Last week I ventured back to an old farm pond that I used to fish in the early 80's.......small, about an acre....small feeder creek coming in and a substancial dam to slow the flow.....I used to catch some really nice Gills and big Largemouth there back in the day.
Traveling light...spudbar/bucket/vex/pole/scooper....I finally made my way back to the pond only to find someone fishing it....I approached in a kind manner and asked the very old gentleman if he would mind if I also fished the pond and he said...."No, but don't start bangin' that damn chisel on the ice...fish outta one of my holes!".....I obliged, he had 2 (two) other holes...each 3 feet from his current hole......introductions were exchanged, and good conversation ensued....I learned that John was 83 yrs young and was the owner of the property.....he wasn't impressed with my electronics nor my fancy ultra sensitive rod.....Johns gear was absolutley arcaic....his line was NOT line, but thread....some type of shoe mending thread...his jigs were of the eye-thru type and tied direct....His poles were circa 1950's heavy fiberglass....Side by side, our equipment had spanned more than half a century. John had us parked in nearly 5 FOW near the fringe of the existing weed edge....as I frantically fired up my vex, John hoisted a fat 9" Gill and said "That thing aint gonna help you here"...I ignored his comment and started into fishing, we had alot of fish coming thru, and I had my share of "sniffers" but no biters....meanwhile John is pounding one big Gill after another....3 feet away!....after about 10 minutes he said " I told you that thing wouldn't help you here....turn that damn thing off!"....He then explained to me the cadence of his strange presentation and its triggering abilities....We proceeded to tie into more than 2 dozen really impressive Gills using his secret technique.
During the catching and releasing of these pond giants, John asked me how I knew of the ponds existence....and having only previously fished it without permission, I hesitated to respond....He said "Don't worry....I would have run you off 25 yrs ago if I hadn't seen you releasing your catch back then".......we smiled......His Big Bluegill secret technique was in essence, a type of dead-sticking or should I say "mud-sticking" as he would purposely allow the jig to lay in the mud for several seconds before snapping the jig and setting hooks into the heavy bulls that would only take the jig after it had hit bottom, and sat motionless for a few seconds......bite detection was literally non-existent, as were the presence of bottom fish on my flasher.....His unique presentation proved to be highly productive on this small and seemingly conquerable body of water that could have easily miffed most knowledgable anglers with modern day tools.
My stay lasted close to 2 hours and ended when Johns great grandson arrived via 4 wheeler in order to take him home. As I wrapped things up, John asked me if I was planning on coming back the following day.....I hesitated to respond, and when I did I said "I don't know".....we said our goodbye's and I headed back off into the woods. Back at my vehicle twenty minutes later, I sat there thinking about the forbidden pond, John and his invitation for my return, the big Bluegills laying eye deep in the silt, the 23 yrs that had passed since my last visit.......but mostly I thought about how we smiled.