Friday, May 25, 2012

Deep Smallmouth vs. Shallow Smallmouth Bass

I've been fishing quite a bit up until last Thursday.  My grandfather passed away and the kids are out for summer.  I caught these fish last week before heading out of town to be a pall bearer and to say goodbye to my papaw.  I'm sure I'll hit a stream soon.  There hasn't been much rain this spring and there seems to be another heat wave this year.  With all the temperature records, it's not just in the south but seemingly the rest of the country too.

The lack of rain has led to shallow streams.  Shallow streams leads to fish becoming trapped in holes or retreating to deeper pools.  I think the best way to fish a stream is to float it.  You have the opportunity to become more stealthy and cover more water.  Obviously, the best time of day to fish for smallmouth bass is when there is less sunlight.  Overcast days are the best.  Mornings and evenings are still great times to hit the water too.

I mainly wade streams.  I also am not the world's leading smallmouth angler and I surely don't land lunkers time and again.  But, I am pretty consistent at landing fish.  This time of year when the riffles tend to slow and the water retreats - especially when there is a drought - to maximize your float trip or wading, cast into deep pools.  That is where you have the best chance of a smallmouth tagging your fly or lure.  Sure, you can catch them in shallow water or pools they become trapped in.  I've seen shallow pools run for 40 yards and only be an average of 2 -3 feet deep.  But when the sun comes up, you'll wanna cast where the fish will retreat and that is deeper holes.

If your wading time is maximized or you are floating, hit the deep holes and keep moving.  Use flies and baits that have lots of wiggle movement.  When there is little sunlight such as early morning or a heavily shaded area, smallmouth will move from deeper holes to shallow areas foraging for something to suck down his gullet.

I read an Outdoor article in the local paper.  The writer and a guide had an "average" day while catching 30 smallmouth and spotted bass as they floated the Kings River in Arkansas..  I would call that a stellar day, wouldn't you??

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More smallmouth bass. Popping bugs, crawdads and buggers.

Here an email I wrote to my dad this morning.  I went out and caught more smallmouth bass Monday morning.

Hey dad, 

Sorry to hear about Papaw.  I'll be thinking of him.  I'm sure there's something that can be done.  Perhaps, he can go to therapy and exercise to make his heart stronger.  Walk a bit or something.  

I went fishing again yesterday.  I've been trying to hit the stream a lot before the kids are out for summer.  I updated some pics on Facebook.  Nothing fancy.  Week before last, I tried to dig out my camera and lost a big smallmouth.  It was at least 3 and probably bordered on 4 lbs.  I had that fish in my hands three times.  One of those times, I let him loose on a leash.  The last time I held him, I lost my grip and grabbed the leader and the fly broke off before I got a picture.  One of my largest bass.  I thought I got hung up when I hooked him on a 4 weight rod.

Most of what I've been catching lately are what I consider average smallmouth.  I caught 21 smallies on Friday last week.  Most being about 8 - 12 inches.  Same as yesterday.  They seem pretty picky and are holding to brush pretty tightly.  I've been drifting crawdads and wooly buggers.  Yesterday, I had some take poppers.  Lost a good fish too.  That thing fought hard and I've never had one fight like this one - then he jumped off the hook.

I've been hitting the same four spots on the $#%& River.  Water is going down and the riffles are fading.  The bass are moving deeper and have been tougher to find over the past few weeks.  One sweet spot had a fallen tree last year that I caught tons of smallmouth off of with poppers.  That tree was swept away.  Once it rains and the riffles pick back up, smallmouth action will pick up. I'll have to fish some backwater and slews for spotted bass . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bass Fly, Panfish Fly, Trout Fly - whatever fly.

I caught a bunch of smallmouth bass this weekend on this size 4 olive wooly bugger with olive hackle.  I just about forgot the Wooly Bugger.  With new warm water flies coming out all the time and my recent success with the Clouser, the wooly bugger hasn't made it's way into my fly box.  I fish mainly for smallmouth and panfish.  Largemouth and spotted bass make their way into the mix.  I used poppers, Clousers, crawdad patterns and the odd mix of custom foam flies.  As a matter of fact, I have some buggers listed on ebay.

The past few trips out, those smallies have snubbed my Clousers.  I've landed a few on them but I had to find something effective.  So, I tied on a Wooly Bugger which I only had because of some panfish I was targeting the other day.  I know, my pictures aren't the best but I do what I can.  Hey, at least I'm catching fish.

I'm gonna figure out some color combos for the ol' wooly. 

Tight lines!

Wooly Bugger invented for Smallmouth. Bass fly pattern.

I've got 18 more listings of Gurglers and foam flies for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, trout, panfish or which ever fish you like.  I caught this smallmouth on a wooly bugger this weekend.  I'll be listing some on ebay shortly.  I LOVE SMALLMOUTH!  

