This past week I had the honor to take one of the legends in the fly fishing industry, Bob Clouser and his business manager, out smallmouth fishing on the Holston River near Kingsport, Tennessee. The weather conditions and water temperatures were not at their best for this float trip, but after getting in tune with the fish and river we were into some nice smallies throughout the day. The water was 49 degrees when we started and there was a cold rain. Trying several colors of flies in one of the better pools on the river gave us a quick answer the the color the smallies wanted, chartreuse. They took these flies aggressively. As you can see it was a day of good sized hard fighting fish. Not only did we get smallmouth bass, but we got some nice largemouth bass in the mix.
Unplanned success! I was supposed to teach a beginning fly fishing school, but due to bad weather my students had to postpone the school. Fortunately Doug had the day off and was planning on being in town to do some shopping or something. A quick call and the mention of some smallmouth and it was easy to convince him that is shopping trip was going to turn into a fishing trip.
Spring time Smallmouth fishing is one of my favorite times. Pound for pound a smallie will whoop almost any other freshwater fish there is. The will literaly rip the rod out of your hands. I happened to have my new 905-4 Tip Helios in the truck and thought it need a good breaking in. There is also the chance of hooking into some big carp, of which I broke 2 rods on last year.
We started off at a very frequented spot for local smallmouth anglers. Upon arriving we found suckers rising to something on the surface. I’m not sure if they were really eating off of the top or it was something to do with spawning. Anyways, on to the smallmouth. Doug started off the day picking up some decent smallies. I however could only manage to snag a few carp. Which can put up a very good fight, but aren’t as prestigous as a bronze back.
Doug proceeded to go on a pretty good tear of smallies. He even managed to hook into a 18 or 20 inch Rainbow, that was undoubtedly left over from a recent trout derby. I started to just chalk it up as one of those days. Then Doug made the mistake of turning the last pool over to me before we left. I proceeded to hook smallie after smallie as Doug watched. I think I brought 3 or 4 to hand before he was regreting his descision and trying to get a cast in. My tear continued as I picked off smallies in water that he had just covered. We caught a few more before moving on to another spot that I had luck in last year.
Spot number 2 started off a really slow. We both covered about a hald mile of stream before finding the mother load. It started off as one good smallmouth under a bridge that I had fished before. Then she hit like a ton of bricks and when that ton of bricks jumped out of the water, I about lost it. I was certain this was the biggest smallmouth I had ever caught. She put up a great fight, at one point wraping the line around a submerged log, but fortunately coming out of it. The nine foot five weight Helios was doubled completly in half. I finally managed to bring her to hand for a couple of pictures
The fly of the day was a tan Becks Super Bugger. The water was a bit on the cold side and the fish seemed to be sitting on the bottom. I didn’t catch a fish unless I was ticking the bottom. The fish were also in water depths of 3 to 5 feet just below a riffle, so longer leader was key to getting the fly on the bottom.