This is a great time to recall the fun you had as a kid and introduce youngsters to the joys of fishing a pond or small lake with a fly rod for panfish. Do you remember your excitement when those small scrappers grabbed almost anything tiny that you offered them? Florida has many small freshwater ponds. Scout out a few that have easy access. Some developments and golf courses are prime candidates.
Equipment needed: A 3- or 4-weight rod rigged with a floating line and a 6-foot leader tapered to 6-pound test is ideal. Early or late in the day is best, but when the sun is up, probe the shaded areas under trees, docks and bridges. I like to use floating spiders, ants and poppers in sizes 6 to 12. When the fly lands on the water, wait a few seconds then add a little, very little, movement. With panfish, a slow presentation is best. They will either suck it in or hit it with a loud pop. Set the hook and have some fun. Casting is simple, hold the rod above the child's hand for initial guidance. Small, dark, wet flies work when surface offerings are not getting hit. Large bass have been known to also love small flies.
Don't forget: Crimp barbs on hooks for safety and to make releasing fish simple. Taking some home for tasty fillets will usually improve the pond's average fish size in the future.
Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.