Fly fishing for smallmouth bass

Livin' the dream

Temperatures are rising, both in the air and in the water.  As the water temperature approaches 60 degrees, the smallmouth bass are on their beds and are usually quite aggressive.  For me, this signals the start of bass season.  This is a great time to grab your favorite bass flies and fly rod and head to the water.  On Memorial Day, a buddy and I did just that.

I know that fish do most of their feeding below the surface but there is just something about catching fish on the surface.  It can be brook trout sipping dry flies or smallmouth bass slammin’ surface poppers, it is hard to resist the urge to fish top water flies.

On this night, I was joined by good friend “Tandem” Rob Dunnett.  We arrived at the landing a little after 4:00 pm.  The water was calm, like a big sheet of glass.  Water levels looked to be a tad below normal.  We loaded our gear and launched the SS Lady Di.  The ol’ Yamaha fired right up and we proceeded to skim across the water as we headed “up river” to try our luck.

Rob tied on a modified “Angel of Death” fly (aka black gurgler).  I tied on a Lady Di Foam Frog.  Equipment for the night were TFO 7 weight 4 piece rods, 7 weight floating, weight forward lines, Dan Hodgins Signature Series furled leaders with 8 – 10 lb test tippets.

A wind blowing up river can turn a good night bad, but tonight that was not the case.  Very light breezes made for easy casting.  We drifted at river current speed, casting to the shore and we were not disappointed.  Bass after bass, attacked our offerings.  Mostly in the 10 – 12′ range with a few larger.  As many say, these fish have shoulders!  They seem to very strong for their size.  Current must be their weight room.

Anglers are usually rewarded with a couple of tail walking leaps before the spunky bass come to the boat to be released. Here is a video of Rob catching one of his smallmouth bass.

We fished but a mere fraction of the water that night but had plenty of action.  We were also treated to several “treats” while on the river.  Fluttering caddis flies covered the water at times.  One of Rob’s fish had a mouthful of stoneflies which were also quite prevalent.  The “non-fishing” highlight of the evening was 3 pairs of Canadian geese and their gosselings parading along the shore, quite a sight!

After spending an enjoyable evening with a good friend and catching 30+ fish, we retreated back to the boat launch already making plans for our next trip.

Angel of Death (black Gurgler)

Hook:  Mustad 3366 size 2 or 4
Thread:  Black Flymaster Plus, UTC 140/210, Uni 3/0
Tail:  Black bucktail with a few strands of Krystal Flash, 1 1/2 – 2 times the shank length
Body:  Black ice chenille/Estaz
Topping:  Black foam, width equal to hook gap, folded over top