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    ·Grand River, Ontario June 1-2
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    Bluegill in the Spring - Popper Time


    Michigan News By Jerry Kunnath

    Our fly selection for this week is definitely influenced by the milder weather we have been seeing this past week or so. A popper is, after all, a fly we usually use for top water fly fishing for bass, pike and pan fish. And that is on the agenda, at least in my book. Poppers are easy to make, sometimes the only labor required is to tie on a few feathers on the back of your hook for a tail to provide some motion, and then to slide on a small foam body past the eye onto the shank of the hook. You can make them simple, or as complicated and detailed as you like. All that is required to lure the strike of a bluegill or a bass is the thrashing, popping, gurgling commotion that the flat fronted, floating body of the fly creates.



    Our fly selection for this week is definitely influenced by the milder weather we have been seeing this past week or so. A popper is, after all, a fly we usually use for top water fly fishing for bass, pike and pan fish. And that is on the agenda, at least in my book. Poppers are easy to make, sometimes the only labor required is to tie on a few feathers on the back of your hook for a tail to provide some motion, and then to slide on a small foam body past the eye onto the shank of the hook. You can make them simple, or as complicated and detailed as you like. All that is required to lure the strike of a bluegill or a bass is the thrashing, popping, gurgling commotion that the flat fronted, floating body of the fly creates.

    Bluegill Popper Recipe
    • Hook - TMC #3769 size #10
    • Thread - Unithread 6/0
    • Tail - maribou feathers
    • Body - regular foam or styro #12 popper bodies

    Include some head cement in your materials to help anchor the body to a previously laid base of thread on the shank of the hook. I prefer, when I have the time and when I want to be a little more creative, to hand paint the popper body and to hand paint a few eyes on the sides of the popper. I have found that I definitely have more luck with flies that contain eyes than I do with those that don?t. But then again, maybe I?m just seeing things differently. Also, once again, experiment with different colors and sizes.

    Poppers Beware

    I have found, in my experience, over more than a few years on the water fly fishing, that if bluegills were able to grow to lengths of two feet or so, we probably wouldn?t be able to enter our Michigan streams and lake waters for fear of being eaten alive. These voracious predators rule the waters that surround them, at least till a big, hungry pike or bass enters the scene anyway. They attack your presented poppers with a vengeance, many times darting headlong from a nearby weed bed to slam your fly, coming out of the water in their gulping attack. Gills will sometimes compete with each other for your fly, thrashing the water, sounding off each other in their fight for the prize. I sometimes forget how much fun I had as a youngster fishing for these freshwater, miniature permit.

    A person probably would find it hard to surpass the thrill of fishing with a three or four weight fly rod for bluegills during their spring spawning time. Soon after the warmer spring sun heats the shallow, gravelly areas of your favorite local lake or pond, it is time for the bluegill spawn. The large females stake out their patch of gravel, using their tails to swish the silt off a section that looks good to them for spawning, and proceed to lay their eggs in dish shaped indents they have brushed out in the gravel. Then, right as the females drop their eggs, the males come in to deposit their milt over the bowl containing the eggs laid by the females. The females and the males both guard their chosen area, the females guarding their eggs and the males guarding their territory from competing males. Both fish will attack almost anything that comes through that area. Dropping a popper onto the area during that ritual can produce some fantastic action for the fly fisher.

    Another method that I enjoy employing to catch gills on poppers is to take advantage of their winter induced hunger. The water warms quickly in the shallows under the influence of the stronger spring sun. I look for small openings in the weed beds, of maybe four to eight feet in diameter, and I cast my popper to the edge of these openings in the weeds. As the popper hit?s the water I let it sit a few seconds till the ripples ease outward from the fly, then I gently twitch the popper. More often than not, I can see numerous gills screaming out from the weed cover to attack my fly on the run. The warm water turns on their feedbag instincts and I am more than happy to try to help them appease their hunger.

    During these days of late winter, the warming sun and the lengthening days promises the coming of spring to us winter weary Michiganders. I sit and dream of spring evenings spent watching the golden sun settle in the sky over my favorite lake as I cast a three weight to starving gills. I can almost hear the static noise of the peepers coming from the pines, as I watch the fluttering flight of a mayfly as it eases over the quiet waters of the lake. I can almost feel the tug of the rod on my hands as a fighting bluegill dashes for the weeds, bending the rod, thrashing his head from side to side in his effort to throw my hook from his mouth. But then my wife breaks my dreamlike state with a request that I shovel the newly fallen six inches of powder from the drive, and I don my coat and gloves and head dutifully out the door to reality.

    When the snow really melts and the crocus poke their greening heads through the warming soil, grab your fly rod and popper collection and head for gill water. Till then, pass some time at your vise tying poppers and dreaming of the spring. Take care, be well and stay healthy.

    [previously published in Michigan Outdoor News]

    Posted on Saturday, March 20 @ 10:45:04 UTC by admin


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