The wooly bugger was initially designed/invented for smallmouth bass.  I never knew this wonderful bit of information until yesterday.  "When he (Russell Blessing) created the fly in 1967, he wasn’t an avid fly tier like he was in his later years. He actually created it for smallmouth bass. He wanted to create something similar to the Dobsonfly larva. He later added a marabou tail, which created the Woolly Bugger.", Kirk Werner - Fly Rod & Reel.

Awesome isn't it??  I had no idea the wooly bugger was not created until 1967.  I just assumed it had possibly been around as long as the wooly worm.  I'm hoping to get some tying in today.  We've been doing things for the wifey all weekend.  So, I'm hoping to do some daddy things today.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Drifting for Smallmouth - No Clousers today. Gotta have Wooly Buggers.

This morning, I just had the feeling it was a good day to go out and hunt some smallmouth bass.  Lately, I've been hitting the stream hard.  I wanna get catch some smallmouth before the kids get out of school for the summer.  I've been catching lots of smallies lately.  Not loads but a decent amount.  So, I wasn't too stressed out about landing a few fish.  I drove to the stream relaxed as I listened to some NPR.

I took my time at the truck selecting flies and separating them into certain boxes.  It was a nice brisk and sunny morning.  Some little wisps of fog hung over the stream and the water was definitely colder than last weekend.  I was actually going to enjoy this trip to the stream.

I began drifting a Clouser in some fast riffles in which I can always land a few smallmouth bass.  Nothing happened.  I tied on a Betts' Popper and drifted it as well and casted up to the other bank with a good plop.
Still nothing.  I figured maybe it was a drop in water temps over the last few days due to overnight cold snaps.

I then waded down to another location known to hold a healthy population of smallies and large Pumpkin Seed panfish.  I began with a Betts' Popper.  Last weekend, I had landed several bass on a custom made popper.  I quickly landed a decent smallmouth.  After that, I couldn't stir up another strike.  I was drifting in riffles averaging about 2 ft. deep and about thirty yards long.  I was standing about mid point and casting to the right up to the bank and drifting down to my left to the end of the riffles.  There is a fallen tree and some roots and deep holes along the bank.  The sun wasn't shining fully on the stream.  I couldn't see how the bass were playing out.  I decided to tie on a chartreuse and white Clouser.  I drifted this fly while casting from different locations on this spot.  Still no action.

I brought some Muddlers and Wooly Buggers along with me.  I seem to have just been preparing my fly boxes with Clousers and poppers only.  I wanted to switch it up.  Last week, the smallies were thumbing their noses at my Clouser.  I tied on an olive Wooly Bugger and GAME ON!!

The second cast I made with the bugger drew a large smallmouth from the bottom.  It pounced on the bugger when it hit the water.  He missed it and tagged it again as the riffles pulled it downstream.  From that point, the smallmouth bass were pouncing on it.

As the daylight grew, I saw the fish moving about in about mid-stream.  I changed my cast to acommodate their location.  Once the strikes slowed down, I began stripping it in a bit and some of those smallies went nuts for it.  I had one come after it and change it's mind as another bass came towards it.  Both missed it in the drift and I cast it in front of that bass again and wham!

I landed almost all my smallouth on that olive wooly bugger,  I did land some just drifting a Crazydad (crawdad patter).  On the way back to the truck, I hit that hole I started out with on the stream.  I landed two more smallmouth.  My tally for the day is 16 smallmouth - 1 rock bass (calico bass) - no spotted bass - no largemouth and only 1 panfish.  About half were 8 - 12 inches and the other half were pretty healthy.  All were great fighters.

I've almost forgotten about the wooly bugger.  If it wasn't for some panfish I was targeting the other afternoon, I would've totally dismissed it today.  I've been having trouble getting fish to hit during mid-day.  So, I decided to drift some streamers and the bugger won out.  Big fat panfish love to hit those things.  I'm gonna start selling some buggers on ebay shortly.

Tight Lines.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hunting Smallmouth and Rock Bass - Topwater action and Clousers.

I went back out to find that dreamy smallmouth I lost before capturing it's picture.  I had that fish in my grasp just for a moment before he shook loose and broke the line.  I had fished Sunday at a different location than Saturday and did fairly well.  The bass were not as active.  Not nearly as active.  Monday, I landed several small bass and took some larger ones.  The bluegills were very picky too.  Maybe it's because the new full moon is over??

I've been wading the same stream time and again.  I think it's time to float or wade a new location.  I did spice it up this spring by hitting some new locations.  The water level of a length of stream I wade has steadily declined over the past few years.  We have been in a drought for a long time.  There was some flooding in the spring.  One of the worst rains - and yet still a drought, lol.  The levee at Lake Bella Vista broke - some ground shifted and the lake flooded over.  The year before, on of the spillways was damaged. The Elk River and Big Sugar were flooded earlier in the year - which is where I do some wading.  The water level was higher last fall.  Since the water levels were higher, there was more current.  And more fallen trees and cover for the fish.  I tore the fish up and slowly, the fallen trees and cover swept away or shifted and the water level diminished.  The bass moved into some other locations and it's been a challenge to find bass.

