15 May, 2011

The fairest of them all...

Lepomis auritus--the black-sheep of the Lepomis lineage, shunning still-waters and preferring the rough and tumble expanses of rivers and streams. They are the 2.0 version of "bluegill" standing toe-to-toe with Micropterus dolmieu in pocket water and along riffle edges.

Many (if not all) Lepomis are are endowed with striking regalia--especially during the romantic seasons--but L. auritus might just be the fairest of them all. A mixture of iridescent indigo-blue and flame-red highlights reminds one of an evening sunset.  

The first "bluegill" species that I remember catching and the species that taught me the finer points of upstream drag-free drift presentations. I search for them wherever warm waters flow and always spend a little too much time admiring their beauty. 

This is a photo-tribute to L. auritus, Enjoy! 

Eye of the tiger.

A color palette on steroids

From the Amazon? No, right in your own back yard!

A stretch of the Rockaway River along I-287; typical L. auritus habitat

Time on the water, recently.

Holly and I have been out a few times in the last few weeks perfecting our new fly fishing/baby sitting method. To start, we upgraded from the BABYBJÖRN Comfort Carrier to a Kelty TC 2.0. The Kelty is much more comfortable and allows me more movement; I can now stoop over and pick pick up fish if needed. Casting is improved too, Holly is now behind me so her hands and feet no longer get "tangled" in the fly line. Overall, we are becoming quite the team and she routinely offers up an over-the-shoulder-high-five during our fishing sessions.

Kind of like Yoda on Luke's back?

We have spent most of our time chasing Micropterus and Lepomis on the local reservation pond (Breakheart Reservation). The banks are heavily wooded and I will admit that my roll-casts have gotten so much better. In addition to all of the centrarchids that we have managed to fool, I have seen two decent sized pickerel. I personally have never caught a pickerel by conventional means, this is definitely a species that I want to add my fly fishing list.

Pre-spawn Micropterus salmoides

Last week the Micropterus began spawning and the bite slowed considerably, however the larger Lepomis macrochirus invaded the shallows. We have had a blast with these pre-spawn Lepomis and have brought many to hand using flip-flop foam poppers and Jitterbees.

This nice male Lepomis machrochirus fell for a popper

Another male Lepomis machrochirus taken with a Jitterbee

Finally, Holly and I took the show on the road and did a little recon. The Ipswich River flows fairly close to home and it is stocked with trout in the spring and has a reputation for providing decent trout fishing through the summer. We found a park in North Reading, using Google Earth, that looked like it provided decent bank side fishing.

Micropterus dolomieu from the Ipswisch River
We didn't catch any trout but we did find a few small M. dolomieu and L. macrochirus willing to eat a small woolly bugger. These fish were found in a small backwater off the main channel along with a few Erimyzon and Notemigonus crysoleucas. 

Can't beat fishing (and catching) while also spending some quality time with my daughter. I am a lucky man!