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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

well earned fish

So things started out really slow. Two and a half hours in and I had a 6 inch smallmouth and a 10 inch largemouth. I decided it was time for a major move so I pulled out and headed for another spot on another stream. Halfway there and I'm thinking yeah I gotta go... I found this little park with a one hole privy. I jump out of the truck and run inside. Now in the wild I've seen wolves, rattlesnakes, copperheads, alligators, had numerous bear encounters. Nothing, nothing was one tenth as scary as the big spider inside the toilet. INSIDE the toilet!!! I may never sit down to a nice relaxing dump again. Ever. A fishing spider I think which is the largest spider we have here in Ohio. INSIDE the toilet! I grabbed some toilet paper and headed for the woods.
And then back on the river I experience the agony of Da Feet. That is I have a very big Hybrid striper come off right at my feet. I'm thinking Okay maybe this isn't your day. But then a few casts later blam! a big smallmouth nails my ribeye swimbait and rockets skyward three times. This time I manage to land her and everything is alright with the world. Well almost, I'm still a little traumatized by the toilet experience....



Monday, May 21, 2018

hot...

whew, it got hot this evening. I should have checked the forecast before work this morning and dressed for the weather, so I only fished an hour or so. Still lucked into a half dozen smallies on a clear with gold flake grub fished in some very fast water.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

daylight

Out early to sneak in a little fishing before everyone wakes up. Which I guess I did do as I walked right up in the middle of a homeless camp. Guy and a girl were sacked out on a blanket on the rocks under the bridge. They had an old grill, a suitcase, some wet clothes strung up on a rope, a small fire and not much else it looked like. Didn't look like fun. Later, on the way out, they were awake and listening to him talk to her you could hear the mental issues, drugs, booze or whatever in his voice. Pretty sad.
On a brighter note there were some nice hybrids also up and at em early chasing bait literally right up on the bank. I caught a good one just as I was raising the lure out of the water. That gets exciting. On a quarter ounce jighead and a three inch clear with gold glitter grub on a little gravel bank just off of some very fast water.



Friday, May 18, 2018

saugzilla

A bit of fishing before work turned up this awesome saugeye on a Vic Coomer paddletail swimbait fished slow across a waist deep riffle at about 430 in the morning.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Caught quite a few stripey fish the last two days. Paddletail swimbait on 1/4 and 3/8 ounce jigheads in very fast water. seemed to me the faster the water the better your chances of catching them....

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Photo dump from walking around this week

bluegills, bugs, and beds

It just doesn't get much better than big gills on the bed, a fly rod, a pretty day, and all of summer stretching out before you....

Friday, May 11, 2018

Two carp a clooping

The other day while smallmouth fishing I noticed a strong hatch of mayflies coming off. Hoping this was a several day event I was back on the river this evening with flyrod in hand after some carp. Traveling somewhat backwards in the year I headed towards a spot I fish as a wintering hole for smallies. The hole has a big very slowly revolving eddy that kinda traps all the detritus floating down the river. Sure enough there were a few carp in there clooping gunk and bugs off the surface every now and then. Wow they were spooky, the first cast put down every fish for ten minutes. Time I used to add about two feet to my leader. My fly was a very small white marabou muddler unweighted with most of the leader but not the fly treated with floatant so it just sort of hung right at the surface looking I guess like another clump of gunk. I only managed to land a couple fish but had an interesting, kinda frustrating but fun trip doing things a bit differently tonight.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

a stellar evening

Went to an old favorite haunt that I hadn't been yet this year. Always so interesting to see what has changed after the wintertime floods. Simply a perfect evening, I'd take this weather all year round. And the fish cooperated as well. I guess I caught 15 or 20 about evenly split between a big triple wing buzzbait and a paddle swim. Interestingly enough the little swimbait caught all the better fish though. Fish were pretty much in predictable places either in current or right next to it.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

