Growing up in the country there was no shortage of farm ponds for me to explore. Countless hours spent combing over every acre of water within a reasonable commute via 10 speed. I had a perma-farmers tan and perpetual scrapes on my calves. Armed with a spinning rod and Flambeau tackle box, I was invincible. Any free time I had was spent on the endless pursuit of new water and new experiences.
Once I got a drivers license I abandoned my familiar haunts in the pursuit of all the things I had spent my childhood dreaming about. I was ready. I would return periodically to check in on my favorite places and my foot trails would be overgrown but they always fished just as well as I had remembered. Never about numbers or size, and always the best seat in the house for a sunset.
As my fly fishing obsession progressed I was put on to the blog The Fiberglass Manifesto and their #yearofthebluegill. Mind blown. Now, I am not a glass geek by any stretch of the word, there are guys in my town that take that title seriously, but I now have an affinity towards my TFO 4wt glass rod and a foam popper. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the fishing I do, all the places I travel to, but nothing eats a fly like a freshly motivated bluegill or largemouth.
It is on these ponds where my childhood friends and I hatched all our future “plans” of being professional fisherman. The days before Instgram and Facebook when the pro fisherman on tv were like Greek gods to us. Guys like Houston, Dahlberg, and Linder. The good ole days. Hours discussing where we would fish when we could drive or trading lures with one another and combing through the Cabelas catalog, memorizing it cover to cover. It is my paramount belief that no matter how successful anyone is, they are never better than where they came up from. I’ll never be better than the ten year old boy I was sitting on that dock, waiting for my bobber to drop. So when fellow anglers bust my balls when I turn down a invite to go dry fly fishing for trout to go bluegill or bass fishing in the summer I always hear ” hey Justin, don’t forget your roots.” I always respond with a smile and say “If you only knew”.
Few things on this earth excite me the same way popper fishing farm ponds does. There is never a bad outcome. The takes are explosive, the fish always fight hard, and you never know what you’re going to catch. The glass rod is the icing on the cake at this point. Go to your local fly shop grab a glass rod and some poppers and get out to a pond and get your soul right.