OH YEA Poppers for Smallmouth has begun!
First popper fish of the year happened on Friday May 10th.We woke up to a cold front and a 30 degree drop in temps from the day before. Couple that with a pre-spawn/spawning time and it can make for very difficult fishing. I have dealt with this scenario many times of the years and I have learned one very important thing. PATIENCE. It is crucial to slow down and more and limit your patterns and how you will fish with them. Commit to the plan and stick to it. Over time you will learn those patterns through the study of the fish and your water. If you do that you will develop a go to plan you can call on when needed.
In this case it came down to two things. I knew from Wednesday that there were males starting to make beds or at least up and looking to do it. The water was high and I could not see if there were beds but Al, my client, squeezed a 12 inch fish and you can guess what happened. If you want to know what is going on give a gentile squeeze around the anal fin and if the fish squirted well you know spawning has began.
We made sure we slowed down and took our time. We fished deep water with sinking lines and large Half & Half Streamers and still caught some larger females that had not spawned and actually one that had. Then we waited for that 5 degree increase in temps and went to the poppers. When fishing poppers early in the year, fish them deliberately. Again patience! Fishing for pre-spawn Smallmouth who have moved up to make beds they will take a popper. In fact I think it is the most ethical way to fish to them.
High water off color water should not scare and angler away, it is a terrific time to catch BIG Smallmouth in rivers. What you don't want to do is get on the water if you aren't familiar with the conditions on that river when it is high. Don't take chances just call the guy with the drift boat and head out. You can wade and kayak another time.