Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

June 11, 2001

Panfish poppers on a fly rod

Fly fishing has kind of been the new outdoor fad sweeping the country.

People are going nuts with fly rods, casting lessons, flying tying classes, and all the garb and gear that go along with the sport. In Minnesota, including many anglers from our area, the sport has also taken off.

A few years ago, anglers in boats would kind of laugh at me as I tried to cast my fly to exactly the right spot in search of a big sunnie.

More often than not, I would be the only angler with fly rod in hand wading along the shoreline. Everybody else was in a boat fishing with standard spinning gear.

Last week on the north shore of a local lake, there was not a boat to be seen on the lake, but there were four other guys wading and fly fishing for panfish. I was the fifth, and the were biting.

Regarding fly fishing, I am by no means a skilled fly angler, and the art of casting a fly a decent distance, or to the exact location I want on anything but a perfectly calm day, is beyond my skill.

Even the slightest breeze throws me for a loop. Also, I couldn't tell you the exact weight and length of my rod, the weight of line I use, or the name of the flies I typically use.

I can tell you, my fly fishing success for panfish on our local lakes has been excellent, and the fly or bait of choice this season has been a yellow panfish popper, occasionally tipped with a small chunk of wax worm. The big male sunfish cruising the spawning beds and shallows just can't resist that little yellow popper.

The only thing difficult about it is keeping the popper off the water in an area you don't want it.

When that happens, the small sunnies nab it faster than a Roger Clemens fastball. It's difficult to catch a nice bunch of good sized panfish when you can't keep the little ones off the hook.

Aside from the small ones, fly fishing for panfish on our area lakes is a fun and growing sport.

The best way to get into the sport is to talk to a few anglers who do it, borrow some equipment, and give it a try.

In next week's column I'll get into a few more details on fly fishing for panfish.

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