Friends Unite, Epic Largemouth, Pickerel and a Freaky Big Bluegill

by | Jun 22, 2021 | huge bluegill | 4 comments

warmwater-flyfishingFor those who don’t know, I worked at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming from 1987 till 2009.  At first I restocked and took out the trash, then to sales, fly casting instructor, guiding, then I circled back to the shop and for over 20 years managed all fishing operations.  It was the ultimate job for many reasons but best of all, I hired many passionate young anglers who grew up in our work system and became friends for life.  These next two days I’m with friends Dan Swift and Pat Berry.


flyfishing-New-HampshireDan and Pat worked for me several summers in the early 90’s when they were in college.  These days Dan is a pharmaceutical rep and Pat is president of Fly Fishers International (FFI).  Each have families.  Dan is presently in the process of moving to MA while Pat has been living happily in VT.  That’s why it was convenient for Pat to tow over his custom homemade drift boat to Dan’s cottage and lake which is where we fished today and will again tomorrow morning.


pickerel-fishingDan requested that I don’t mention the name of his lake.  I’ll tell you it’s clean, rich with vegetation including acres of bright green lily pads and arrowhead plants, there are turtles, frogs and of course, heaps of largemouth bass, chain pickerel and smaller sunfishes.


flyfishing-warmwaterLike everyday in New Hampshire, I was up before the sun.  While the guys brewed the coffee I rousted my first largemouth of the day from Dan’s dock.  Normally I consider it a jinx to catch a fish at the dock but somehow I knew we’d be ok today.


largemouth-bassWe pushed the boat off before 5 AM and it wasn’t long before we were catching fish on poppers.  And when I say catching fish, crack-o-dawn would prove to be one of the best largemouth bass sessions I can recall.  Every good spot you landed your popper led to at least a bite.  And most of the time we hooked up.


Jeff-Currier-bass-on-flyThe largemouth aren’t huge like the ones down in the southern US.  The growing season is half the year because winter is long in NH.  Most lakes here ice up by Christmas and ice doesn’t clear till mid-April.  All this said, we caught numerous largemouth between 12” and 16”.


Patrick-Berry-FFIOur fishing from 5 AM until 8:30 was insane.  I kid you not, we landed more than 30 largemouth bass.  Mixed in were some lunker bluegill and a few yellow perch.  The only thing missing were the chain pickerel but pickerel can be moody.  Perhaps a change in weather would turn them on. . . .


New-HampshireThe largemouth fishing came to a crawl at 9 AM.  They were in a feeding frenzy then they stopped.  That was one reason we decided to go make some breakfast.  But also a cold wind started.  Then a few drops of rain fell.  Sure enough, we saw it coming – steady wind and rain put us out of commission for over an hour.


flyfishing-pickerelWith less than two days to fish together we could only watch the rain fall from inside for so long.  At about 10:30 we put on the Simms rain gear and returned to the water.  Surprisingly, we couldn’t find a largemouth bass to save our lives.


chain-pickerelI chopped off my popper and tied on a whitish streamer.  I still cast to the weeds, the same places I look for largemouth, but I let my fly sink a few feet then stripped.  While fishing wasn’t fast and furious, I connected with several gorgeous chain pickerel.  Were the pickerel about to turn on?


Dan-Swift-pickerelThere are many reasons I love fishing, all stemming back to success as a kid, but pickerel helped a ton.  My beloved Back Bay over in Wolfeboro had amazing pickerel fishing.  I don’t see enough of them these days so it was a dream to hit a few today.  Dan switched over after I landed about my fifth and soon he too was in on the fun.


chain-pickerelRealize that pickerel don’t get big like their first cousins the northern pike or the muskellunge.  But they contain the same ferocious attitude and on a 5-weight are a pleasure to catch.  Have a set of long forceps to avoid the teeth.  Then simply admire their beauty.  I think this one would look good painted on a white coffee mug!


Dan-Swift-yellow-perchTwo hours into our second session of the day we boated more than a dozen nice pickerel.  The temperamental fish were on.  Dan was up front and noticed some perch following his streamer in.  I noticed a bulge in the stomach of one of my pickerel that I’d guess to be a perch.  Sure enough, Dan caught few including this nice 10 incher.


bass-on-flyRemarkably, nevertheless we were streamer fishing, we caught more oversized bluegill.  I mean it’s incredible – I was fishing a size 4 streamer and catching the odd 10” bluegill perfectly in the mouth.  But then the most amazing fish I’ve seen in years shot out of the lilies like a missile and grabbed my fly.  The freakish looking fish was a blur, but at the same time, Dan and I both yelled, “Holy crap!  I think that’s a huge bluegill!”



The fight was so hard we couldn’t confirm identification for over a minute.  But we were indeed right.  I was connected with one of those bluegill you see in photos on the internet where you go back and forth deciding if its real or not.  “Net!”, I shouted to the boys.


This bluegill was real.  I’ve caught amazing fish this year ranging from gigantic grass carp to knuckle busting yellowtail up to 40lbs, but this freak of a panfish may take the crown.  After a few quick pictures in the rain I released him hoping he can spread a few more genes before his long life comes to an end.  I forgot to measure him.  I never estimated his weight.  Big fish episodes are always a flash in the pan but at least we have a good photo.


giant-bluegillWe fished today like it was my famous Henry’s Fork summer solstice marathon.  There’s a chance we caught about half the fish in the lake.  Seriously we caught more fish than I’ve caught in a day in years and we never got sick of it.  Around 7 PM the rains rolled back in.  Hunger took its grip over our needs for more fish and soon a few old friends had a feast.  We’ll be back on the water early tomorrow morning.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Greg

    Awesome Bluegill! They are so underrated. Your day fishing are days I dream about.

  2. Jeff

    It was such a cool day Greg. I’m about to sneak out for one more good NH eve before heading back to Idaho tomorrow. Thanks for reading the blog!

  3. Tad Einloth


    What a great day of fishing with long time friends.

    Wow that is one huge bluegill!


  4. Jeff

    That bluegill was insane Tad! Nuts!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!