When the water's start to warm and the trout become lethargic and picky, that means that the smallmouth bass fishing is just starting to pick up. Put your waders away, and get out your heavier rods and lines. Football season is well under way. Below are 6 reasons why we like to fish for smallmouth.
1. Every Day is a Friday Dress Down Day
One of my favorite parts of smallmouth fishing is the time of the year that we target them. When the air and water temperatures begin to warm, it’s time to put those hot and heavy waders away. It’s wet wading season. After a full spring of trout guiding and being in waders and boots nearly every day it feels great to just throw on a bathing suit or a pair of cut off shorts and a lightweight t-shirt and soak in the sun. If you have been out with me, you have probably seen me drop the anchor and do a quick cannonball off the side of my boat. This just doesn’t happen during trout season. It’s like every day is a casual dress down Friday. Who wouldn’t love that?
2. They Are Aggressive
When the trout fishing starts to slow down and the bugs get smaller and smaller and the trout get pickier and pickier, the smallmouth fishing is just starting to pick up. On a given day I will fish at least 4-5 patterns ranging from Clouser Minnows, crayfish patterns, poppers, Game Changers, helgramite patterns and almost all will put fish in the net. Smallmouth are voracious feeders. I don’t think there is much that they won’t eat. I have seen smallmouth cough up crayfish and other baitfish after being hooked more times than I can count. If you have had enough of casting size 20 dry flies at trout, smallmouth bass can offer a change of pace. If the visual aesthetics of seeing a 20’ football shaped smallmouth inhale a 5’ Game Changer doesn’t get your blood pumping I think we need to check you for a pulse.
3. Streamer Practice
Smallmouth bass are great fish to target with streamers. I might even go as far to say that they are “the streamer fish.” A lot of people that I guide throughout the year are dyed in the wool trout anglers. Many of them have the habit of “trout setting” when fishing streamers. If you don’t know what a trout set is, it is the act of raising the rod tip during the hook set. When smallmouth bass fishing with streamers, it is best to strip set. No matter how many times I try to coach clients into strip setting, the old saying, “old habits die hard” holds true. It’s a hard habit to kick but after a day of streamer fishing for smallmouth I have seen many trout anglers become more poised and proficient in strip setting. On a good day 100 plus strikes will certainly give an angler the practice needed to work out their hook setting kinks. Whatever you learn while fishing for smallmouth can certainly be utilized for many other sport fish.
If you haven’t fished for smallmouth before than you are missing out. I can’t count how many times I’ve had a streamer totally tanked by an 18’ plus smallmouth only to find out that fish was actually only 9-10 inches. Pound for pound, smallmouth can be one of the hardest fighting fish, usually making solid runs and many aerial leaps. A lot of people I guide complain at the end of the day that their fingers, wrists and forearms hurt. After fighting up to 100 or more fish in a day that is expected… but that is a good kind of hurt!
At times, it is a real possibility to catch upwards of 100 smallmouth bass in one day of fishing. I just don’t know of many wild fish of this caliber that can be caught with such regularity. For that reason, they are just downright fun to catch, although some days can be challenging. This can be a great fish to target with young kids, or with people new to the sport of fly fishing as the action can be pretty epic.
6. Explosive Surface Action
One of my favorite ways to fish for smallmouth is with large bushy dry flies or with poppers. On rivers like the Susquehanna the white fly hatches can become so thick that some of the roads and bridges along the river need to be closed down due to hazardous driving conditions. During this time period the smallmouth in the Susquehanna and other surrounding rivers gorge on white flies and just become downright careless in what they eat. If you really like dry fly fishing and fish that try to crawl up your arm to eat your offering than look no further than smallmouth bass.