Most of you reading this probably got your start fishing like I did. A youngster, with a can of worms, and a small fishing rod with a bobber. Destined for their first fish under the watchful eye of someone you or your parents trusted. If I were a betting man, I would put money on your first fish being a bluegill or some other type panfish. This first fish might as well have been a flint and steel to start the ember on a lifelong quest to catch bigger fish and more of them. Since that first fish I have been fortunate in my life. Being able to explore beyond the banks of small streams and ponds and chase much larger gamefish well outside the sight of land is always an adventure. But whenever I am given the chance, I always like to return to my roots.
Fishing a farm pond by yourself represents something pure in the sport. There is zero stress: no money on the line like a tournament or paying customers looking at you, wondering when the next fish will bite. I can be alone with my thoughts, with the exception of mosquitoes and pesky gnats sounding like the whir of a dentist’s tool occasionally in my ear. It is always a time of reflection on the adventures I have had with many of the friends I have met. The worries of work, a relationship, and small matters of life can melt away in just a few short casts. My chosen method to tame these 8-10” flat sided leviathans is with a 3-4 weight fly rod and small box of flies that fits into the front pocket of my shirt.
My preferred fly fishing gear might be called a bit of an oddity. I favor $30 yellow fiberglass rods, $10 antique reels off eBay, and some sort of cheap line that comes by mail in a package that looks as if it has hieroglyphics on it. This is giving a nod to the adage of “It isn’t the arrow, it is the Indian”. The whole outfit typically costs less than most folk’s fly line, and I will stand on my soap box and be proud of that fact. The tippet material is made from whatever I have on hand that will be enough to turn over a small popper -- nothing more nothing less. Should I ever meet a youngster that posses the curiosity I had a kid, this outfit is certainly easy to leave behind in their trusting hands.
With the morning sun starting to come through the trees and a light wind, it was just the type of morning I enjoyed for this type of fishing. El-cheapo outfit in hand, strolling along the banks of a little pond, it doesn’t take long to strip some line out and make halfway decent casts to likely holding areas. With short strips, and long pauses the inevitable spurt or slurp of the small fly being plucked from the surface of the water will make a man smile. The split second the fish breaks the surface and the line comes tight the smile gets bigger and represents all the memories from time spent on the water. After a few bream and a bass or two, previously disconnected equilibrium has been restored, and for the time being, and all is right in the world, for the time being.
One small secret about fishing a farm pond is there is always a life lesson to be learned, or relearned if you are willing to keep your eyes open. I pray there will forever be something about a farm pond or small stream that takes me back to the days I was a kid fishing with my father. It is fishing in its simplest form, and it can replenish the soul. Those days laid the ground work for my fishing career, and those roots will be memories I will cherish forever. The next time a sunny Saturday morning rolls around when you have a couple hours to kill, I suggest taking a trip down memory lane and soak it all in.
Until next time.
Capt. Paul Pancake