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updated: 3/13/2013 2:22 PM

Nothing like bluegills on the fly for a spring jolt

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  • Comstock photosWith spring approaching, it's time for anglers to starting preparing for some fly fishing.

    Comstock photosWith spring approaching, it's time for anglers to starting preparing for some fly fishing.


My cell phone rang as I pulled up to a local office supply store. I was eager to get inside because the engine was off and it was getting cold.

It was Bob Maciulis, publisher of the Lemont-based Outdoor Notebook.

"I'm in your neighborhood," he reported. "Let's have a cup of coffee."

So I took care of business and drove a short distance to meet him for a slight respite.

"I hadn't seen or talked with you for several weeks," he noted, as he noshed on some pastry.

The conversation continued and covered several topics. He wanted to know if I had any fly fishing excursions planned.

Just local stuff, and one western trout adventure, I replied.

He suggested we fish together this spring. I wanted to hit Braidwood Lake, where the ice is not a factor. He wanted to take the fly rod and go for bluegills on Bangs Lake in Wauconda.

I have a considerable number of baitcasting rods, lots of spinning rods, a few trolling setups and half-dozen magic fly rods. I have assigned the word "magic" to my fly rods and reels, as well as the various accoutrements that support my efforts.

It's also magic during early-morning periods and the couple hours before the sun sets and the bugs appear on the surface of a lake or pond.

There's one pond in particular, near Hoffman Estates, that offers some magical moments with bluegills.

I have resurrected a limber 9-foot fiberglass fly rod that was designed for bass fishing. I found an old fly reel with an ancient fly line wound on it. I removed the line and cleaned it while applying a commercial fly fishing paste-like substance. It removed the dirt and grime and gave the old line some added floatation when laid out on the surface.

I use Grandt fly rods now because they cast well for me. (Full disclosure, the company also is one of my sponsors at That doesn't mean, however, a new flyfisher needs one of these tools to learn the basics and start catching fish.

Anyway, Maciulis wants to go "bluegilling" on Bangs, and I'm ready.

In fact, I have been working at my fly desk creating some new sinking nymphs. I plan to use tiny poppers to coax hungry bluegills and sunfish out from their shallow cover

My rod of choice for this first outing is a 4-weight. That designation simply means it is a lightweight, 8-foot rod that can handle panfish and, if need be, bass.

In the past, I've ofte suggested that newcomers to fly fishing take some instruction. Paul Melchior (847 -272-3195) at Trout and Grouse in Northbrook is an excellent coach, and works with many beginners who have been bitten by the "fly bug."

Maciulis is like me in that he'll often choose flyfishing over the use of "hardware" such as spinners and jigs.

After refilling his coffee cup, he told me that flyrodding for 'gills is a great passion for him, especially when they are eager to take a surface popper.

I agreed, and told him about a two-hour session on another forest preserve pond that was incredible.

There happened to be a Mayfly hatch going on when I arrived. I tied a big fly on to the leader, only this one had more of a darkish tinge to it instead of the usual brown coloration. The bass and bluegills were feasting on surface action with Mayflies covering the water like a blanket.

The fish never stopped inhaling my offering.

That little piece of information was enough to make Bob start to smile. I could also see the twinkle in his eyes.

I won't reveal whether or not he was salivating.

•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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