Wakely Lake is one of Michigan's too few Catch and Release, off road fishing opportunities. It is a 1/2 mile walk in with a kayak on wheels down a gravel road. The Bluegills are bigger. The Bass are smarter and the occasional Pike are as mean as ever. I found no active bluegill beds and fishing for small bluegills and small bass back in the beautifully lush shallow weed cover was hard work for small fish. There were a few larger male bass guarding nests back behind the bull rushes, under low overhanging cedars, tough targets. Where are the big girls?
I wasn't getting much but a spin fisherman wading in up to his arm pits, just past the cattails from the campground meadow was getting good action on bass. I began throwing my popper in toward the shoreline weed edges and out over the clear open water. This open water was 8 feet down to visible weeds or 10 to 12 feet deep where the bottom was beyond the visible depth. I had a good day covering the deeper open water with a 1/0 Black Marabou Creature Popper. To cover open water, a steady quick rhythm of medium pops works well. Bass were coming up to eat it, usually far out on a long cast so the video isn't so impressive. They were not following it in at all. None hit anywhere close to the kayak. No bass came back for a second try even if they didn't get stuck. I got maybe my best bass at 18 inches. After I wore out the marabou tail on that black popper, I experimented with other colors which were only slightly effective. Maybe the bite had slowed or I had stung too many bass already. I got the best hit of the day when a pike blasted straight up from below in a classic missile launch strike. He took a small 1/0 Pink Marabou Minnow Popper pattern.
Marabou Creature Popper, tie it.
- Hook: 1/0 to 3/0 small eye short predator hook, similar to a Mustad 32606
- Thread: 210 denier, color is not critical
- Head: 1/2 5/8 or 3/4 inch diameter, cut to 14mm, 1/3 of the 42mm long cylinder
- Tail: Full Marabou, 2 times hook length
- Waist: Ice Dub Clump to streamline gap between head and tail tie in
- Flash: 5 strands of Dyed Pearl Flashabou folded both sides of dubing clump
- "Legs" 3 or 4 Red Rubber strands folded to each side of dubbing clump
- Tools: stout needle like tool, a dulled round toothpick, a sharp knife
This Popper represents nothing specific but definitely moves like some living creature. Good colors are: Black, Purple, Chartreuse or Olive. Tan or Gray shrimp colors should work for salt water species lurking around Mangroves in those backwater bays and channels. For Purple Poppers: black, purple or pink heads all work.
I don't paint gills or eyes on the heads, The splay of red rubber legs better represents gills like on a salamander or tadpole and should not be long, best if less than 1/2 of the tail length. For a salt water shrimp, the legs can be long and leggy and a similar color to the rest of the fly. Pearl Dyed Black Flashabou folded to lay on both sides of the Ice Dub waist and the tail works well for all the natural or dark color schemes. The Ice Dub clump is tied in 60% facing back over the narrow tie in of the marabou and 40% facing forward tight up against the back of the head. It streamlines that gap between fat head and narrow marabou tie in. Choose one of the numerous attractive Ice Dub colors that matches whatever color popper you are doing. The cut length of the head should closely match the length of bare shank ahead of the tied in tail materials.
The Marabou Minnow Popper is similar to the Creature Popper but in bright minnow colors (White or Chartreuse) with no rubber legs and bright flash like a mix of silver and pearl. I put on an eye or two and paint a gill stripe or two on the head.