Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Smallies galore

With the summer heat approaching and the steelhead dropping back into Champlain, it was time for another run of spawning fish - smallmouth bass.  As the water temps climb due to low water and warm weather, the smallies come and the steelies go.  There are a few steelhead that will stick around a bit longer, which is why some people can sometimes catch both smallies and steelhead in the same day, but that's not always the case.

Since I'm not much of a bass fishermen, I usually don't target them after the steelhead fishing is over, but this year I made an exception.

When they first come in, they're all over anything that moves, even topwater.  As they settle, they can be very finicky and frustrating at times, but if you stick to it and figure out what makes them strike, you've got some great fishing on your hands!

My first day targeting them was probably the best.  I'd landed almost 20 fish over 15", with most between 17" and 19".

  After a week of picking away at them and probably landing over 40, I took my brother out to another river for some bass that weren't as pressured.  Since he had to work until later in the afternoon and we only had about 3 hours to fish, I spent the morning scoping out the water, making sure there were still some around.  I was seeing plenty of fish, and knew he'd have plenty of opportunities to hook up.  I brought my spare 5 wt and rigged it up for him.  Since he's never fly fished, I knew this would be a good learning experience since these fish can be caught at close-range.  Within minutes of being on the river, he'd already spotted a big smallie in a pool, cruising around.  He was shocked to see such a big fish in such small water!

I showed him the basics of what to do with a fly rod and explained to him how it worked and had him do a few practice casts before he started fishing.  He picked it up well, but as with any beginner his timing could use some work.  He wasted no time in getting this big smallie in the pool to strike!  After a few missed hooksets, he was hooked up!

First ever fish on a flyrod....and a big one at that!
 The next pool presented a challenge.  A big smallie was under a logjam, and would come out and nip the very end of his fly every time, but never grab the hook.  After finally hooking up, I went to snap a picture of him fighting the fish - but right before I took the picture the fish got off and I caught his reaction just in time.

"No way!  Are you serious!!?"

 We kept on moving and found some more fish in pools.  Some were aggressive, others spooked away when we got close.  He was having a hard time getting the fly placed in the right spot, so I took over to show him how it was done real quick.  A few seconds later, I was pulling in a smallie of my own with a grin on my face.  I handed him back the rod and we kept moving.   He got a few small ones that weren't worthy of a picture, but were good practice for the big boys coming up!

Took a while to net this big one...feisty!
As time was running out, we headed back upriver to make our way to the trails back to the car.  He wanted redemption for earlier, so he tried again at the fish under the log.  He was doing everything right, and just as the fish seemed like it was going to inhale his fly - a smaller one came over and sucked it in!  Fish on!
Got the picture this time!  Look at that determination!
Not the big one he was fishing for, but hey - we'll take it!

 Nate was all smiles when we got back to the car, and he had fun.  I was happy to have put him on some nice fish on the fly.  I think the fly seed has been sewn if you can't tell by the smiles in the pictures!

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