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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

rainy day smallmouth

I almost didn't go tonight. At work it was raining hard as I left and it looked pretty dark. But this was the only time I'd get to fish till the weekend so I decided to go anyways. It wouldn't be the last time I've fished in the rain. And the further I drove towards my destination the prettier the weather got. By the time I'd pulled off the road it was nothing but blue skies and beautiful. and the fishing was just as beautiful as the weather. Lost track but I'd say at least 15 with 3 or 4 being very pretty fish. On Vic's three inch grub fished on 1/16 ounce jig head in shallow fast water. Glad I decided to go on a "rainy" day.

Monday, August 28, 2017

drowned rat...

So tonight Chris and I were forced to take shelter under a railroad bridge during a cloudburst. Too little too late as we were both already soaked to the skin. So as the rain was slowing we were talking about how karma or just paying your dues or whatever will favor us and maybe one of us will catch a nice fish tonight for suffering thru the rain. Sure enough not five minutes later I was fortunate enough to have this guy murder a curly shad in a roaring fast current seam..

Friday, August 25, 2017

Post hoc fish

It had been a long week. Nothing particularly bad happened but nothing particularly good either. Just a long week of being cordial and polite when you really feel like one of those Buddhist monks in the 60's. You know the ones who set themselves on fire. In other words a typical work week.
But it was friday and the yak was loaded in the truck along with a bit of tackle. Out the door exactly when my time was up and straight to the river. Which looked perfect. Low and clear with decent air temps and low humidity. Maybe it was a good thing I hadn't burned myself up in the middle of the shop floor after all.
Destination was a series of potholes and riffles that straddled the river in a long diagonal. There's one spot out in the middle that's waist deep and really fast but with the help of a good stick it's no problem to wade the whole river here.
Lot's of little slots and runs of fast water too. Perfect water for late summer.
And the fish cooperated as well. Hitting a fat electric blue grub I'd confiscated from Vic for helping out at a tackle show back in the winter. The best fish was a "short" 19 1/4. By short I mean she was fat as a bluegill and fought like an even bigger fish. I was very very happy with her. Then five minutes later a fish at least as big hammered the grub but then spit it back at me on about the third jump. As evening approached I thought I'd try a buzzbait which led to one of the strangest catches I've ever made. I'm retrieving the buzzbait as slow as I can and still keep it on top when a big fish comes up and wallops it and takes off like a freight train. It didn't take long to decide this isn't a smallmouth. So I'm thinking a big channel has probably hit the buzzbait since I've caught a couple on top over the years. But no, it ended up being a carp. A carp. On a buzzbait. On a buzzbait it came up and hammered on top. Go figure.
After that bit of strangeness I caught a couple more smallies on the buzzbait including a couple in the 17 inch range. But they didn't seem to be hitting it as well as they had been the grub so I tied that back on and on the first cast in an eddy right next to the deep fast water out in the middle a heavy fish took. Slow and steady and powerful it didn't act like a channel or a carp but instead ended up being what I'd thought it might be after those powerful runs, a nice shovelhead. On light smallmouth tackle a nice shovelhead will give you just about all you can handle.
I ended up with a couple dozen nice smallmouth with maybe three or four that would go 17, the topwater carp and the shovelhead. And saw five deer and zero people, just the way we like it...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

double 19's

Double 19's! Don't get that lucky too often on southern Ohio streams. One was in a bit of slack water right up against a fast little run on a USB swimbait on a VMC swimbait hook. The other was out of lightning fast water on a clear with silver grub on a jighead. The old lucky reds shirt comes thru again.
As good as the smallies have been biting lately I hate to see it cool off after this front.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

8/20 smb

A pretty 18 inch fish from knee deep water so fast you would have problems standing. On a curly shad and 1/4 ounce jighead.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

And the heat is on...

So I've been catching fish pretty good lately. I love summertime smallmouth fishing and I've gotten quite a few questions on it the last few weeks so here's how I do it...

