Housy Smallmouth Report: Crazy 8s

Yesterday was 8/8/16, a nice bit of numerology even if you’re not mathematically inclined. (For the record, I am not. But I do love and am attuned to numbers.) Water flow was a low 178cfs, voluminous compared to the current trickle that is the Farmington. And warm. Mid-to-upper 70s warm. (I can confirm this from personal sampling as I managed to fall into the river twice. A treacherous wade, that TMA.) There is something to be said about the cooling effects of wet wading inside your breathable Simms on a hot, sunny day.

To the fishing. I am not long on smallie experience, but I am a quick study. Here’s what I can tell you.

I fished from the general area of the West Cornwall covered bridge down to the Rt. 7 bridge. Six hours, 3pm-9pm. My M.O. was fish, drive, park, repeat. While the sun was up, the bass were, without exception, in brisk, moving water. They also tended to be on the small (5″-7″) side. I found players in every run I fished.

A smallmouth that Goldilocks would have loved. I like how the surface blends with the depths. The Hous is a weird-colored river.

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Fly selection was irrelevant. Bright white and fluorescent chartreuse? Loved it. Muted earth tones? Attacked it with prejudice. Horrible, dreadful pattern (like the TeQueely)? Total annihilation. The only fly I didn’t hook up on was the Gurgler, and that’s because I fished it in daytime and the little guys couldn’t manage the wide gap size 2 hook. This is the first time I fished the Deep Threat for smallmouth, and it was met with unilateral approval.

Crayfish are an anecdotal smallmouth favorite, as are flies in browns/orange/olives/black/etc. The river is loaded with the naturals.

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Once the sun dipped behind the hills and trees, the bigger fish action turned on. I lost count of the number of smallmouth I caught long before I took this shot, an attempt at an artsy silhouette portrait. 

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The vaunted white fly hatch never materialized. From 8pm-8:30 there was a consistent surface bite, but I had to work for every fish, and quite frankly, what was rising wasn’t worth the effort I was putting in with my Light Cahill dries (12-16). As dusk deepened, I decided to bail on the dries and go surface streamer. First cast toward the bank with the Zoo Cougar and I was on — and I mean on fast and hard. For the next half hour, I was in smallmouth heaven. Pound-for-pound, these might be the hardest fighting fish I’ve ever experienced. Tremendous sport.

My biggest smallmouth came as night settled in over the water. Sadly, he slipped the net while I was getting my camera ready, so you’ll have to be content with this shot of his younger brother.

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You know how sometimes on the drive home from the river something doesn’t sit quite right with you? Sure, you caught fish, but you may have LDRed a good one. Perhaps you lost a favorite fly on the bottom. Maybe there was that one fish you just couldn’t fool. You’re glad you got out, but there’s that little negative something inside that keeps gnawing away at you — and in a way, it wrecks the whole thing?

This trip wasn’t one of those.

 

 

The best streamers for smallmouth bass are…

If you do a search for “best” or “top ten” streamers for smallmouth bass, you are presented with an eclectic mix of patterns, typically opaque, with big googly eyes and using all kinds of new-agey materials — often accompanied by seductive promises of fish-catchess prowess. And oh, by the way, you can’t have the recipe, but here’s where you may purchase the wonder fly.

Ahem.

I can’t claim to be an expert on the lesser pie-holed cousins of the bucketmouth, but when I sat down at the vice this weekend to tie some smallmouth streamers I kept things pretty basic. I have a strong suspicion this selection will be met with approval by the target audience — the key word being selection. Some will ride topwater. Some will swim just below the surface. Some will plumb the depths and jig on the retrieve. They feature colors that range from earth-tones to fluorescents. You know the drill: give the fish a choice.

Now, I just gotta get them wet.

Clockwise from bottom left: Gartside Gurgler variants (size 2), three sets of Woolly Bugger variants (sizes 4-6), Deep Threat variants (sizes 4-6), and in the center, some neutral buoyancy thingy I tied on a whim.

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Farmington River Report: Bad news if you like water (or if you’re a Light Cahill)

Not for the world would I aspire to be Mr. Doom and Gloom. So we’ll start with some good news. Up Riverton way the water is still plenty cold. I did a couple hours of dry fly last night, and while the action was not as strong as what I experienced last week, there were still some active feeders to cast to. Once again, small rusty and creamy spinners (size 22) attracted the most attention. At one point, two(!) cedar waxwings alighted on my rod.

The bad news was that the rises were sporadic at best — and the water is the lowest I’ve ever seen. There was a decent enough hatch of Light Cahills (sz 16) after 7:30, but they never got more that ten feet off the water. The waxwings were ruthlessly efficient in their work, and picked off every single mayfly I saw emerge.

Good luck if you’re heading out, and watch those water temps as we get into some warmer weather.

Could we get a little more water here, please?

Jack Torrance

Down goes Frazier! or: Cutting the dam release to 60cfs

That’s right, campers. The Farmington River was dropped like Smokin’ Joe after a thunderous George Foreman right. 60cfs. Read it and weep.

The only (for now) saving graces are that it’s not piss stinking hot and the release from the bottom is still plenty cold. It’s supposed to heat wave again this weekend. Happy happy joy joy.

Smallmouth on the Connecticut or the Hous, anyone?

Remember her?

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