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July 21, 2011 / flogginwater

Panfish Fun at the Lake

Yesterday’s weekly trip (I’m trying to get out at least once a week…) was to good ol’ Hagg Lake again – back for more of it’s warm water fishing. I took Tyler, and met up with my sisters out there. They had expressed some interest in fishing from the canoe.

Ty and I hit the lake at 10:00 – the others were a bit later getting there, so Ty and I dumped the boat in and began fishing the little covelette immediately south of the boat launch, where Ty had caught fish from the bank before. Turned out to be deeper in most of it’s area than we’d expected, and the water was nice and clear – maybe too clear. The fish were spooky – not your typical suicidally exuberant pannies. It took probably fifteen minutes or so to even get the first hookup. The entire school of pannies would follow a fly for twenty or thirty feet without actually grabbing the fly, or those that DID grab the fly were non commital and would just nip at it, not actually inhaling the fly. One would think that it was a problem of fly-size, but the fly I was fishing was a #16 soft hackle wet – more than small enough to fit in any of those fish’s mouths. This would be an omen.

We did catch fish, and eventually made our way back over to the boat launch and picked up one of my sisters and headed off for the cove north of the boat launch. There were more fish here – and they were acting just like their cousins to the south – they would follow and half-heartedly grab at a fly, not grabbing it with the jubilant ferocity I’d come to expect from these fish this year. I switched from a single wet fly to a dry & dropper rig – they wouldn’t even attack the dry fly, just coming up and sucking it down a bit, or bumping it with their noses, without trying to *eat* the fly. I switched up to my spin rod for a bit, tossing a bunny streamer tied jig, and landed a small bass on it.

We worked further into the cove, found some more aggressive fish, and had a ball. At some point, Tyler caught my sister in the ear with a fly. At least it didn’t go all the way through the ear.

We had to head back to the put in to drop my sister off, as she had some medication to take and forgot to bring it in the canoe. On the trip back, we noticed gravelly bottom with pannies on their spawning beds – and made a mental note of this.

After a quick snack and downing some water, Ty and I were back at it, by ourselves in the canoe and headed back for the beds. These fish were aggressive – and Ty was really slaying them (unfortuantely, it was my day to tangle my leader, destroy some flies accidentally, and in general spend more time dicking around with my gear than fishing – at least it seemed that way.) Ty was getting a fish on almost every cast – using a #16 Pheasant Tail nymph with a kyrstal flash back on the wing case.

When the fishing slowed on the beds, we headed to the far shore across the cove, found a few more fish, including a school of yellow perch, before making our way back toward the boat dock at about 6PM, we hit the little cove we started out in, Tyler got a single fish, and that was that. We left the lake a bit after 7:30.

I can’t even begin to count how many bluegill we caught (didn’t get many pumpkinseed, which I thought odd) – it was a ball of a day.

One more note – I mentioned in my last post – the review of the Cortland Fairplay line, that I’d prefer to fish the Scientific Angler’s Air Cel over the Fairplay – and that’s what I did. I swung by the store on my way home on Tuesday and picked up one of their short #5 floating weight forward lines – 57 feet long – and stripped the Fairplay line off my reel.

The new Air Cel had very little line memory right out of the box, was notably more supple than the Fairplay, and cast well at short and long distances. I couldn’t find the last of my Cortland braided leader connections, so I just used the good ol’ Castwell Knot to tie my leader to the fly line this time – going with a 2′ section of furled leader butt connected to short knotless tapered leader. I wound up with total leader about 10′ long, including tippet. I was casting dry flies, weighted wet flies, poppers and deer hair divers with this rod all day without a hitch. I didn’t get to really try pushing the envelope of casting the entire line this time – my back wasn’t doing so hot yesterday, and between fighting the rocking of the boat (and trying NOT to rock the boat) with 3 people in it, my game wasn’t 100% casting wise – but I did manage to eek out about 35-40 feet of line for the longer casts – but most of our fishing was done within 20′ of the boat yesterday.

We’ll see how the #5 Air Cel performs next week or so. Ty & I are scheming on a trip westward to do some fishing for sea-run cutthroat trout. I think I’m going to leave the spinning rod at home for that trip and make it a fly-only trip.

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