The past few weekends out, it has been some tough fishing. The surface algae on the streams had died. So, it means that the streams are very dirty. Recent rains have washed away the green gunk from the edges of the creeks and rivers. Algae is still growing on the bottom of some streams. Drought, low water which can cause an unhealthy stream has caused algae to bloom on the bottom of the streams in a lot of locations where the water slows down.
I've noticed that they yearly lull for smallmouth bass in this region is about this time of year. Then again, maybe I'm just lousy. Just kidding. Hoppers have been out in full force since May. The heat has caused a bug explosion. I think that topwater action my have stopped because those bass have filled up on hoppers. Well, that's what I would like to think. Bass just aren't hitting my topwater patterns and haven't done so for two weekends.Trying to get panfish to bite has also been difficult. About the only species tagging my flies is Rock Bass. I've been getting a lot of short strikes and "suck and spits" too. Fish will fight and then just release the fly!
Obviously, I've had the most action is swift riffles and clear water that runs through pools which sit at the edges of riffles and runs. I'm sure characteristic smallmouth action will return next month. In the meantime, I'm going to move around to different locations on streams. Last week, I fished several spots on the Illinois River. One of my holes was shut down while the water was so dirty, I couldn't even see my chartreuse Clouser. I moved to a spot that I hadn't fished before and landed one bass after about an hour of exploring.
Today, I hit new water yet again. And as it turns out, my exploration paid off. This location holds a good population of smallmouth bass and large ones are holding in smaller pools due to the drought. The lack of the usual deeper water and lower water has aided in the landing of smallmouth bass.
I tried every fly pattern in my boxes. I found a pool with about 20 or so smallmouth bass. While the smaller bass played at the edge of the riffles, the larger ones were holding to the edge of the bank. Obviously, topwater patterns didn't work. All my casts were scaring the bass away. My woolly buggers were causing the timid bass to hide or shy away. I became tied of fishing that spot and waded off elsewhere to no success.
I came back a bit later and chose to tie on a brown Pistol Pete. I caught a smallmouth bass on my first cast. I proceeded to catch 23 smallies in tow different holes. Rock bass also joined in on the fun. The bass weren't active in the riffles at all. All the bass I caught were at in pools and at the edges of riffles or at the end of runs in a few spots.
I lost my only Pistol Pete on the bottom of the stream. I didn't dare move. Things were looking good. A Woolly Bugger would work, right?? Isn't that what a Pistol Pete is anway?? Nope! Need a propeller. No takers on buggers. I waded up and saw my Pistol Pete, bent over and filled my waders with water as I gladly plucked it from the rocks.
Wading down to another spot, I landed several more small bass before the old lady called. I was to leave and pick up dinner. GRRR!!
Last week, bass were soft striking my Pistol Pete. I tied on a Clouser and began landing smallies. This week, no takers on my Clousers and I tied on the Pistol. Good day. Funny how fish behave, isn't it?