In late summer and early fall hot temperatures slow fishing success and frustrated anglers swear the fish are suffering from severe cases of lockjaw. But, fly flingers can dial-up the action by casting grasshopper patterns to spots where panfish and bass wait to feed on live hoppers that are blown off of shoreline vegetation or otherwise fall into the water.
It’s not hard to find grasshoppers in late summer when the afternoons and evenings are dry and hot. Great numbers of them can be found in grassy spots along rivers, streams, creeks, lakes and ponds and some always fall or are blown from vegetation along the banks into shallow water. It doesn’t take long for a fat, slow-swimming hopper to become a meal for bluegill or largemouth bass.
There are many types, colors and sizes of grasshoppers and all the angler has to do is choose a hopper fly that is the approximate shape, color and size of those living in the area being fished.
You don’t have to be too careful when fishing with hopper patterns, just find a spot with lots of vegetation growing on the bank or where tree branches hang out over the water and cast near those spots.
When a hopper falls or is blown into the water, it lands with a noticeable “splat” and almost immediately starts to kick along the surface towards the safety of dry land. When you cast, don’t be afraid to “slam” that hopper fly down onto the surface, you want to demand the bluegill or bass’s attention. Then skitter the fly slowly and erratically across the water’s surface towards shore as if it is anxious to make dry land.
It is important that the fly floats on the water’s surface after the cast and during the retrieve. If the hopper sinks in the water the fish will ignore it. After every cast, and especially after I’ve landed a fish, I squeeze the water from the fly and add floatant if necessary to keep it afloat.
One of Maggie’s and my favorite grasshopper patterns for largemouth bass and bluegill is a knock-off from an old fly I found in one of my dad’s fly boxes. I don’t know the actual name of the fly, but Maggie and I call it “Dad’s Hopper.”
Dad’s HopperHook -- Mustad 9671 #8
Thread – Danville’s Black Flat Waxed Nylon
Body – Medium Olive Chenille
Legs – Olive Green Raffia Straw
Hackle – Olive Green Rooster Hackle Feather