What's new: This is a great time of the year to introduce a child or adult to fishing in a small pond or lake. Panfish are not very selective and very forgiving, making them ideal fly rod fare. Florida has many freshwater impoundments. Developments and golf courses are prime sites.
Equipment needed: The ideal setup is a 3- or 4-weight rod rigged with a floating weight forward line and a 7-foot leader tapered to 6-pound test. Trout equipment from the north is perfect. Early or late in the day is the best time to fish. When the sun is up, probe the shaded areas under trees, docks and bridges. Spiders, ants and poppers that float in size 6 to 12 can generate the most excitement. Wait a few seconds after the fly lands on the water, then add a little movement to mimic a stunned insect. You can't retrieve too slowly for panfish. A loud pop or subtle dimple indicates a strike. Set the hook and have some fun.
Technique: Casting is simple. Hold the rod above the child's hand for initial guidance. If surface offerings are refused, small, dark, wet flies work well when allowed to sink a little before beginning a slow retrieve. Watch the end of the line and set the hook at the slightest hesitation. Large bass are known to love small flies.
Remember: Crimp barbs on hooks for safety and to make releasing fish simple. Taking some fish home for tasty fillets usually improves the pond's future average-fish size.
Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.