Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Smallmouth Bass and Being Slack

I hate to admit that my blogging seems to  follow a trend of several posts, followed by long, (too long!), periods of neglect and inactivity on the blog. It seems that there's always some excuse for why I don't take the time to sit down and write about the outdoors. I'm not going to promise that this is going to change, although I'd like to become more consistent with my blogging. 

I started this blog a little over three years ago as a place to write about and share my love of hunting and fishing, and for a while I was fairly consistent about writing on here and reading other blogs that I found through comments left here and sites like the Outdoor Blogger Network. I found a lot of great blogs, and "met" some good writers through comments left on here. I was amazed then, (and still am now), that anybody would want to take the time to read my ramblings about trout and turkeys, deer and bass, or the joys of planting a garden.  Before I write about my latest trip for smallmouth bass, I just wanted to take the time to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read these ramblings over the past three years or so, and also to all the online friends I've met through the outdoor blogging community who've taken the time to leave a comment on here or added me to your blog roll. I apologize for being such a slacker at times when it comes to blogging, and even if I've not left a comment on your blog lately I do still enjoy reading every one of them. Now, on with the fishing trip!

It's been a hot, dry summer so far here in western North Carolina. With highs in the 90's almost every day since the middle of June, not to mention several days that saw 100 degree temperatures, fishing trips have been few and far between. Our garden is all but done producing, and I keep thinking about fall and cooler weather. In spite of the heat, fishing has been on my mind. I keep thinking how good a trip up to the high country to chase trout would be, but so far I haven't been able to work out a good time to go. In the meantime, to at least temporarily satisfy my need to cast a fly, I decided to give the local smallmouth river a shot. I knew that water flow had been much lower than normal for several days before, but by watching the USGS gauge I happened to notice that the river had come up close to a normal summer flow when I made the decision to take a spur-of-the-moment trip.

I gave my one of my usual fishing partners, (my brother-in-law), a call to see if he was free, and within 45 minutes I was picking him up on the way to the river. When we arrived, the river looked to be in better shape than the last few times I had been by, with a normal current and decent amount of water. The few times I had seen the river previously, the current was almost nonexistent and there were rocks exposed that are normally never seen. I have tried fishing a time or two under those conditions, but the fish tend to be extremely spooky and sometimes hard to locate because the holes that can be accessed by wading tend to get too shallow to hold fish at extremely low flows.

We both started out throwing various popping bugs, with the hope of some surface action. Neither of us were able to get a strike from a bass, although we each caught some redbreast sunfish on top water. After fooling around with a popper for a little while, I decided to switch to a streamer and get serious about bass fishing. I decided to go with a purple, pink, and white Triple Threat streamer  because the water was slightly stained and the bass down here seem to prefer brighter colored flies. I've had a lot more success here with blue, purple, and pink colored flies than I have with more natural colors.

First Smallmouth of the Year
As I fished my way downstream, I made a cast toward the bank just in front of a submerged rock and felt that familiar resistance when I went to strip in my fly. I set the hook, and before I had time to even process what had happened a pretty little smallmouth bass was jumping on the end of my line. After a few good runs and several more jumps, I had the first smallmouth of the year in hand. He wasn't the biggest bass I've ever caught down here, but I was excited to see him. I was worried about what the high heat and lack of rain would do to the bass, but this bass looked healthy and well fed, and was full of energy.

I was hoping that this would be a sign of good things to come for the day, but as we continued fishing we noticed that the river was dropping once again. There is a small dam at a power plant upstream of where we fish, and evidently the gates at the dam had been closed once again. As the water dropped and continued to clear, the fishing became more and more difficult. That first bass would turn out to be the only one for the day, although each of us did manage a few more redbreast sunfish each. Once again, these came on small poppers in various colors. The sunfish tended to be holding close to the banks, in deeper pockets of fairly calm water, while the bass was holding in a similar area with a little more current.

As I write this today, we've gotten the first significant rainfall in about six weeks. Hopefully, this will help improve conditions down at the river, and it's also got me pondering a return trip to see if the bass will be a little more cooperative. Either way, it's always nice to take a hike down along the river and get away for a while. If time and weather allow, I'll be back soon to give it another try.

- Joseph


  1. Your Indian name shall be Slackagawea ...

    1. Haha I guess if the shoe (or name) fits.....

  2. Life finds away of giving you higher priorities than blogging. I've ran into the same problems over the last year.

    1. It sure does. Hopefully there will be a little time here and there to fish and write about it for both of us.


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