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Hula Popper Fishing Question

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As some of you know, I have been struggling trying to catch bass in our little town marina on the Ohio River.  This morning, I decided to give an old Hula Popper (Yellow w/ Red Accents) I was given a try.  I had seen some fish busting nearby, so I thought it was worth a shot going topwater.  I was just about to give up, but as I'm slowly working the popper back (popping a couple times, then waiting a count of 5, popping twice then waiting 5) I see a smallie following it back to the dock.  It doesn't strike, so I pop it again, and for some reason, rather than triggering a bite, it scared the fish away.  Am I missing something here?  The movement was enough to get this fish to follow it, but not enough to get it to bite.  Anything I'm doing wrong?

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It probably saw you on that last twitch and spooked.  I have fish follow baits all the time and not strike.  They might strike that same bait on the next cast or may become completely disinterested.  Usually switching baits gets them interested again.  If I can just pick up another rigged rod and follow-up as a test that usually tells me what they're biting.  If they come up to the boat or shore and see me moving, they swim away fast.  

  I had an interesting experience on some semi-captive fish in a creek last weekend.  The creek is really low and the fish are trapped in the deeper holes.  I snuck down there and got a few casts in with a small barbless crank and they were all over it at first, but as soon as they saw me, they retreated to the other side of the hole and wouldn't bite again.  

So I moved about 20 yards down to the next hole and started catching them on the Ned rig.  After catching and releasing a few, they wouldn't hit the Ned any more, so I switched to a plastic swimbait.  Caught a few more and then stopped again, so I switched to a jig.  Seems like in that captive environment, they figured out what was a trap pretty quick, so I had to keep switching due to the low population and close proximity of the fish.  

If they don't like the popping action but are hitting on top, you might switch over to a Heddon Zara Spook and do some walking action and see if they take it.  I love poppers, but sometimes they just aren't working and the spook may clean house in that situation.  

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It's good to have a different follow up lure for instances like this. I keep a weightless worm handy on deck and throw it when a fish misses a top water. They usually hit it. They've shown they are hungry so I give them something easier and just let that worm fall to the bottom. 

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Haven't fished a Hula Popper in decades. With any surface lure cadence is the key to generating strikes. Your pop and wait 5 seconds only got the interest of 1 curious bass. Hula Poppers have a flat rubber skirt tail that triggers strikes if you let the skirt work. If I remember correctly the Fred Arbogast recommended retreive was cast and let sit until all the wave rings dissapear then pop it, let rest again followed by several quick pops, let rest and repeat. Most strikes occur with a Hula Popper before your first pop or short after the first pop. The faster retreive lets you make more casts in between the initial rest and pop.

Tom

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WRB - Thanks for the tip on cadence.  I'll give that a shot.

Hog - I wondered the same thing.  I went straight from work, and the shirt I had on has a bright yellow logo on it.  I actually said to my wife, I wondered if when he was close enough I could see him, it also meant he was close enough to see me.

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the action you used,.. got that fishes attention, often a quicker retrieve will generate the strike as the fish thinks its either going to get away, or the lure is actually, injured prey

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