catching a big un

So I'm questioned a lot on my thoughts on smallmouth bass and spring. A lot. Anyways, here is I guess an overview of my thoughts on smallmouth bass this time of year. A few disclaimers first. I smallmouth fish mostly in rivers and streams in southern Ohio, mostly southwest Ohio, I do feel that some of this may not apply to rivers in places that are not farmed as extensively as around here. A hundred years of agriculture has completely changed our rivers. The pools of my rivers are now quite often filled with mostly a mucky bottom caused by runoff. When we have a period of rain nowadays the river jumps up and gets very muddy very fast. The earliest explorers to this region told a very different story. They spoke of periods of high water where the rivers would be up out of their banks but still clear! All caused by our rivers being at that time surrounded by the greatest virgin forest on earth. With a hard bottom to the pools to provide habitat for things like crawfish, madtoms, darters etc, it must have been astounding how productive our rivers were back then. That simply isn't the case now, the areas of hard bottom are all concentrated around riffle/fast water reaches. I think in rivers, or stretches of rivers, that do not have this soft mucky bottom to their pools, the quality of fishing in the pools is vastly superior to the that of the rivers I fish. I find it more productive the vast majority of the time to simply concentrate my smallmouth fishing on areas of moderate to strong current which will eliminate wasting time on the ninety percent of the river where this isn't the case. A lot of the time the fish aren't in the current directly but instead in small pockets of calmer water adjoining the heavier flow. It's as simple as that really when you boil it down to it's most basic. I don't target spawning areas for smallmouth bass, I feel like that bass in a river or stream have a rough enough go at life without me catching them while spawning. I'm not a fanatic on this if you want to I'm not going to preach at you, I simply don't, it's my choice and nothing more. Luckily for me a very high percentage of smallmouth bass in rivers do not spawn every year. It seems to vary wildly every year, I'm guessing by fish condition and food supply the previous year but no one seems to know for sure, even the biologists who study them, but it's roughly in the range from 10 to 50 percent. And here's an exciting tidbit, I find it's quite often that the very biggest fish, the giants approaching 20 inches, that don't spawn. My guess, and it's just a guess, is that a 20 inch fish is a very old fish, a senior citizen and not in the prime of it's life like it was when it was say 18 inches long and that's why it doesn't spawn. My other theory is that a fish might be more likely to reach 20 inches because it wasn't predisposed not to spawn often in the first place. The spawn seems to be very very stressful on smallmouth bass and several individuals die from the stress every year. A fish that doesn't spawn or doesn't spawn often thus avoids this stress and grows bigger. There are a whole of 18's for every 19 and a lot of 19's for every 20, a fish needs every break it can get plus good genetics to do so. And something else...
A bass needs a whole bunch of time. A whole whole bunch of time. The time needed to become a trophy smallmouth varies wildly from 10 or 12 years in productive systems to 20 years in cold unproductive systems. Let's just average it all out and say it probably takes 12 or 14 years to become a true trophy. Now I'm not a catch and release fanatic, one of my greatest joys in life is to bake a nice channelcat fillet in foil over a campfire by the river on a summers night. But I'm a realist, you cannot harvest smallmouth bass like you can crappie and expect to have good trophy smallmouth fishing. 19 and 20 inch smallmouth are less than 1 percent of the population of southern Ohio streams and it takes over a decade to replace each one. If you think you are not hurting the smallmouth fishing in your stretch of river by keeping fish over 14/15 inches long you are simply wrong, there is no arguing that point. A river will support only so much biomass whether it's four 5 inch fish or one 17 incher is kinda up to you as fishermen.
Okay back on topic. So a fish needs time to become a trophy. And small to medium sized rivers and streams have smallmouth wired differently than smallmouth in lakes and giant river systems. In small rivers and streams smallmouth bass stay in one stretch of river their entire lives except when migrating to and from their wintering holes. This can be both a blessing and a curse, a blessing if you fish a section of river where smallmouth are left alone or released and a curse if you fish a section where fish are harvested regularly. Your job as a guy after a trophy is to find waters where a fish has a chance to live a dozen years without being harvested. Or simply settle for catching smaller bass. Now it is fishing after all and there are exceptions to every rule but by and large this is simply the case. It doesn't have to be a big river either, I have for three years in a row now released a 20 incher from a little stream that nowhere on it can you not cast all the way across it and up into the woods on the other side or no where can you not wade across it. But it receives zero pressure and the fish have that luxury of time to get big.
It's that simple really. Fish for smallmouth in the same habitat you would in July and instead spend the majority of your time finding a better spot to fish. There is a great example in one of my favorite places. You have to yak a ways then get out and leave a whole bunch of actually very good water and walk another half mile or so downstream to this gorgeous hole and the riffles around it. You can't float right down to it unless you want to float another hour downstream thru unproductive water to take out. So you yak halfway then walk. So no one fishes it. They yak down to the first section of pretty water and fish it, sure they have gotten away from everyone else. Twice now I've ran into someone there who has told me, "I know I'm in the right place seeing you here". I told one very likeable guy, yeah but if you really want to catch a good one you gotta go at least a half mile downstream. The next day he commented online, I had a great trip and knew I was in a good spot when I saw you there. He settled. My advice to anyone after a trophy smallmouth... most people do not fish water fast enough,and in summer no water is too fast, and you can always find somewhere with less fishing pressure than where you are fishing now, no matter how good it might seem.




Friday, May 4, 2018

riding the storm out....

So I'm fishing tonight, concentrating on fishing this tail of a pool when I noticed the wind had come up. I glanced over my shoulder, "Oh S#@T"! and I begin digging the rain jacket out of the pack. You could see it coming. Sure enough I got hammered pretty hard for about an hour. But what an hour, the fishing was epic. First up was the beauty you see in the first pic. This photo does not do this fish justice, all along it's belly and it's fins were tinged with beautiful pure black. Undoubtedly one of the prettiest fish I have ever seen. And then while the rain hit it was one nice fish after another like they were being delivered Fed Ex. Then the rain quit and it was a lovely evening but the best fishing left with the weather, I managed another half dozen fish but they were all small. Tonight was probably one of the best examples of the weather affecting the fishing that I have ever seen. All the better fish were in pretty heavy current on a curly swim on a 1/4 ounce jighead.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

on the run...

After catching some nice smallmouth on back to back trips I was really debating not going after stripey fish today and chasing smallmouth. But I had this hunch that had been eating at me for a few days now. This spot that looked oh so sweet on google and by all accounts the run was on so I had to try it. I got there and "Oh Crap" the pretty rock bank on google was about half sticky clay mud in real life. The thought crossed my mind that if I left now I could still get in a couple hours of smallie fishing. But the water itself looked good and that's what knee high rubber boots are for right? I tied on a 3/8 ounce jighead and Vic's paddletail swimbait and never took it off. Sure enough quite a few white bass but mixed in were about a dozen hybrids and one little pure striper. Anywhere there was current was the key. Gotta love this time of year...