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Friday, January 31, 2014

A new kinda jig.

So if you only ever click on one video I ever post make it this one. This I tied out of silver fox. I threw it a couple weeks ago in some clear water and was amazed. Ive been tying them like crazy ever since getting ready for spring. I can't imagine why this isn't the number one jig material going. And this video doesn't really do it justice as to how good it looks coming back to you thru the water.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

So you wanna catch a 20 inch stream SMB?

I'm sure there are dozens of ways but this works. And I'm only talking rivers and streams here, where a 20 is a true trophy. Not Canada, not Lake Erie, not Dale Hollow. Do it for a year and you will catch one.

First off there are a couple things you need to know. Smallmouth bass basically are extreme homebodies. Catch a big rainbow trout out of the best spot in a trout stream, knock it in the head and eat it. If you come back in two weeks another big trout has taken its spot. That isn't the case with smallmouth bass. Except for their migration to their wintering holes and spawning time a big smallmouth will faithfully live it's entire life in one or two pools of the river. Year after year! Study after study shows this. How is this important in finding big smallmouth? Well it means you have to find a stretch of river where a big smallmouth can live for seven or eight years at least without somebody knocking it in the head and eating it. From most studies I've seen smallmouth will use a defined riffle as a boundary and often will never go past it except to migrate in fall. NEVER. In summer the mature smallmouth on a really sharp, strong, across the river riffle will be two different populations. One upstream and one downstream.
So where to fish? You find a your access point to the river. The stretch everyone fishes. You go either upstream or downstream, either in person or on Google maps, till you find a well defined riffle. One that goes all the way across the river. That is your boundary. The fish above that are a separate population than the one's that are hammered back in the easy to get to stretch. Now follow that all the way to the next well defined boundary. No access points in between? No easy water to get to? Now we are getting somewhere. Now in between those two lines find the best specific spots to fish. It may be right at the boundary line itself. Just understand that one side of a riffle might be trophy water and one full of just small fish even though they are just thirty yards apart. Very odd isn't it? I'm not sure any other river fish is like this. Shovelheads are homebodies too but in times of high water will range wildly and repopulate fished out holes. A hole where the big smallies are fished out is just that, fished out. It might be chock full of smaller fish but this is no indication as far as big fish are concerned. So you create a list of spots. Very specific spots that have to fall between good (as in not overfished) boundary lines. You do this for as many different stretches of the river as you can. Every river around here has these stretches. Some are out in the middle of nowhere like many of the LMR and Whitewater stretches. Some are protected by having the riverbank lined with houses that are not home to fishermen or at least not home to fishermen that keep fish. Lets face it even kayak fishermen most often hit areas where they can launch and land easily and only take long, all day floats thru harder to reach stretches rarely. Plus most of these guys are catch and release guys. But it doesn't matter how hard a stretch is to get to unless it has that defined boundary to separate it for harder fished areas.
In that stretch we have found that we want to fish, I'm a firm believer that the biggest baddest smallmouth will take the best spot. Why do smallmouth in lakes school according to size? Because the bigger ones are mean bastards and the littler guys avoid them. In a river that means the big bass, the one we are trying to catch, takes the best spot. Sometimes that spot isn't obvious. Maybe something out of the norm is going on and that fish is cruising back and forth below a riffle nabbing stonerollers that are spawning or any of a dozen other scenarios. But some spots are obvious. Like I said maybe our fish is off doing something else that day. But if you come back time after time to the best three or four spots in that stretch and fish them over and over eventually we are going to find that fish home.
Find three or four potentially good stretches of river defined by specific boundaries at each one. Then find the best spots in each of those potential stretches. Now the hard part. Fish those. Fish them in the rain. Fish them in the middle of the night. Fish them at dawn. In the middle of the day. Fish them till you know them by heart. Until you can close your eyes and picture every tree, every rock, every nuance of current even though your home in bed.
Your probably going to catch half as many fish as you did when you just got in the river and waded throwing an inline spinner everywhere that looked even halfway fishy. Hell, your probably not going to catch even half as many. A quarter or a third is more like it. But your eventually going to catch THE fish. Like I said it's all about catching just that one single fish.
Most of time that best spot is going to be some sort of seam. Somewhere there is a well defined line between currents of differing speeds. Maybe a creek mouth that has a pocket of dead water with the main river current creating a lime across it. rubble from and old dam, a rock bar, a riffle. Any of a hundred different things that create that magical line. Sometimes its all hidden underwater but often you can see that sharp line drawn on the surface where the seam is. If you find one of these fish it to death. And then next trip hit it hard again and the next trip again. Sometime, in some flow, under some condition, that seam will become the best spot that day and our big fish will be there. Maybe not today, or tomorrow but someday. Never ever pass up a seam in your chosen stretches of river. Even if you have been skunked there five trips in a row. Who knows trip six seven and eight might yield big fish.
See it's simple. Painfully simple because it's not the river fishing we all learned how to do. And your probably going to catch less fish. Sure we still look for riffles and runs and currents and seams. But (and it's a huge Oprah sized kinda but) only look at those as defined by the specific boundaries in each section of river. It can be the greatest coolest fishiest piece of structure you have ever seen but if its on the wrong side of our boundary it's not a fraction as good as something much less sexy on the right side of the riffle.
Now for the disclaimer...with fishing there are always exceptions. You might catch a monster right in the middle of the hardest hit stretch of the whole river. Who knows you may know a better easier way to catch a hawg smallmouth. If so I'd love to hear it. Or just fish like you normally do and you might just catch a big one anyways. But this works. Follow it and you will learn what works, where to fish, where your boundaries actually are, and you will begin to catch bigger smallmouth more often. And you will eventually catch that 20. And the next one. It's repeatable year after year.

Friday, January 3, 2014

tying one on for new years

With the lousy weather and my work schedule I haven't fished much lately. The good news is though every evening to unwind after work I spend an hour or two at the vice tying hair jigs. I've got over a hundred ready for next year. Coyote, kit fox, craft fur, bucktail, marabou and my favorite grey fox. I'm hoping to have three hundred by spring. Ive always tied some every winter but never enough to last all summer. Maybe this year. Off to the deer woods for muzzleloading season the next couple days, maybe I'll get some more material.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Old Little Miami River Photos

Dad fishing the LMR at Blue Shin in the 60's

A photo of Mom at the old Kings Dam before it was taken out

Mom fishing right about where Morgan's campground is now back in the 60's

The "bike trail" in the 60's

My grandfather with some cats. This picture was taken at my uncle Albert Sandlins house on Bayou Street in South Lebanon in the 70's