Monday, June 29, 2020

Summer Bulls

Summer Bulls

We all come to a point throughout our piscatorial pursuits where we begin to define favorites.  Be it, favorite waters or fly rods, the list can become large.  That being said, I have become drawn to 2 specific fish. Both are from different ends of the fly fishing spectrum, but are equals in my book.  The first is a "buttered-up" brown trout.  Any size will do.  The 2nd is a spawning mature male bluegill. The latter of which are fascinating to me.  

Found in quiet places like the one pictured above, you will often visit them and never even see but a few fly fishermen sharing the water.  Likewise, you will seldom see them caught by anybody but fly fishermen.

There are few fish that attain the coloring of a male bluegill in spawning attire.  From bright blue to teal, bright reds and purples and endless variations of copper and olives.  They are individual pieces of art.

Once they reach an inch across the shoulders and near 10" in length, they become a different fish. 

Even the way they rise to a fly is individual in nature.  Some will rise with the tell-tale panfish "Glick", which leaves nothing but a small bubble on the surface of the water. 

Others will roll on your fly resembling a 3lb largemouth bass, while some will slam your fly like a 15lb bluefish hitting a surface popper in the surf.  

All however,  have one thing in common.....once you lift your rod, they all fight like they are 2 pounds heavier, leaving you to second-guess what is on the end of your line until they begin their tell-tale 90 degree arching runs. 

Each season I marvel at them.  Each season I can't wait for the 3 week period to arrive.  The big bulls are not always easy to locate even during the spawn, and even harder to find after. They are to me, one of the prettiest fish found anywhere and fight beyond their size.  I am often left wondering why they are practically shunned by fly fishermen. Sadly associated with the edge dwelling dinks which are the target of beginning fishermen.  Many fly fishermen dismiss them and never even see what a mature bluegill looks like when brought to hand.

Give it a try....but be carefull.  

When a Summer Bull like this completely engulfs a #2 Gurgling Wog?  You may find yourself eyeing up those hazy, humid summer evenings a tad bit differently in the future.  

Your grass may never get cut.  


  1. Ralph
    You know I'm a bluegill lover and you are point on about everything you just said about this prolific fish. Those are awesome bull gills you landed and their colors are outstanding. The next spawn should occur a little after July 5th. which is our next full moon. It depends on where you are, so keep checking all those likely places where you are fishing because they will be spawning again. Outstanding post and thanks for sharing---P.S. My second favorite fish on the fly rod, after the trout of course.

  2. Ralph
    You and I are the only ones who post anything about this fish, a-shame we don't live closer!!

  3. Ralph,Bill- there are those of us (granted a small community) that love bluegills and the warm water fish. I have a soft spot for crappie as well. Nearly all my angling friends shake their heads when I speak of deliberately going for Gills and Bass. As a result. most times,I have the gills and bass to myself :). Ralph, your pics are terrific. I always tell my wife, Give me a soft morning or evening, a farm pond filled with bluegills and bass,a flyrod or two graced with a bug(Wog) of some sort and I am a happy man. Bill Tapply Jr. once called the bluegill the perfect fish. It is hard not to agree. Thanks for terrific post.

  4. Gents, it would be an enjoyable trip to share some water in the future.

  5. Butt Wog Caddis report-
    This bug created by Ralph sat in my box begging for a morning use. I DID fish it briefly last season but I had a sense that it would be the ticket this morning and really wanted to see how it works. The BWC is one heck of a bug. The Gills destroyed it, the bass showed much love and when the deer hair was just about gone, I fished it like a floating nymph and it worked just as well.
    Thanks Ralph.

  6. John, Thanks for the report! What began as a cricket pattern for trout has become one of the most effective warmwater patterns I've tied over the years. Good to hear it did well for you!