Excitement close to home: This is a great time of year to recall the fun of youth and introduce youngsters to the joys of fishing a pond or small lake with a fly rod for panfish. Weeds and algae are not a problem now, but they will be as weather warms. We have many small freshwater ponds in Florida, some holding large fish. Scout out a few that have easy access. Some developments and golf courses are prime candidates.
Equipment and techniques: A 3- or 4-weight rod with a floating line equipped with a 6-foot leader tapered to 6-pound test will be ideal. Early or late in the day is best, but when the sun is up, check shaded areas under trees, docks and bridges. Cast parallel to shore unless you see other structure. Use floating spiders, ants and poppers in sizes 6 to 12; white, yellow and black are all good. When the fly lands on the water, wait a few seconds then impart little movement. With panfish, a slow presentation is best. They will suck it in or hit it with a loud pop. Set the hook and have some fun.
Casting will be simple — hold the rod above the child's hand for initial guidance. Small dark, wet flies will work when surface offerings are avoided. Large bass have been known to love small flies. Crimp barbs on hooks for safety and to make release simple.
Pat Damico charters Fly Guy in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at www.captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.