Housatonic Smallmouth Recap: lots of walking, low, slow, and not very big

You may have noticed this year that there weren’t many Housatonic River smallmouth reports on these pages. It wasn’t for a lack of effort from your humble scribe. I believe I fished more days this summer for smallmouth than I have since I started seriously pursuing them (in 2016). So why did I go dark? Part of it was people — and anglers — everywhere. And anywhere. I ran into anglers in places where I’ve never seen a soul. Finding a parking spot was, at times, impossible. Part of it was the drought, which made for challenging conditions. And part of it was that in terms of size and especially numbers, this was by far the worst year I’ve had fishing smallmouth on that river.

One late July night illustrates this last point. I fished a favorite mark that was, to my delight, devoid of other anglers. I hit the White Fly hatch perfectly — in fact, I’d rate this as one of the top three blizzards I’ve ever experienced. The surface should have been boiling with frantic rises — dozens per second. Instead, I could easily pick out an occasional lonesome rise ring here and there. The lack of bass on the bugs was both extraordinary and discouraging. What’s worse, what was rising was small. Not a bruiser in the bunch.

At least the dragonflies had a good meal.

Since the fishing was awful, and — this is important — every year is different — I decided that I would embrace different. So I explored. I fished new water. I tried new flies (like Wigglies and Barr’s Meat Whistle). And I tried new methods (like indicator nymphing and dead drifting crayfish patterns along the bottom). These efforts will pay off handsomely in the future. So, 2020 wasn’t the year we wanted it to be. But we can take comfort in the hope and promise of 2021.

4 comments on “Housatonic Smallmouth Recap: lots of walking, low, slow, and not very big

  1. Peter says:

    I dare say, I detect a metaphor!

    And, thanks as always for all the tips and stories.

    • Steve Culton says:

      One reason I didn’t go into greater detail on methods is that there is a magazine article in the works. Stay tuned for details. Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading!

  2. John M Pavao says:

    thanks for report on the Hous.
    For me, the bass went deep as the water receded in the riffles and warmed up almost to intolerable levels even for the smallies. You had to have that fly right on the bottom or near to get a decent one. But, they were there- just had to keep looking.
    The white fly evenings were a mixed bag, We fished the hatch 3 nights with the first being the best of the lot. The last night, the hatch did not get started until it was dark. As we know- it is difficult to hook what one cannot see. LOL – it is a lot of fun though.
    Thanks for the reports- We will find more deep pools to explore in 2021.

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