For most kinds of fishing not much is worse than the dog days of summer. Those crappies you caught up in the brush in springtime are 35 feet deep. In those classic smallmouth lakes like Dale Hollow the best fishing is in the dead of night. The largemouth aren't biting and besides you feel like you are baking your brains out inside your skull after a few hours on a bass boat in the middle of a ninety degree summer day.  And if you get lucky and catch a muskie or a big striper it might not even survive. Heck even the bigger bluegills are deep and a whole lot harder to catch.
But if you are a die hard stream fisherman like me you might find yourself wishing that it never cools off. For you see the ticket to catching big smallmouth, or any fish for that matter, is finding them. And hot nasty summertime weather limits the places you are going to find active feeding smallmouth. Just like the old saying goes it's location, location, location.
I don't normally fish those classic deep fishy looking pools this time of year. You can certainly catch some fish out of them early and late in the day but I normally leave them alone right now. Instead I'm looking for the fastest water I can find that's got a little bit of depth close to it.  I know some sources say it's because this water has more oxygen and some sources say it's because these places have more food. I'm inclined to think it's a bit of both with the major emphasis on food.
The warmer water for sure ramps up a basses metabolism and he has to eat more in warm weather.  And that fast shallow water is just crawling with food, the whole stream is. You walk along the margin of a rock bar and schools of minnows flee before you. In many small streams this time of year seemingly every rock has a crayfish under it. Insect life abounds and frogs jump in as you near.  But the water is as low and as clear as it's ever going to get and it isn't easy to sneak up on all that food if you are a bass.
Where's the easiest place to sneak up on an unsuspecting meal? In the jumbled rocks and swirling cover of the fast water. You can sneak up on an easy meal all day long instead of having to rely on the half light of early morning and late evening. And with his ramped up metabolism that bass wants to eat all day long. Believe it or not, the hotter the weather the more likely you are to find me fishing right in the heat of the day.
I also actually carry fewer lures this time of year as well. I'm more concerned with having something that fishes well in a foot of very fast current than I am in imitating particular food items. Most lures don't function well in super fast water. Many crankbaits will turn belly up in too fast of a current and while inline spinners work swell against the current they don't do so good fished with fast water. Like I said my lure selection really narrows  during the middle of the hottest days. I'll sometimes throw a willow leaf spinnerbait. Willow leaf spinnerbaits work well in current, other spinnerbaits like single blade colorado or tandem bladed colorado spinnerbaits not so much. You can throw a living rubber jig or a tube as well or a swimbait hooked on a texas rigged swimbait hook. But for my money the best lure is a grub or swimbait on a plain jighead. Use something like a 1/8 ounce or in super fast water (my favorite kind) a 1/4 ounce jighead and pitch it in and let it sweep down on a tight line. Pick it up and flip it back in. Short controlled casts are the drill here. In really fast water a forty foot cast is going to get hung up anyways. Instead pop your lure in there, fish three feet, crank it in and zip out another ten foot cast and  fish that two feet. Fast action fishing.  And even though the water is low and clear if it's fast enough for this type of fishing the swirling raging water gives you the cover to get close. In fact those carp that flush fifty feet away from you down the pool sometimes bump into your legs up here in the fast stuff.
Often the best places are man made, water shooting around a bridge abutment, right against a lowhead dam, the rubble of a blown out dam, a wing dam, or best of all where someone has just dumped a bunch of concrete rubble in the river years ago. On more natural waters you are looking for riffles that drop off sharply into deeper water, riffles that have a deep fast slot, and any big boulders in the fast run leading into or out of the riffle and the mouths of smaller tributaries. And in any kind  of stream don't ever pass by any kind of pipe that's pouring a lot of fast water into the river. Many factories use water to cool their machinery and some big factories dump a torrent of fast water out of a pipe. Often this is the fastest water for miles and often the best place for summertime bass.
So to make a long story short put on some old tennis shoes, grab a medium action spinning rod and a few jigheads and grubs and head out. Even if, heaven forbid, you don't catch monsters, wading a stream in the middle of a hot summer day is a great way to cool off.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


By this time of summer most people are ready for a break in the weather. Not me. I'm really hoping it stays hot just a couple weeks longer. With the water as warm and as low as it gets all year I feel like it really narrows down the places you are going to find a nice smallmouth feeding in a small to medium sized river. Pretty much find the fastest slot of water you can find that has a bit of holding water right next to it or in it and there's a good chance that's where the fish are going to be if they are feeding. Sometimes it's amazingly fast and shallow water too. The key is fast. If you think it's too fast find somewhere just a bit faster and fish there. This 20" beastie was in about a foot of very fast water six inches from water that was absolutely raging...

Monday, August 14, 2017


Lots of fun tonight a smallie bigger than the one in the photo tonight hammered my grub in a foot of water and went airborne flipping end over end like a gymnast before coming off. Then the fish in the photo must have jumped two feet straight up out of the water. The fastest water I could find was the ticket today The faster the water the more likely it had a fish in it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Just yesterday I was fishing with my friend Chris and I found myself just going thru the motions.  I told him I was feeling a bit stale. That maybe (gasp) I'd had my fill of fishing for a few days.
So what does daylight the next morning find me doing? Fishing of course. And I'm glad I went, it was as if nature herself was trying to cheer me up. First up were two beavers swimming by unawares at ten feet away. Then seeing me circling back to give me a good once over before tail slapping the water and heading off. A bit further downstream and I found a turtle in the middle of a wide clear ripple. So I never have the guts to stick the waterproof camera actually underwater but this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I double checked the seal and went for it. I'm thrilled with the picture. Ten minutes later I look up to see a beautiful doe bounding across the stream and right after hear loud cries to see a redtail hawk right overhead. I'm wading along and realize I've walked right up on a huge flat rock with a dark little pocket of deeper water on the upstream end. I dunk the pearl glitter curly shad and the pretty smallmouth you see in the photo hurtles out from under the rock to nail it. Then goes crazy hooked on the end of four feet of line dangling under the rod tip. All is back right with the world...

