Florida summers are hot. There’s no escaping it. It’s hot in the morning, hot in the evening, blazing hot in the afternoon, and slightly less hot in the middle of the night. The weather warms in April and doesn’t let up until October or November. So despite loving the fishing down here, there are times, in the midst of this endless summer, when I find myself yearning to be up high up some cold mountain trickle dapping for colorful little wild brookies.
It would be a long drive up to North Carolina to get anything like that, so I turn to the next best thing: bluegill. While we have no mountains and the temperature can’t be helped, at least I can fish for colorful little freshwater fish with my 4-weight and flies that look like bugs.
This morning I had that freshwater feeling, so I dug out some hoppers and nymphs from my last trout fishing excursion a couple years ago, knocked the rust off the 4-weight, and headed out. I probably drove past a hundred retention ponds full of bluegill to get somewhere a little more natural -- a slow-moving blackwater creek flowing through a nearby park. It’s not exactly wild, but it’s a pretty close approximation for its location in the middle of a metropolitan area, and Fish and Wildlife did recently pull a wayward 11-foot, 700-pound crocodile out of the lake that feeds the creek. They released it 300 miles away, where it was born, near Key Largo, I guess so it wouldn’t have a bad influence on our local alligators.
I strung up my rod, tied on one of the hoppers, and on my third cast, a bluegill slurped it down with a smacking kiss. I brought it in and let it go, thinking that I would have a couple hours of fun with the little fish on surface flies. I was mistaken. I had not another bite the entire morning. I switched flies. I tried fishing on the surface, under the surface, tight to the bank, in deeper water, in the sun, in the shade, and couldn’t buy another look. So after an hour or so, when I snapped off a fly on a DO NOT FEED OR MOLEST the alligators sign, I reeled it in and drove home. But I guess I got what I was looking for after all -- the bluegill doing their best trout imitation by turning selective and tough to catch.