Fly Fishing For Smallmouth Bass
Fly Fishing for smallmouth bass is right at the top of the list for many anglers.
Pound for pound, they are considered the strongest fighters of any freshwater
fish by many anglers. Catching a five pound smallmouth on a 5 or 6 weight fly rod
is something you want forget quickly, if ever. This particular category of fly fishing
is growing from year to year. There are still many very good smallmouth bass
lakes and streams that are yet to be discovered by anglers. These fish can be
very aggressive and very acrobatic. A large smallmouth will take a fly and
skyrocket into the air on occasions.
Spring is probably the best time of the year to go fly fishing for smallmouth bass.
Fall can be good, but Spring is tops in most areas of the country. Much of this
has to do with the spawn and the fact that the smallmouth will get into water that
is as shallow as one to three feet. It depends on the location, but in general the
smallmouth bass will start feeding in the shallows during April. Once the water
temperatures reach about fifty degrees, they will start moving shallow and
feeding some. By May, you can expect most shallow water in smallmouth territory
to be occupied by aggressively feeding fish.
In some streams and lakes, these smallmouth can be sight-fished. You can
quietly move a small boat around in the shallows and spot fish to cast to. In lakes
these smallmouth are usually from three to six feet deep, but again, it depends
on the lake and clarity of the water. In clear water they can often be spotted
cruising along feeding on baitfish. This type of fishing is best done using an
intermediate sinking fly line and a streamer.
Of course, the smallmouth come into the shallows to spawn as well as eat and
you can often catch them during the pre-spawn time using sight-fishing tactics.
During this time, the smallmouth are found mostly on the flats of a lake. These
smallmouth spawn in water ranging from four to six feet in most clear lakes but
they can be found much shallower in lakes that have some color in the water. I
have caught large, spawning smallmouth bass in Pickwick Lake in north Alabama
in water as shallow as two feet.
In most lakes, the smallmouth will continue to feed on the flats in relatively
shallow water until near the end of June. At that time they will move to deeper
water varying from eight to thirty foot deep depending on the location. Fly fishing
can be tough during the hot summer when the smallmouth are deep. You can
use sinking lines and still catch them if you can find them, but it requires a lot
more skill and effort.
During the Fall when the water begins to cool off in the shallows, they will return
to the shallow flats of a lake or shallow water in a river where they can again be
caught on flies on or near the surface. This occurs more on streams than it does
in lakes but it depends on the lake. During these times they will take popping
bugs, the action can be very exciting. There are few things in fishing to compare
with a four or five pound smallmouth bass coming up and eating a fly on the
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