Fly Fishing for smallmouth bass
New Smallmouth Bass Website
Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Fishing Journal
October, 2015 Issue
I
don't have a considerable amount of personal experience catching smallmouth bass on the fly. I have caught
enough to know that it is a lot of fun. That's not to say I haven't caught many smallmouth bass. I have caught
thousands, mostly on light tackle spinning gear as well as plenty of them on casting tackle. I decided to launch a
new website on fly fishing for smallmouth bass when I realized we were selling a lot of flies for that purpose. While we
have a few smallmouth bass articles on the Perfect Fly website, I wanted to have a lot more information on fly fishing
for them and decided on launching a new "Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass" website that would be sponsored by
Perfect Fly.

During the five years I fished the national BASS circuit, from 1975 to 1980, not only did I catch plenty of smallmouth
bass during the practice days as well as some during the actual tournament days, for several years prior to that, I
regularly traveled to some great smallmouth bass fly fishing destinations. I was fortunately enough to own a twin
engine Beechcraft and have my own pilot for a few years, so traveling to Canada and some other good smallmouth
bass destinations was something I did on a fairly regular basis.  Some of the best trips were the English River in the
wilderness about a hundred miles or so north of Kenora, Ontario. Of course, the trip from Konera to the English river
a chain of lakes and river system, was done in a chartered float plane to a wilderness lodge. We were always able to
catch high numbers of smallmouth each day on the water. My most common trip for smallmouth was to Lake of the
Woods, on the Canidian/Minnesota border. Again, catching smallmouth bass came easy. I always had the help of a
guide on those early trips, mostly because it was my only means of getting around to the mostly, very remote
locations.

Many of the larger size smallmouth I caught came from Wilson and Pickwick Lakes on the Tennessee River in north
Alabama and Tennessee. I caught one well over seven pounds on Wilson Lake. One of my fishing partners on the
Tennessee lakes held a line class world record at the time we regularly fished the rivers. We fished mostly at night.
Not many smallmouth bass anglers realize it, but the Tennessee River has some huge smallmouth bass because of
the longer than normal growing season. The Elk River is another stream I regularly fished during those early years.

My fly fishing experience with smallmouth has come mostly within the last twenty years. Probably, most of those were
caught on southern tailwaters such as the Elk, Clinch and Holston Rivers. The largest ones I have caught on the fly
were taken from the White River in Arkansas. The most in terms of numbers came from a few western rivers, such as
the Snake River. Many smaller size smallmouth came from the small streams that are near my home in Gatlinburg and
for the past six years in Pigeon Forge. There are dozens of small streams with a population of smallmouth near the
Great Smoky Mountains, including most of the larger streams flowing out of the park. In fact, there are hundreds of
small streams with a smallmouth bass population in most all the states as well as throughout Canada. Odds are,
wherever you live, there's a smallmouth bass stream or lake within a short driving distance. Catching them on the fly,
just adds to the challenge and more importantly, the fun.

I do have one big regret about smallmouth bass. Although I was invited to fish for smallmouth with my friend Billy
Westmoreland, on his home Dale Hollow Lake many, many times, I always put it off and regretfully, put it off one time
to many. He isn't with us anymore. I did fish with him a few days in practice for the national BASS tournaments, and as
my partner during competition on two separate occasions during the tournaments. Both of those times were lakes with
largemouth bass lakes rather than smallmouth lakes. That didn't make much difference with Billy. He used light
spinning tackle most of the time. He was an expert with light line bass fishing. I learned a great deal from Billy. I can
assure you, he was a fish finding and catching genus for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Billy wrote a book
about smallmouth fishing - "Them 'ol Brown fish". I just couldn't write anything about smallmouth, and introduce our
new website, without mentioning him. Check it out:
Fly Fishing For Smallmouth Bass.
Sponsored by Perfect Fly
by James Marsh