OK, I am always reluctant to post these types of things, but Chuck said he would post it if I didn't, LOL!!! He is the reason I participate in the TPWD programs and a great friend/mentor to me. Participating in these programs has multiplied the enjoyment of fishing for me. With the help of people like Chuck, Jagg, Ben, Cliff and others I have been able to learn about each species of fish, their habits, and techniques for fly fishing for them.
My first goal was to get my Elite Angler Certificate. I accomplished that goal in 6 months. Along the path I also broke the State Private Water Body Fly record for a green sunfish. More importantly, I learned a tremendous amount about fishing. For me, it was like learning a foreign language. One day it just snapped. I realized I was missing at least 2/3rds of the bites. More importantly, I was missing trophy sized fish. I learned to feel the bite, and more importantly, to detect the small movements in the line. I caught 4 different species of trophy fish in February of this year. Without doubt, I would have missed the bite on 3 of the 4 in the past.
I have access to fish over 20 ponds now. I found long ear sunfish at a ranch I fish. 2 of the 3 ponds on that ranch have long ear in them. Those were the only 2 ponds I have caught them. I found out why in my Bluegill vs. Sunfish thread (Jagg posted some outstanding information on the thread). The reason why is the long ear's natural environment is not a pond or lake. Their natural environment is in rivers and creeks. So finding these beautiful fish in a private pond was exciting. They were stocked in these ponds years ago by the patriarch of the family who owned the ranch.
I only use a fly rod when I fish for bluegill and sunfish. I also only use recognized flies and no types of scents or live bait, per the TPWD requirements. This can make the fishing quite challenging at times. But I found a fly I have great confidence in, and frankly, it taught me how to fish. The fly is the Briminator. So I took the fly and started working those ponds hard for a couple of weeks. At first, I caught about 40 bluegill and 10 greenies for every one Long ear I caught. I eventually found a technique that worked and was able to improve the catch rate. Finally, I caught a long ear I could be proud of.
The long ear was 8.25 inches and weighed 0.56 lbs. It ties the overall State Private Water Body Record set by Chuck. It also establishes the State Private Water Body Fly Fishing Record.