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.


  1. Josh
    Great post!!!! Man you hit pay dirt with that haul. Even a small smallie will give you a fight on the fly. I think I have ask you this before but what length rod and wt are you using? Those smallmouth are fantastic on the fly, especially when you get them down under. The olive bugger is my favorite when it comes to buggers. Have you tried any large dry flies early on top? Sometimes that seems to bring the hits when the poppers won't produce. Thanks for sharing a great post.

  2. Bill, I am using a 8'6 8 wgt. fly rod. I sometimes use a 6'7 4 wgt. and it's a pain trying to land a smallmouth around 3 lbs. in the current. I could take a net but I'm a gear minimalist. So, I mostly stick to the 8 wgt. which isn't rigid. I like the rod to give a bit. Sometimes, I use Elk Hair Caddis to land bass - usually tiny smallies or spots though. I have been using an Elk Hair Hopper with foam body and rubber legs and it works great. I may have to drift some elk hair hoppers which is what I used last weekend to land several decent smallies.