Fly fishing rod

Today’s Sportsman: Topwater Lures Are a Sure Way to Summer Fishing Success | Frederick County

The splash of a fish when it explodes on a surface lure is high on the list of exciting fishing moments. Summer is the time for surface lures, whether you’re fishing for spinning gear or a fly rod. A bursting insect is a great choice for surface action on local rivers like the Monocacy and Potomac to catch aggressive sunfish and hard-fighting smallmouth bass.

In hot weather, the fish look upwards, waiting for something tasty to fall in the water. Poppers imitate a variety of land creatures such as grasshoppers, frogs, beetles, dragonflies or large spiders. It is not uncommon for a fish to heat up a surface lure just seconds after landing on the water. A slight jerk is often enough before a fish crushes the lure.

Get ready for action as the strikes can be vicious, with bars jumping completely out of the water as they smash the surface to take the popper. Sunfish can have a very splashy strike and often make a popping sound as if kissing the popper, but not all strikes are dramatic. Fish will sometimes sip the popper and quietly pull it under the surface. Stay alert and keep an eye on the lure at all times as fish can strike when you least expect it.

Recently I discovered a new lure that is so small it can be cast easily with a fly rod. The P40 Rebel microPOP-R is an ultra-light lure that weighs only 1/16 ounce and is just 1.25 inches long. The barbless hook is easily removed from the fish’s mouth, perfect for catch and release angling.

The small lure is balanced with a small weight on its belly which allows the lure to ride with the right hook. This feature makes this lure virtually weed free. It will roll over structure like logs and even lily pads with a slight pull. The concave front creates a blowing action when retrieved in rapid strips across the surface that attracts the attention of fish.

On the river

On a recent float trip down the Monocacy River, the microPOP-R was put through its paces. I was canoe fishing on the Monocacy with my friend Mike Moneypenny, while following another canoe with John Gallo and Jake Bise. We launched our boats early in the morning at the Monocacy Boulevard ramp and floated downstream to Pinecliff Park. It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine under cloudless skies.

The morning started slow but the fishing action started to pick up as the day warmed up and the sun rose higher. Casting the microPOP-R with my 9 foot, 5 weight fly rod landed a number of bluegills and small bass. Many of the bluegills that attacked the lure were not large enough to successfully gobble up the hook, but a decent sized bluegill was brought within reach several times that morning.

The highlight of the morning came shortly after crossing under the I-70 bridge. The majority of the fish I landed were aggressive smallmouth bass, usually under 10 inches in length with occasional 12-14 inches. I was happy to see that the little bass was plentiful as it will grow over time. I cast the lure towards the shore and it was immediately kicked and quickly sucked in. I set the hook and felt the weight of a good fish.

The fish stayed deep and started swimming upstream. I held on tight to flip the fish. The rod got taut and unfortunately the line broke! I can only guess what I had on the end of the line, maybe a heavy catfish or a huge little one, I’ll never know. The only thing I know is that the microPOP-R has become my favorite surface lure. I will have to repurchase!

Topwater isn’t the only way to catch summer fish. In the other dinghy, Jake Bise had great success fishing with a twist-tailed green maggot using a spinning rod. He landed up to 40 fish at the end of the float. I have no doubt that a wooly-bugger would also have been an effective underground fly.

The fishing was typical of a summer float on the river. Fishing is always a good time spent with friends. We didn’t land any lunkers that morning, but there’s always the next outing to look forward to. Larger pups during the summer months are more likely to be caught during low light periods such as rainy days or very early in the morning or late at night. Still, small bass and panfish can be caught with regularity, even on the sunniest days.