Howling winds are rattling the windows and depositing the trash cans in the neighbors yard here at the South bay Lodge. So it became that instead of a morning fishing, I have an embarrassingly messy fly tying desk and am well on my way to a few new poppers.
The Largemouth Bass at the local grounds have been favoring poppers over streamers as of late. I’m hoping to try a few of my own out tomorrow, assuming the blow subsides, and I do hope the trend hasn’t changed. Hunting bass in the shallows and weeds with a streamer is fun, but nothing beats watching the fish break the surface like a titan missile to eat a few bits of hair and flash I tied to a hook and popper body.
My initial experiences with poppers were not good. While the added hackle, rubber legs and other dressings bring these baits to life even while they lie dormant on the water, I’ve learned that my first experiences with poppers were not productive ones simply because I wasn’t aggressive enough with the fly; a common case of underestimating the fish. On glassy water, giving the fly a good gurgling, thrusting tug seemed like overkill to the inexperienced me. I thought it would scare fish. Since, I have learned, especially on running water, that the gurgling thrust and movement of the popper is what gets the fish to strike. You can certainly add pauses to your retrieve, as a means of providing a more life-like presentation, but I’m no longer afraid to use the popper to accomplish what it was designed for; causing enough commotion to attract a hungry bass.
Fall is a great time time to catch bass on a fly rod. As the temperatures cool, (albeit barely and slowly, at least in my neck of the woods so far…) you can go beyond the usual casting to structure that makes the most sense in the summer months. In fall, the fish leave the safety of cover often in search of food. Assuming you can track down what they are feeding on, you can tie on an imitation bait fish, bug or bottom feeder, and try your luck. Another good idea is to increase the speed of your retrieve or action during the cooler months. The fish and food are picking up speed as the water cools, and so should the wary fisherman.
As an aside, I was thumbing through Gierach’s “Unknown Fisherman” last night. In chapter 2, Gierach names the deer haired diving frog as his go-to fly for bass. Maybe I’ll try on one of those next……