Any flycaster who wishes to test and hone his reflexes needs just to cast to rising bluegills at dusk. Especially, those stunted little adults that abound in their thousands in city parks almost everywhere. I swear, those little devils can sample and spit out a fly fifty times faster than a New York second.

I recall this little dimple of a pond about a mile north of my home in Long Beach. One of those seemingly obligatory bodies of water landscape architects feel compelled to design into public facilities. The kind that inevitably receive the cast-off waterfowl from past Easters. Not that I object. Far from it. Like similar ponds, this one had wonderful backcast clearance, a well-defined shoreline with few fringing weeds and a huge population of bluegills. By the time I usually arrived, all the mothers and small toddlers, stray dogs and other obstructions had left and I had the place to myself. What followed was forty-five minutes to an hour of pure serendipity.

On the evening in question I arrived to find I was not to be alone. A young fellow I judged to be ten or eleven years of age was already there, furiously casting a dime store spin casting rig.

"How ya doin', son?" I asked.

"Okay, mister." I was about to ask what he was using for bait when he raised his rod tip for another cast. I could see that he was casting a sliding sinker rig with a large red rubber worm.

"Having any luck?" I asked, starting to strip off fly line and lengthen my cast. I recall actually feeling sorry for the little fellow. I'm ashamed to admit feeling even a mite supercilious when my little Female Adams was attacked viciously by hordes of bluegills as soon as it settled on the water's surface. It was almost like a school of piranhas devouring a capybara along the Orinoco.

"Oney one," he called out.

"That right? Well, maybe it'll get better."

"It's over there, ya wanna see it." He gestured toward a large plastic trashcan I had noticed but paid no attention to when I arrived.

Not wanting to offend my fellow angler, I reeled in and walked over to the can. It was about three-quarters full of water. Since the sun had set and the dusk was making it harder and harder to see I had to lean down and peer intently into the depths. Then it moved. No bluegill that one. That kid's "oney one" was at least a four-pound largemouth bass! I could hardly believe my eyes. "Hey, kid, did you take that out of this pond?"

"Sure. But the fishing' today is real slow. By this time yesterday I had three other 'takers' almost that big."

Turned out this "oney one" was destined for a pond his dad had built for him in the backyard. He already had it stocked with five fish not counting the one I was staring at with my mouth agape.

Somehow, my little "takers" did not seem worth the effort that evening. I made an excuse and left. Was I just the victim of jealousy?

Copyrighht 2001, John F. McKim