Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jiggin' for Panfish

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Greetings from Kandahar!

I was sitting in the command tent, battle rattle on, M4 balanced on my lap, enjoying the 102-degree-in-the-shade-breeze, sucking up the fine Kandaharian dust, all the while thinking about the thousands of things that I would rather be doing than what I was actually doing. Which pretty much amounted to much of nothing. How I wish I was posting something new, I thought to myself, rather than recycling old posts.

As the late-morning heat induced stupor finally took hold of my fevered mind, I somehow got to thinking about fishing, and jigging for bluegills specifically. I think it might have had something to do with the spool of twine, multifiliment, MIL T713E, I was holding in my hand... There you go! I thought, something to write about!

If you stop and think about it, almost everyone got their start fishing for bluegills in some pond, impoundment, or county park lake. I know I spent many an afternoon trying to catch the local sunfish in the lake in Hudson County park.

I especially remember my first trip to Florida as a youngster. My dad bought me a crooked calcutta cane pole, a spool of budget brand monofiliment line (No tournament grade, IFGA sanctioned 10 lb test for Albert!), and some cheap #10 hooks. After rigging the cane pole, I purloined a half loaf of bread, and went to the closest drainage canal. There I proceeded to catch dozens and dozens of bluegill, shellcrackers and pumpkinseeds. I spent four glorious days just catching and releasing bream of all different shapes, colors and sizes. To this day, and it has been at least 35 years, I remember that week as my fishing fantasy come true!

Bread and all sorts of insects like mealworms, beetles, and crickets will just about always catch panfish, but small lures and jigs will also do a heck of a job on them. Any small jigs that imitates insects are a great choice when targeting sunnies; and the smaller the jig is, the better.

Little bitty jigs can be carefully fished at incredibly slow retrieves, retrieves that are not possible with anything larger. You will be using very light lines, so water resistance will be negligible. Not only that, but a tiny jig can get some of those big bream to bite, while the larger offerings are ignored.

Depending on the weight, you can almost make a jig dance in place, or retrieve it in short erratic pulses that will trigger a bite from a hungry sunfish. Jigs tied with maribou seem to breath with the slightest movement of the water; that alone will frequently entice a strike from a bluegill. On those days when they seem extra picky, you may have to add a small piece of worm or grub to the hook. If they're smelling/tasting on the approach to the jig, that will help get you a bite.

(Quick aside: You can buy a container of mealworms, dump them in a large tupperware with some bran cereal, and keep them alive for a long time. They will ultimately pupate, turn into beetles, and breed more mealworms. I ought to write a post on that...)

If you can identify the local bug pickings, try to match the hatch, as they say in the flyfishing circle. Kick a couple of rotten logs over, or scape back a pile of leaves and see whats on the menu. Then pick your jig to match. Then again, if you don't know and can't find out, start with the lightest colors you have, and work your way to the darker spectrum.

Bream sure do like to munch on bugs, and using jigs to coax them to strike is another way to fill a creel, start a child fishing, or just while away a pleasant afternoon by a favorite pond or lake. All you need is some light line, a canepole, and a few small jigs.

(Again, I want to apologise for the dearth of pictures. I have no way to down load them at this time, and flying to Kuwait in order to do it, is out of the question! Thanks!)

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biologist. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com

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