There is pretty much no ice left on the ponds and lakes. That can mean only one thing... panfish season is here, and bass season will follow in a few weeks or maybe a month if the cold night time temperatures keep the shallows in oscillation. Carp season will be here before we know it, they are probably already starting to move into the flats. But today it was all about panfish for me. I fished the South Central CT pond that gave up panfish nearly into January, and right when I got there I knew I was going to catch fish. The water was gin clear and I could see fish... bass, bluegill, and crappie cruising in large schools in the weeds. I used small, unweighted nymphs and sight cast to moving targets. It did not take long for me to get the first bluegill of 2016.
Within an hour I caught the first bluegill, the first crappie, and the first pumpkinseed of the year, not to mention I have never caught any of these species in February before. Although both the water and the air were above freezing, I was getting ice in my guides. Ice in the guides and panfish in the hand. Some even on dry flies. This is an amazing year.
Towards sunset something magical happened. The water and air temperatures reached equilibrium. Midges began to hatch. And the water boiled. Fish rose every where! There was 15 minutes of craziness, during which I caught numerous fish on a floating foam under-bodied hare's ear. The last fish of my day was a decent crappie. So far so good... now I will be able to focus on new species in March and April instead of working hard to get the first panfish of the year. Let's see how many species I can catch in one year, shall we? I'm already up to 7.