(17) Saginaw Bay Trib, few Bass & Pike on Popper Pattern

Bass Poppers Kayak Fishing Pike Popper

This tributary to Saginaw Bay is a medium small stream with a DNR boat launch near the mouth.  In the lower river, swells of rising and falling water in Lake Huron would reverse the small current and send rising water upstream for almost a mile.  Then the water would fall back out to the mouth carrying extra volume + the normal flow.  It would carve out or flush out a wider and deeper channel.  Big Bass, Small to Medium Pike, big walleye, Bowfin, Channel Cats and a rare Sheephead would move in during the spring and early summer.  There was good fishing from the mouth to a 1/2 mile upstream of a shallow sand bar, Above that shallow bar, all the way to the first riffle would be excellent Kayak fishing that bigger boats could not access. 

I fished choice spots for a mile upstream without a sniff from a fish.  I saw pods of 1 inch Bluegill fry riffling the surface, they went completely un molested.  With the water now 30+ inches above normal, I fished over deep water well upstream anywhere I had fished before, well up river of the sand bar and where that first riffle used to be.  On a shallower inside bend, I got a 12 inch bass that rushed and ate my 2/0 Purple Popping Wedge. Just upstream was a railroad bridge  where a cast against its vertical stone wall caused something of unknown size to move on the popper, the popper silently disappeared and I set the hook on a good bass about 18 inches.  The hook came free the instant I clamped my thumb on his jaw. 

No fish in the short forested stretch up to the highway bridge.  After a steady popping retrieve past the center column of the bridge support, I had paused to allow for any follower to hit the still popper.  As I began to sweep it off the surface for the next cast, a very small pike blasted it from 3 feet away.   I got him and was glad the broken barb hook let me release the deeply hooked popper with no damage to him or my popper.  My 12 pound leader snapped easily when tested so I retied and the next cast to the shallows against shore under the bridge got blasted by another small pike. 

Nothing further upstream.  Heading back down, I got another 13 inch bass from the same wall that held the 18 incher.  A pike hit me in the shallow edge where the first bass hit.  He cut me off on the hook set but the popper was sitting right there on the surface as if he had only bit the leader and missed the fly.  Another small bass hit and missed but would not come back.  A mile of water and nothing except strikes from 7 fish in that 100 yards of stream. 

A vertical flat wall in deep water on the edge of a steam is a high percentage ambush point for a predator.  Small fish follow the shoreline on their travels and against that vertical wall they are over deep water and have no escape from attack from below but leap straight up, and that usually ends badly when they fall back down.





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