Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth

Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth
Showing posts with label Smallies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Smallies. Show all posts

Monday, August 08, 2016

Smallmouth Bass Again



This summer I have been on my usual warm weather smallmouth bass kick and have enjoyed exploring both new waters and old. After my last epic adventure, you would think that staying away from the smallmouth streams for a while would have been the best choice. Despite all of the dangers, I couldn't get the memory out of my mind of the big wild smallmouth fighting on the end of my line. Thus it was, just a couple of days after my last trip, that I found myself heading towards one of my favorite smallmouth streams.

Now, I have to explain the favorite part just a little. Favorite can mean a lot of things. For me, a large portion of what determines "favorite status" is familiarity. This particular stream I'm very familiar with, or at least I'm familiar with the portion that is a reasonable half day trip from the access area. The bass are not the largest or most numerous, but they are there and with a little work are willing to come to the fly.

I grabbed all of my equipment and was soon headed to a section that I enjoy. This is an area I call the Narrows, although I'm sure the white water paddlers have another name for what must be some very serious rapids when the water is up. The cliffs come in tight to the stream and huge chunks of rock all but block the flow of the stream. Getting around this area can be very tricky, but I have, over time, pioneered several rather sketchy routes up on the bank and around the worst of the deep pools and massive boulders. I say sketchy because it looks like snake heaven, and I'm sure it is. I just haven't found them yet.


Anyway, I tied on the same black Chernobyl Hopper that had done well for me on previous trips. A few bass came to hand that way and I stubbornly stuck with it all the way up to the Narrows. After climbing up and over the huge piles of debris that are deposited during high water, I came to a deep but narrow pool that always has some nice fish swimming around in it.

The topwater fly was presented to all the likely areas, and I managed one decent little smallie. Based on the shadows lurking in the depths, I knew that I should be doing much better. Remember a fly that I had done well on during my last smallmouth trip just days before, I pulled out the weighted fly and quickly changed strategies. On just the second or third cast, it happened. A large shadow inhaled my fly at least 5 or 6 feet under the surface. I could see just well enough to know it was time to set the hook.

When I did, it was nearly a repeat of the big bass I had caught a couple of days prior. The fish ran under as many rocks as possible, and I held my breath as the tippet sawed back and forth over the rough edges. You would think that my lesson would have been learned on the last trip, but instead of bringing a heavier rod, I had the same 5 weight as before, and the wily smallmouth bass took full advantage of my lack of leverage.

Finally, the fish slid back out from under the rock it had been trying to make home and I slipped my thumb inside its mouth for a grasp of the jaw. Another great Cumberland Plateau backcountry smallmouth bass to remember!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Creek Fishing

Wading warm water creeks and streams is one of the less popular but nevertheless fun elements of the sport of fly fishing. Some people never even get that far. If you only fish a few days a year, you are likely still focusing on trout for each of your trips. That is just fine, and with a few exceptions, what attracted most of us to the sport to begin with. In fact, I still fish for trout the majority of the time. That said, when I have a few hours to kill and want to have fun, you can probably find me with a four weight rod and some topwater bugs looking to have fun with the smallies and panfish.

Last Tuesday, I checked with my buddy Chase to see if he wanted to fish some creeks. We agreed on when and where to meet and not much later I was headed out. Looking down at the outside thermometer on my car, I knew it was going to be a hot one.


When we arrived stream-side, we found the usual collection of people out swimming, drinking beer, jumping off of the rocks, and generally scaring all of the fish. That always means a hike so we hit the trail. By the time we had hustled back about a mile, my shirt was soaked with sweat, and I was almost ready to jump in and swim instead of fish. As soon as we started fishing it was obvious that the discomfort was just a small price to pay.

The fish were hungry and looking up, always a good combination for fun. I nailed a gorgeous sunfish on one of my first casts. The fish hit so hard that I thought it was a smallmouth.


Chase soon followed up my sunfish with a nice smallie that would turn out to be the best fish caught for the trip. We saw some much larger fish that, while mildly interested, were much too intelligent for us on this trip. With a little foresight and planning, these fish are just as catchable but a few factors need to come together to make that happen.


Cumberland Plateau smallmouth bass

In the end, with the heat and humidity, we didn't make it as far up the creek as I sometimes do. The trip was eventually cut short when I didn't want to make a required scramble around some boulders through thick brush. If the weather was cooler and we had more hours of daylight, then we probably would have continued up the canyon.


At this furthest point upstream, I paused to take some pictures. After shooting several of the scene, Chase nailed another good fish, this one a nice sunfish. A couple of pictures later and we headed back downstream.


The thought of a Gatorade in the cooler in my trunk kept us moving back down the trail at a good pace. I'll be back to this stream soon, but probably not while it is so hot.

This next week is going to be great for fishing across the area. We got enough rain this weekend to help just a little with the water levels and the water temperatures are dropping like a rock. The good fishing should last at least through the upcoming holiday weekend. If you have been thinking about a midsummer trip to the Smokies or to walk a smallmouth creek, this is the time to do it. The topwater bite is ON for smallies on the creeks and floats are putting out good fish and numbers still. The flows are very good right now for Caney Fork floats.

Contact me if you are interested in a guided trip for trout in the Smokies or on the Caney Fork, or smallmouth bass and panfish on the Cumberland Plateau streams. Email me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text me at (931) 261-1884.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Closeup

This week is shaping up to be just about perfect. I'll be taking some time to spend with friends and also fish for myself. I don't get that luxury as often now that I'm guiding. Today I kicked things off with my first local smallmouth trip of 2015. The trip was incredible in so many ways. Until I digest it a bit further and actually take the time to write about it, here is a closeup of one from today that is my best fish to date from this creek.