Ever since I started flyfishing, I've wanted to catch some Goldfish on a fly with flyfishing gear. Over the years, I've seen at least one BIG Goldfish in almost every local public pond in my town. Its rare that I see them, and even rarer that I've cast to them with a fly they might even consider. I've gotten them to look at my fly on rare occasions, may have even had a light strike or two, but have never been able to hook one.
Flash forward to a week ago. David Wyner took up flyfishing earlier this year, and managed to catch a rather HUGE HUGE Goldfish on a fly within the past week. Seeing that fish made me want to put some serious effort into trying to add Goldfish to my flyfishing Life List of species. I asked Dave if he was interested in trying it, and he said there was a pond near his house that "has WAVES of Goldfish". Its not the pond where he caught his jumbo-sized fish, but that seemed like kind of a fluke to me anyway...it was a solitary fish, and probably not worth the effort to try and catch another one from there...if there even WAS another one in there. When he told me where he lived, I discovered the pond he was talking about was THE SAME pond I had fished 30+ years ago! How cool! We made arrangements to meet up and go fishing.
We parked the car about 50 yards from the pond. As soon as we got out of the car, we could see pods of Goldfish swimming around in this pond. Hey, if you are going to attempt something difficult, its a good idea to stack the odds in your favor as much as possible. Well, there was no shortage of Goldfish in this pond. After getting a closer look, I'd estimate the numbers to be in the tens of thousands! They were swimming around in groups, sometime milling about in a circular pod, other times streaming out playing follow-the-leader in a line up to 20' long. I'm kicking myself for not taking any pictures of some of these massive pods of Goldfish...In one area, the fish would occasionally turn in a circle, rise to the surface and practically fight to be on top, apparently trying to feed on something at the surface, although no food was visible in the area.
The fish probably averaged around 5"-6" long. I was hoping for bigger, but am glad they were at least big enough to hit a fly! And there WERE some bigger ones in there, they were usually solitary fish or there might be one mixed in with each pod of smaller ones. They were hard to get to, and didn't seem very interested in eating.
We did see a loaf of bread (looked like the size/shape of a foot-long Subway sandwich bun/loaf) that someone had tossed in the water, probably to feed the ducks that were swimming around. The Goldfish seemed attracted to it, but did not feed on it while we were standing on shore next to it. But it did seem to keep them coming back to our area, which was definitely a plus.
At first I had tried a different area of the pond, were the fish would come by only occasionally, and they would usually swim right on by quickly. I had a few strikes on a chironomid pattern under an indicator. I discovered that if I led a group of fish far enough with my cast, they were attracted to my indicator hitting the water...whereas if I cast too close, they were spooked.
David caught the first few Goldfish, and invited me to fish closer to him. I did, and it made all the difference. I started out in that 2nd area fishing with a #18 Elk Hair Caddis. After I tied it on, I discovered that is also what David was using. I had a few strikes on it, got one hook-up that broke my 6x tippet. It wasn't a big fish. Next, I tied on a #14 Red Fox Squirrel Nymph variation that I tied up to be somewhat shaggy-looking, and no tinsel ribbing. The Goldfish LOVED that! We discovered if we cast into the pod of fish while they were doing their aggressive surface thrashing, they would often hit the fly quite willingly. I caught 4 Goldfish in short order.
They were absolutely beautiful fish! Such deep orange-red coloration and fins.
We could have caught many more, I'm sure, but decided to try another pond adjacent to this one. No decent-sized goldfish were seen there, and by the time we came back to the first pond, there was a Dad & son standing in the area where we had been fishing, trying to recover the floating bread. We left and fished another pond (a new one for me, since I had never tried it before) and both did really well on decent-sized crappies, bluegills, and 12" average bass.
So, I caught a new-to-me flyrod species, and got to fish one pond from my childhood, and another that was completely new to me. It was definitely a great evening of fishing! Thanks for indulging me in my quest, Dave!! :)