For the past week I had been watching the USGS flow gauge like a hawk and hoping that the passing thunderstorms we had almost every evening wouldn't raise the water level or cause the river to become muddy and unfishable. With a few days of fairly clear weather, and a Sunday afternoon free after church, I decided it was time to take a chance and check things out. I gave my brother-in-law Trent a call and we made plans to head down there and give it a try. Everything looked good on the Internet, but the only way we would know for sure would be to take a ride down to the river and see for ourselves. I was a little bit anxious, not knowing how the flooding had affected the riverbed and wondering if my favorite area to fish would be unrecognizable.
|Results of the Flooding|
|First Smallmouth of the Year|
After fishing the popper a while, I figured it was time to get serious and switch to a favorite streamer pattern to try to get my first smallmouth of the year. My decision may or may not have been influenced by Trent telling me about having a few nice bass chase the streamer he was fishing with. Once I switched flies, I finally hooked up with my first smallmouth of the year. It was a chunky little bass, but it made up for its size with attitude. After I caught this first bass and fished a few more pools without another strike, I decided to try a popper again in the hope that the increasing cloud cover would cause the fish to be more inclined to eat a top water offering.
I had high hopes of getting a bass on one of my new poppers, and it almost happened - but not in the way I was expecting. I caught another redbreast on the popper, and then fished my way downstream to a spot that had been deepened by the recent floods. It looked like a good place for a bass to hang out, with deeper water and lots of rocky structure. About this time, the clouds had increased and it started to rain. I don't know if this had anything to do with it, but the fish suddenly turned on and starting biting. I had a few missed strikes on the popper, then hooked up with another nice redbreast sunfish. As I was playing the fish, my fly rod suddenly bowed deep, and I thought the fish had wrapped me around a log or rock. I put some pressure on, hoping to get the fish out of whatever it had wrapped up in, and to my surprise a big smallmouth came partially out of the water and spit out the redbreast along with my popper that was still in its mouth! I don't want to try to guess exactly how big this bass was, but I can say without a doubt that it was bigger than any I had caught down here before. It had completely swallowed a nice sized panfish, and seemed to do it without any trouble. After my initial shock wore off, I brought in the redbreast, which seemed none the worse for having been swallowed and regurgitated, and released it.
|One to End On|
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