See This, Do That: The Bluegill Under the Branch

Here's a fun little Friday challenge. Last summer, I was walking along a little pond in Vermont en route to a brook trout stream, and I chanced upon this panfish hanging out near the bank. Thing was, he was suspended under some deadfall (as bass and bluegills, etc. often do). Being the kind of guy who can't pass up a shot like this, I decided to do my best. So I snapped a quick photo with my iPhone (planning one day to do a "See This, Do That" post eventually), and made a plan.

What was the plan?

The water is as flat as a pane of glass. I know I will probably get just one shot. What's not in the picture is the wall of trees and bushes behind me, so I couldn't backcast.

Do I wait for the fish to move out from under the branch? What fly do I use? Where do I drop the fly? And how do I get it there?

Simple. First of all, I drop to my knees and keep a low profile. That fish isn't cruising around, he's staying put, so I don't wait. I pick out a #18 black beetle pattern. Holding the fly in one hand and flexing the rod (a Cabela's fiberglass 4-weight) with the other, I fire a "bow and arrow" cast, and drop the fly about one foot to the left of the point of that stick.

The fly line never got outside the tip of the rod. It took about two seconds for the fish to react and inhale that fly.

As it turned out, I never made it to the brookie stream. I was having too much fun walking up the bank and picking off bass and bluegills on dries. I think that's one of the most fun, yet under-appreciated types of fly fishing, especially when trick shots are required. Can't wait to do more!