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
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
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)!