Monday, August 7, 2017

A swell night

The fish were on fire this evening. I'm guessing I must have caught somewhere around thirty but it could have been more. I try not to make it about numbers so once it gets past about ten I lose track. Two or three on a squarebill though surprisingly that didn't really produce considering how active the fish were. Two on a prop-r and the rest on clear with silver glitter curly shads and grubs. In lightning fast knee to mid thigh deep water with some big rocks in it for current breaks. Seemingly the faster the water the better. Here's a few of the better ones....

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Smallie camp

I arrived at the spot in the dark. But it was a place I knew well, an old friend really, and I was comfortable sitting up camp by the light of a headlamp. There was a huge old sycamore log lying parallel to the river. This was the third year it had stayed in place and was not washed away over the winter. I peered over the log and sure enough they were still there, two poles about an inch in diameter and seven feet long I'd cut on a previous trip. A good omen. I unfolded my tarp and spread one end over the log tying it to the trunks of trees behind the log. In the grommets one the other side I jammed the ends of the poles which had been whittled to fit. A couple strings running out from these down to ground in front and tied off to some bushes and a nice lean-to was up in just a couple minutes.
 Back down to the rock bar and a few more minutes had a couple armloads of driftwood gathered for a fire. Some dry twigs piled up with a few cotton balls smeared with vaseline and shredded for a fire starter had a nice little fire going in no time. Not too big a fire because I love to stare at the night sky. Tonight a front was coming in so clumps of dark clouds flew over a starry background. Out here away from the lights of town stars shine in numbers you would never even imagine exist unless you've been to a place like this. I'm reminded of a quote I heard once where stargazing is akin to looking in the rearview mirror of your car. You are looking back into the past, seeing the stars as they once were 500 or 1000 years ago when the light we see now left them.
Soon enough though clouds thickened and real darkness settled in. Every now and again splatters of raindrops hit the tarp through the night but never actually enough you could could it a rain.
With the sodden skies dawn never actually broke but instead things lightened by degrees. At one point you could say yeah it's daylight now but you couldn't really say when it had happened.
This was the reason I'd made the trip here. Often the first hour of day in midsummer is worth the other twenty three hours put together. At least when it comes to larger than average sized fish.
Sure enough today was similar, the best fish were all early and size and numbers declined as the morning wore on. At first light the best spot was up in the corners of the eddies that form below riffles. Right in the farthest upstream corner where the slack water meets fast water. A bit later in the morning the deepest part of the run below the riffle was the ticket. First thing in the morning I'd tied on a four inch clear with gold glitter grub Vic had given me and the fish bit well enough that I never saw the need to change.
Sometime mid morning I'd caught enough fish that I'd lost track of how many I'd caught and the skies were really threatening to open up so I packed it in. Sometimes you need a trip like this out by yourself, alone with the river to recharge...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

8/3 smallies

A swell evening on the old river tonight. It seems the smallmouth were getting tired of all the high nasty water the past month too and are biting like it's october instead of summer time. Also had a dandy channel hammer the grub along with about a dozen smallies. The ticket tonight was a clear with gold metalflake grub fished in fast water.

The last photo is a decent fish not really photo worthy but a nice 16 inch plus fish. But look close see that big line on his side where a bug shovel tried to eat him. It would take a heck of a cat to eat a fish that size I'm thinking...

Bass on a stick....

A technique so deadly, so effective in it's genius simplicity it's banned in 64 states, 28 Canadian provinces, and 39 South American countries. Using a handmade rod crafted out of select Franklin county papaw wood. Or is it Licking County? Perry? Anyways using exotic central Ohio hardwood, five feet of Trilene and a Vic Coomer grub, I present "Bass on a Stick". Please practice catch and release only when using this cutting edge technique....

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

And the beat rolls on

On a Vic Coomer clear with silver curly shad on a 1/4 ounce jighead fished in roaring fast water about chest deep. It seems as soon as the water dropped it was game on for nice smallmouth. It's been a very good five or six days on southern Ohio rivers