Hopper Time

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Remember good Ol’ Buffalo Bob asking us, “Hey Kids, what time is it?

Well, it’s obviously not Howdy Doody time any more, but it is late summer in the Flathead Valley and that means Hopper Time.

Seems like last week there wasn’t a single grasshopper in the pasture, then all of a sudden there’s brown hoppers all over the place.

My wife was wondering what those hoppers were gonna eat in the garden.

I was thinking it’s time to pull out the Joe’s Hoppers and drag one across the river.

It’s no secret late summer is a tough time to catch trout. In lakes, the fish are deeper to escape warm water that holds less oxygen than cooler water.

The cutties in the river have seen umpteen flies, floaties, rafts, kayaks, canoes, and inner tubes drifted over their heads in the past two months.

But hoppers offer anglers a renewed chance to catch trout.

In nature, finding the most food energy by expending the least body energy is a key to survival.

Trout that have been living on tiny larvae, pupae and small adult insects all summer go nuts seeing a huge, protein-rich, grasshopper float by.

Spin fishermen can hook a live hopper through the thorax and use a “casting bubble” for casting weight.

Most fly fishers already have their favorite hopper patterns. I’ve found color and legs are triggers. Foam patterns work but avoid realist-looking, rubber molded flies.

If floating the flies doesn’t produce fish, add a small split shot, then hold onto the rod with both hands!

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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