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updated: 7/31/2014 12:26 PM

Industrious anglers will find fly rod rewards

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  • Mike Jackson displays the kind of bluegill frequently available in suburban retention ponds.

    Mike Jackson displays the kind of bluegill frequently available in suburban retention ponds.
    Photo courtesy of Mike Jackson


My eyes almost fell out of my head when I saw the water explode in front of me. I had flipped a small surface popper on the end of a fly line. It wasn't more than three seconds before a fish came up and smacked it.

As soon as I saw the bright, red belly I suspected, I was quick into a school of spawning bluegills.

Even though I proudly admit to be one of those rare fly-rodders who call themselves trout bums, I will take a school of aggressive bluegills any time of the day or dusk.

But because I am not always traveling to central or southwest Wisconsin or any of the other Midwest trout hotspots, I have to make do with what's available. And there are always bluegills around our area to be had. During my metro pond-hopping, I often locate some real line-busters as I cruise the industrial parks.

In previous columns I shared with you that I am addicted to fly fishing, but never have I forsaken spinning and baitcasting.

"So what's the big deal about you and fly fishing?" asked Fred K. from Arlington Heights.

Well, Fred, I was turned on to fly fishing through my late father's efforts on the Fox Chain in the 1950s. I truly embraced this aspect of the sport in 1964. And since then it's been a "love affair" that continues to grow.

So when I discover a pond loaded with big bluegills feasting on insects and tiny minnows, I plan an ultra-light fly rod strategy that always gives me great angling. That simply means I pack a No. 3 or 4 weight fly rod, along with an ultralight spinning rod.

During my marathon fly-creating months last winter, I loaded one particular fly box with tiny flies that I deemed adequate enough to use for both trout and bluegill. Of course, one of my purist associates turned his nose up when he took a cursory look at the stuff in my box.

"They may work for bluegills, but certainly not for any trout," he declared.

He was wrong.

The story this week, however, is about the jumbo bluegills I found in a DuPage County industrial park pond. These little hot spots have offered me and a friend some instant relaxation.

And as I have noted many times in the past, all you have to do to find your own "sweet spot" is to drive through the industrial areas and look for the larger ponds that are devoid of the usual "no fishing" signs. My experience has led me to the larger ponds that generally grow bigger panfish and bass.

To maximize your excitement level, I suggest you take a fly casting lesson or two and use the fly rod to feel the jolt of "electricity" when a hungry fish wants what you have to offer.

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

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