Bluegill and Spongebob

     A few weeks ago it was decided that we needed to do at least one more fishing outing before summer came to an end. Ella had only been once before, back in the spring on a cold, windy day. There was enough chop on the water to demand constant recasting, and the unrelenting wind was enough to leave fingers numb and cheeks red. Ella didn’t last long.
     She was interested in trying it again, but not as enthusiastic as I thought she’d be. Just the same, Ella, Meg and I struck out for Bullhead Pond Wildlife Management Area with rods, a dozen night crawlers, appropriate snacks (for Ella and Meg) and a book (for Meg). I had never been to Bullhead Pond so a brief reconnoitering was in order. As it turns out there isn’t a whole lot of shore access, so this didn’t take long. We found a break in the shoreline brush that faced an open section of water that looked promising.
     I had learned some lessons about children’s fishing rigs, in this case a Spongebob Squarepants outfit with the closed-face spinning reel common on children’s rods. It seems most of these rods come  with line heavy enough to catch trophy pike, which is a bit much for bluegill and can even put them off. The other big problem is rod length. Two feet of rod necessitates very short distances between hook, split shot and bobber, making it awfully tough to fish very deep. I remedied these problems by adding about 30″ of six pound leader and a slip bobber. This made for much easier casting and allowed the bait to reach depth.
     In spite of the aforementioned modifications to Ella’s fishing rod there was still a learning curve to overcome. It took several minutes of casting and adjusting the amount of split shot to reach depth, and the fish needed about ten minutes to get comfortable approaching our worms. As it turns out, ten minutes was more than Ella’s attention span was going to endure, so I ended up catching the first fish at her insistence, with her rod. With such a short rod there really isn’t much allowance for setting a hook, so I really had to make sure the fish had gotten a good mouthful, then make the hookset and reel in at the same time. But it worked and Ella’s interest was rekindled after seeing a fish get landed. Once the worm on Ella’s rod had been used up I switched to a more familiar 6’6″ medium-action spinning rod. After landing several more bluegill Ella decided she was ready for a second go at it.

It had been a long time since I dunked a worm for bluegill. I had almost forgotten how much fun it was
Ella’s first fish, and a fun outing.   

     By this time I had things pretty well figured out and had determined two spots that almost always yielded instant action. Ella wasn’t quite comfortable with casting on her own so I took care of that part for her. After several missed strikes she remained optimistic and we finally got her her first fish. She was very pleased with herself and gladly submitted to Meg’s request for a photograph.
     We took a modest number of bluegill home so Ella could have the full experience of catching her dinner. I filleted them out and gave them a dip in an egg/milk batter, then gave them a good coat of seasoned flour. They fried up a golden brown that looked as good as I remembered, and the taste was also equal to my recollection. I think there will be many more fishing trips in our future.

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