First Muskegon River smallmouth bass trip of the year today with bud and fellow RiverQuest guide Don Graham.  Lots of fun, though, the bite started off tough.  The water was significantly off-color from recent rain, and the river was choc-full of minnows—literally thousands of them.   So whether full fish tummies were the issue or some other variable, we weren’t sure, but the only way to prevail is to press on so we laid out casts—lots of casts.  Streamers and crayfish patterns yielded zip, but as the day warmed and the sun hit the water, we began to get some action on top with poppers.  Don fished a green frog pattern, and it was a bee for me…  The fish struck aggressively, often taking the bugs deeply. Key to success was laying the poppers close to shoreline structure.  To one bass we spotted feeding, I threw three casts within a couple of feet of where Don suggested the popper land.   No dice.  Next cast, I drilled the spot he wanted me to hit, no more than a foot and half from shore, and Bang!  So, it’s a target shoot: structure, structure, structure.  Though at the end of the day,  I prevailed in the numbers competition, Don took big fish honors with the chubber he holds in the picture below.  All in all, a wonderful day of top-water fly fishing for smallies with a great friend.

Captain Tom Kuieck