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Hopper Wind

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

Went out Saturday morning for my weekly fishing trip. Headed to a pond that I have been to a few times. At this time there are no cattle in the field so it is easier to get into. We had a cold front go through and the temperatures were in the mid sixties. This was great as the lows had been in the seventies.

The wind was gusting a little and there was a gentle breeze most of the time. Tried a couple of flies with no luck when I put on a floating nymph. With the gentle breeze this moved the fly just enough that the fish were coming up to hit it. Had gills jump out of the water and hit it on the way down. Never had to set the hook just start playing them. Also had several bass up to about 14" hit this fly.

When the wind gusted and the waves were bigger I was not catching anything. I decided to tie on a hopper pattern and see what might happen. Maybe I could make the fish think that a hopper had been blown over the pond and landed. The hoppers are not very big around here right now but anything is worth a try.

My first two casts did not produce anything. The third cast is one of those that I usually regret making, even though it seems to happen fairly often. The fly and line hit the water hard enough to part the "Red Sea." I spent a few seconds calling myself names before I started to pick the line up to try another cast.

As I started to pick up the line a 14" bass rolled over on the fly and hooked himself. He did not like the hook because he came out of the water five times trying to throw the fly. I got the bass in and released him to fight another day. I then cast a few more times without having anything happen. I then decided to try another one of the hard-hitting casts.

After the fly had sat for about 10 to 15 seconds I had an 11" gill come up and hit it. Not sure why they jumped out of the water and hit the nymph coming down and came up from beneath the hopper. This did happen all morning. They would only come to the hopper when it hit the water hard. I did try several softer presentations but that did not work.

I used the floating nymph when the wind was calm and the hopper when it was blowing more.

Big surprise came when I flipped the hopper near a stump one time. Thought I had a bass roll on it but it was a good size crappie. Two more casts near the stump produced two more crappie about the same size.

I moved to the next stump and got two more crappie. Unfortunately I was then out of stumps but it was fun to catch them. When I filleted the fish later I checked the stomachs and they did not have any hoppers in them, just the normal mess of nymphs.

Any place on the pond that there was a stick, reed or point of vegetation would have one or two fish on it. I also caught fish that were seemingly near no structure. I just know that it was fun to catch them up on the surface. I did try subsurface flies but I was not getting many fish to hit and the strikes were very light.

I did catch five gills that were over 11" in length. I put them back in so they can reproduce. Also returned the bass as none of them seemed to be injured.

In all the fish that I filleted I did not find a single minnow. All the fish had a mass of nymphs and a few of the gills had small snails in them. All of the fish were fat and sassy.

Going to see if I can figure out why the gills came out of the water for the floating nymph, but hit the hopper from below. If you have any ideas let me know. I can't remember reading anything about that happening. I have had a few jump on a fly but never all of them one way on one fly and another way on another. If something hit the nymph from below I knew it was a bass.

Have fun on the water. ~ Rick ziegeria@grm.net

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