Prime time for smallmouth bass fishing in rivers
If I could only catch one more fish in my life, I would like it to be a smallmouth bass. Pound for pound, the little mouth fights harder than any other fish I’ve ever mixed with, and they live in some of the prettiest waters to explore. Smallmouth action is on fire all over the Midwest.
The small mouth becomes active earlier in the year than most other game. Especially in the lakes. The pre-spawning period usually begins in late February, when water temperatures are in the upper 40s. So the spawning in the lakes is over, but in some rivers it is still going strong.
Native smallmouth fishing in the rivers of the Midwest isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Pick up a few fishing publications, especially any fly fishing publication, and you will see many articles written on river trout fishing. Most of these articles will be about fly fishing. Small mouths are just as fun, if not more, to chase with a fly.
If fly fishing isn’t your thing, you can still use a traditional fishing rod to present a fly. The float-and-fly method of catching smallmouth bass has become a popular tactic. The method is as easy as it sounds; float a fly under a bobber. Depending on the current in the river, you may need to add one or two separate planes.
The process isn’t too exciting, but the results often are. Locate a promising stretch of river with deep water. Adjust your float to the correct depth, knowing that you may need to adjust your depth to make sure you are getting close to the bottom. Throw, then drift. The chop on the water will bounce your float, bringing your fly to life. Add a few sporadic shakes.
Strikes are often subtle. Pay close attention to your float. There is a good chance that you will see strikes without feeling them. Smallies will come for the flight, but you have to be in the strike zone. Experience the depth. Start high and work low, making plenty of passes in a promising run before giving up hope and moving on. The action may not be quick, but stay alert. Spring is when the pigs come out to play.
Small mouthed bed in shallows and on gravel plateaus, while usually associating with some sort of structure, such as fallen logs and boulders. Females will spawn and leave their beds to recover in deeper water, leaving smaller but more aggressive males to guard the nests. Any flies floating close enough to the nest to present a potential danger have a good chance of being wiped out.
The float and fly method is just one way to catch the little mouth. Spinnerbaits, stick baits, soft plastics, and jigs all capture little mouth tones. Any erratically caught bait that mimics an injured fish should produce, as typical aquatic lures do, such as jitterbugs and spooks caught near a shelter.
Many smallmouth rivers are great for wading. You should always wear closed-toe shoes or boots to protect your feet from any metal or glass that may have found its way into the water. If you’re fishing in waters big enough to float, there aren’t many more rewarding hobbies than canoeing down a river or kayaking and fishing for smallmouth bass.
See you on the track.
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