Thursday, July 28, 2011

Smallmouth Bass, 7-27-2011

After our carp adventure this morning, Ben had plans to meet a friend and fly-fish for gar.  I was very tempted to join them, since I had tied up some modified patterns I wanted to try out for the gar.  Gar are a very interesting fish, and a fun challenge to sight-fish for them.
But with the heat we've been having, I thought wading a river for smallmouth bass might be a bit cooler and more relaxing.  Its something else I've been wanting to do.  So, I went wading and fly-fishing for smallmouth bass.
I had selected a stretch of river I had never fished before, on a river I hadn't really fished since about 1990!  I got there, and the road was closed and construction work was being done on the bridge where I was going to start wading from.  So, I crossed that spot off my plans.  I could go downstream to the stretch I fished back in my college days...or I could head further upstream.  I went upstream.
The area upstream I had actually heard of before, but never knew where it was.  It was Soper's Mill on the Skunk River north of Ames, Iowa.  Its a popular canoe launch location.
I was surprised how small, narrow, and low the river was.  Oh well, I'm here and I'm ready to give it a try.

Just below the round-boulder "dam", I tried a number of fly patterns. I had a couple hits on a Foxee Red Clouser, but didn't hook up. I tried some nymphs with no hits. I tried a Clouser Deep Minnow and a largish "microjig". Nothing. I can't remember what else I tried, but I went back to a Clouser. I got a hit and hooked up! It was a 13-incher.

See the Clouser Deep Minnow?
I also caught a second Smallmouth on the Clouser, but it wasn't very big.

I waded downstream a bit and decided to try a balsa popper I had bought somewhere.  I cast it out and before I could even twitch it, a fish hit!

 With THAT kind of action, I decided to keep fishing with the popper.  I had cast to a tree branch that was hanging into the water, twitched the popper a couple times, and a nice fish pounced on it!  I thought it was a big smallie, but it cut the line immediately...I barely felt any pressure from the fish.  Its the kind of think a pike or musky will do.  So what was it?  I still think it was a bass.  Anyway, my popper floated up right away, so I waded downstream and intercepted it.  I tied it back on and headed on downstream.
There wasn't a lot of places worth casting to...I could see the sandy or muddy bottom in many places, and there was no structure that would hold a bass.  I was letting the popper drag in the water behind me as I waded through some of these featureless areas...and caught this bluegill!

My biggest fish of the trip was this 16" Smallmouth Bass:

 The sun was getting low, I was hot and had a long trudge back upstream to my car, so this was the last fish of the trip, another nice 13-inch fish.


  1. Dave
    Great trip for smallmouth. What wt rod and length was you using? This fish never knows when to quit fighting. Enjoyed the post

  2. Dave thanks for the post. Great pix and report.

  3. Bill, I was using a 9' 6wt rod for the Smallmouth Bass outing.