I sometimes go out to my regular spot on a local stream. The sun is coming up early and dusk isn't until about 9 pm. The smallmouth are holding to structure now that summer has arrived. I figure that deep holes is where the action may be most successful but those holes haven't been very active.
When I go out and know that there are smallmouth and spotted bass which are visible, I try to change up the usual approach to landing fish. Smallmouth bass will usually hang out in pools and will swim their way into shallow riffles and back or even between pools. Some of these riffles don't necessarily have to be deep. I've caught some pretty nice bass in 8 - 12 inch riffles. A few evenings ago, I had to change up my game. Instead of drifting my favorite pool which is about 20 feet long and being shallow on both ends, I began with a cast into about 12 inch riffles.
These riffles were about 15 feet upstream from the pool. There is a lot of traffic in these riffles between the deeper pool and a smaller upstream pool which is about 18 or so feet away. The reason I began casting into these swift but shallow riffles was because there isn't much structure on the edge of the stream at this spot. The bass usually hold near larger rocks. Since we are on our third year of a drought, the stream is becoming low. Bass are going deeper and holding tight to structure. I wanted to maximize my opportunities for fish and had to think outside the box. I landed several bass in these shallow riffles. I lightly presented my Chernobyl Ant as I made my way downstream to my favorite pool. I could not, for the life of me, catch bass because the warmouth and redeye hit every fly I tied on the line. Large and hungry panfish too.
Further downstream at about forty yards the stream gets narrower and more swift as it pours into a pool about 5 feet deep. There are a lot of large rocks, boulders, grass and plants. It was getting darker and I couldn't see to wade well. I began drifting at about 10 yards from where the pool drops off as the stream pours into it. I would cast toward the banks and drift down a bit into the very swift current and as the wooly buggger would begin the drift into the middle, smallmouth and spotted bass would hit the fly. But the key was to begin stripping the fly in as the line drifted away from the bank.
As it became darker, I waded back to the truck. I landed a lot of bream but it was the pool in I first stepped into the stream on which I was concentrating. It is that location which is the hardest to land smallmouth bass. You can see them and they are skittish. The riffles run swift but the bass spend most of their time hanging out in a small backwater pool on the edge of the stream where the stream widens out and deepens from about 8 - 12 inches to about 2 - 3 feet. The bass will make an excursion downstream from time to time and hang out in a small pool that sits at the edge of very shallow riffles. Which means that since the stream is REALLY shallow about 30 yards north, these bass don't have very far to go.
I began drifting with tugs being given by undersized sunfish. I wanted to go home but from time to time, I catch some nice smallies out of this spot. I began casting downstream and popping a Betts' popper upstream. I wanted to stir up some action of some sort. It was dusk and there just had to be a hungry bass somewhere. Sure enough, a few cast later, I landed a real nice smallmouth bass. Sometimes, you gotta think outside the box. It may not be drastic and you may only change your game up a bit but it could pay off.
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