Late summer and early fall. Some call these the dog-days, I tend to call it hopper season.
All across our rivers in Texas, grasshoppers are arrantly landing on the water. Creating a splash, struggling to quickly get back to the bank, and more often than not...taken under by a hungry fish. I love fishing a hopper this time of year for two simple facts, 1) they catch a ton of different species, and 2) they are so easy to fish.
A hopper will catch all sorts of species here in Texas. All sorts of Sunfish species, Largemouth, Guadalupe, Spotted, and Smallmouth Bass, and even a Channel Catfish will hit a hopper. There was an old-timer that once told me, "a catfish will always eat a grasshopper because a grasshopper eats grass and the catfish needs its vegetables." I'm not saying there is real truth to that, but...
|A Dave's Hopper is a favorite|
To fish a hopper, you don't need to worry about too much. Your cast doesn't need to land softly, in fact, a little disturbance can often go a long way. You don't have to make a perfect cast, just try and land it about a foot or so from the bank. And don't worry so much about your retrieve (or lack their of.) Sometimes just letting it float in place, or down the current, will do the trick, sometimes twitching and moving it is more of the key. I like to cast, let it sit there for a few seconds, then slowly twitch it back to me.
There are a few keys to that I find improve my hopper fishing. Here they are. I hope they help you catch a few more fish.
1) Always be ready. Often a fish will hit your fly the moment it hits the water. Be ready for that. But, sometimes it takes a minute or two, so if you don't get and instant strike, be patient. Let the fly sit, then twitch it in place before bringing it back and casting again.
2) Land it near the bank...not on it. As I mentioned earlier, your cast doesn't have to be perfect. A grasshopper (or a cricket, or a cicada) doesn't really pick where it lands when it lands on the water. They just land somewhere "near" the bank. Your cast should too.
3) Increase your hopper size as the season gets later. If you pay attention, the size of the grasshoppers around you often increases as the year goes on. Try to match the size of the grasshoppers you see jumping around. I think a size 10 is a great "all season" hopper size, but anywhere from a size 16 to a size 6 can be effective.
4) Fish them in the late morning. Grasshoppers tend to be kind-of-asleep in the early morning and less likely to be "super active." As sun comes up and starts to warming them, they will start to move around but still be sluggish. This is the time that an errant landing or a light breeze can knock them into the water. This is the time that hoppers are most effective.
5) Fish your hopper around grass. This should pretty much go without saying, but grasshoppers live, and jump, in the open areas with grass. This is where you should fish them. They will not be as effective in stretches of river that are lined with trees on all sides. Those banks lined with Cypress trees are not your best bet, but that riparian area full of native grasses...that is where you will find hopper success.
|Local River Hopper|
|Hopper Bundle from Flydrology|