This summer has been truly a summer of bass fishing with my fly rod. I am blessed to be able to be on fishable water, within only a 10 minute walk from my house. I have had numerous successful outings this summer and I’ve not only “schooled” the bass, but they have taught me a lot. Early on in June, I was very successful, landing 10 – 12 bass nearly every morning on poppers. These poppers were mostly froggy flies or foil poppers. I have reduced my miss-to-catch ratio substantially from the beginning of the summer. Whereas I would miss as many as I would catch, I’ve now cut the miss number down in half. Which means I will still miss 4 for every 8 I catch, but that’s down from missing one for every one I’d catch.
One early morning I was getting ready to shove off with my kayak when I heard an explosion of water nearby. It’s a sound that I normally hear when I’m fishing the marsh…that sound of a large fish crashing bait in shallow water. Only this time, it was a bass. I could tell by the sound of it that it was bigger than the 14 inch fish I had been catching lately. I began tossing a foil popper near the area I heard the splash. Shortly thereafter, I heard and saw another big splash. I was in a virtual bass feeding frenzy! I kept tossing my popper and finally got one nice 15-inch bass to eat it. While I was unhooking it, I saw a three-pounder jump completely out of the water after a shad. I kept at it for another five or so minutes and could not get another strike. I decided to change colors to a darker popper because it was overcast and the sun had not really come up yet. After about two casts, I got a big 18-inch bass to eat my popper. Two casts later, another 15 inch fish. Then, as quickly as it had begun, it was all over. I actually foul-hooked a shad and tied on a gummy minnow (I think it looks like a shad) but could not get another bite.
I figured that the fish were feeding on shad that had schooled up near a runoff that was producing a lot of foamy muck. This is water that I would normally avoid. It just didn’t look good. You know, that brown muck that stains your fly line and your kayak? It had foamed and evidently, the shad loved it, albeit only very early in the morning. I decided to pay that spot a quick visit the next morning, with hopes of catching a feeding frenzy again.
The very next morning, I WAS greeted with another feeding frenzy. I tied on my foil popper; dark blue top with a silver belly. I just knew this would catch fish because it looked just like a shad. Again, I foul-hooked another shad. I just knew…wait a minute…then I remembered Cormier’s rule number 1. Fish make the rules, not the fishermen. So I switched to the darker popper that had caught the two fish the day before. This popper has a dark purple back with a reddish belly and a black marabou tail. I had tied it only in case I would fish at night. Needless to say, the bass liked it. I enticed a 14 inch fish to eat on my second cast. After measuring and releasing that fish, I got the largest blowup of the morning on my next cast. The fish annihilated my popper and broke my tippet! Of course, that was the only version of that popper that I had! I couldn’t get another strike all morning; and I tried everything.
So, I went home and made four more based on pictures that I had taken of my popper. For lack of a better name, I’ll call it my “red shad” popper. I remember catching bass nearly all my adult life on worms, craw-worms, etc. that were in a “red-shad” color. I even looked up “red shad” on the internet. I did some research to see just what a red shad looked like. You know, so I could “match the hatch.” Well it seems there isn’t a red shad. Shad are, well white with a dark dorsal, but basically white. Red shad is a color combination that we fisherman have come up with that’s basically black and red. But bass love that color! I’m looking forward to trying these poppers out soon. I’m so glad I have an “research facility” to try them out on. I’ll post my report when I go.
I have to give credit to Kirk Dietrich for his fly tying instructions for foil pencil poppers and Glen Cormier for Cormier’s rules. http://www.laflyfish.com/cgi-bin/bforum/viewtopic.php?id=1351
Popper has been painted, epoxied, and is ready for feathers.
Sorry it’s a bit blurry, but you get the picture.