Do you love big bluegill?
After seeing Bruce and Teeg and Josh and others with all those big hybrid sunfish posted up I decided to check my local hybrid factory, a 2 acre pond about 25 miles south of me, to see if I could catch a few good ones. The pond owner said that they hadn't had much luck with them so far this spring, but I didn't let that bother me too much. Last October I had taken a GSF x BG here that measured 12 inches,,,the first 12 inch sunfish, of any kind, I had taken in my home, or local, waters. So I knew the potential for trophy fish was there. I had not caught a single fish for 30 minutes, so I moved to the shallow end of the pond where I had always seen beds, but they were always empty. On my first cast with the 1/32 oz Auto jig, tipped with a small piece of nightcrawler 30 inches below a bobber, I hooked the hybrid of a lifetime...
I knew immediately that this was indeed an exceptional fish. I believe it actually struck my small bobber, missed of course, then swung and grabbed the jig, scorching off on a long, line-peeling run on 4 pound test. I am glad I did not use the 2 pound line on this application...I think I would have been disappointed! Several long, powerful surging runs followed and I then saw the fish break the surface. It was then that I began those silent prayers we often do when things really matter! I could see the Olive/green auto jig at the top of it's mouth and was worried about the hookup. I finally worked the fish in and got my hand underneath the giant and just pitched him up on the steep bank behind me! Whew! I got 'em...I GOT 'EM!
Nervous, jittery and shaking like a leaf, I went running with the fish in hands back to a small shadded area where I had my camera set up on a tripod. With a quivering, fumble-fingered effort, I manged to set the timer and the auto exposure and took several pics of the fish as quickly as I could. My tape measure indicated 12 3/4 inches...a full 3/4 inch longer than my previous best hyb, also from this lake. I was stunned!
It was actually my first hybrid of the day and I could have easily gone home...delerious in joy...at that very moment! But, I decided to fish on, and why not? I scoped the shoreline in the upper end of the pond where shoreline access was tough due to multiflora bushes (ouch!), poison oak and assorted thistles. Bloodsucking deerflies were digging me as well, and I gave just about a pint. But in this messy jungle of collapsed shoreline and stickers was a group of about 15 spawning beds, and it looked like some hybrids were scurrying among them! This was the first time I had ever seen these fish actually bedding in this pond. I always saw beds, but they were always empty. My first cast from behind some willows was made to the deeper water beyond the beds. Here's the result...
Another line screamer...this one right at 11 inches. Wow, I'm thinking...am I at Richmond Mill? Or just an unmanaged farmpond owned by I guy I used to do construction work with? So, I am having a tough time with the stickers and the weeds and the biting flies, but I'm giggling like a goofy teenager with their first car! And nobody to share this with! Drag! I eventually found a way to scurry down the bank and get a little closer to these pigs so I wouldn't have to heave-ho' them with my 5 1/2 ft ul stick and 4 pound mono. The fish got a little spooky, so I went to a half a nightcrawler on a #8 Aberdeen wire hook and dropped it to 5 ft below the bobber. A few more 11 inchers and a diminutive 'ten' and then I had to get wet to get this one...
Another sensational hybrid at 12.25 inches, making this the first time in my panfishing career that I have caught two 'foot-longs' from home water, (Maryland) in a single day. Of the 11 that I caught, eight were over 11 inches, two over 12 and a pair of 10 3/4's and the small guy, a 10 to round out my personal best day of hybrid fishing, ever, and a day I will never forget. Having caught several 4 to 5 pound bass this year on the same gear, I can tell you that those bass would have lost in a first round knock out from these powerhouse hybrids...the baddest sunfish on the planet!
My only regrets? That I didn't send one of the giants to Tim Overbaugh. What a day,,,WHAT A DAY!