The fish are getting fat as Autumn is hopping with Hoppers |

The fish are getting fat as Autumn is hopping with Hoppers

Trapper Rudd

As the long hot days of summer fade into the shorter days of fall, a curious occurrence is sure to drive anglers to near dementia, potential divorce or rapid unemployment and drive trout to rise with reckless abandon.

It’s hopper time.

The grasshoppers come in several colors and sizes and are one of the meaty terrestrials that trout relish. Hoppers are often blown off course by the stiff western breezes as they leap from bushes and foliage. Thankfully, these rather clumsy fliers seem to lack a strong internal gyroscope and find themselves struggling in the river or lake. Trout will often pounce on them faster than Oprah on a baked ham.

Imagine being a trout and seeing a gigantic, kicking insect and actually wanting to eat it.

For trout, hoppers are Big Macs and mean substantial protein and not having to eat five million midges. It is similar to humans at a party with only bean sprouts on the buffet, and someone shows up with prime rib. I have personally witnessed trout with so many hoppers stuffed into their stomachs, they will actually appear lumpy and needing liposuction.

Hoppers begin to emerge in the early spring, depending mostly on elevation and climate.

Unlike aquatic insects living in the river all year in various stages of their life cycle, hoppers are land born and only available to trout in the warmer months.

Trout only have the opportunity to feed on hoppers as winged adults. This means dry flies only. In the High Country, the hottest days with wind tend to produce the best action for fly fishing. Many of the rivers in Summit County, especially those with lots of high grass in ranching areas, have a cornucopia of these terrestrial insects.

One of the finest techniques utilized by anglers is a beautifully forgiving one – the splat. Hoppers make a pretty good commotion by hitting the water; Trout will sense or hear this buggy bellyflop.

Anglers can slam the fly on the surface near the banks to elicit a violent strike.

Skipping the fly under overhanging willows or trees can bring some of the craftiest fish to the net.

Use a stronger tippet than you would with many other smaller flies. Another popular method is the Hopper-Dropper. Trail a Beadhead nymph below your hopper and, then, use the hopper as your strike indicator. It has, on occasion, hooked two fish on one cast. Then, the real rodeo begins.

I prefer tying the dropper fly on the bend of the hook for better flotation and strike detection.

Some of the best patterns for hopper season include the BC Hopper, Charlie Boy, Parachute Hopper and Dave’s Hopper.

So, as you prepare for your next fly-fishing trip, don’t forget about the big bugs and keep your eye peeled for a fish with a carnivorous smile.

Trapper John Rudd is owner/guide and operator of Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne. Trapper has extensive knowledge of fly fishing in both fresh and salt water and travels worldwide in search of fly water.

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