearby, and the bluegill is always present and willing. I like to fish. I like to fish a lot; bluegills can make that happen.
Why bluegills? Many will argue that trout are some of the most beautiful freshwater fish that swims. Though I cannot dispute the fact that trout are a beautiful fish, I can make the argument that they are not alone. A bluegill dressed in its spring time attire is a kaleidoscope of colors. At first glance, there may not appear to be much there but take a closer look.
Why bluegills? They are probably the most plentiful, widely distributed fish that readily takes a fly. They provide great sport on the appropriately matched tackle. If you don't believe me, then you have never tussled with a pound and a half bluegill on a two weight. If these fish grew larger than five pounds, nobody would fish for anything else! There is a reason the bluegill is the first fish for most anglers. In addition to their availability, they can be very easy to catch at times. Let us be honest with one another. Fishing is fun, but it is more fun when there is catching involved!
Why bluegills? What is better than a fish that is easy to catch on a fly. A fish that tastes good and can be readily taken on a fly! In my opinion, the lowly bluegill is probably the tastiest fish swimming in fresh water. As an avid conservationist, I can enjoy them with a clear conscious. They are incredibly prolific in most of their range and if properly managed can withstand controlled harvest with no ill effect on their numbers. Even though I enjoy eating them, I can’t remember the last time I took a trout for the table. I can’t say the same for bluegill. I can enjoy several meals a season, with no guilt. Limit your kill opposed to killing your limit, and you can eat these tasty little fish to your heart's content. They will always be there for us if we manage things properly.
Why bluegills? They are great teachers. Are you new to fly fishing? Nothing will speed up the learning curve quicker than time spent chasing bluegills with a fly. Your confidence with a fly rod will skyrocket because you will start catching fish from the get go. Your casts good or bad will produce results. Practice makes perfect, and in a short time, you will see results. Do you have someone you would like to introduce to fly fishing or fishing in general for that matter? The bluegill is there to help. Introduce that young one, your significant other or your nonfishing friend to fly fishing for bluegills and they will be hooked for life.
Why bluegills? Why not? They are there for the taking; they provide great sport and a great meal. They can be found everywhere and can be caught by everyone. For those that feel the same way I do I know, I am preaching to the choir. For those who have yet to experience these feisty fish on the end of a two weight fly rod, go out and do it. You will not be disappointed!