Topwater chugging

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Late Summer can be a great time to introduce novice fly fisherman to warm water creeks.  Water tends to be low and fish concentrate in deep holes as there is less space and habitat to spread out.  Due to the warmer water temperature, fish are active and looking to feed.  The cooling nights and impending arrival of Fall heightens their willingness to feed.  IMG_4411Bottom line, there are cooperative fish to be targeted. Recently, I’ve taken several family members fishing to a local warm water creek.  Several creeks fish well with both subsurface flies (crayfish patterns and minnow patterns) and top water imitations (terrestrials, mice and wounded baitfish).  It’s simple fishing and a 6 weight or 7 weight will suffice, along with a couple of basic flies.

For these trips I tied on 3″ deer hair divers, or chuggers with a basic, 9′ leader with 10 pound tippet.  Our goal was to chug and gurgle topwater flies prospecting the deeper holes.  Vary your retrieve technique until you notice a pattern that works.  On every deeper hole (3′ or more) we elicited strikes.  IMG_4407A steady chugging commotion would send a local smallmouth bass into attack mode.  Sometimes they swiped at it, rolled under it, nipped it, or outright inhaled the fly.  This was great practice for my novice family members to focus on line management and their strip strike technique.  It was also a hoot for me to laugh and tease when they missed a fish!  As they are developing their cast, most casts were in the 25′ or 30′ range in length.  Yes, we were hooking and catching fish fairly close.  They are working on longer casts, learning to double haul, maintain line speed and recognize that they will catch even more fish when their casting prowess develops.  Each trip, we landed several cooperative smallmouth bass between 6″ to 14″.  As a bonus, a hefty rock bass and a 30″ toothy pike were also landed.  My cousin was thrilled as it was his first pike ever and he landed it on a topwater pattern.

IMG_4438So, if your favorite trout hole is too warm, why not consider a local warm water creek or pond.  It’s fun to throw big, gaudy topwater flies and there are some decent fish to be targeted.  Besides, before we know it salmonids will be flooding our tributaries and topwater action will be a distant memory.  Take my advice, introduce a novice to topwater warm water fishing and enjoy the experience!

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Craig Dennison

This is Craig and I host Fly Fisher's Workshop. My fly fishing experiences include plenty of travel (Montana/Florida/North Carolina/Maine) and a few years part time guiding for trout. While I primarily target trout and steelhead, I still manage to chase warm water species and enjoy chasing stripers and bluefish. I'm a 3rd generation fly fisher trying to share the passion with my two sons!

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