July 20, 2009:
I've been fly fishing most of my life. Being from central Ohio, most of that was on farm ponds. Farm ponds are just a great fishing resource when your time is limited. Several of my local neighbors have nice ponds. The best part is; they are nice enough to let me fish them when I can.
Kevin and I were working our way back to the southeast corner of the pond, just shy of some cattails. I told Kevin I thought this would be a nice place to draw some gills out of the cattails. He was having a ball helping me take those bluegill off the popper and releasing them back to the pond. I immediately caught a couple of nice bluegill along the edge of the cattails.
The sun was starting to set and I told Kevin I would make a few more casts and then head home. He seemed disappointed. On the next cast, I placed the little white popper about 3-4 feet out in front of those cattails and began working him towards the tails. On the next pop, it appeared as though a toilet flushed under my fly and the little bug disappeared with the splash of a rather large tail. BZZZZZZZZZZZZ. The drag was screaming and I knew I had hooked into something nice.
I make a point of fishing with barbless hooks when I fish at other people's ponds. It's just a gesture of respect, so as not to harm their fish. I feared that was going to work against me in this situation. I started to reel a little to work that big boy over my way. Of course he indicated his displeasure with the situation by jumping straight out of the water and shaking his head. His huge head, I might add. I knew I had a decent fish, but I did not realize he was this good.
I tried to let him run a little more while keeping pressure on him. I would gently reel and coerce him to come my direction occasionally, but he returned the favor with wild jumps every time. All I could imagine was that barbless hook zinging back at me during one of those jumps. After a few minutes he began getting tired. The warm summertime water takes the fight out of them pretty quickly. I was finally able to land my prize.
Kevin was frantic. This was the largest fish he had ever seen. He says, "Brian was right, you are a professional fisherman." Brian and Kevin's dad both saw the fish from their bikes and came over to inspect the old boy. He was 21" long and about 5 1/4lbs.
Kevin was nice enough to snap a picture with the camera on my cell phone. Thanks Kevin! You can be the 1st mate on any of my fishing trips if we keep getting results like that.
I now had my 2nd species of Fish Ohio sized fish for the season. This set the stage for my quest for the remainder of the year. Ohio grants fisherman with a Master Fisherman's Award if they catch 4 species of fish that qualify for the Fish Ohio Award in 1 year. 2 down and 2 to go. I figured my best bets were pursue bluegill, catfish, rock bass, and smallies to complete the quest. Let the fun begin!