When most people talk about bass fishing they are
referring to one of the many great big lakes available
to fisherman today. Although big waters do offer some
fine fishing they do not hold the patent on good bass
fishing. They do hold many fisherman, water skiers,
jet ski's and pleasure boaters. If you're fishing on
the weekend you can find it more akin to a dirt track
race than a peaceful fishing trip.
Here in the volunteer state we are blessed to be within
an hour's drive of some really fine bass fishing, via
the network of small streams and rivers, from just about
anywhere. In fact some of these streams run through major
metro areas and receive very little fishing pressure.
Don't be fooled that since the streams don't get a lot
of fishing pressure that they are easy pickings. Although
there are lots of fish they are far from easy to catch,
so to fish them you better play you're "A game."
The first thing you must learn is since most of these
streams tend to be low and gin clear you must learn
to cast not only on target but also with minimal false
Rod selection is up for debate here. There are some who
preach the shorter the rod the better. Now myself, I
still use my Scott A2 in a 7wt. It's nearly ten feet
long but really doesn't hinder my casting too much.
A shorter rod would be handy in some spots but I find
that accurate casting is much easier with a longer rod.
I choose a 7wt over a 6wt because it enables me to cast
some of the larger flies with ease.
Lines are pretty much your standard weight forward
floater, but I do keep a sink tip in my vest in case
I run into a deep stretch of river that calls for my
fly to get down deep. Leaders are ultra important in
a small stream. Long tends to be better due to the
combination of clear water and spooky fish. Try to
use the smallest diameter you can get away with. I
have recently started using the fluorocarbon leaders
because they are tough as nails and literally disappear
in the water.
Reels are pretty much up to the angler. After all,
the reel is just a device to hold the line. That said
if you happen to hook into a really big river smallmouth
you will wish you had a drag system, so its up to you.
I used an inexpensive Cortland reel with great success
for years. I ended up loosing some good fish and upgraded
to the ROSS CLA series of reels that have a drag system
and have not looked back once. Waders are optional unless
you choose to fish all year rather than just during the
Fly selection is directly related to the type of food
sources in a given stream. Since most river dwelling
fish like Bass, pickerel, musky and the smallmouth are
predators and eat basically anything that won't eat them
first, you have to choose your fly based in what's living
in the stream. The one thing you can almost always count
on is that the river/stream fish eat lots of crawdads, so
a menu that's a bit Cajun will nearly always catch you
fish. That means stream and river fish have a diet that
primarily consists of crayfish. Now they still eat minnows
and shad but they eat a lot, and I mean a lot of crayfish.
It would be prudent, if you intend to use crayfish patterns,
to catch some crayfish and look at them as they molt several
times a year and the hot color can change in a matter of days.
Some other good selections include minnow imitating flies
such as a Deceiver, Clouser Minnow, and light colored Woolly
Buggers. If you find a stream with a good population of shad
the Whitlock's Waker Shad is really hard to beat and I have
also used the Seaducer with good results. Shad patterens
generally consist of lots of silver and grey colors. If you
find some streams with really slow moving water it will most
likely hold plenty of frogs. When I stumble on a high frog
population I love to fish a frog colored popper close to the
shore. Any self-respecting bass will hammer a frog that has
ventured too far from the safety of shore. Once the dog days
of summer get here a Dave's Hopper is a must. Grasshoppers
are another staple in a fish's diet.
Fish in a stream still relate to structure in the same
manner of their lake dwelling kin but they also relate
to different structure. A stream fisherman must pay
attention to the water more so than when fishing a
large impoundment. The sheer fact the water is moving
creates a new kind of, not only structure, but hiding
places as well. Look for places where the river or
streams have eaten out the shoreline below the water
level also, instead of looking for riprap, find the
When you're approaching pools of slower
water your better fish will be in what's called the tail
of the pool, where the water runs out of the pool. Don't
overlook the head of the pool, just be aware that bigger
fish will lie at the tail out and feed on the plankton
as it drifts by. In the faster stretches of water pay
close attention to large structure like trees or boulders.
They create an eddy or piece of slack water where fish
will rest to avoid the current.
Stealth is of utmost importance when fishing small streams
and rivers. These places are small and generally very quiet
so to be successful you must move slow and be very quiet
yourself. A good way to judge how fast your fishing is
when you think you're fishing and moving slow enough
you're probably going too fast. If you're wading be
especially stealthy and don't make excessive waves in
Pay close attention to your clothing as well.
Those bright colored fishing shirts you can get in town
are not what you need to be using. Earth tones or dull
clothing is best. Give the streams and rivers a shot and
you won't be disappointed. They are not crowded, have no
bass tournaments, no jet skis or houseboats. They do have
beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife, and offer peace which
is hard to come by in our fast paced lives. ~ Troy Nasso