A few new holes were found and I was able to drift some top water patterns.  Clousers proved effective too but those smallmouth and spotted bass are getting very picky.  They dart out as to strike to fly but stop at the last second.  They also like to watch top water patterns drift inches from their nose.  They strike soft and cough up flies.  It's about that time to wait until fall - unless you are hitting some deep holes.

I missed out on a lot of bass because I don't mend my line went drifting.  I also need to wade more strategically and settle down as not to slap my line on the water.  I still mainly catch small to medium bass but as long as I catch a few big ones every now and then, it makes me feel like I know what I'm doing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Spotted bass fly - green popper.

I just wanted to post this picture.  I caught this bass last August on a fly I bought at Bass Pro Shops.  That fly didn't make it past the afternoon.  It was made cheaply and busted on a back cast.  I've been out fishing the past few days.  It's kind of been the same thing as last year.  I've been catching a lot of small to medium size bass but every now and then I catch a large smallmouth or largemouth.  This year, I have done well on bass.  I need to start taking more pictures.  I landed about 10 nice bass of which I haven't even snapped a picture.  Then there was the other day when I couldn't land those two nice bass because I had to try and dig my camera out.

I'm still selling flies on ebay.  Mostly Gurglers.  I started collecting license plates to put a wall in the garage.  Which means, I can go "Mantiquing".  I've landed a few large bass this year.  Nothing phenomenal but when I read some blogs and see photos of some pretty good size bass, it always makes me wonder if I'm going after those smallmouth and spotted bass in a proper method.

Guess I'll have to post another entry with pics after I've collected my thoughts for the day.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Elk River, Cursing and a lousy phone. All for smallmouth.

Over the past few days, I've been wading the Elk River in Mo.  Could be Noel, or Pineville . . . I'll never tell.  LOL.  There were a few folks out floating the Big Sugar and Elk today but definitely not the rowdy, drinking folks.  At least not yet.  Poor cops have to assist the Conservation Dept. during the spring and fall because of all the rowdy floaters.  If there are large crowds of people or lots of vehicles, I usually avoid wading at all.  It's a nuisance . . . for the most part.

The odd thing about these bass is that they like to come out and escort the canoes or float underneath.  I'm not sure why but with modest floating traffic, it sometimes helps fishing.  They aren't as leary and seem inviting to new and interesting things.  Sometimes, I tie on a popper and cast near the canoes.  Usually near the rear end.  It gets me a few hits here and there.  Plus the ladies like a man in uniform, lol.

Anyways, I took out a new phone the other day and couldn't figure out hot to get the pics off.  It cost me a few bucks but I got it done.  I ran into some folks fishing and it seems that I may have bested most of them.  I think it was because of all the time I spent out there.

Here's a few pics from the weekend out on the Elk.  I will be heading back tomorrow . . . to a different location to try and recapture that large smallmouth I lost yesterday.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dreamy smallouth bass and a new buddy.

The smallmouth of my dreams got away today.  I would've released it anyway.  I was on the Elk River in Missouri today.  I've been getting skunked lately and figured to hit some better water.  I ran into a guy who was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  He was drenched.  I didn't ask why but we got to talking about that stretch of river.  When I see other people, I usually take off the other direction.  Today, he was already where I wanted to be.  He was catching some bass on a fluke.  I joined him and started landing bass on Elk Hair hoppers and foam popping bugs.  Nothing big.  Mostly 10 -12 inches.  I finally started catching larger stuff that was about 1 pound.  The other guy landed a nice bass about 2 lbs.  I wanted to show this guy what I was capable of with a fly rod.  I switched to a Clouser and landed a big bass - kind of landed it.

I downsized from a smart phone to the prepaid LG420g. It wasn't until today that I took pictures. I found out that even though it has Bluetooth and a USB port, the photos cannot be downloaded. GRRR.

I hooked what may be the biggest bass I have ever had on the rod. It was a smallie that had to have weighed almost 4 lbs. I fought this guy for a while. At one point, he was belly up up. The line had tangled in a fin. As I tried to get a grip on him, he took off again. This time, he was tangled a bit within the fly line and the leader was tightening on the fly line. I tried to reign him in again but it was a mess with the line. I grabbed a hold of the leader, swung him up out of the water to grab his mouth and he flopped out of my grip and once I grabbed the leader and made it tight, the line snapped. She was a beauty.

I was mad because I didn't get a picture but as it turns out, I didn't matter because I can't post it. I'm currently researching forums for info.

It's such a beautiful day!!!!!!!