A White Perch Frenzy
Any day out on the water fly-fishing is a good day. My guide was Jeff McEvoy from Weatherby’s in Grand Lake Stream, Maine. It was sunny and getting warmer. Time to put on my over my polarized glasses.
Getting to the fishing spot, Jeff’s Grand Lake Canoe gave time to kick back and ready my fly rod. I’m using a Douglas Sky Fly Rod 6 wt. 9 ft. with a crayfish fly at the end of a Rio 3X 9 ft. tapered leader. In short time, we arrived at the chosen spot and hit a school of white perch that would not stop biting. In less than 45 minutes, we hit the limit because the cooler would hold only 12 white perch. I looked forward to having Chef Dean cook some of them for dinner that evening. Jeff would overnight several ice-packed to his daughter in college.
Smallmouth Bass is a Jumper
After the white perch frenzy, there was little activity until we reached a large bend in the lake shoreline that created shallow waters and aquatic growth. I cast to the edge of the growth using one of my crayfish flies 4 to 5 feet from the shoreline. The big smallmouth bass that hit was a jumper and a fighter. Got him, 18 inches, what a nice smallie!
My First Pickerel of the Day
As the sun rose higher overhead, I applied more sunscreen. Later, I caught my first pickerel, snuggled into the aquatic growth – 17 inches. He got tangled in the growth but I was able to land him after working him through. Both were close to the shoreline, were aggressive and put up a fight.
While I was fly-fishing, Jeff was catching shiners for live bait. At the time I thought he was planning for another guided fly-fishing venture. Off to the backwaters of the Third Machias Lake, there is a 50 foot wide waterway. There are many rocks, some submerged, and lily pads with yellow flowers. Fishing the edges of the lily pads produced more smallmouth bass using a popper.
Going to the Dark Side – Convert Fly Rod to Bait Cast Rod
After no bites for a while, we then went over to the dark side. I converted my fly rod into a bait cast rod. First, using my nipper, I removed the fly and tied a fish hook on the end of the tapered leader and attached a line indicator (bobber) about 2 1/2 feet above the hook. That is it. For the bait, I attached a shiner that Jeff had caught earlier. His planning ahead is another reason why Jeff is considered the best guide in the Grand Lake Stream area.
The shiner is attached in a specific manner. Insert the hook through the lower lip and make it come out one of the air holes on the top of the head. this is very important because bass and pickerel will eat the head first of the shiner. Both are aggressive and are ambush fish and will strike out for their food.
Patience is Key in Fly-fishing Pickerel
I cast the shiner toward the edge of the lily pads and waited for the strike indicator to bob up & down. My first hit came and the striker went down. Immediately, I pulled up to hook the fish. He got away. I reeled in the line, checking that the shiner was still on the hook and recast to the edge of the lily pads. It was not too much longer before another hit. This time, I let the indicator stay down for at least 3 seconds and I pulled directly up. I hooked a 24 inch pickerel, a real fighter and a jumper.
Because of their sharp teeth, I used my needle nose pliers to remove the hook. I learned patience is needed to allow pickerel to eat the bait before trying to hook them. I caught a second 20″ pickerel, but a couple got away because they bit through the fishing line. The 24 inch nd the 20 inch pickerels earned me a spot on the 2018 20″ Club Hall of Fame at Weatherby’s.