Welcome to Panfish

Part Eight


Bassin'
Photo from Cowles Enthusiast Media
Thanks for use permission!

Small Mouth Bassin' With A Fly

by Randy Fratzke


Tired of chasing finicky trout? Bummed out by busting your chops for 10-inch Brookies? Then maybe it's time to move up to the bigger world of Small Mouth Bass. Inch for inch, pound for pound, it's hard to find a tougher fighting fish in warm water (at least not with heavy duty teeth!). Although you usually see them caught (and occasionally, kissed) using spinning gear or heavier bait casting gear, the appreciation for these kamakazi bronze backs isn't really appreciated until you try them on the fly. The first time you get a strike you'll understand why I'm hooked for life catching these scrappers!

Bass nearly always relate to some sort of shade structure. It might be a tree stump, a patch of weeds, a boat dock or even an out cropped rock along the bank. This is used to their advantage for ambushing unsuspecting prey while it swims by. Small mouth bass are also, somewhat, territorial. I've caught the same fish in the same place a number of times (and obviously released it to catch again). They also have a daily feeding pattern of when, where, and what they eat (after all, they need a well balanced diet too!).

Once you figure out what these patterns are, your chances of connecting with a few are greatly increased. I have my best luck during the two "golden hours of fishing" at sunrise and sunset. The weather does affect these feeding patterns a great deal, so keep an eye on the weather. Watch for, what I refer to as, the three day pattern. Three days in a row, of any pattern, warm, bright sunshine, cold, rain, wind, etc., seems to acclimate the bass back into their regular feeding habits and patterns.

Also, the 3 hours before an incoming storm front hits is a signal for a feeding frenzy, the likes of which you've only seen on Saturday morning fishing pro shows. I've caught as many as 24 fish in that 3 hour period. Cut-off time is the first clap of thunder, which drives the fish to the deepest holes and any angler, with a lick of sense, to shelter.

Bass feed on a variety of aquatic life forms, including crayfish, frogs, leeches, worms, smaller pan fish and minnows, and terrestrial insects. While this menu doesn't sound like they're very fussy about what they eat, just try to entice them with a shoddy looking artificial. Some of my favorites are Clouser's Minnow, tied in a traditional bass pattern, Wooley Buggers, tied in black, or dark brown, and poppers, about the size of miniature marshmallows.

I enjoy the surface lures the best because I can use the current, wind, line stripping, and rod, to control and guide the lure into the position I want. Plus, the adrenaline rush when a smallie hits is pretty wild. You can expect a surface explosion that'll just about scare the wits out of you, fast runs, tail stands, and a whole lot of fight from these fish.

So next time you want a change of pace from traditional fly fishing, try bass fishing on the fly. I should warn you, traditional bass anglers are going to give you some pretty strange looks and, probably a few tips of their own...like "what the heck kinda rod is that???? It's way to long and not near 'nough stiff!" and "how'd you get that little critter tied on to that hook?" Just remember to give it back to the "good ol' boys" with, "gosh, how many hooks can you fit on one lure?" and "how many birds nests per hour do you get with that bait caster?" Normally, they are a good natured lot, as are all anglers! Oh, and remember the tradition, always kiss your bass before you release it (just don't get too intimate with it)!

~Randy Fratzke


Panfish Part 1 | Panfish Part 2 | Panfish Part 3 | Panfish Part 4 | Panfish Part 5 | Panfish Part 6 | Panfish Part 7 |


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