Monday, July 23, 2018

Bass Poppin'



Any day on a beautiful river is a good day and when you catch a fish on your third cast it seems like the makings for a little better day. The next bass came soon after but took my fly down under a log and shook off. Still, things were looking good and my popper was doing the trick. I was in good company. Fish Boss Brent was just ahead rowing his boat with Jack in the bow while Brett manned the oars of his boat giving me first crack at the fish. We were floating ten miles of a favored stretch of river that produces many smallmouth bass along with plenty of pike and the rarer musky. As pretty as they come, the river flows through northern woodlands and is void of shoreline development. It's not exactly wilderness but you get the feeling it is. Wildlife is abundant and it would be the cold soul to not appreciate the surroundings. Places like this are special and though you may see the odd kayak or canoe, you'll often have the river to yourself. It's not a secret place, but secrecy is a long standing fishing tradition so we don't say much concerning it's whereabouts.

Last winter was a long one, and one night I sat down at the vise to tie up some bass poppers. I was pushing deerhair on the hook as hard as I dared and approaching the hook eye when I wondered what a piece of foam would look like out front. Next thing I knew the foam-face popper was tied. After the trimming I was looking at something I figured would pop some water. I liked it so I tied a couple more.
I'm not claiming to be the first or only one to glue some foam onto a hair popper, but I'd never seen it before. I was eager to try 'em when the season came and so far this summer those poppers have been my go-to flies. Part of catching fish is confidence in what you're casting and it didn't take long before I was a believer. Now, to be honest I can't say they perform better than any other big popper but when you spend the time working up deerhair flies that turn out to be fish catchers they easily become favorites.




And while these are bass bugs, anyone who fishes the warm water lakes and streams in this country is bound to encounter some northern pike and muskies. Those toothy critters can get kind of rough on my flies. Years ago my father loved casting big wooden plugs (I suppose they're call crankbaits today) over weed beds and lily pads and I still have a couple of the old lures sporting toothmarks from the pike and walleyes he'd catch.


This is the second version of this fly I've tied. The first was lost to a big fish several weeks ago. This one has fooled smallmouth, largemouth, a couple of rock bass, some pike and a musky even had hold for awhile. Some of the tail is gone, feathers tore out and broken; port side rubber legs ripped off; body chewed up and torn-up foam showing those teeth marks. Sure, it would still fish. I could even patch it up some. But I'll likely just tie another. We've all had trout flies chewed down almost to the bare hook that we've discarded without ceremony, but I might hang on to this bass bug for awhile just to remind me of some fine times on the water. Gotta' love it!



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