On a crisp October day with a stiff, variable wind, I’m atop a spillway hunting Largemouth Bass. The Action on surface poppers, my favorite of all the bass baits, appears to be slowing as the lake collects Fall’s leaves and other debris. But, having fashioned some cork and deer hair into new poppers at my tying desk, I’m eager to see if my latest concoctions can draw a strike.
Like many bass waters, there are also Chain Pickerel haunting the hollow logs and weed beds where I toss my bugs and streamers. On the occasion that they choose to take a fly I intended for a bass, there is no mistaking them. They strike with a suddenness and ferocity that the largemouth cannot quite match, and their sharp teeth can lay waste to a fly. It’s because of this, and other telling clues, that I know I’ve been hit by a pickerel, even when I don’t land the fish.
I shared a photograph in this space just last week; a black popper, small enough to take Sunfish, but excellent at luring bass, that I was swimming beneath the surface before my line was violently yanked at my feet, and, just as quickly, released, to lay limp on the surface. A brief inspection at the smashed fly confirmed my suspicion. I had found a pickerel.
The following day, while fishing a red streamer around the same location, I had again been yanked, but this time only to retrieve a frayed and spliced line, absent my newly tied Red Squirrel.
Days passed, and I fished other waters for trout, unsuccessfully. A day of poor weather here and there allowed me time in the garage, where I replaced my lost flies, including a selection of newly tied poppers of all sizes and descriptions, some designed for pan fish, others for bass and trout.
I returned to the spillway yesterday morning, eager to launch a black deer hair popper to the far bank, to fish around a fallen branch where I believed I would find rising bass. My cast was slightly short, but I let the bait sit until the concentric circles dissipated, and longer. After what passed as a satisfactory period of time, I gave the bug a quick tug, causing the cupped nose to gurgle, and again, let it rest. I repeated this process across the front of the spillway as I retrieved the bait slowly to my feet, where it met with the jaws of a pickerel. This time, I saw the offending fish. It was surprisingly small, but moved like a torpedo and was gone as soon as I was able to process it’s explosive arrival.
I put the headless bug in the streamer box instead of the bug box. I located a wire leader.
On a crisp October day with a stiff, variable wind, I’m atop a spillway hunting Pickerel…….