Bass Poppers, Does Size Matter?
|In the Pacific Northwest trout, steelhead and salmon receive the most attention from fly fishers. Warm water species are considered to by many anglers to be inferior to cold water species. While large mouth bass don't fight as hard as salmoids, they offer exciting top water fly fishing. Each summer, Patty and I take a couple of days and fish for bass with surface poppers. Each trip is a learning experience. We try plan our trip to coincide with with water temperatures that are most comfortable with the highest population of bass in shallow water around the edge of the body of water we are going to fish. This is usually the pre-spawn period around mid-May. This year work got in the way and we weren't able|
|to get away until June 2-3. In the lake we fished, mid-day water temperatures were 71-72 degrees and many of the bass had spawned and headed back into deeper water. The fish that were left weren't real aggressive. To make matters worse, there was a pretty stiff breeze. That made positioning our pontoon boats difficult. Pinpoint casting accuracy also suffered. Interestingly, we found most of|
|the fish along banks that ran parallel with the prevailing wind. Very few fish were found along shore lines that ran perpendicular to the wind. After some trial and error, the best tactic seemed to be to row to the upwind end of a shore line and then drift down the shore casting toward the shore as you went. This didn't give us a lot of time to work any one particular area and didn't allow for many second chances for shots that were missed. I started off with with my good|
|good old favorite size-6 Black Chewy Pop. That brought several good hook-ups, but also many refusals. Past experience told me that bass that refuse a certain size popper will often take a popper that is smaller in size. A size-10 Bee Colored Panfish Popper was knotted to the end of my leader. Several very nice fish including my best||
|bass of the trip, a 3 1/2 pounder, were landed with this fly. It was certainly easier to cast in the wind than the larger fly. Patty had also started out with a Black #6 Chewy Pop. She commented to me about getting lots of refusals and I told her about my experience with the panfish popper. She went to a size-8 Black Mega Whammy Popper and it proved to be the best producer. I soon changed to that one also. Trimming off the long flowing silicone legs to give the fly an even smaller appearance seemed to increase its effectiveness even more. This popper proved to be so effective that after a day and a half of fishing, I had caught so many bass that they had literally chewed through the epoxy coating on the plastic head. The second morning I decided to perform an experiment. I fished one long stretch of bank with a size-6 Fluorescent Orange Mega Whammy. About a dozen bass from 10" to 15" were caught. I then tied on the chewed up smaller black Mega Whammy and fished the same area again. About three dozen bass from 12" to 18" were caught. Many takes were splashy as one would expect when popper fishing, but many others were very quiet as the fish would lightly suck the fly from the surface. Patty hooked a very large fish we estimated at better than six pounds on her size-8 black Mega Whammy. Unfortunately after a long battle, this bass buried itself in the weeds and broke the leader. That was the best fish we saw on that trip.|
|There wasn't supposed to be any trout in this lake. As I trolled a marabou leech deep along the weeds looking for bass there was a sharp yank that tore twenty feet of line from my reel. To my surprise a chrome bright 18" rainbow vaulted five feet into the air. Ten minutes later it was followed be another. After the forth rainbow came to my hand, I called Patty on my walky-talky. She rowed to joined me from the other end of the lake. We caught a couple of more trout and then it was over. We commented|
|on our good luck. That didn't prepare us for what was going to happen in the evening. The sun went down around 7:30pm. All of a sudden the surface of the lake in front of our tent erupted with dozens of rising trout. As we got into our pontoon boats the air filled with thousands of Chironomids. There were so many insects that the high pitched whine of their wings was clearly audible. They ranged in sizes from #8 to #16. The colors varies widely from black, brown, tan, olive, red, yellow & orange. We tied on some V-Rib Midge Pupae to the same floating lines and stout leaders that we had been using for||
|bass bugs. The gratification was instantaneous. We were both hooked up at once. We were using different color flies, but similar strategy; spot a feeding fish, figure out which way it was heading, lead it four feet with a cast, let the fly settle, twitch it a couple of times and wait for the pull. The action continued into the dark and then stopped as abruptly as it had started. Early next morning there were trout rising to Chironomids again. The hatch was sparse and there were only a few fish rising. We each caught a|
|number of nice trout before the wind came up and blew the hatch away. It was good fishing, but nothing like the night before when we had visited lake fishing "Valhala".|
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