The water level had finally come back down after all the rain/snow we've had lately, and the water clarity looked pretty good, but I still didn't have expectations for the day when we launched, accept to have a good time. I had only targeted Smallmouth once before, and it was late summer it totally different conditions, so I figured if I caught anything it would be a successful day.
The plan was to head upstream a good ways and float back down while we fished. The current was more swift than it looked, and the paddle would prove to be a serious workout. Tommy made his way to a large log jam and began fishing the eddy behind it, while the rest of worked various rocks are sections of the shoreline. It didn't take long before I heard Tommy yelling, and knew he had a good fish on. If this was any indicator of how the day would go, it was going to be well worth the work.
Tommy breaks the ice with a 19" Pig!
Alex and I continued to fish that log jam for almost another hour, but couldn't find another fish. Tommy and Billy had already headed further upstream, so we decided to follow suit and move on. The group of us spent the next few hours making our way up river and stopping to fish everything that looked like it might hold a fish..... nothing. After making it as far up as we had planned to paddle, we took a quick break to relieve ourselves and stretch, then decided to fish our way back down to the launch. We were worn out and the leisurely float was going to be a nice change.
Alex and I took one shoreline, while Billy and Tommy covered the other. After about 25 minutes I heard Tommy yell out again and Alex and I made the paddle across to see what he had. Half way there I could make out some of what he was saying... something about this ones a HOG!!! He was right and we were blown away as he lifted this Smallie out of his kayak....
Tommy's 21" Citation Smallmouth Bass
Look at the war paint on this HOG!
We were fired up now and everyone was confident the fish were there, we just had to get the lure infront of them. Both of Tommy's fish hit a dark colored jig, so werolled with it and everyone started pitching jigs. We continued to work our way down working anything that looked fishy, while Billy made his way back to the log jam where Tommy had picked up his first fish. As I floated past a couple large boulders at the rivers edge, I knew there had to be a fish there, and decided to focus on it for a few minutes. The current made it difficult allowing only one cast before floating away and having to paddle back up- it reminded me of fishing the CBBT. Even once you paddled back up, the cast and bait placement had to be perfect to get the correct presentation. I finally got it right and felt a solid thump before the line started moving away from the rock. I reel the slack in, set the hook and felt the weight of a solid Smallmouth Bass.An 18.25" Pig of a Smallmouth
Meanwhile, Billy's trip back to that big log jam had paid off with a 17.25" fatty. I made my way down and tucked in beside him in a large eddy to take a break and relish in the fun of these bulldog Smallmouth Bass- we had figured we might catch a couple fish 10-14", but never expected this caliber of fish. It seemed as though there were no small fish around, only Hog Johnson and his cousins! Just as Billy was saying how he was surprised he hadn't picked up anything on a crankbait he was casting, it got crushed!
Billy with a healthy 17.5" Smallie
At this point we all had a fish, accept for Alex. He rarely looses his cool, but he was on tilt and just couldn't seem to get his head back in the game. I kept telling him to stick with it, but breaking off jig after jig wasn't helping the situation at all. We kept floating our way down working everything that looked good. I got my jig snagged up and after trying my damnedest, I broke off the only one I had. Somewhere in the process I got that line badly tangled with another rod I had laying in my boat, so I verbally expressed my discontent. It seemed as though Alex's bad joojoo had made it way to me and as he laughed at my struggles, he felt that thump he had been waiting on...
Alex's hard work had paid off with a 19.5" Pig with some war paint of his own
Alex was elated and it was laughs and high fives all around. We had come here in search of the elusive Smallmouth Bass and boy had we found 'em! We weren't far from the launch now and though we were still fishing, no one was taking it too seriously. Billy made one last pitch of his jig before calling it a day, and BOOM- there he was!
As we pulled the kayaks out of the water and reflected on the day, we couldn't believe how successful we had been. Although we hadn't caught buckets full of fish, the quality of fish was way above and beyond what we had expected. Billy was reminded of a Beastie Boys lyric- something about "if I had known the party was gonna be this good, he would have put something in the mashed potatoes....." Had I known trophy Smallmouth fishing was so close to home, I would have been targeting them a long time ago.
The weather is finally starting to warm up, and spring fishing is right around the corner. Until next time, Tight Lines!