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updated: 6/20/2012 11:39 AM

There's a good fishing hole at the end of Memory Lane

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  • This angler spent an afternoon fly fishing for bluegills and bass at Allegheny County's North Park in Allison Park, Pa. Mike Jackson says it's not as difficult as you might think.

    This angler spent an afternoon fly fishing for bluegills and bass at Allegheny County's North Park in Allison Park, Pa. Mike Jackson says it's not as difficult as you might think.
    Associated Press/2011 file

  • Video: Fly fishing for bluegills


I'm glad I did it, and I am fairly certain there are others who have been down the same road I have traveled.

There's no need to snicker, nor any cause to judge me unfairly. And with that said, I openly admit I am an addict.

Father's Day morning was my time to feed my addiction at an area pond. It was time to stand there, alone, on a grassy shoreline and watch bluegills and largemouth bass swim close by.

I took to the pond with my first fly rod, an old Montague bamboo 8-footer, and a brand new Orvis reel.

Years ago I asked Jim Grandt (Grandt Custom Rods) to refinish the gift from my late father, and check for any hairline fractures. The rod came back looking new, but with a warning that I should only use it for panfish and bass.

Father's Day was expected to be a scorcher, but when I got to the pond the temperature was a mere 75 degrees.

I ran the line through the rod's guides and tied on a fairly short leader. Instead of a surface popper or deer-hair bug, I went to one of my favorites that had tempted everything from back-country snook and baby tarpon to jumbo bluegills and both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Even though I have close to a thousand flies, I seem to always pick a No. 8 black, bead-head mohair creature for local fishing.

There is another beautiful pond I discovered in Roselle while driving and exploring the streets. I pulled over and watched a young fly caster perform his due diligence with a panfish rig.

I was far enough away to avoid distracting him. After his third cast, the water literally exploded and he then labored to convince the fish he was the man in charge. It was a bass, about a pound or so, but it fought like a refugee from a south Florida lake.

After releasing it, he began another series of casts. This time the fly landed near some cattails, and once again the water erupted.

I finally walked over just as the angler used a small tape measure to record the bluegill's length.

"It's a good 9 inches," he declared. I nodded approval.

Because these ponds are prime spots for fly anglers, I carry a No. 4 weight Grandt rod in my truck.

But on this Father's Day, I wanted the memory of Irv (my dad) to linger a bit longer than a wisp of nostalgia.

The bluegills were spawning. Rather than create havoc on the beds, I made longer casts to deeper water. Fortunately, it didn't matter because the fish were in a voracious mood. Every third or fourth cast produced a strike.

I suspect there are lots of readers who pretend to know or suspect that fly fishing is far too difficult for them. I harbored that illusion decades ago until an old salt showed me the ropes and how easy it was to come in to the fold.

When I got home, I carefully cleaned the old Montague and placed it in a special rod tube. It was nice to turn back the family clock a bunch of years with a couple gentle strokes of the 8-foot bamboo stick for some Father's Day fun.

Oh yes, once again, please don't ask me where these ponds are located. I invest an inordinate amount of time cruising the suburbs, looking for ponds devoid of the "No Trespassing" signs.

If you put in the time to locate your own honey holes, it will surely pay off.

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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