It’s another gloomy afternoon in light rain, and it’s a little cold and theres a breeze, but I have no complaints because fish don’t seem to care, and I have the afternoon to fish, and the water to myself, and it’s all about perspective.
I have been finding both bass and pickerel in deep water on the local grounds; pickerel in greater numbers, as they don’t mind the cooled water temperatures as much as the finicky bass. While I’ve caught several of both on a small collection of streamers this fall, the go-to fly has been the Woolly Bugger, and by significant margin. I’ve found a preference in these tan and olive colored ones; heavy from lead wiring around the hook shank and it’s bead head, and with an abundance of underwater animation provided by the light, stone-colored hackle. From the banks, I cast these into area I know to be deeper water, and let them sink before beginning a retrieve that is varied in depth and speed until I determine what the fish are looking for a on a chosen day. I don’t believe there really is a wrong way to fish a woolly, but finding the right way in a given situation is usually rewarded with plenty of strikes, even in the dwindling months of the year. Deeper water has been the preference of late, to the point that I’m allowing the woolly to sink to the lake bed before starting my retrieve.
Bass and pickerel tend to go after the same style and types of flies, but the bass are gentle on the fly, and the pickerel, with it’s rows of sharp teeth, is quite the opposite. There are more durable choices of fly when it comes to pickerel, but all the best ones: Woollies, Mickey Finns, muddlers and Spey types, can all be completely mangled in the capable jaws of a pickerel, as demonstrated in the picture above and the one below; a ‘before-and-after’ view of pickerel fishing with a woolly bugger.
I caught the fish, and he was a fine pickerel, full of fight and about fifteen inches long, and I can re-tie the fly. It’s all about perspective…..