Attack Of The Holiday Panfish

Mild and crazy weather. Finally getting a little snow, north of here. Something tropical looking about these bluegills I'm on, with the vertical bars and bright orange breasts. Fitting. Compared to most years, it's pretty tropical around here. Days in the high 30°F range. Too warm for a shelter.

Round little lakes, down trails where the snow couldn't reach our boot tops. Cedars and pines shouldered most of it. Bluegills seem exotic out there, in that white-and-gray chiaroscuro. They stalk through the wild and majestic old-growth forests of green cabbage that tower above them like redwoods. Hard to muscle them out of there.

A vintage Thorne Brothers Sweet Thing can get 'er done. It's a sweet stick equipped with a vintage Thorne Brothers spring bobber made with parts from cigarette lighters. Ultra sensitive, yet stands up to the wind. And it's been a windy week. The blank can protect clear 2-pound Ande Premium even when you're hauling big fish to keep them from burying you in the redwoods.

That little jig pinned to the blank was my secret weapon all week. It's a 1/80-ounce TC Tackle Grindle Bug (406/683-5485), with a little size #10 hook. When bluegills abscond with the last of the two maggots I can fit on this jig, it retains enticement via the soft chenille body and dancing rubber legs. The short marabou tail can entice strikes from spooky, finicky panfish without bait.

Short jaunts to nearby water. That's the key to holiday success. Keeps everybody happy. Which is the point every year, about this time. At least, the word gets bandied about a lot. I'll not say it yet. I've got another jaunt in mind, before the ball drops in Time Square and Dick Clark does what he's been doing ever since the last Crusade.

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